October 23, 2013

White saviors in Indian comics

Two 1950-era comic books show the widespread trope of the "white savior" in Native-themed storytelling.

FirehairFirehair is a comic book character who appeared in features in the comic book anthology Rangers Comics (also known as Rangers of Freedom), published by Fiction House. Firehair premiered in Rangers Comics #21 (February, 1945) and appeared in every issue up to #65 (May 1952). She also appeared in eleven issues of her own quarterly title from Winter 1948 to Spring 1952.The mild-mannered daughter of a Boston businessman, she was attacked by white men dressed as Indians and rescued by the Dakota.Under Little Ax's care, Lynn quickly took to the tribal ways and soon grew to be the equal of any member, male or female. Dubbed Firehair by the tribe, she showed abnormal physical prowess and a single-minded ferocity in battle and ultimately surpassed everyone as a warrior.

Firehair exhibits a keen eye, a suspicious nature, a fearless attitude in the face of danger and a great deal of drive and determination. Most of the Dakota tribe look to her as a de facto leader in the absence of Chief Tehama.

White Chief of the Pawnee Indians

Apparently Pawnee Bill, who resembles Buffalo Bill, is the "White Chief" in question. I gather he's the star of this book and leads the Pawnee against other savage Indians.

For more on the white savior in Native-themed storytelling, see Dances with Wolves and Avatar.

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