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The Story of a Land: The Spatial Politics of Early Multiculturalism in Indian Country

  • Amy Lynn Corbin
Chapter
Part of the Screening Spaces book series (SCSP)

Abstract

Of all the cultural landscapes, we must start with Indian Country, for the simple fact that the land in question was originally foreign to white settlers, and so discourse about this cultural landscape structures America’s initial familiar/foreign dichotomy. In this sense, this first chapter is a sort of “prequel” to the rest of the book and its interest in the post-sixties era’s multicultural travel. The prominent cycle of Westerns that focus on Indian culture were made just before the book’s timeframe (in 1969–1971), and so they illustrate some of the structures of feeling that later feed into multiculturalism; they are also largely about nineteenth-century America, and so they reveal the way in which historical narratives attempted to incorporate an “other” race and landscape into the formation of the nation. The “Indian” may frequently be shown as vanishing, as many have noted, but “Indian Country” lingers and must continually be positioned in relation to the rest of America. By framing it as a pocket of authenticity and roots within the larger nation, its foreignness becomes both tamed and integrated by those who have more freedom of movement. Indian Country films are thus the necessary starting point for an examination of touristic American films.

Keywords

Cultural Landscape White Paint Indian Culture Tour Guide Indian Country 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    See Dan Georgakas, “They Have Not Spoken: American Indians in Film,” Film Quarterly 25, no. 3 (Spring 1972): 26–32; Richard Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (New York and Toronto: Atheneum; Maxwell Macmillan Canada; Maxwell Macmillan International, 1992); Ralph E. Friar and Natasha A. Friar, The Only Good Indian: The Hollywood Gospel (New York: Drama Book Specialists, 1972); Ted Jojola, “Absurd Reality II: Hollywood Goes to the Indians,” in Hollywood’s Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film, ed. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998), 12–26; James A. Sandos and Larry E. Burgess, “The Hollywood Indian versus the Native American: Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here,” in Hollywood’s Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film, ed. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998), 107–20; Margo Kasdan and Susan Tavernetti, “Native Americans in a Revisionist Western: Little Big Man,” in Hollywood’s Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film, ed. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998), 121–36. Steve Neale argues that Indian-themed films of the 1960s and 1970s should actually be analyzed as reactions to contemporaneous federal Indian policy instead of as allegories for civil rights or Vietnam: Steve Neale, “Vanishing Americans: Racial and Ethnic Issues in the Interpretation and Context of Post-War ‘Pro-Indian’ Western,” in Back in the Saddle Again: New Essays on the Western, ed. Edward Buscombe and Roberta E. Pearson (London: British Film Institute, 1998), 8–28. Jacquelyn Kilpatrick’s analysis combines the two approaches: Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    These lines have only recently been questioned in feature film by Native American directors in the late 1990s and early 2000s who could make films at least partially for a Native audience—see films like Smoke Signals (1998), The Doe Boy (2001), Skins (2002), and The Business of Fancydancing (2002). Analysis of such films can be found in M. Elise Marubbio and Eric Buffalohead, eds., Native Americans on Film: Conversations, Teaching, and Theory (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2013).Google Scholar
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    For an extended analysis of this phenomenon, see M. Elise Marubbio, Killing the Indian Maiden: Images of Native American Women in Film (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Bill Nichols, Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 32–38; Trinh Minh-ha, When the Moon Waxes Red: Representation, Gender and Cultural Politics (New York: Routledge, 1991); Fatimah Tobing Rony, The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
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© Amy Lynn Corbin 2015

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  • Amy Lynn Corbin

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