Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination

Front Cover
Cornell University Press, Feb 15, 2001 - History - 220 pages
0 Reviews

Since the 1800's, many European Americans have relied on Native Americans as models for their own national, racial, and gender identities. Displays of this impulse include world's fairs, fraternal organizations, and films such as Dances with Wolves. Shari M. Huhndorf uses cultural artifacts such as these to examine the phenomenon of "going native," showing its complex relations to social crises in the broader American society—including those posed by the rise of industrial capitalism, the completion of the military conquest of Native America, and feminist and civil rights activism.

Huhndorf looks at several modern cultural manifestations of the desire of European Americans to emulate Native Americans. Some are quite pervasive, as is clear from the continuing, if controversial, existence of fraternal organizations for young and old which rely upon "Indian" costumes and rituals. Another fascinating example is the process by which Arctic travelers "went Eskimo," as Huhndorf describes in her readings of Robert Flaherty's travel narrative, My Eskimo Friends, and his documentary film, Nanook of the North. Huhndorf asserts that European Americans' appropriation of Native identities is not a thing of the past, and she takes a skeptical look at the "tribes" beloved of New Age devotees.

Going Native shows how even seemingly harmless images of Native Americans can articulate and reinforce a range of power relations including slavery, patriarchy, and the continued oppression of Native Americans. Huhndorf reconsiders the cultural importance and political implications of the history of the impersonation of Indian identity in light of continuing debates over race, gender, and colonialism in American culture.


What people are saying - Write a review

Going native: Indians in the American cultural imagination

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Huhndorf (English and ethnic studies, Univ. of Oregon) here provides a scholarly yet accessible examination of pervasive European American attempts to project their cultural imagination onto their ... Read full review


If Only I Were an Indian
Imagining America Race Nation and Imperialism at the Turn of the Century
Nanook and His Contemporaries Traveling with the Eskimos 18971941
The Making of an Indian Forrest Carters Literary Inventions
Rites of Conquest Indian Captivities in the New Age
Rituals of Citizenship Going Native and Contemporary American Identity

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2001)

Shari M. Huhndorf is Professor of Native American Studies and Comparative Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination and Mapping the Americas: The Transnational Politics of Contemporary Native Culture, both from Cornell, and the coeditor of Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture.