"For a subject worked and reworked so often in novels, motion pictures, and television, American Indians remain probably the least understood and most misunderstood Americans of us all."

-John F. Kennedy in
the introduction to The American Heritage Book of Indians

Monday, March 29, 2010

a little introduction...


Hello and welcome to my blog that is not about Native Americans. That's right, this blog is not about Native Americans.

Instead, this blog is more about an idea, an idea has existed in the world for over 500 years. An idea born from a seed of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and outright fabrication. This idea grew into a tree of mixed beliefs and mixed emotions. While some of the branches have been rightfully trimmed, others remain dangling in the wind, waiting to be seen by all.

This idea of course, is the Indian. Now before I get any angry emails, let me explain. When I say Indian or better yet “Indianness” what I am referring to is the collective constructed natures of the indigenous peoples of North America. I say collective because there are many variations of Indianness or Indians. I say constructed because they are built from elements of truth, fiction, and myth. I say natures because they go beyond physical characteristics to describe thoughts, actions, and beliefs.

This Indianness takes on different forms. Indian depictions in popular culture range from tasteless to priceless, mildly amusing to mostly racist, innocent to arrogant, informed to ill-advised, fearless to careless, and just plain weird! You have your proud warriors, your bloody savages, your loyal sidekicks, your skulking adversaries, your beautiful princesses, your disappearing races, and your harmonious nature dwellers. They are used in television, movies, literature, comic books, music, video games, holidays, sports teams, advertising, consumer products, clothing, and social organizations. With this blog, I intend to catalog many of the different permutations of Indianness both from the past and the present and explore how and why people used them. In doing so, I hope to create a valuable resource to bring awareness to this always fascinating, sometimes frightening, and often puzzling topic.

Finally, as a general disclaimer, I feel compelled to say that no, I am not American Indian myself. I would not even be so bold as to say something silly like, “some of my closest friends happen to be Native American” cause that isn't true. I'm simply someone who has been lucky enough to study this topic in an academic setting and lived and worked with two different inspiring native communities. I'm not quite sure where this experiment may lead but I'm willing to find out. I truly believe that knowledge is power and awareness is the key to change.

I'm open to all suggestions and comments so let me know what you think.

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