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Indian Play: Indigenous Identities at Bacone College

Indian Play: Indigenous Identities at Bacone College

by Lisa K. Neuman

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When Indian University—now Bacone College—opened its doors in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1880, it was a small Baptist institution designed to train young Native Americans to be teachers and Christian missionaries among their own people and to act as agents of cultural assimilation. From 1927 to 1957, however, Bacone College changed course and pursued a new strategy of emphasizing the Indian identities of its students and projecting often-romanticized images of Indianness to the non-Indian public in its fund-raising campaigns. Money was funneled back into the school as administrators hired Native American faculty who in turn created innovative curricular programs in music and the arts that encouraged their students to explore and develop their Native identities. Through their frequent use of humor and inventive wordplay to reference Indianness—“Indian play”—students articulated the (often contradictory) implications of being educated Indians in mid-twentieth-century America. In this supportive and creative culture, Bacone became an “Indian school,” rather than just another “school for Indians.”

In examining how and why this transformation occurred, Lisa K. Neuman situates the students’ Indian play within larger theoretical frameworks of cultural creativity, ideologies of authenticity, and counterhegemonic practices that are central to the fields of Native American and indigenous studies today.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496209320
Publisher: Nebraska
Publication date: 03/09/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Lisa K. Neuman is an associate professor of anthropology and Native American Studies at the University of Maine. Her articles have appeared in several journals, including Wicazo Sa Review, American Indian Quarterly, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and Ethnology.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction: American Indian Identities at School 1

1 Creating an Indian University: Bacone College, 1880-1927 29

2 Images of Indianness: Selling Bacone to the Public 71

3 "The Dream of an Indian Princess": Indian Culture at Bacone, 1927-1941 95

4 Indian Education in a Changing America: Bacone College, 1941-1957 125

5 Marketing Culture: Bacone's Indian Artists and Their Patrons 161

6 Painting Culture: Studying Indian Art at Bacone 193

7 Being Indian at School: Students at Bacone College, 1927-1957 217

8 The Meanings of Indianness: Tribal, Racial, and Religious Identities at Bacone 243

Conclusion: New Indigenous Identities 273

Notes 287

Bibliography 343

Index 357

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