Injun Joe's Ghost: The Indian Mixed-Blood in American Writing

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What does it mean to be a “mixed-blood,” and how has our understanding of this term changed over the last two centuries? What processes have shaped American thinking on racial blending? Why has the figure of the mixed-blood, thought too offensive for polite conversation in the nineteenth century, become a major representative of twentieth-century native consciousness?

In Injun Joe’s Ghost, Harry J. Brown addresses these questions within the interrelated contexts of anthropology, U.S. Indian policy, and popular fiction by white and mixed-blood writers, mapping the evolution of “hybridity” from a biological to a cultural category. Brown traces the processes that once mandated the mixed-blood’s exile as a grotesque or criminal outcast and that have recently brought about his ascendance as a cultural hero in contemporary Native American writing.

Because the myth of the demise of the Indian and the ascendance of the Anglo-Saxon is traditionally tied to America’s national idea, nationalist literature depicts Indian-white hybrids in images of degeneracy, atavism, madness, and even criminality. A competing tradition of popular writing, however, often created by mixed-blood writers themselves, contests these images of the outcast half-breed by envisioning “hybrid vigor,” both biologically and linguistically, as a model for a culturally heterogeneous nation.

Injun Joe’s Ghost focuses on a significant figure in American history and culture that has, until now, remained on the periphery of academic discourse. Brown offers an in-depth discussion of many texts, including dime novels and Depression-era magazine fiction, that have been almost entirely neglected by scholars. This volume also covers texts such as the historical romances of the 1820s and the novels of the twentieth-century “Native American Renaissance” from a fresh perspective. Investigating a broad range of genres and subject over two hundred year of American writing, Injun Joe’s Ghost will be useful to students and professionals in the fields of American literature, popular culture, and native studies.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826215307
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry J. Brown is Assistant Professor of English at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He is a coauthor of The Native American in Short Fiction in the Saturday Evening Post.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Sunday Morning, 18 1
The Invisible Indian 3
Hybridity, Alternation, and Simultaneity 7
The Murderin' Half-Breed in Tom Sawyer 12
Racial Amity in Reuben and Rachel 16
Methods and Overview 20
1 Miscegenation and Degeneracy in Antebellum Historical Romance
Magua's Horrid Alternative 27
National Literature and the Vanishing Indian 30
Jefferson, Buffon, and the Marriage of Races 33
Gothic Degeneracy and Edgar Huntly 40
The Last of the Mohicans 45
Hope Leslie 50
Hobomok 56
A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison 62
William Apess and the Children of Adam 73
A Resemblance and a Menace 82
2 Homo Criminalis and Half-Breed Outlaws in the Dime Western
What Will We Do with Them? 85
Malaeska 92
The Half-Breed and the Hybrid Grotesque 99
The Half-Breed as Homo Criminalis 104
Redlaw 111
The Half-Blood 117
The White Squaw 123
John Rollin Ridge and Joaquin Murieta 129
Ramona 134
The Problem of Assimilation 145
3 From Biological to Cultural Hybridity in Cogewea, Sundown, and Twentieth-Century Magazine Fiction
Yukon Burial Ground 150
Nostalgia and Degenerationism 158
Race as Biology in the Saturday Evening Post 166
The Test of Language, Redefinition, and Reorganization 173
Oliver La Farge's Navajo Stories 181
Hybrid Subjectivity in Cogewea 190
Problems of Assimilation and Authenticity in Sundown 205
Epilogue: Contemporary Reflections on Mixed Descent
What Is Indian? 219
D'Arcy McNickle's Tribalism 226
N. Scott Momaday's Word of Creation 230
Interwoven Beadwork in Erdrich's The Antelope Wife 235
Reconsidering Race 240
Bibliography 247
Index 261
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