Cultural Pluralism in American Theatre and Drama – Second Printing
Edited By Marc Maufort
Cultural Pluralism and Performance 7
Cultural Pluralism and Performance This page intentionally left blank Simplifying the Native American: Wild West Shows Exhibit the "Indian" Sarah Blackstone The dominant white culture in American has long been content to view the Native American as a representative of a single homogeneous culture (Indian), and within the binary construct of noble savage/barbarian. Native Americans have not often been portrayed as, or considered to be, complex individuals who are members of many complex cultures. This strategy of marginalizing and simplifying the Native American began with the first European explorers and continues in the 1990s.1 This practice developed out of the complex relationships formed among Native Americans and the settlers and soldiers of various European cultures during the conquest of the Americas. Some individuals developed a great respect for, or a great hatred of, individuals of other cultures. Through years of unrest, negotiation, fighting, and captivity individuals formed opinions about who (and by association, what culture) could or could not be trusted. While the various cultures fought to win or preserve the land for their families and their herds, deep hatreds, grudging friendships, and confused loyalties emerged. White Americans learned about the Native American through stories, dramas, and newspaper accounts of the conquest of the wilderness featuring settlers and soldiers as actors and heroes. The ambivalent attitude toward the Native American displayed by the various authors, showmen and reporters was communicated to the white cultures through the literature and popular entertainment of the time. Native Americans learned about the white cultures...
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