The Department of History at Texas Tech University in conjunction with the Cross-Cultural Academic Advancement Center and the Museum of Texas Tech University will host "When Indians Play Indian: A Symposium" on November 6th 2009 from 8:30 to 5pm at the Museum of Texas Tech University.
Some of the most exciting work in the fields of Native American history/studies, over the past 10 years has been produced by Philip Deloria, currently of the University of Michigan. In two books, Playing Indian and Indians in Unexpected Places, Deloria espoused two intriguing ideas that this symposium hopes to link together to produce an exciting new area of Native American historical scholarship. In Playing Indian Deloria examined the curious penchant that has existed among Americans as far back as the colonial period for dressing up as Indians. From the Boston Tea Party, to the Camp Fire Girls, to the hippy movement, non-natives have appropriated Native dress from nearly the first moment they encountered them. However, that appropriation always reflected (and still reflects if the current Native American Mascot issue is any indication) a rather distorted and static view of Native people on the part of the dominant culture. Indians in Unexpected Places took this analysis a step further in that it examined the many ways in which Native people have throughout the twentieth century lived outside the stock images of their culture held by whites. From their involvement in filmmaking, music, sports and their adoption of technology, Native Americans have, in Phil’s words, “engaged with modernity,” in the same manner as the rest of us. Yet, society’s persistence in viewing them as relics frozen in time has often prevented us from seeing this.
Now this symposium, and the edited volume it is designed to produce, intends to push these ideas even further. We intend to examine instances throughout the history of North America in which Native People have purposely “played Indian,” that is to say acceded to the caricatured version of themselves created by whites in order to obtain their ultimate ends from whites. Each paper presented in the symposium and the edited volume will study a specific situation or encounter in which Native People consciously acceded to white cultural expectations of what a “real Indian” is in order to gain the leverage by which to extract from the dominant culture their particular objectives.
Dr. Ethan Schmidt
Department of History
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX 79409
806-742-1004x261 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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