April 12, 2015

"Exhibited as a savage"

I recently read The Only Good Indian: The Hollywood Gospel by Ralph and Natasha Friar. Published in 1972, it's a good history of Indians in Hollywood until that point. It focuses on movies, as most books of this type do. It's especially strong on the Wild West and traveling medicine shows that preceded the movies, as well as the early years of the movie industry.

I'll post a few fun facts from the book to pass the time. And to keep my blog streak going, since I don't think I've missed a day since I started.

Today's excerpt from the book shows how Indians have protested media stereotypes almost since the beginning:At the 1913 conference of the Society of American Indians, a Sioux, Chauncey Yellow Robe, was one who spoke out:Is there anyone here that will tell me that the Wild West Show is a good thing for the Indian?...What benefit has the Indian derived from these Wild West Shows? None....[T]he Indian Bureau under our government is constantly encouraging the Indian to degenerate by permitting hundreds of them to leave their homes for fraudulent savage demonstrations before the world....We see the Indian. He is pictured in the lowest degree of humanity. He is exhibited as a savage in every motion picture theatre in the country.

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