Playing Indian

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Yale University Press, 1998 - History - 249 pages
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The Boston Tea Party, the Order of Red Men, Camp Fire Girls, Boy Scouts, Grateful Dead concerts are just a few examples of the American tendency to appropriate Indian dress and act out Indian roles. This provocative book explores how white Americans have used their ideas about Indians to shape national identity in different eras--and how Indian people have reacted to these imitations of their native dress, language, and ritual.

At the Boston Tea Party, colonial rebels played Indian in order to claim an aboriginal American identity. In the nineteenth century, Indian fraternal orders allowed men to rethink the idea of revolution, consolidate national power, and write nationalist literary epics. By the twentieth century, playing Indian helped nervous city dwellers deal with modernist concerns about nature, authenticity, Cold War anxiety, and various forms of relativism. Deloria points out, however, that throughout American history the creative uses of Indianness have been interwoven with conquest and dispossession of the Indians. Indian play has thus been fraught with ambivalence--for white Americans who idealized and villainized the Indian, and for Indians who were both humiliated and empowered by these cultural exercises.

Deloria suggests that imagining Indians has helped generations of white Americans define, mask, and evade paradoxes stemming from simultaneous construction and destruction of these native peoples. In the process, Americans have created powerful identities that have never been fully secure.

 

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PLAYING INDIAN

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A provocative study of the role of American Indians in forming the character of the US. Following D.H. Lawrence's observation that the American character is essentially paradoxical (—wanting to savor ... Read full review

Playing Indian

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Americans need Indians in order to define themselves as Americans, asserts Deloria (history, Univ. of Colorado). Beginning before the Boston Tea Party, and continuing into the present, Americans have ... Read full review

Contents

List of Illustrations ix
1
Proclamation 1774
13
Invitation to Tammany Society Dinner 1 7 7 3
29
The Female Combatants or Who Shall 1776
30
The Able Doctor or America Swallowing the Bitter Draught 1774
31
Invitation to Tammany Day Dinner 1786
47
Liberty and Washington circa 180010
53
Society of Red Men Meeting Poster 1825
61
Camp Fire Girls Letterhead 19 2 8
114
Eadweard Muybridge Motion Study from Animal Locomotion 1887
118
Frank Hamilton Cushing in Zuni Garb 1900
119
Seton Family Christmas Card 19 21
121
Five
128
Edwin Tangen Indian Pageant War Dance 1915
136
Advertisements Page Powwow Trails 1964
138
Edwin Tangen Ralph Hubbard in Indian Costume 1922
139

Red Men 1848
66
Improved Order of Red Men Costume late nineteenth century
67
Three
71
New Confederacy of the Iroquois Roster 1845
81
Four
95
Ernest Thompson Setons original Sinaway Tribe at Standing Rock Village 1903
97
Daniel Carter Beard circa 1938
98
Priscilla Wolfe in Camp Fire Costume circa 1910
112
Gathering of All Tribes for a Human BeIn 1967
160
Conclusion
181
Frank Bardacke Peoples Park Manifesto 1969 1 62
189
Judge Edward R Harden in Omaha Costume 1855
190
Notes
197
Index
243
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About the author (1998)

Philip J. Deloria is assistant professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a coauthor of The Native Americans.

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