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“Any Room Left Out There on the Frontier?”

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“Any Room Left Out There on the Frontier?”

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  1. “Any Room Left Out There on the Frontier?” • 1925: Zane Grey, The Vanishing American • What other Americans were “vanishing”? • American urban population doubling every decade • Protestant majority threatened by millions of Catholic & Jewish immigrants into cities • Emigrants move westward (now by RR) • Oklahoma territory invaded, treaty broken, Cherokees & related tribes forced into system of private property

  2. An Icon – For Better or for Worse • Romanticization of Native American • James Fenimore Cooper • Karl Bodmer, George Catlin, Frederic Remington • More realistic portrayals • Mark Twain, Horace Greeley • Popular Imagination: identification with landscape? • Symbol of “vanishing America” (Frederick Jackson Turner) • Anthropological interest at turn of century • Franz Boas, Elsie Clew Parsons, et al. collect “folklore” • Scientific and Social Scientific Approaches • What was it really like to be an Indian in 1491?

  3. U.S. Indian “Policy” • Contrast history of Eastern, Midwestern, Far Western & Southwestern Indian tribes during 19th century • Removal, reservation, re-removal, rebellion? • “No council to be held with the Indians . . . The men are to be slain whenever and wherever they can be found” – Genl. James Carleton, Union Army in Southwest during Civil War • “The idea that a handful of wild, half-naked, thieving, murdering savages shouold be dignified with the attributes of a nation enter into reaties and claim a country 500 miles wide by 1000 miles long because they hunted buffalo, might do for a beautiful reading in Cooper’s novels or Longfellow’s “Hiawatha,” but is unsuited to the intelligence and justice of this age or the natural rights of mankind.” – U.S. govt. official in 1868 • Cultural pathways intact, disturbed, or destroyed? • Navajo, some Pueblo peoples & NW tribes only ones still “in place” • Creation of Bureau of Indian Affairs

  4. Assimilation • Movement to “Americanize” Indians in “Indian schools” • Make Native American into Jeffersonian yeoman farmer? • “We must kill the savage to save the man!” – Richard Henry Pratt, founder of Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania • Zitkala-Sa taught at Carlisle School, later resented it • Accused of ingratitude • Her images of “Americanization” in Impressions of an Indian Childhood (1899) • Reflect experience of displaced rural worker in city? • Who is reading her in the Atlantic Monthly, and why “apples . . .”? • Is the “Indian” still vanishing? • Current demographics, social data • New Western History: Patricia Limerick’s Legacy of Conquest (1987) • Current cultural imagery • What does the “Indian” represent to the 21st-century U.S.?

  5. “Gertrude Bonnin” (1876-1938) • b. Pine Ridge, SD on Sioux reservation • White father (“Felker”) • Age 8: White’s Manual Labor Institute, IN • Santee School • Scholarship to Earlham College, IN • Violin scholarship to Boston Conservatory

  6. Identity Politics • Took name “Zitkala-Sa” in adolescence • Used as pen name for Atlantic “Indian” articles • 1902: m. Raymond Bonnin, mixed-blood Sioux w/BIA • Moved to Utah reservation • Civil rights activism • 1916: moved to Wash DC • 1926: founded National Council of American Indians • “Pan-Indian” identity • Citizenship, voting rights • Reorganization Act (1934)

  7. Native American Writer, or American Writing About Natives? • Indian stories oral not text • Tribal traditions vary widely • Stripped of cultural context, are they real, or only romanticized? • e.g. is Pocohontas or “Hiawatha” an “Indian” story?