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Picturing Indians: Native Americans in Film, 1941-1960

Picturing Indians: Native Americans in Film, 1941-1960

by Liza Black

NOOK Book(eBook)

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Standing at the intersection of Native history, labor, and representation, Picturing Indians presents a vivid portrait of the complicated experiences of Native actors on the sets of midcentury Hollywood Westerns. This behind-the-scenes look at costuming, makeup, contract negotiations, and union disparities uncovers an all-too-familiar narrative of racism and further complicates filmmakers’ choices to follow mainstream representations of “Indianness.”

Liza Black offers a rare and overlooked perspective on American cinema history by giving voice to creators of movie Indians—the stylists, public relations workers, and the actors themselves. In exploring the inherent racism in sensationalizing Native culture for profit, Black also chronicles the little-known attempts of studios to generate cultural authenticity and historical accuracy in their films. She discusses the studios’ need for actual Indians to participate in, legitimate, and populate such filmic narratives. But studios also told stories that made Indians sound less than Indian because of their skin color, clothing, and inability to do functions and tasks considered authentically Indian by non-Indians. In the ongoing territorial dispossession of Native America, Native people worked in film as an economic strategy toward survival.

Consulting new primary sources, Black has crafted an interdisciplinary experience showcasing what it meant to “play Indian” in post–World War II Hollywood.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496223753
Publisher: Nebraska
Publication date: 10/01/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 366
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

​Liza Black is a citizen of Cherokee Nation. She is an assistant professor of history and Native American and Indigenous studies at Indiana University.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. “Just Like a Snake You’ll Be Crawling in Your Own Shit”: American Indians and White Narcissism
2. “Indians Agree to Perform and Act as Directed”: Urban Indian (and Non-Indian) Actors
3. “Not Desired by You for Photographing”: The Labor of American Indian (and Non-Indian) Extras
4. “White May Be More Than Skin Deep”: Whites in Redface
5. “A Bit Thick”: The Transformation of Indians into Movie Indians
6. “Dig Up a Good Indian Historian”: The Search for Authenticity

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