Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Scholarly yet accessible. . . . Huhndorf skillfully addresses issues of race and ethnicity. . . . This provocative book is recommended for anthropology and ethnic studies collections in academic libraries."—Library Journal, April 2001

"The books' central focus is the eradication of an old, and the birth of a new, nation. It is about the origins and significance of manifest destiny—perhaps the most original analysis of that process I have seen. . . . This is a fascinating book and the opening quotation by Vine Deloria on how Indians haunt the collective unconscious of the white man sets the tone for a lively read. . . . It is an important contribution to the literature on a topic that deserves much more public debate."—Ian S. McIntosh, Cultural Survival Quarterly, Winter 2002

"Going Native contributes to the ever-growing body of literary and cultural criticism exposing the relationship between colonialism and the production of culture. . . . It is an excellent addition to a recent body of literature that specifically explores the relationships and interactions between white America and Native America. . . . Going Native will be graciously welcomed into American Indian Studies and the study of colonialism/imperialism. Huhndorf's detailed research and methodology are important contributions to American Indian Studies because they allow for the examination of cultural texts and social positions of power without having to resort to arguments of what is authentic and non-authentic Indian culture."—David Kamper, UCLA. H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences, January 2002

"Huhndorf's shrewd analysis goes beyond simply identifying and then castigating those European Americans who have disregarded the repercussions of their cultural appropriation. The result is that Going Native persuasively demonstrates how such acts can be much more revealing of their historical moment then they at first might seem."—Michael A. Elliot, Emory University. American Literature, March 2002

"Teaching American Indian history, more than other courses, demands attention to the politics of representation. Non-native students are likely to be completely unfamiliar with the historical material presented to them and, at the same time, to feel an ownership and strong attachment to particular images of Indians. As Shari M. Huhndorf argues in Going Native, the racial dynamics of conquest, encoded into popular culture, are still very much central to non-native American identity. For this compelling reason, this book is a useful and imaginative addition to the literature on Indian-white relations."—Rachel Buff, Bowling Green State University. The Journal of American History, September 2002

"For teachers, Going Native provides a wealth of examples we might bring into the classroom, as well as a critique of identity politics that students will find interesting. . . . As a Native person working in academia, I am heartened by an inquiry that uses white representations of nonwhite peoples to examine European American identity and insists on applying identity theory to the dominant culture."—Katy Gray Brown, Hypatia 18:3

"Ask Native America if European America is a nation of liars, thieves, and killers. With profound articulation, Shari Huhndorf's Going Native confronts the belief that white America owns America. Her brave and honest insight urges one to wonder if America will ever be brave and honest enough to face its past. Again ask Native America."—Simon J. Ortiz, writer-poet, author of Men on the Moon and From Sand Creek

"Shari Huhndorf's book articulates, in no uncertain terms, the deep-rooted colonial superiority inherent to all Americans. Going Native exposes the real naked savages:"wannabes" raised on baseball, apple pie, and movies."—Chris Eyre, Filmmaker

"Going Native is a major contribution to the debates surrounding authenticity, identity, and cultural exchange. Shari Huhndorf's approaches to these now familiar topics are distinctly original, courageous, and solidly grounded in her work in film, literature, and culture more generally. This important and stirring book will be widely read."—Timothy J. Reiss, New York University

Library Journal
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 perceptions of Native American identity and to develop both personal and collective identification with these fantasies. Each chapter focuses on a particular historical time period, moving forward from the post-Civil War years to the present. The author draws many examples from literature and film (from Nanook of the North to Dances with Wolves) to explore European American expressions of "nativeness." She skillfully addresses issues of race and ethnicity and analyzes the European American romanticization and distortion of Native American culture and customs. This provocative study is recommended for anthropology and ethnic studies collections in academic libraries. Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein Coll. Lib., Westerville, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801486951
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2001
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: "If Only I Were an Indian" 1
Ch. 1 Imagining America: Race, Nation, and Imperialism at the Turn of the Century 19
Ch. 2 Nanook and His Contemporaries: Traveling with the Eskimos, 1897-1941 79
Ch. 3 The Making of an Indian: "Forrest" Carter's Literary Inventions 129
Ch. 4 Rites of Conquest: Indian Captivities in the New Age 162
Conclusion: Rituals of Citizenship: Going Native and Contemporary American Identity 199
Bibliography 203
Index 215
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