February 15, 2016

Beverly Hillbillies: Indians were first

Season 1, Episode 26 of The Beverly Hillbillies was titled Jed Cuts the Family Tree. It aired March 20, 1963. Here's a key exchange occurs between Cousin Pearl and Jed Clampett:PEARL: Well, Jed, now that we's high society, I can't be seen riding around in that old truck.

JED: Since when is we high society?

PEARL: Since that historical lady found out that your ancestors come to this country 'fore the Mayflower.

JED: What's that got to do with me?

PEARL: That's the way society works, Jed. The earlier your kinfolk got here, higher up that puts you.

JED: Well, then I reckon the high society folks is the Indians.

PEARL: No, it don't work that way.

JED: How come?

PEARL: I don't know how come.

JED: Well, they was here before anybody else.

PEARL: Now, Jed, let's not try to change the rules. Let's just start enjoying the game.
You can see a video clip of it here:

Jed Cuts the Family Tree

In his book Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms, Dustin Tahmahkera says this exchange "may be the first time in sitcom history...to recognize pre-settler American history." He adds that Jed recognizes a "contemporary Indian presence" by saying "is the Indians" rather than "was."

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

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