American Indians and the American Imaginary considers the power of representations of Native Americans in American public culture. The book's wide-ranging case studies move from colonial captivity narratives to modern film, from the camp fire to the sports arena, from legal and scholarly texts to tribally-controlled museums and cultural centres. The author's ethnographic approach to what she calls "representational practices" focus on the emergence, use, and transformation of representations in the course of social life. Central themes include identity and otherness, indigenous cultural politics, and cultural memory, property, performance, citizenship and transformation. American Indians and the American Imaginary will interest general readers as well as scholars and students in anthropology, history, literature, education, cultural studies, gender studies, American Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. It is essential reading for those interested in the processes through which national, tribal, and indigenous identities have been imagined, contested, and refigured.
“In this book, Pauline Strong attains the brass ring of activist scholarship. Drawing upon decades of expertise, she has created a book that is at once both theoretically sophisticated and easily accessible to popular audiences . . . as a pedagogical resource for the teaching of representations of Native Americans, this book is invaluable . . . . for any class addressing Native American contemporary issues, representation, or expressive culture. I certainly intend to use it in mine.”
—Journal of Anthropological Research
“Strong offers an engaging and readable synthesis and intriguing examples of the ways that racist representations of Indians underscore white American identity…[this book] is a useful and accessible addition to the literature on Native American representations.
—American Indian Culture and Research Journal
“Pauline Turner Strong writes with rare grace and precision, and with a deeply informed understanding of what is at stake, politically and epistemologically, in representing American Indians within and across a wide range of disciplines. These chapters move from questions of citizenship, nationhood, and ‘Indian blood’ to Disney Indians, Boy Scouts, and Campfire Girls. Together they make an excellent introduction to the state of American Indian studies today.”
—Richard Handler, University of Virginia
“In this path-breaking new book, Strong demonstrates that the study of representations offers us a window on contemporary relations between Native Americans and the United States as a modern nation. How have the views of Native Americans held by other Americans changed over time? Can indigenous communities survive and prosper within the larger American polity? What are the prospects for creating and perpetuating distinctive tribal identities? By studying representations, Strong convincingly argues, we obtain a glimpse into these and other issues at the heart of what it means to be an American today.”
—Greg Urban, University of Pennsylvania
“A most valuable addition to the literature on Native American images, this book succeeds in demonstrating the enduring power of Indian imagery from Colonial America to the present day. Professor Strong documents how and why Puritans were captivated by captivity narratives; how images of Native Americans became stereotyped, and even stereotypes of stereotypes, in the movie industry; why Indians became mascots for sports teams—how the originators of totemism ironically are themselves totemized; how Native symbolism is appropriated by youth groups, like the Campfire Girls. But most significant is the analysis of these phenomena in terms of modern theories of identity and alterity, of indigenous cultural politics and conceptions of cultural property, and of tribal sovereignty and its representational practices.”
—Raymond D. Fogelson, University of Chicago
List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi Part One Introduction 1 1 The Ethnography of Representational Practices 4 Part Two Representing History and Identity 17 2 Tribe and Nation 20 3 Five Hundred Years 34 4 Indian Blood 54 Part Three Captivity, Adoption, and the American Imaginary 67 5 Captivity in White and Red 71 6 The Contemporary Captivity Narrative 102 7 On Captivity as Digital Spectacle 118 Part Four Playing Indian 125 8 Crafting American Selves 127 9 Animated Indians 142 10 The Mascot Slot 155 Part Five Indigenous Imaginaries 163 11 Sovereignty, Indigeneity, and Ethnographic Representation 167 12 A Native Space on the National Mall 178 Epilogue 186 References 187 Print Publications and Manuscripts (Including Online Texts) 187 Multimedia Sources (Films, Videos, Scores, CD-ROMs, Podcasts) 222 Legislation and Court Cases 223 Sources and Credits 224 Index 226 About the Author 233