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The insistence of the Indian : race and nationalism in nineteenth-century American culture / Susan Scheckel.

By: Scheckel, Susan, 1958-.
Material type: TextTextPublisher: Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1998Description: x, 197 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.ISBN: 0691059632 (alk. paper); 9780691059631 (alk. paper); 0691059640 (pbk. : alk. paper); 9780691059648 (pbk. : alk. paper).Subject(s): Indians of North America -- Public opinion | Indians in popular culture -- North America | Indians in literature | American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism | Nationalism -- United States | Public opinion -- United States | United States -- Politics and government -- 19th century | United States -- Race relationsDDC classification: 305.897 LOC classification: E98.P99 | S34 1998Other classification: 15.85
Contents:
The "Indian problem" and the question of national identity -- Cooper and the sources of American national identity -- Domesticating the drama of conquest: Pocahontas on the popular stage -- Mary Jemison and the domestication of the American Indians -- Black Hawk's Life: the Indian as subject of history -- A guide to remembrance: the capitol tour and the construction of a U.S. citizenry.
Summary: Publisher description: Americans' first attempts to forge a national identity coincided with the apparent need to define--and limit--the status and rights of Native Americans. During these early decades of the nineteenth century, the image of the "Indian" circulated throughout popular culture--in the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, plays about Pocahontas, Indian captivity narratives, Black Hawk's autobiography, and visitors' guides to the national capitol. In exploring such sources as well as the political and legal rhetoric of the time, Susan Scheckel argues that the "Indian question" was intertwined with the ways in which Americans viewed their nation's past and envisioned its destiny. She shows how the Indians provided a crucial site of reflection upon national identity. And yet the Indians, by being denied the natural rights upon which the constitutional principles of the United States rested, also challenged American convictions of moral ascendancy and national legitimacy. Scheckel investigates, for example, the Supreme Court's decision on Indian land rights and James Fenimore Cooper's popular frontier romance The Pioneers: both attempted to legitimate American claims to land once owned by Indians and to assuage guilt associated with the violence of conquest by incorporating the Indians in a version of the American political "family." Alternatively, the widely performed Pocahontas plays dealt with the necessity of excluding Indians politically, but also portrayed these original inhabitants as embodying the potential of the continent itself. Such examples illustrate a gap between principles and practice. It is from this gap, according to the author, that the nation emerged, not as a coherent idea or a realist narrative, but as an ongoing performance that continues to play out, without resolution, fundamental ambivalences of American national identity.
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Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
E98 .P99 S34 1998 (Browse shelf) Available 0000001735828

Includes bibliographical references (p. 181]-191) and index.

The "Indian problem" and the question of national identity -- Cooper and the sources of American national identity -- Domesticating the drama of conquest: Pocahontas on the popular stage -- Mary Jemison and the domestication of the American Indians -- Black Hawk's Life: the Indian as subject of history -- A guide to remembrance: the capitol tour and the construction of a U.S. citizenry.

Publisher description: Americans' first attempts to forge a national identity coincided with the apparent need to define--and limit--the status and rights of Native Americans. During these early decades of the nineteenth century, the image of the "Indian" circulated throughout popular culture--in the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, plays about Pocahontas, Indian captivity narratives, Black Hawk's autobiography, and visitors' guides to the national capitol. In exploring such sources as well as the political and legal rhetoric of the time, Susan Scheckel argues that the "Indian question" was intertwined with the ways in which Americans viewed their nation's past and envisioned its destiny. She shows how the Indians provided a crucial site of reflection upon national identity. And yet the Indians, by being denied the natural rights upon which the constitutional principles of the United States rested, also challenged American convictions of moral ascendancy and national legitimacy. Scheckel investigates, for example, the Supreme Court's decision on Indian land rights and James Fenimore Cooper's popular frontier romance The Pioneers: both attempted to legitimate American claims to land once owned by Indians and to assuage guilt associated with the violence of conquest by incorporating the Indians in a version of the American political "family." Alternatively, the widely performed Pocahontas plays dealt with the necessity of excluding Indians politically, but also portrayed these original inhabitants as embodying the potential of the continent itself. Such examples illustrate a gap between principles and practice. It is from this gap, according to the author, that the nation emerged, not as a coherent idea or a realist narrative, but as an ongoing performance that continues to play out, without resolution, fundamental ambivalences of American national identity.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

This work is a highly readable, very timely reflection on some important ways the image of Native Americans was used to create a national identity for the US. Because attempts to destroy Indian societies and cultures formed the greater part of the reality of American distinctiveness, the Indian had to be recreated in an imaginary way and woven into the fabric of American consciousness in a kind of remembrance that was really about forgetting the deeper truth: that a nation based on principles of equality developed worldwide hegemony on the principle of ownership of property, including the lives and souls of slaves and the cultures and territories of Native Americans. A romantic, historical amnesia is found in the literature of Cooper, in the plays about Pocahontas, in the captivity narrative of Mary Jemison, in the life histories of Black Hawk and King Philip, and in the sculpted art found in the US Capitol rotunda. Scheckel's cases not only give details about the wishful imagery of the early 19th century but guides us to where we can continue to find nationalist nostalgia. Recommended for all library collections. K. S. Fine-Dare Fort Lewis College

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Susan Scheckel is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Memphis

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