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In this acerbic collection of essays, Comanche cultural critic and art curator Smith (Like a Hurricane) riffs on the romantic stereotypes of Indian as "spiritual masters and first environmentalists," as tragic victims of technology and civilization, as primal beings brimming with nomad authenticity, their every artifact a gem of folk art. Such tropes, he complains, hide the riotous complexity of the modern Indian experience, which he visits in pieces that explore his grandfather's Christian church, Sitting Bull's savvy manipulation of his media image (he had an agent) and the author's own Comanche forebears, who were both "world-class barbarians" and avid adopters of the white man's gadgetry. These loose-limbed essays range all over the landscape, from Hollywood westerns to the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee to (somewhat obscurely) the contemporary Indian art scene. Smith doesn't entirely square his view of Indians as "just plain folks" with his advancing of a unique Indian cultural perspective, but his keen, skeptical eye makes such ironies both amusing and enlightening. Photos. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.