February 27, 2015

Civil War Indian in Bewitched

An old episode of Bewitched featured an Indian character. Here's the story:

Bewitched: Season 2, Episode 9
...And Then I Wrote (11 Nov. 1965)Because she feels it's a worthwhile community event, Samantha agrees for Darrin to do the advertising for a Civil War pageant without telling him beforehand. The problem is is that Darrin has no time to do the work, but he feels he can't back out on Samantha's word. In a tit-for-tat move, Darrin in turn gives his word to the event organizer that Samantha will do something for the pageant, namely write it. Despite having intimate knowledge of the event itself, Samantha is having writer's block. Endora suggests that she materialize the characters in front of her so that she can get a better idea of the story once those characters are in front of her. Once she materializes her three main characters--a Confederate soldier (complete with his steed), his Yankee love interest, and a native American--two problems arise. First, a nosy Mrs. Kravitz sees these characters materialize and disappear in and out of thin air. Second, the characters materialize whenever Samantha thinks about them. Samantha has to figure out a way to make her vivid imagination not so vivid so as to control when the three characters appear. She may get the answer how to do so directly from her vivid cast of characters.

Comment:  As usual for "Native" appearances in the late 1950s and the 1960s, this episode is a mixed bag.

On the negative side, the Indian is dressed as a stereotypical "brave." Unlike the soldier and his lady, he doesn't have a name. And he's played by an actor named Tom Nardini--probably a non-Native of Italian descent.

On the positive side, the Indian--unlike the soldier and his lady--talks like a modern man. In fact, he talks like a youth from a "beach blanket" movie, with phrases like "cool cat" and "daddy-o."

I think he's the one who suggests an ending for Samantha's story. Alas, it involves the soldier dying tragically and the lady mourning his loss.

And it's odd for an Indian to be associated with the Civil War. Very odd.

Civil War Indian

Indians were involved in the war--especially in the West, after their removal from the South. Some info on the subject:

Native Americans in the American Civil WarNative Americans in the American Civil War composed various Native American bands, tribes, and nations. Native Americans served in both the Union and Confederate military during the American Civil War. At the outbreak of the war, for example, the minority party of the Cherokees gave its allegiance to the Confederacy, while originally the majority party went for the North. Native Americans fought knowing they might jeopardize their freedom, unique cultures, and ancestral lands if they ended up on the losing side of the Civil War. 28,693 Native Americans served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, participating in battles such as Pea Ridge, Second Manassas, Antietam, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and in Federal assaults on Petersburg. A few Native American tribes, such as the Creek and the Choctaw, were slaveholders and found a political and economic commonality with the Confederacy. The Choctaw owned over 2,000 slaves.This Indian doesn't look or act anything like a Civil War participant. In fact, the episode doesn't explain why he's there or what his connection is.

But simply saying the Civil War has a Native connection is unusual. That's more history than you'll get from most TV appearances of "Indians."

Below: Jackson McCurtain, Lieutenant Colonel of the First Choctaw Battalion in Oklahoma, CSA.

A Civil War Indian dressed like a stereotypical "brave" from another time and place.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

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