Why the Myth of the “Savage Indian” Persists

Iconic children’s books and popular media that Gen Xers grew up with are riddled with damaging Native stereotypes—but things may finally be shifting. Peter Pan, the beloved children’s classic, is sure to stun modern readers with its descriptions of “redskins” carrying “tomahawks and knives,” their naked bodies glistening with oil. “Strung around them are scalps,[…]

Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830

The 1830 Indian Removal Act led to the displacement of the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Cherokee tribes of the Southeast. By Dr. P. Scott CorbettProfessor of HistoryVentura College Introduction Pro-Jackson newspapers touted the president as a champion of opening land for white settlement and moving native inhabitants beyond the boundaries of “American civilization.” In this[…]

Warriors of the Rainbow: The Birth of an Environmental Mythology

How did Greenpeace develop this affinity with Native Americans? The German branch of Greenpeace announced itself to the world in June 1981 when two activists climbed a smokestack in Hamburg and festooned it with a banner which read: Erst wenn der letzte Baum gefällt, der letzte Fluss vergiftet und der letzte Fisch gefangen ist, werdet[…]

Church, State, and Competing Ideologies Regarding the Indian Removal Act of 1830

Controversies surrounding the 1830 Indian Removal Act reflected the Early Republic’s problem of church and state. “I most sincerely desire that the historian, who shall write a hundred years hence, may be enabled to say… Georgia has not repeatedly, within a few years past, threatened to take the lands of Indians by force,” wrote Jeremiah[…]

On Native Ground: Indigenous Presences and Southern Narratives of Captivity, Removal, and Repossession

How contemporary southeastern Native writers work to repossess homelands that they rearticulate not as “the South” but as Native ground. Overview This essay argues that mainstream, familiar concepts of a bordered South and a recognizable southernness, however permeable and flexible, are mostly dysfunctional when it comes to American Indian literatures. “Native southern ground” can nevertheless[…]

Native Americans and the Origin of Abraham Lincoln’s Views on Race

Native Americans influenced the formation of Abraham Lincoln’s racial ideology. December of 1862 was a grisly month of a grisly year. Abraham Lincoln received dire reports from the horrifying battle at Fredricksburg, Virginia, and he had an eye on the scene unfolding on the windswept prairie of Mankato, Minnesota. In that far-flung corner of the[…]

African and Native Americans in Colonial and Revolutionary Times

Ideas about racial and cultural identity, even among indigenous people, have changed significantly over time. Joseph Louis Cook and Pierre Bonga One such person is Joseph Louis Cook, the son of an African-American father and an Abenaki mother who had both been taken captive by the Iroquois. Cook himself was raised in the Mohawk community[…]