San Jose State University Communications Essay

Literature Review:

What is a literature review?

A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period.

A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates. And depending on the situation, the literature review may evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant.

But how is a literature review different from an academic research paper?

The main focus of an academic research paper is to develop a new argument, and a research paper is likely to contain a literature review as one of its parts. In a research paper, you use the literature as a foundation and as support for a new insight that you contribute. The focus of a literature review, however, is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.


Evaluate the research that has already been done on this genre of films. This step assumes that you are starting to conduct your own study. Your research does not need to match your findings. This will allow you to see the far reaching comprehensive understanding of what other scholars are saying.

Find 4-6 peer reviewed scholarly journal articles. For each article briefly summarize the important findings of the study.  (Start with the library databases Academic Search Premiere and Omnifile)

Annotate and discuss the importance. Are you finding different things as you approach your own study? Is the research confirming some of the ideas you are finding? Why is the research important?

Examine where there are still areas of this genre left unexplored? If you were to continue your study where would you do with your analysis and research?

  • Include a Works Cited of all your sources
  • The literature review should be about 3 pages double spaced.
  • After you complete your Literature Review add an “addendum” section:
  • In this section please take a paragraph or two to explain how your research and study will be different than the scholarly research that already exists. How will you be original? Please also include any changes to your research question and/or any changes to artifacts, guiding questions or theories.
  • Your literature will be assessed on:
  • – Ability to find 4-6 scholarly journal sources

    – Ability to summarize important information from the sources

    – Ability to evaluate and add discussion to the sources

    – Ability to compare source findings to your own study

    – Ability to offer critical evaluation and new thoughts to the genre

    Comm 145I Case Study Topic Choice Worksheet
    Step 1:
    Write question here: How does representation of Native Americans differ in mainstream
    white- produced Hollywood movies as compared to Native American-produced films of
    the 1990s?
    Step 2:
    Artifact names:
    1. Pocahontas (1995)
    2. Dance with wolves (1990)
    3. Smoke Signals (1998)
    4. Naturally Native (1998)
    Step 3:
    Guiding Question1: What is the general depiction of Native Americans in the Pocahontas? How
    does it differ from the foreign Englishmen arriving in America?
    Guiding Question 2: How is the idea of using a “white voice” in telling stories preponderant to
    the Pocahontas?
    Guiding Question 3: Would you say that Pocahantas was a progressive movie in terms of
    Guiding Question 4: What historical inaccuracies can be seen in the Pocahontas and Dancing
    with wolves?
    Guiding Question 5: What are the similarities and differences in depicting Native Americans in
    the Pocahontas and Dancing with wolves?
    Guiding Question 6: What are some of the evident and drastic differences in the representation
    of Native Americans in the white-produced Pocahontas and Dancing with wolves, and Native
    American-produced Smoke Signals and Naturally Native?
    Guiding Question 7; What are the similarities between Native American Portrays in Smoke
    Signals and Naturally Native with that of Natives in contemporary America?
    Step 4:
    Check the two theories you will be using:


    Cultural Identity
    Hollywood’s West: The American Frontier in Film,
    Television, & History ed. by Peter C. Rollins, John E.
    O’Connor, and Making the White Man’s Indian: Native
    Americans and Hollywood Movies by Angela Aleiss (review)
    Robert Murray Davis
    Western American Literature, Volume 42, Number 1, Spring 2007, pp.
    104-106 (Review)
    Published by University of Nebraska Press
    For additional information about this article
    [ Access provided at 16 Nov 2022 19:35 GMT from San Jose State University ]
    W estern
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    laugh at their credulity, their propensity to overreact, and their ill will toward
    the feline killer they so gleefully insist on seeing everywhere. Indeed, Wingfield
    uses humor and small gestures to tell what could have been a darker, more
    turbulent story. In addition to mountain lion hunters, he affectionately comments on computer gadgets, new-age advice books and self-styled gurus, and
    the middle-class, midlife anxieties that make people think they need them.
    Wingfield has surrounded Charlie with the most understanding women (his
    ex-wife, daughter, current lover, and fantasy crush) this side of a Dickens novel,
    who recommend books and a guru to ease the distress that Charlie denies.
    We never forget that Charlie is working out his midlife reckoning in the con­
    temporary West. The novel is permeated with his observations about sprawl, traf­
    fic, vistas shut off, subtle signs of changing seasons where seasons supposedly do
    not change, subtle gradations of belonging where long term is measured in years
    instead of generations. And of course the plot traces the collision of an animal
    native to California— the mountain lion— and one typical of California— the
    transplanted human. Though Charlie’s personal problems are resolved happily
    enough, the issues that Charlie confronts remain. New people still pour into
    Sacramento. A zoo, however generous its appointments, is no home for a moun­
    tain lion. Andrew Wingfield has captured a sense of the pressures we live with in
    the West and our various responses— grim, funny, self-deluding, sometimes gal­
    lant. His novel adds another angle to classic musings over the fate of California.
    Hollywood’s West: The American Frontier in F ilm , Television,
    & History. Edited by Peter C. Rollins and John E. O ’Connor.
    Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005. 392 pages, $40.00.
    M aking the White M a n ’s Indian: Native Americans
    and Hollywood Movies. By Angela Aleiss.
    Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005. 211 pages, $44.95.
    Reviewed by Robert Murray Davis
    University of Oklahoma, Professor Emeritus
    Though not unprecedented, it is unusual to discover a collection of essays, how­
    ever tightly themed and carefully chosen, that is superior to a single-authored
    book on a single subject. But anyone who wants to learn about film and has time
    to read only one of these books should definitely choose Hollywood’s West.
    Not that Aleiss’s book is badly written or incompetent. She screened an
    impressive number of films— four-and-a-half pages, double-columned— dug into
    archives across North America to read production files and other materials,
    and interviewed as many people involved with the films as she could reach.
    Moreover, her conclusions are honestly, even painstakingly, arrived at: treat­
    ments of Indians have followed cycles; audiences prefer nostalgic portraits to
    examinations of contemporary Indian problems; many pseudo-Indians, includ­
    R e v ie w s
    ing Iron Eyes Cody and Jay X Brands, have passed as Indians; Hollywood has
    been uneasy about miscegenation.
    However, Aleiss spends far more time discussing archival material, reviews,
    and responses in the press than she does in analyzing the films themselves, so
    that we learn what people intended to do or thought they had done rather
    than what they actually did. Most films get a few paragraphs of plot summary
    connected to her arguments. Sometimes a star’s demands for changes— Richard
    Harris in A Man Called Horse, Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson— explain
    changes in fictional or historical narratives. Sometimes governmental objections— the Marine Corps to a planned production of the Ira Hayes story that
    became The Outsider; Army sensitivity to portrayals of Custer and Geronimo;
    Office of War Information directives about the treatment of minorities in
    World War II— influenced the ways in which films were made.
    But films as films are almost ignored. The Fast Runner gets one paragraph.
    Smoke Signals gets four, but most of them deal with director Chris Eyre’s com­
    ments on what he had done. Aleiss whips through dozens of films in “Hollywood
    and the Silent American,” a chapter anticipated and in most ways superseded
    by Andrew Brodie Smith’s Shooting Cowboys and Indians: Silent Western Films,
    American Culture, and the Birth of Hollywood (2003). She does spend four pages
    on Dances with Wolves, but again the novelist Michael Blake’s comments—
    including the characterization of Kevin Costner as “a ‘frat boy’ with a taste for
    adventure”— hold center stage (144).
    Compared to Alexandra Keller’s more extended comparison of Dances
    with Wolves in “Historical Discourse and American Identity in Westerns since
    the Reagan Era” in Peter Rollins and John O ’Connor’s collection, Aleiss seems
    almost simplistic. Paraphrasing Hayden White, Keller maintains that history
    “is not separate from or, in its alleged objectivity, opposed to cultural produc­
    tion; it is a cultural production.” She contrasts the method of classic Westerns
    that use “a realist aesthetic” to make material seem accurate. “Despite— indeed
    because of—this exterior appeal to apparently genuine detail and the mono­
    lithic, inviolate discourse of History itself, the Western is the bearer of its own
    seamless authenticity” (241). In the terms of this argument, Dances with Wolves
    is “revisionist in content” but formally nostalgic “because it never problematizes
    historiophotic method” and “attempts to recuperate the category of Individual
    Anglos” so that John Dunbar can “speak in place of [the Sioux] while seeming
    to speak for and even with them” (243).
    While Keller applies theory to film quite subtly, J. E. Smyth is perhaps the
    most accomplished research scholar among the thirteen contributors (eight
    of them women) to Hollywood’s West. Using screenwriter Howard Estabrook’s
    notes, correspondence, and annotated copy of Edna Ferber’s novel, she argues
    in “The New Western History in 1931: RKO and the Challenge of Cimarron”
    that Estabrook “confronted the tradition of written history, placing the struc­
    ture and rhetoric of historiography in counterpoint with the cinema’s potential
    W estern
    A m e r ic a n
    l it e r a t u r e
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    20 07
    visual history of the West” (38). Smyth points out the obstacles to filming the
    novel at all: such as RK O ’s financial instability and the recent failures of other
    epic treatments of the West. She also goes into some detail about the way
    that the actual film embodied Estabrook’s vision, and she argues that students
    of Westerns have ignored or disparaged Cimarron because it does not support
    dominant expansionist ideology.
    Kathleen A. McDonough takes a comparative approach in “Wee Willie
    Winkie Goes West: The Influence of the British Empire Genre on Ford’s
    Cavalry Trilogy.” The empire genre was popular in the 1930s when American
    filmmakers began to recognize the dangers of fascism and England as a line of
    defense. After World War II, America replaced Britain as the dominant force in
    world affairs, and the cavalry films emphasized the spread of civilization (versus
    the Western’s emphasis on the individual) and the positive role of women as
    civilizing forces in the goal of assimilating former enemies. Unlike the “adult”
    Westerns, which were pessimistic about the viability of social institutions (see
    also Matthew J. Costello’s “Rewriting High Noon” in this collection), these
    films held hope for society as well as the individual.
    These essays are more equal than some others in the collection— most of
    which are workmanlike; a few smell of the seminar room; one or two seem, in
    Lucky Jim’s words, to be “a pseudo-investigation of non-problems.” But as a
    whole the collection justifies Ray Merlock’s view that “rethinking, reimagining, and realigning the Western with contemporary issues of race, class, gender,
    and violence will lead to newly refined … critical, cultural, and historical
    analysis” (xi).
    Students will also be grateful for the extensive filmography and bibliogra­
    phy, though some may wonder at a writer who feels compelled to describe what
    Hereford cattle look like, or the reliability of the editors, who regard Blazing
    Saddles as “the most mindless” Western comedy (20).
    A W oman’s Place: Women W riting New Mexico. By Maureen E. Reed.
    Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005. 355 pages, $21.95.
    Reviewed by Marta Lysik
    Humboldt-Universität, Berlin
    A Woman’s Place: Women Writing New Mexico by Maureen Reed spotlights the
    lives of six twentieth-century New Mexican women through the prism of what
    Reed dubs “homesickness,” a term denoting the irreconcilability of the imagined
    and the real homeland. The romanticized image of “The Land of Enchantment,”
    a multicultural paradise promised by travel guidebooks, clashes with the quotid­
    ian effort of border crossing. The trailblazing activism of these women, informed
    by both tradition and modernity, was aimed at preserving the cultural heritage
    and contributing to the ideal of a multicultural state.
    Book Reviews
    Making the White Man’s Indian: Native Americans and Hollywood
    Movies. Angela Aleiss. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005.
    As far back as 1894, kinetoscope users marveled at the staged image
    of exotic, feather-adorned American Indian warriors stamping about in
    Edison’s The Sioux Ghost Dance. Ever since, Native American images
    have been an important part of celluloid history and popular culture in
    the United States.
    In her book Making the White Man’s Indian: Native Americans and
    Hollywood Movies, Angela Aleiss provides a succinct exploration of this
    extensive history. Relying heavily on archived studio production
    materials, correspondence, trade papers, reviews, and on the hundreds
    of films that she viewed for the book, Aleiss traces the cyclical
    reoccurrences of filmic representations of Native Americans, including
    stereotypes such as the treacherous primitive, the innocent child of
    nature, and the noble savage, all while acknowledging the complexities
    and ambivalences that exist within these images. Aleiss also explores
    the roles played by real-life Native Americans in the history of US film
    production as directors, actors, and crewmembers. Of particular value
    is her discussion of Native Americans’ continual struggles to improve
    their representations and increase their participation in Hollywood
    through the formation of trade organizations and through activists’
    critiques of Hollywood fare.
    Aleiss’ book is strongest in its examination of the production history
    of individual films, especially in terms of studio and director influence
    over the finished product. Her ample research is the most compelling
    when she factors in the influences of larger socio-political forces and
    trends. Particularly effective are her discussions of the impact of the
    Great Depression and the New Deal on the changing Native American
    image and the influence of the Office of War Information (OWI),
    which, wishing to elide racial tensions in the United States during
    World War II, required Hollywood’s American Indian characters to be
    submerged into America’s melting pot, allowing little cultural
    difference to shine through.
    In addition, this book is quite useful as a reference for plot
    information about scores of Westerns and other films featuring Native
    American characters. Sometimes, however, when assessing images in
    individual film texts, Aleiss seems to depend too much on synopsis
    15405931, 2007, 2, Downloaded from by San Jose State University, Wiley Online Library on [16/11/2022]. See the Terms and Conditions ( on Wiley Online Library for rules of use; OA articles are governed by the applicable Creative Commons License
    rather than providing in-depth analysis. Although she does analytically
    engage with the content of some films, many times this discussion is
    too dependent upon the statements of the filmmakers and critics from
    the time of the movie’s production and release, as opposed to her own
    contemporary critical viewing eye.
    Her scrutiny of individual films also could benefit from incorporating ideas from other scholars of film studies. For instance, Aleiss
    sometimes alludes to similar tropes between Native American and
    African American on-screen images, particularly during the period of
    the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She might be able
    to offer additional insights into these similarities by drawing upon the
    large body of theoretical and historical work completed by African
    American film scholars. Her treatment of John Ford’s The Searchers
    (1956) similarly might be bolstered by engaging more with scholarly
    works about this film and about the Western genre. Widening the
    book’s scope in this way would further enhance Aleiss’ already
    considerable research into the production of, and critical response to,
    these films.
    Given the small number of books that deal specifically with Native
    American images in cinema, Making the White Man’s Indian is a
    valuable contribution to Native American scholarship that should
    especially appeal to individuals new to the topic of American Indian
    images in film. Aleiss covers a vast amount of Native American
    cinematic history, and she provides a clear and understandable overview
    of many of the films and figures that played a prominent role in this
    history. Although this book has limitations, these limitations highlight a myriad of possibilities for future research on the subject of
    Native American representations in Hollywood.
    Brian J. Woodman
    University of Kansas
    15405931, 2007, 2, Downloaded from by San Jose State University, Wiley Online Library on [16/11/2022]. See the Terms and Conditions ( on Wiley Online Library for rules of use; OA articles are governed by the applicable Creative Commons License
    Book Reviews
    Native Americans in the Movies: Portrayals from Silent Films
    to the Present by Michael Hilger (review)
    Mª Elena Serrano Moya
    Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 48, Number 1,
    Summer 2018, pp. 68-69 (Review)
    Published by Center for the Study of Film and History
    For additional information about this article
    [ Access provided at 16 Nov 2022 19:28 GMT from San Jose State University ]
    Film & History 48.1
    Hilger begins by presenting and
    explaining the two traditional stereotypes of
    Native Americans in movies, the Noble Red
    Man and the Savage, and how they have
    become tools for the white establishment to
    reflect and address the issues of their times.
    Thus, films with Native Americans characters
    have generally been concerned with white
    issues and have failed to fully represent or
    develop their native characters. In this
    introductory chapter, Hilger also comments
    briefly on Native American females and ends
    with some comments about the importance of
    editing and how it shapes our perceptions of
    these characters. Thus, a close-up of a Native
    American character with the appropriate
    lighting and low-angle shot will make him
    threatening, such as the first time Scar or
    Geronimo appears in The Searchers .
    The following chapter takes us on a
    visual tour from the Silent Period to the
    Present. In this edition, instead of writing
    individual chapters for each decade finishing
    with a comprehensive list of films from that
    decade as the author did in his previous
    edition, he has now opted to gather all the
    information in a unique chapter. I find this
    grouping more clear and effective as readers
    are offered a visual account of how the films
    and the depictions of Native Americans were
    embedded in social and historical events in
    those decades. For instance, the celebration of
    the arrival of Columbus not only brought a
    renewed interest in and image of Native
    Americans but it also brought attention to
    Native Americans directors like Chris Eyre or
    Sterlin Harjo, who are constructing a new
    visual portrayal of Native Americans with
    their own voices and words.
    The titles from the late 1990s and
    early 21st century are welcome, for there aren’t
    many books that cover more current films.
    (An exception is M. Elise Marubbio’s Killing
    the Indian Maiden (2006), with its analysis of
    images of Native American women in movies,
    which takes us to 2005). It is true that we
    encounter individual articles about specific
    movies but I believe that researchers, students
    Native Americans in the Movies:
    Portrayals from Silent Films to the Present
    Michael Hilger
    Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015,
    464 pages, ISBN 978-1-4422-4001-8
    When Michael Hilger published From Savage to
    Nobleman: Images of Native Americans in Film in
    1995, the United States of America was still
    recovering from the post-celebration blues of
    the quincentenary of the arrival of
    Christopher Columbus to the American
    continent. The first years of the decade
    witnessed a resurgence of Native protests
    about the American Holocaust, as some
    Native scholars have called it, and its
    problematic celebration. The film industry,
    which is always a measure of the social
    temperature, released several key Indianthemed movies with huge success. Thus, at
    that time, Hilger’s book was a necessary
    shout-out to those who had suddenly
    discovered Native Americans in movies.
    Twenty years later it was necessary to
    continue with that work, as the portrayal of
    Native Americans in movies has not ended
    and the participation of Native American
    actors and directors in the movie industry has
    increased. Therefore, not only does Hilger add
    more titles from last decade of the 20th
    century and from the first two decades of 21st
    but he has also updated some of the
    information from the first edition,
    reorganized the book, corrected and changed
    some information and added a valuable index
    of movies. This update has made it a ‘must’
    for scholars concerned with depictions of
    Native Americans in films or film history.
    The book is composed of three main
    chapters: a filmography chapter in which
    movies are organized in alphabetical order,
    and several appendixes organizing the titles
    according to the nation the native characters
    belong to; a chapter on the portrayal of
    Native Americans; and a classification of TV
    movies with a useful presentation of movies
    in chronological order.
    Film & History 48.1
    For researchers looking for films
    dealing with specific tribes, Hilger has
    included a chapter classifying films according
    to the tribe the native character belongs to.
    Even more, Hilger classifies the movies
    according to image portrayal. One of the most
    significant changes from the previous edition
    is the inclusion of a chapter with an inventory
    of TV movies, which recognizes that
    television reaches a greater audience than
    films and represents an important factor in
    shaping the attitudes and opinions of society.
    In my view, the inclusion of this chapter is
    one of the book’s great achievements. Finally,
    in the last chapter, Hilger presents a complete
    listing of titles classified in chronological
    Hilger accomplishes the goals he sets
    in the first pages of the book. He has made
    this book an essential tool for students and
    scholars who work on portrayals of Native
    Americans. I look forward to further editions
    of this book when more titles of movies and
    new productions for widescreen cinema or
    TV become available.
    and historians need more comprehensive and
    thorough works like Hilger’s. Even more,
    Hilger’s book comments on some movies that
    rarely appear in the analysis of Native
    American depictions such as Imprint (2007),
    Christmas in the Clouds (2005) or some Native
    American productions apart from the widelycommented on Smoke Signals (1998), a film
    directed by Chris Eyre and based on Sherman
    Alexie’s stories. However, I find Hilger’s final
    analysis of the 2000s a bit misleading as he
    mixes white and Native Americans
    productions. The latter would be more visible
    if they were included in a specific chapter,
    which might underscore how Native
    Americans are defying traditional stereotypes,
    speaking for themselves and about
    themselves. Also, Hilger leaves out analysis of
    key movies in the 1990s that include
    important Native American characters such as
    Dead Man (1995) and Pocahontas (1995), and in
    the 2000s such as Windtalkers (2002) and Flags
    of our Fathers (2006).
    The last content chapter includes an
    analysis of new images of contemporary
    Native Americans, not in Westerns and not as
    vehicles for white society but as characters
    able to stand on their own and offer us images
    of life in reservations and in cities, and of
    Indian traditions, ceremonies, and religion–in
    other words, characters completely distinct
    from the two stereotypes traditionally
    assigned to Native Americans.
    The following chapter must be
    considered one of the most comprehensive
    and detailed classification of movies in which
    Native Americans have a ‘significant role’,
    using Hilger’s own words. Firstly, the movies
    are presented in chronological order, giving us
    information about the date of the release, the
    director, the cast, length, its availability, the
    nation of the Native American character, the
    image portrayal, a brief summary of the plot
    and, when available, some brief comments by
    critics. In the previous editions of the book,
    the listing was included after each decadechapter but I find this approach more useful
    and effective.
    Mª Elena Serrano Moya
    Universidad Internacional de La Rioja
    Book Reviews
    of the attack. During this time, the site at Pearl Harbor
    shifted from a memorial of the men who died on
    December 7, 1941, to the World War II Valor in the
    Pacific Monument, created in 2008, which now encompasses four museums and is operated partly by the US
    Navy and partly by the National Park Service.
    The book examines the multiple narratives connected
    with Pearl Harbor, including the military men who died
    there, those who survived the bombing, civilians living
    in the vicinity, including native Hawaiians, and Japanese
    veterans. Over time, as the memory of World War II
    recedes and the survivors who provided a human face
    for the terrible tragedy that took place there pass away,
    the site and its purposes have evolved. The tensions and
    political infighting that took place over what the site
    should become are the focus of White’s narrative.
    White discusses the voices of the survivors and how
    their personal narratives are being saved as a central
    part of one of the museums. As examples, he focuses
    on three people who made numerous presentations at
    Pearl Harbor for visitors: an American chaplain who
    was an enlisted Navy man at Pearl Harbor on December 7 and who later reconciled with Japanese veterans,
    a Japanese-American man from California who
    enlisted in the army after Pearl Harbor even though his
    family was interned in Wyoming, and a Hawaiian
    woman whose family was caught up in the bombing.
    Technology has preserved these reminiscences,
    although the difference between the embodied encounters that visitors have had with real people and the electronic encounters that the next generation will have
    alter the dynamics, as living history with all its complexity and the interaction with an audience are
    reduced to short videos that never vary.
    The chapter on cultures of commemoration examines the transformations in memorializing the victims
    through the evolving nature of the December 7th ceremonies. He compares the US Navy ceremonies from
    1962 and 2013, both of which contain many of the
    same rituals, although the later ceremonies have
    Hawaiian and Japanese elements. Since 1980, with the
    opening of the visitor center, the National Park Service
    has sponsored anniversary events as well.
    The least successful chapter may be on films that
    memorialize the attack, since only two are connected
    with the visitor center. The most interesting part is the
    comparison of the two orientation films that were
    made for the visitor center, the first in 1980 and the
    new version completed in 1992, and how they differ in
    tone and intent. One of the major changes was the
    deletion of a scene that implied Japanese-American
    complicity in the attack. White also discusses the 1943
    film December 7, directed by John Ford, the first
    attempt to present the attack in a narrative film.
    Although a longer version was filmed, it was edited to
    a thirty-seven minute short that was used for wartime
    fundraising and morale-boosting campaigns and won
    the 1943 Academy Award for Documentary (Short
    Subject). There are also brief discussions of the welldone joint American-Japanese 1970 film Tora! Tora!
    Tora! and the 2001 spectacle Pearl Harbor, which was
    mostly special effects and a love triangle rather than a
    serious presentation of the attack.
    The tensions that exist across the entire landscape
    of museum and memorial spaces at Pearl Harbor end
    the book. In creating the new museum, there were various stakeholders whose views had to be consulted,
    appeased, and incorporated, including the American
    military, the US government, veterans, and community
    members. The last question as one leaves the exhibit,
    “How did December 7 affect you and your family?,”
    tries for a sense of inclusion for visitors who reflect
    colliding narratives.
    This ethnographic study of Pearl Harbor considers
    the very public nature of national history in national
    spaces and how the range of voices represented
    expands as the historical events become more distanced. White writes, “From the time the memorial
    was constructed as a visitor center, it has transformed
    from an architectural memorial and location for military remembrance to a complex social institution telling the history of the Pearl Harbor attack and the
    Pacific War to world audiences” (125). Overall,
    White’s presentation of the transformation of the landscape of Pearl Harbor from a single memorial to a
    monument with multiple museums is both fascinating
    and sobering.
    –-Sally E. Parry
    Illinois State University
    Native Americans in the Movies:
    Portrayals from Silent Films to the
    Michael Hilger. Rowman and Littlefield, 2016.
    It has been frustrating over the past thirty-five
    years, answering and re-answering the same questions
    regarding American Indians and the American Indian
    Book Reviews
    experience from students ranging in age from six to
    forty-five. “Do Indians live in tipis? Why are Indians
    so mystical? What is in that ‘peacepipe’ they smoke?
    What’s so bad about the ‘Redskins’ and other Indian
    mascots?” And so on, ad nauseam. The age group
    really does not matter; I get the same litany of questions. Mindful of my promise to myself and to my
    American Indian friends to remain patient and to avoid
    overly sarcastic responses, I answer the mind-numbing
    questions with measured language delivered in sincerity-dipped tones. When I have asked non-Indian
    students what they think of American Indians, the sixyear-olds respond, “They are mean!” and the older
    students say, “They love nature.” So, through all we
    have been through as a pluralistic and multicultural
    nation, it is not a stretch to conclude that with regard
    to American Indians and their American experience,
    non-Indians remain, as a group, pretty clueless. To
    what can we attribute this condition? We can blame
    school curricula that omit and distort the American
    Indian experience, and we can blame schoolteachers,
    prekindergarten through graduate school levels, who seldom speak of American Indians in the present tense.
    We can blame museum curators and scientists whose
    fascination with American Indian bones (just the
    bones) seems boundless. We can blame governmental
    policymakers who patronize in repetitive cycles,
    deciding whether to “help” American Indians or to
    “allow” American Indians to help themselves. To the
    extent that the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal governments are run by American Indians, we can blame
    American Indians themselves. Throughout my academic career, I have focused my attention on television
    and movie portrayals of American Indians for their
    complicit roles. As a father, I grew frustrated during
    my kids’ most impressionable years with having to
    explain Disney’s (and other cartoonists’) racist portrayals of American Indians. And I am not alone in this
    frustration with Hollywood. Over the years, researchers have detailed how films, television shows, and
    images in popular culture propagate and perpetuate
    this collective ignorance. From Robert F. Berkhofer,
    Jr.’s seminal 1978 The White Man’s Indian to Michael
    Ray FitzGerald’s 2014 Native Americans on Network
    TV, a steady stream of studies analyzes this phenomenon from multiple angles—photographic images,
    images in popular culture (TV, film, advertisements,
    etc.), and school textbook treatment of the American
    Indian experience.
    To this flood of evidence, we can now add Michael
    Hilger’s Native Americans in the Movies: Portrayals
    from Silent Films to the Present. Hilger divides this
    very enlightening and useful study into two parts—a
    ninety-one-page critical examination of film portrayals
    of American Indians/First Nation peoples and a 337page encyclopedic listing, arranged alphabetically, “a
    new canon of most sound films [and television films]
    and a solid representation of silent films (and the rare
    animated short) in which Native Americans and First
    Nation characters play a significant role” (93). This
    listing is subdivided further in three appendices
    —“Films by Nation” (seventy-one different Nations/
    Tribes listed), “Image Portrayals of Native Americans”
    (e.g., “attack on a fort,” “homosexuality,” “Native
    American activist,” “romance between mixed-blood
    Native American man and a white woman,” “vengeance,” etc.), and television films.
    The essence of Hilger’s critical examination of cinematic portrayals of Native Americans is a reiteration
    of the well-documented dichotomous depiction of
    American Indians in films as either the Savage Savages
    or the Noble Savages. As Hilger succinctly states,
    “With only minor variations. . . all Native American
    characters have been reduced to the extremes of the
    Noble Red Man or the Savage. The repetition of these
    images encodes or programs audiences, depending on
    their individual backgrounds, to believe they really
    know Native Americans as mistreated noblemen or
    dangerous enemies” (7). Hilger provides more specific
    and nuanced analysis, however, in discussing the contributory role of film techniques (shot distance, shot
    angle, framing, editing, and casting of American Indians to play American Indian roles) in expressing attitudes toward Native American characters (8). To those
    unfamiliar with such techniques, this is very helpful
    analysis. It goes some distance in helping to explain
    how the stereotypes and the distortions keep manifesting themselves in film and television.
    Of course, the “minor variations” to which Hilger
    alludes are of interest in and of themselves. Dances
    with Wolves is instructive. With all its historical and
    cultural verisimilitude (details associated with language, living conditions, even minute details in beadwork, quillwork, and hairstyles), the film does not
    avoid typical Hollywood thematic pitfalls. Dunbar,
    the white frontiersmen, falls in love with a “Lakota”
    woman who just so happens to actually be white
    (What are the odds?). Dunbar’s consensual sexual
    encounter is with a white woman; thus, a cinematic
    Book Reviews
    taboo—consensual miscegenistic sex—is avoided. And
    what should one make of an “all Indian” dichotomous
    treatment of images of self? In Dances with Wolves,
    the Lakota are the nobles, and the Pawnee are the savages. Upon its release (and absent its first forty-five
    minutes) everyone loved Dances with Wolves—everyone, that is, but the Pawnees!
    Teachers, other academicians, and researchers will
    find the encyclopedic entries helpful in identifying
    films featuring American Indian/First Nation portrayals for use in classrooms or for research purposes as the
    author lists the title, year, director, screenplay author,
    prominent cast members, length and other “specs”
    (color, black & white, sound, silent, etc.), the tribe/nation portrayed and provides a brief description of the
    “image portrayal” (some function of either the Savage
    Indian or Noble Indian portrayals) and a very brief
    “summary” of the film as well as the format in which
    the film is available (“availability”).
    In addition to including Canadian First Nations
    films in his study, Hilger also contributes to the scholarship in film portrayals of Indigenous peoples by discussing recent films by American Indians themselves
    as well as recent collaborative portrayals on film and
    television. Unknown to many outside the realm of
    Native/Indigenous Studies, these particular films offer
    a more intimate and contemporary self-examination of
    the American Indian/First Nations experience. Films
    such as Harold of Orange, Smoke Signals, Skins, Dance
    Me Outside, Three Warriors, Powwow Highway, and
    Imprint go some distance in helping audiences better
    understand the contemporary experiences of American
    Indians and First Nations peoples. Just to see Native
    peoples portrayed not wearing buckskins or “war
    paint” is a refreshing change. And these contemporary
    portrayals of Native peoples turn out to be more psychologically complex and emotionally nuanced than in
    most prior portrayals. In other words, in these works
    Indians are portrayed as more completely human—not
    stereotypes from “column A (savage) or column B (noble savage).” Audiences experience humorous characters and humorous situations as well as troubled
    characters and dire situations. (A group of First
    Nations guys dupe a gullible white guy into participating in a concocted naming “ceremony” in one of the
    funniest scenes in Native American film.) Seeing
    Native Americans laugh on film and witnessing them
    in contemporary situations are major positive developments in the portrayal of Native Americans on film
    and television.
    Michael Hilger’s Native Americans in the Movies:
    Portrayals from Silent Films to Present broadens the
    scope, analysis, and cataloging of cinematic portrayals of Native Americans. Hilger expands his treatment to cover films and television portrayals of not
    only American Indians but also Canadian First
    Nations peoples. He captures the breadth of these
    portrayals, making sure to bring them up to the present to include not only recently produced films and
    TV shows about Native North American peoples,
    but also portrayals directed by Native Americans
    and starring Native Americans depicted in contemporary settings, facing contemporary societal and
    cultural issues. In all this he has done an excellent
    –-Jim Charles
    University of South Carolina Upstate
    Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in
    the Age of Jim Crow
    Cheryl Knott. University of Massachusetts Press, 2015.
    On September 24, 2016, President Barack Obama
    spoke at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture which was established in 2003 by an Act of Congress. It is the only
    national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history, and culture. The museum highlights both the achievements of
    African Americans as well as the tragedies and injustices that they have suffered. One of these was the
    denial of decent library service to African Americans
    because of segregation and their lack of civil rights.
    It is hard to imagine in the twenty-first century that
    public libraries, which most readers associate as timehonored advocates of equitable access to information
    for all, that it was not that many decades ago, throughout much of the twentieth century, in fact, that many
    black Americans were denied access to public libraries
    or even allowed admittance only to separate and smaller buildings and collections. While much scholarship
    has been done in many areas of civil rights, including
    the history of school segregation, there has been much
    less research published on the segregation of public
    libraries in the Jim Crow South. In fact, much of the
    writing on public library history has failed to note
    these racial exclusions.
    In Not Free, Not for All, Cheryl Knott, a professor
    in the School of Information at the University of
    Reproduced with permission of copyright owner.
    Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
    Source: Journal of Film and Video , Spring 1998, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Spring 1998), pp. 3-19
    Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the University Film & Video
    Stable URL:
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    Lieutenant John J. Dunbar (Kevin Costner)
    Stores. The Lakotas refuse, however, and ride
    and the teamster Tirnmons (Robert Pastorelli)
    back dispirited. Cradling the buffalo robe
    are already far along on their way to Fort
    Sedgewick, on the Indian frontier, when Dun
    bar asks, “How come we haven’t seen any buf
    falo?” “You can’t figure the stinkin’ buffalo,”
    appreciatively as he watches them, Dunbar
    speaks as the voiceover narrator, whom we
    Tirnmons answers, “you can’t. Sometimes
    you won’t see any for days. Other times they
    be thick?like curls on a whore.” Tirnmons
    explodes with laughter at this crude simile, but
    Dunbar registers only embarrassment and dis
    have already learned to identify with the
    entries in his journal: “Nothing I had been
    told about these people is correct. They’re
    not beggars and thieves. They’re not the
    bogeymen they have been made out to be. On
    the contrary, they are polite guests and have a
    familiar humor I enjoy.”
    appointment. Undeterred by this latest
    instance of Timmons’s unregenerate boorish
    ness, Dunbar asks, “What about Indians?”
    Incredulous, as if stunned by an impertinence,
    Tirnmons replies: “Indians? Goddamn Indi
    ans! You’d just as soon not see ’em less’n the
    bastards are dead. They’re nothing but thieves
    and beggars!” Dunbar is downcast, and the
    slow procession to Sedgewick continues in
    Much later in Dances With Wolves (1990),
    two of Dunbar’s new Lakota friends, Kicking
    Bird (Graham Greene) and Wind In His Hair
    (Rodney A. Grant), ride to the fort and pre
    sent Dunbar with a buffalo robe. Then they
    ask him if he has seen any buffalo. Dunbar
    has not, but he realizes that his friends are
    hungry and offers them food from the fort’s
    Armando Jos? Prats teaches film and American
    literature at the University of Kentucky. He is writ
    ing a book-length study of the image of the Amer
    ican Indian in the Hollywood western.
    Copyright ? 1998 by A. J. Prats
    Taken together, Timmons’s insult and Dun
    bar’s tribute identify the dialectic whereby
    Costner as the director presents his idea and
    image of the raciocultural Other?”these peo
    ple”?in Dances With Wolves, an Indian west
    ern that recommended itself to the public on
    the strength of its representation of Native
    Americans. Until then, many maintained,
    Hollywood Indians had been only useful foils
    in the story of white mythocultural self-defin
    ition. Yet here, seemingly unprecedented, was
    an Indian western “both sweeping and
    authentic in its finest particulars on Native
    American themes” (Schmers 57). “For the
    first time,” Marilou Awiakta wrote, “a highly
    commercial film portrays Native Americans
    as individuals?intelligent, complex, humor
    ous. Civilized’ (70). Like no others before
    them, these Indians were real in their ideal
    But had Costner been so unimpeachably clear
    even as he developed this new image of the
    Indian?this Indian presumably so authentic
    and so admirable that the hero could think
    JOURNAL OF FILM AND VIDEO 50.1 (Spring 1998) 3
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    To Tirnmons (Robert Pastorelli), Indians are “nothing but thieves and beggars,” in striking
    contrast to Dunbar, who comes to identify with them.
    nothing of forswearing his own culture to be,
    November 7 and 10, 1993. ABC’s edition ran
    himself, just such an Indian? To what extent
    are Costner’s ideal Indians in truth so, and
    approximately 50 minutes longer (excluding
    commercials, of course) than the theatrical
    release, which runs 181 minutes.1 I propose to
    examine and evaluate the difference between
    the two versions in the context of the canoni
    how much do they exist principally to sanc
    tion the Indianness of the white hero and to
    justify the ways of Costner to white viewers?
    Of more immediate relevance: what would
    become of Costner’s Other if it were possible
    to glimpse the process whereby Dunbar came
    to be not only an apologist for the Indian but
    himself the very image and issue of Costner’s
    refigured Indian?
    This essay calls into question Costner’s refig
    uration of the Indian. My challenge originates
    in the difference between the Dances With
    Wolves released theatrically in late 1990 and
    the edition (as I propose to call it) that ABC
    television showed as a five-hour miniseries on
    cal images and themes that Costner disputes.
    These images and themes are present in both
    the ABC edition and the theatrical release; and
    although they may at times be present only
    allusively, evocatively, they are unmistakably
    there?and as unmistakably there to be
    opposed?in Timmons’s invective against the
    Indians. The two sources of canonical figura
    tion implied in Timmons’s insult are (1) the
    conquering perspective on the Indian and the
    land in the post-Civil War West and (2) Hol
    lywood’s canonical image of the Indian as
    “Savage Reactionary” (Marsden and Nachbar
    4 JOURNAL OF FILM AND VIDEO 50.1 (Spring 1998)
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    609). The difference between the two ver
    sions of Dances With Wolves makes possible
    an evaluation of Costner’s sense of what it
    means to deliver the cinematic Indian from
    when Dunbar responds to the Lakotas with
    canonical identity as an image conquered and
    Other, the ABC edition compromises the clar
    ity of moral enunciation with which the the
    The chief interest of the ABC edition lies in
    the extent to which some of its additional
    representations of the Indian. From ironies
    such as these might we yet learn to question
    footage tends to undercut the idealized figure
    Costner’s revisionist project, perhaps to
    of the Other developed in the theatrical
    release. The following proposition is there
    fore crucial to my inquiry: the refigured
    reserve, with reproof, and even with a hint of
    disgust. Thus, if only because it complicates
    the hero’s immersion in the culture of the
    atrical release condemns the canonical
    reimagine even such a “new” Indian as this
    one of Costner’s was supposed to be.
    Indian of the ABC edition shows ironic affini
    In their unbridled enthusiasm, many who
    ties with the historical and cinematic types
    praised Dances With Wolves for its new Indian
    that Costner disputes. The Lakotas of the
    forgot that Hollywood had attempted to cre
    ate such Indians before. George Seitz’s The
    ABC edition, to be sure, are no less noble, no
    less endearing or inspiring, than those of the
    theatrical release. Yet in both versions Cost
    Vanishing American (1925) and Victor
    ner guides our perceptions of these Indians
    (presumably in full possession of their cul
    today’s viewer as maudlin and overwrought;
    but their noble Indian, though begotten of
    turn-of-the-century melodrama and the two
    tural integrity) but by means of the white pro
    reelers of the two previous decades, chal
    not so much by means of what they say or do
    tagonist’s responses to the Indians: Dunbar
    becomes, or at least presents himself as, the
    full measure of the refigured Indian. His cul
    tural conversion is meant to be so complete as
    to render him thoroughly and unambiguously
    Lakota. It is to him that we look for the whole
    image and expression of the new and refig
    ured Indian.
    In three scenes from the ABC edition (all
    omitted from the theatrical release), Dun
    bar/Dances With Wolves either exhibits
    affinities with canonical types or invokes
    Schertzinger’s Redskin (1929) may strike
    lenged the degraded savage of contemporary
    epics such as James Cruze’s The Covered
    Wagon (1923) and John Ford’s The Iron
    Horse (1924). Many of Costner’s votaries
    also failed to note that Delmer Daves’s Bro
    ken Arrow (1950) and Anthony Mann’s
    Devil’s Doorway (1950) had claimed a refig
    ured Indian four decades before Dances With
    Wolves. Moreover, in 1957, Samuel Fuller’s
    Run of the Arrow narrated the account of a
    Civil War veteran who, for the sake of a new
    start, goes west to live among the Sioux.
    Lieutenant O’Meara (Rod Steiger) becomes a
    those types as a means of separating himself
    from the very same Lakotas with whom he
    hero among the Indians, marries into the
    tribe, and protects it against white incur
    claims identity. To the extent that these scenes
    present the hero as the very type that Costner
    ner’s own.
    sion?a story, then, in many particulars Cost
    meant to oppose, the ABC edition subverts
    the refigured Indian of the theatrical release.
    It should be noted that in both versions Dun
    Even John Ford paid tribute to the American
    Indian, if belated and belabored: Cheyenne
    bar’s praise for the Lakotas requires reference
    to (and subsequent denial of) Timmons’s dec
    Autumn (1964) was perhaps as close as
    laration that Indians are “thieves and beg
    pathos of the Cheyenne exodus of 1878. And
    surprisingly few considered the claims to a
    “new” Indian in Vietnam-era westerns?Lit
    gars.” Thus, Costner’s mode of refiguration is
    dialectical: it postulates the despised Indian
    of history and film as the basis of revision.
    The ABC edition?but not the theatrical
    release?shows moments, both early and late,
    Ford’s cinema of empire could get to the
    tle Big Man (Penn, 1970), Soldier Blue (Nel
    son, 1971), Ulzana’s Raid (Aldrich, 1972),
    and even the infamous A Man Called Horse
    JOURNAL OF FILM AND VIDEO 50.1 (Spring 1998) 5
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    (Silverstein, 1971). If it had been easy to for
    get or dismiss such precedents, was it not
    because Costner’s Indians were more fash
    ionable than they were “human”?
    For the sake of his new image of the Indian,
    Costner summoned all the zeal of the devout
    believer. He had already won over a hard and
    cynical world: he had built the field, and all
    had come. Even the phantoms that had pro
    faned the game emerged from the shadows of
    shame to consecrate the national innocence.
    Surely then we could all trust Costner’s
    Indian. “I remember,” Costner told Rolling
    Stone just before the opening of Dances With
    Wolves, “that movies could always make me
    cry if they were built right?if they could get
    and persistent stuff and had been nurtured by
    compromised motive. Such “true” Indians
    enabled the white hero, among all whites, to
    transcend (though perhaps merely to evade)
    the darker consequences of conquest. Even as
    Costner declared his oneness with the fast
    disappearing Indians, he stood poised to
    claim his exemption from the national guilt.
    Three years after Costner’s triumph, the
    enthusiasm still at white heat, ABC
    announced that it had a longer and, by impli
    cation, the true and complete version of
    Dances With Wolves. The ABC edition calls
    into question the thoroughness of Dunbar’s
    conversion, that uncompromising surrender
    to the Other wherein so many had seen the
    me to understand right and wrong or if I
    Indian they accounted new. Subversive
    understood the dilemma of what a good man
    though its edition may be, ABC aired it only
    for the sake of ratings. Dances With Wolves
    was part of the network’s sweeps line-up for
    would do” (Schruers 60). Surely we did not
    lack for reassurance. The evangel was at
    hand, as was Oscar; and the Lakota, we were
    continually reminded, adopted Costner.
    November (Coe), and because a year earlier
    McDonald’s had offered the film on VHS to
    the ail-American gourmand for as little as
    $5.99, ABC had little except the heretofore
    In such avowals of Indian authenticity we saw
    examples of what Fatima Tobing Rony calls
    unseen footage with which to lure the public.2
    “the hierarchy of othering,” which she
    The network may have been challenging
    explains as “the notion that these others are
    more authentic than those” (24). Yet there was
    viewer connoisseurship by implicitly declar
    ing itself in sole possession of a version that
    something to this Indian besides his unprece
    dented status, or at least something besides
    the fervor, that did not quite seem to wash the
    hucksterism clean?something tendentious, a
    little insincere, as is often the case when drum
    rolls precede a proffered truth. Here, too, as in
    not even the most avid fan had seen. (The
    additional footage in the ABC edition consists
    of more than the three scenes I examine
    below. For example, included in the extra
    footage is an account of the fate of Fort
    Sedgewick, already abandoned when Tirn
    the centuries of white representation of the
    Indian, the fully “human” Other doubled as
    the white man’s censure of his own culture.
    mons and Dunbar arrive, and of the doomed
    Three years before Dances With Wolves,
    Patricia Nelson Limerick identified this
    scene with the deranged Major Fambrough
    [Maury Chaykin].)
    command of Captain Cargill [Michael Hor
    ton]. Also included of interest is an extended
    motive in the art of George Catlin, who
    painted North American Indians during his
    sojourn in the West (1832-39). In Catlin’s
    scheme of things, Limerick writes, “Indians
    are most significant as their existence spot
    lights the flaws and failures of white people.”
    This “arrangement,” she adds prophetically,
    “persists with undiminished vigor” (186).
    Costner’s refigured Indian, seemingly so new,
    so “first,” had been wrought of more familiar
    ABC’s advertising said nothing of footage
    that might alter the public’s perception of
    Costner’s authentic Indian. As with most
    things commercial, where more is better and
    most ever best, Dances With Wolves, the pro
    mos suggested, could only stand to be more
    satisfying for being longer. Crassness has
    ironies of its own: network TV could compli
    cate Indian refiguration merely by offering
    more to the least demanding viewer.
    6 JOURNAL OF FILM AND VIDEO 50.1 (Spring 1998)
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    Although the ABC edition contains some
    Indian figuration. Thus, peculiarly allusive, if
    not intentionally vague (though perhaps sim
    ply clumsy) in its rejection of all previous
    characterizations of the Indian, Dunbar’s trib
    footage that appears in a different order from
    that of the theatrical release, no scene in the
    theatrical release is missing from the ABC
    edition. In other words, the ABC edition
    ute already invokes otra-diegetic sources of
    anti-Indian sentiment as the proper objects of
    resistance and revision.
    would seem to be a rough cut in relation to the
    final cut?that is, then, to the theatrical
    release. (The ABC edition may in fact be the
    longer European version, which previously
    had been unavailable in the United States.) For
    If the praise of the Indian belongs not to
    Dunbar but to Costner?or if it is Dunbar’s
    the purposes of this essay, however, presenta
    tion validates textuality: the additional footage
    ceases to be mere excess the moment it is rein
    only to the extent that it is primarily Cost
    ner’s; and if, moreover, the origins of Tirn
    mons’s censure lie deep in the near-century
    of Hollywood’s dominant image of the
    tegrated into the theatrical release for exhibi
    tion. Here, then, the ABC edition is only a
    supplemental text. The supplemental text sub
    verts the ideological claims of the theatrical
    release. It therefore generates an implied cri
    tique of the more explicitly asserted dialectical
    tensions in the theatrical release?a critique,
    that is, of the theatrical release’s opposition to
    canonical sources of Indian figuration.
    Indian as degraded Other, and deeper still in
    the 500 years of conquest?then that praise
    itself establishes Costner’s intent to deliver
    the Indian from the ages of reproach that so
    clearly resonate in Tirnmons’s disdain. Here,
    then, “Costner” (or Costner/Dunbar) desig
    nates a theoretical construct at once charac
    terized by and revealed through ideological
    intention. This intent to oppose the canonical
    Indian is almost exclusively vested in Cost
    ner/Dunbar’s dual role as voiceover narrator
    Ideological Intention and the
    Emplotment of Opposition
    and protagonist: he is both spokesman for the
    Indian and himself a species of
    Unequivocal though it may seem, Dunbar’s
    synecdoche?an “Indian,” that is, in whom
    praise for the Lakotas is puzzling in at least one
    respect: except for Timmons, no one else who
    we are to see, as if for the first time, Indians
    has so far spoken to Dunbar has offered the
    least opinion, favorable or not, about Indians.
    Yet the denials (“nothing,” “not,” “on the con
    trary”) that form part of Dunbar’s voiceover
    tact” and as they never were in the western.
    as they really were in the time before “con
    Both the intention and the principal strategy
    tribute would make it seem as if the Indian has
    already been repeatedly, at any rate authorita
    tively, denounced, so that Dunbar can now
    frame his eulogy as an explicit challenge to a
    universal white idea of the Indian. Yet there is
    only, so far, Timmons; and Timmons is not
    much more than a good-natured clod, hardly
    therefore the authority that should compel Dun
    bar to offer so righteous a remonstrance, to
    for its articulation present their own
    inescapable ironies: Costner’s master plan for
    refiguring the Indian is to invest his own cin
    ematic persona with virtually the whole sense
    of what it is to be, or to have been, wild and
    free?an Indian. The voiceover supports,
    indeed enforces, that basic strategy. For we
    never know any Indian in Dances With Wolves
    as intimately as we know this white-man
    become-Indian. Nor are we ever told so much
    enunciate his eulogy in terms of contradictions,
    about Indians as we are told about this
    ner/Dunbar accords Timmons’s rebuke a
    he is, and white as both his voice and his
    dialectical status out of all plausible proportion
    to the limitations of the character. Without a
    “writing” reveal him to be, Dunbar is to be
    Indian archetypally.
    doubt, then, Timmons’s censure functions
    metonymically, as an index of the long his
    It is instructive to recall that the brutal white
    tory?including the cinematic history?of
    soldiers at Fort Sedgewick vent all their racial
    or to intone it with such vehemence. Cost
    “Indian” who does the telling. White though
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    hatred against Dances With Wolves only. The
    character that can most readily summon the
    narrative wherewithal to identify, condemn,
    and suppress white racism makes himself the
    only actual “victim” of racism. Furthermore,
    Dances With Wolves has but one battle
    Dances With Wolves, as well as for inquiring
    into its strategies of refiguration. The theatri
    cal release contests Tirnmons’s scorn of the
    Indian not only by opposing its terms (“beg
    gars and thieves”) but by suggesting that such
    scorn is a cultural trait of all white men on the
    between whites and Indians, and the sole
    frontier. Late in the action, Dunbar (now
    object of the battle is the rescue, by the Lako
    tas, of Dunbar/Dances With Wolves. Let us
    Dances With Wolves) rides to Fort Sedgewick
    to retrieve his journal. When the troopers see
    him in the distance, they immediately take
    him for an Indian (which in a way he is) and
    fire wantonly, killing his horse, Cisco. Then
    they beat him with the butts of their rifles.
    Throughout his captivity at the fort, all the
    contempt that the whites aim at Dunbar takes
    the form of racist rancor, a rancor never so
    not forget, then, the most obvious thing of all:
    the film takes its title from the Lakota name
    for the white hero; this is his story, and if it is
    also the story of a particular band of Lakotas
    at the time of “contact,” it is theirs only deriv
    atively, because he encountered?dare one
    say “discovered”??them.
    succinctly?or so viciously?articulated as
    Ward Churchill was right to include Dances
    With Wolves among the “fantasies of the mas
    ter race”: the white hero’s Indianness evokes
    the figure and fantasy not of the human and
    humane Indian but of the American Adam.
    Moreover, the rescue produces the recovery?
    rather, the restoration, for the moment carries
    an ironic affirmation of the hero’s cultural ori
    gins?by the boy Smiles A Lot of Dunbar’s
    when Sergeant Bauer (Larry Joshua) snarls at
    the badly beaten Dunbar: “[You] turned
    Injun, didn’t you? Didn’t you?” These white
    characters exist principally to establish the
    pervasiveness of the racism that has so far
    been Timmons’s alone. Even before the die
    gesis makes racism plausibly pervasive, how
    ever, Costner evokes the extra-diegetical
    sources of Indian figuration that become his
    journal. Cultural surrenders such as Dunbar’s
    were never so complete as to dissolve the white
    hero’s being in the Other’s own, or so convinc
    ing as to render him ultimately silent and at
    The Two Implied Sources of Canonical
    peace before the end of his narrative authority.
    Figuration in Dances With Wolves
    true, if implied, antagonists.
    For Dunbar must be made whole again: he
    shall be Indian, but he must have his journal
    back?his English-speaking voice, the one that
    Timmons’s remark that one would just “as
    requires no subtitles. Costner’s ideological
    are dead” recalls?in just as crude a form?
    intention therefore labors under the consider
    able weight of having to reinvent the Indian
    while continually calling attention to the trials
    and triumphs and testimonies of the white
    hero. In short, the intent to refigure depends
    almost entirely on the image of Costner as
    Indian, and if we should come to doubt the
    conviction with which Dunbar becomes a
    Lakota (as the ABC edition gives us reason to
    do), then the ideological intention of Dances
    With Wolves would be largely foiled.
    This essay adheres to Dunbar’s (counter-)
    assertion?that nothing he “had been told
    about [the Indians] is correct”?as the basis
    for identifying the ideological intention of
    soon not see” any Indians “less’ the bastards
    the declaration commonly attributed to Gen
    eral Philip Sheridan: “The only good Indians
    I ever saw were dead,” an assertion that (how
    ever vehemently Sheridan might have denied
    ever making it) would soon thereafter rever
    berate through the frontier as the refrain of
    greatest obloquy: “The only good Indian is a
    dead Indian” (Hutton 180). To the extent that
    Tirnmons may recall this calumny, to that
    extent at least does Costner/Dunbar invoke
    “the winning of the West,” and the image of
    the Indian that it produced, as objects of his
    Well before it presents white men who are of
    a mind with Tirnmons and General Sheridan,
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    ^^^^^^^^^ ^ ^^ ^
    ^^^^^^^^^^ ^ ^”JB^^^B^^tf^M^r .CT
    Ten Bears (Floyd Red Crow Westerman) accepts Dunbar’s Indian identit
    that “now there is only a Sioux named Dances With Wolves.”
    however, Dances With Wolves turns
    to the understood the aesthetics of buff
    great slaughter of the buffalo to develop
    its as a subdiscipline of what Melvi
    dialectic. The slaughter of the buffalo
    of a decade after Parkman, identified
    metaphysics of Indian-hating.”
    course, a certain way of destroying the
    of the Plains Indians. Nor did it take a lout like
    that Dunbar rides with the entire Lak
    Timmons to heap the scorn in full Now
    village to meet the great buffalo herd that
    “Except an elephant,” wrote Harvard-educated
    Francis Parkman in 1849,
    lier thundered by Fort Sedgewick, Kicki
    Bird signals for him to ride ahead with
    I have seen no animal that can surpass
    party. Instead of coming upon
    buffalo bull in size and strength, and
    theherd promised by the “gigantic swa
    world may be searched in vain to
    torn ground that the buffalo have left
    their path, Dunbar and the scouts come u
    any thing of a more ugly and ferocious
    the carcasses left behind by white hunte
    aspect. At first sight of him, every feeling
    kill the animals only for their tong
    of sympathy vanishes. No man who
    hides. A shot of a forlorn buffalo calf,
    not experienced it, can understandand
    what keen relish one inflicts his death
    slaughter’s sole survivor, completes the im
    of desecration and atrocity. As the voiceo
    wound, with what profound contentment
    of mind he beholds him fall. (306) earlier condemned the characterization of
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    Indians as “thieves and beggars,” so does it
    now articulate the Lakotas’ outrage. Over the
    dirgelike strains of John Barry’s Journey to
    the Buffalo Killing Ground, the entire village,
    somber and stunned, rides through the field,
    and then the voiceover, restrained yet less
    him Other to whites and Native Americans
    alike. And yet, though unclaimed by ethnic
    propinquity and disavowed by academic
    authority, the cinematic Indian is, if not real
    enough, then certainly distinct enough an
    entity to constitute a clear subject of dis
    course, and as clear therefore an object of
    resistance. If, then, so much American history
    Who would do such a thing? The field
    was proof enough that it was a people
    without value and without soul, with no
    unfolds as a continual dispossession of the
    indigenous people, what a surprise to see the
    cinematic Indian debased. If the vast major
    regard for Sioux rights. The wagon tracks
    ity of Indian westerns are set in the apogee of
    leading away left little doubt, and my
    heart sank as I knew it could only be
    American Manifest Destiny, what image of
    the Indian can we hope to see there besides
    white hunters. Voices that had been joy
    ous all morning were now as silent as the
    the one that has its origin in white ideas of the
    Indian?in what Robert Berkhof er has termed
    dead buffalo left to rot in this valley?
    “the white man’s Indian”? Moreover, if the
    killed only for their tongues and the price
    of their hides.
    movies belong to and emerge from the con
    quering power?if they are, as they after all
    are, the cultural inheritance of those who
    In his first opportunity to refer to white men
    other than Timmons, Costner/Dunbar renders
    five centuries of Indian-white history in terms
    of conflicting ethical identities. Nor does
    Costner make much of an effort to confine this
    condemnation to white buffalo hunters. All
    history is the site of a Manichaean struggle:
    On the one side are “these people,” with their
    love of family and their wonderful sense of
    humor ?all of it unknown to whites, except
    for this particular one who is blessed with the
    privilege of telling us so. Opposite them are “a
    people without value and without soul.” The
    voiceover, with its artless ethical suasion, pos
    tures as due and full recompense?proffers at
    the very least the lamentation?for the brute
    and irreducible fact of conquest. The severe
    dispensation whereby race decrees destiny
    now restores the balance of things cultural,
    things historical: the imperial power to dispos
    sess the Indian and desecrate the land evolves
    “won the West”?what privileged insight do
    we account ourselves anointed by for so pious
    an insistence that Hollywood misrepresents
    Native Americans? Is the perceived misrepre
    sentation not rather a starting point than the
    conclusion? Is it not the case that strategies of
    figuration that go unexamined reappear per
    sistently, even in ostensibly refigured images
    of the Indian? Inasmuch as history has always
    been the possession of the conqueror?
    always therefore in an elemental sense the
    “master(‘s) narrative”?should we not rather
    take it as axiomatic that the Hollywood
    Indian, though misbegotten, is in a very
    important way the Indian of history?
    Even in its primitive forms, the western served
    the aims of white constructions of the Indian,
    almost as if it formed a seamless continuity
    with the West of Euroamerican history: “The
    motion picture,” writes Kevin Brownlow, “not
    now into the power not only to exalt the Indian
    only reconstructed Western history?it
    but to perturb white conscience with the
    became an extension of that history” (223). If,
    account of devastation and genocide. Histori
    cal remorse alone guaranteed the Costner of
    as Richard Slotkin states, “mythic space is a
    metaphor of history, and the heroes in a func
    tioning mythological system represent models
    of possible historical action” (88), then no sin
    gle image, or rather icon, of the historical West
    presents that continuity so compellingly?or
    for the purposes of the present sketch so eco
    nomically?as that of Buffalo Bill Cody.
    the theatrical release his viewers’ acquies
    cence in the judgments of the Dunbar
    The Hollywood Indian has long suffered from
    the representational deficiency that makes
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    Filmed versions of Buffalo Bill’s “Wild
    Wayne to be the believable Indian hater in The
    West,” even those shot late in Cody’s career
    as showman, seem primitive when compared
    Searchers precisely because he knew the
    with contemporary westerns by D. W. Griffith
    Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
    or Thomas Ince. Ince’s Ouster’s Last Fight
    (1949), and Hondo (1953).
    (1912) and The Deserter (1912) or Griffith’s
    The Massacre (1912) and The Battle at Elder
    bush Gulch (1914) exhibit a sophistication
    unmatched by the extant Buffalo Bill films.
    Yet, although it “involved the same admixture
    of showmanship, stunts, and sentiments as the
    regular Hollywood Western of later years”
    (Brownlow 224), Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West”
    could claim, through the historical experi
    ences of its central figure, an authenticity that
    Indian so thoroughly, as he had earlier in Fort
    The western knows only too well how to justify
    the protagonist’s hatred. For the Indian hater, as
    perhaps only Roy Harvey Pearce could put it,
    “is a man paradoxically kept by his hatred from
    falling entirely into the very state which defines
    it” (225). Usually his family, or the family of
    those close to him, has been wiped out by the
    Indians. In this way, the Indian hater could
    stand for the Indian: his hatred emerged pre
    was no mere filmmaker’s to claim. Thus, for
    cisely from his Indianness, not as a conse
    example, the films of the “Wild West”
    quence of it or even simultaneously with it, but
    inscribe Cody as the lone hunter, on horse
    back, shooting his revolver at a disconsolate
    lot of buffaloes in an act entitled “The Buf
    convergent each upon the other, accursed and
    exalted both, coeval and identical sources of
    falo, and the Famous Huntsman in Pursuit of
    dence-Man (1857)?if not indeed Robert
    His Native Game.” The cinematic West,
    though in its infancy, already served the
    designs of empire?and not only because it
    had conquest for its “subject matter” but
    because it identified imperial history itself as
    its cultural paternity.
    To see Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), the hero
    of John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), firing
    ruthlessly into a herd of buffalo, thereby
    depriving the Comanches of their winter suste
    nance, is to come at once before the cultural
    forfeiture and restoration. Melville’s The Confi
    Montgomery Bird’s Nick of the Woods, or the
    Jibbenainosay (1837)?anticipated, and thus
    already enabled, the paradox whereby we could
    know the Indian completely through this white
    man who hated in a paradoxically just propor
    tion to his heroic stature. Yet the subtler and
    therefore more insidious version of the same
    paradox demands that what is truly Indian
    about the Indian hater be only his hatred.
    Once Ethan Edwards returns Debbie (his
    niece, who has been captive for seven years)
    to white society, he must take again to the
    wilderness. There are now no Indians in the
    type that Dunbar declares “without value and
    without soul.” Yet this image of Ethan also
    enables us to see just how formidable a mytho
    logical type Costner proposes to resist. For no
    single image in the western?which is to say,
    then, no single Hollywood icon?has so firmly
    stood for American “values,” has embodied the
    white man in whom alone the Indian lives.
    American “soul,” as John Wayne has. If Cody
    bound western history to myth, Wayne evoked
    the birth of the historical West out of mythic
    wilderness. But there are forms of freedom
    forces?in that time out of time when the muse
    wilderness but this one last wild man?this
    Ethan may not belong in white society;
    indeed, his surrender to the ways of the
    Other?consummated in his scalping of Chief
    Scar?consigns him forever to the howling
    yet to be lived even beyond such a compro
    mised destiny?the freedom of the racial con
    of Manifest Destiny had inspired national
    science from guilt, perhaps, but also the
    heroes. Ethan’s animus has nothing so mean
    hero’s own freedom, one in which we may
    glimpse his deliverance from his Indian hat
    ing even as we witness his uncontested inher
    itance of the open spaces. Where there are
    now no more Indians, there is still this white
    man, still wild and free.
    for its purpose as the price of buffalo tongues
    or hides. The tormented vision of Anglo
    American racial dominance itself shapes his
    labor of Indian hating. Besides, the natural
    ironies of American mythology enabled
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    Some sort of necessity would seem to require
    Instead of cutting from the buffalo slaughter
    the racial self-hatred of an Indian fighter who no
    scene to the nighttime dance, the ABC edi
    tion cuts to a daylight scene?the first of a
    sequence omitted from the theatrical release.
    As Dunbar and Stands With A Fist exchange
    longer has Indians to fight: where there are no
    more Indians, the hero can only hate himself.
    But racial self-hatred has no story aside from the
    story of heroic self-sacrifice that identifies the
    mythic type: when Ethan rescues Debbie?
    when he rescues her, that is, from himself?his
    Indian hating is spent, and the rescue, as the
    myth would have it, restores the hero’s “value,”
    his “soul,” even as the hero restores the captive
    woman to white society. What better Indian,
    then, than this heroic white man in whom we
    could now see a transfigured Indian?the Indian
    not as Noble Savage?not, that is, as a native
    type but as American Adam? Here was a good
    “Indian”?alive and white and mythic?to belie
    General Sheridan’s. To contest this type, as
    Costner does, was to contest not racial hatred
    but the form of that hatred, veiled and mystified,
    in a fabulation well accustomed to the paradox
    of this figure of the “Indian,” an “Indian” who
    yet doubles as Indian hater, yet an “Indian” who
    is, ambivalence and all, the very soul of Anglo
    American values.
    The Antitype and the Supplemental Text:
    Three Sequences from the ABC Edition
    Scene 1
    After Dunbar and the entire Lakota village
    ride through the field of slaughter, and follow
    ing the voiceover denunciation (“Who would
    do such a thing? . . .”), the theatrical release
    cuts to the nighttime dance. In the fore
    ground?apart and alone?Dunbar watches as
    the Lakotas dance in the background. The
    voiceover then reemerges:
    As they celebrated into the night the
    coming hunt, it was hard to know where
    to be. I don’t know if they understood,
    but I could not sleep among them. There
    furtive glances, Kicking Bird calls upon
    Dunbar to join him and the other Lakota
    scouts. These scouts, Dunbar among them,
    locate the buffalo herd. Here, as they behold
    the buffalo from a high ridge, the ABC edi
    tion matches briefly with the theatrical
    release; but soon it breaks again with it,
    showing now the return of the scouts to the
    village. When the scouts reach the village, at
    night, a dance has already begun. The dance,
    according to the theatrical release, celebrates
    “the coming hunt”; but the ABC edition
    alters both the stated purpose of the dance
    and the voiceover explanation of Dunbar’s
    isolation (i.e., “As they celebrated . . .”).
    According to the theatrical release, Dunbar’s
    separation from the Lakotas has its source in
    the white hunters’ slaughter of the buffalo.
    The ABC edition, by contrast, explains that
    separation as Dunbar’s censure of the Lakotas
    because of what they have done to the white
    hunters. What follows is the ABC edition’s
    context for the hero’s separation from the
    Lakotas, and for the corresponding voiceover
    declaration that he “could not sleep among
    As the buffalo scouts ride in, Dunbar, his
    attention already engaged by an event off
    screen, reins in his horse. Throughout the
    scene he remains well outside the circle of
    dancers, riding slowly around them as if in a
    circle of his own. Now he looks screen left,
    and the eyeline match is to the white hunters’
    wagon, buffalo robes strewn over it and on the
    ground next to it. The reaction shot of Dunbar
    is a tighter close-up than before; he now looks
    at the dancers with a clear understanding of
    had been no looks, and there was no
    what has happened. Cut to Dunbar via a
    blame. There was only the confusion of a
    people not able to predict the future.
    zoom-in, held in extreme close-up; the match
    on this point-of-view shot is a zoom-in, itself
    held in close-up, of a hand, severed just above
    the wrist, dangling from a pole above the fire.
    Racial shame enforces cultural exile, even if
    the Lakotas, as Dunbar assures us, have given
    him no damning looks.
    A subsequent point-of-view shot shows, in
    close-up, a long, flowing blond scalp dangling
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    from a pole above the fire. Following the shot
    Scene 2
    of the scalp, all the Dunbar point-of-view
    Following a series of events that chart Dun
    shots cut to the Lakotas dancing around the
    fire. Kicking Bird himself has taken his place
    among the dancers. Now the voiceover
    reemerges not only to explain what Dunbar
    sees but to justify, with an all-too-palpable
    urgency, his distance?cultural and moral?
    from the Lakotas.
    bar’s cultural transformation?beginning
    with the ritual eating of the buffalo liver and
    culminating in his emergence as the hero of
    the battle against the Pawnees?the ABC edi
    tion shows Kicking Bird and Dunbar (now
    more appropriately referred to as Dances
    With Wolves) on a spiritual journey to the
    deserved to die. But it was no use. I tried
    Black Hills. The scene produces long shots as
    breathtaking as the earlier ones in which Dun
    bar and Tirnmons made their way from Fort
    Hays to Fort Sedgewick. As they stop before
    this grandeur, Kicking Bird instructs Dances
    With Wolves: “It is said that all the animals
    to believe that Wind In His Hair and
    were born here, that from here they spread to
    Kicking Bird and all the other people who
    shared the killing were not so happy for
    having done it, but they were. As I looked
    at familiar faces, I realized that the gap
    between us was greater than I could ever
    have imagined, (emphasis added)
    feed all the people.”
    It was suddenly clear now, what had hap
    pened, and my heart sank as I tried to
    convince myself that the white men who
    had been killed were bad people and
    In the ABC edition, then, the dance celebrates
    not “the coming hunt” but the victory of the
    Lakotas over the white hunters. (The theatri
    cal release, I might note, never shows the
    Lakotas’ search for the hunters, not even their
    desire to avenge this outrage.) The ABC edi
    tion attributes Dunbar’s isolation to the cul
    tural shock produced by the massacre of the
    white hunters. Dunbar’s physical separation
    is a necessary cultural response to the Lako
    tas. He cannot “sleep among them” because
    he is morally revolted by their actions.
    Was the sequence cut because Dunbar’s
    reproof of the Lakota would undermine Cost
    ner’s intent to refigure the Indian? Is Dun
    bar’s voiceover tribute to the Lakota
    (“Nothing I had been told about these people
    is correct. . . . “)?with its implied rejection
    of the canonical Indian?as convincing in the
    ABC edition as it is in the theatrical release,
    which omits this moment of revulsion? Is
    Dunbar’s shock an expression, however unin
    tended, of affinity with the very type that
    Costner meant to resist? Had the intricacies of
    revisionist figuration subverted?if only here,
    in the supplemental text?the ideological pur
    pose that had begotten it?
    No sooner have they entered the woods, how
    ever, than Kicking Bird stops?as if in
    response to a vague portent. As the two men
    ride warily under the fall canopy, they come
    upon the site of a desecration. In a clearing,
    surrounded by felled timber, stands a tiny
    shed, as much a cultural intrusion here?a
    synecdoche of invasion?as the wagon tracks
    were on the buffalo field, or the wagon itself
    in the Lakota village. Close-ups of both Kick
    ing Bird and Dances With Wolves match on a
    medium shot of four carcasses, deer or ante
    lope, hanging from the back legs and gutted,
    but left there to rot. The men now notice the
    skeleton of another crudely fashioned shelter
    and, on the rough-hewn table within it, the
    remains of some indescribable animal parts,
    abuzz with flies. The doleful strains of Jour
    ney to the Buffalo Killing Ground are heard
    again, confirming the relation between the
    earlier slaughter of the buffalo and this pre
    sent profanation. The slow, sad ride through
    the dismal waste reveals overturned barrels,
    the rotted carcasses of a fox and of yet more
    deer, discarded whiskey bottles, prospectors’
    pans?tokens all, at once mocking and
    melancholy, of white invasion. The close-ups
    of Kicking Bird fully register the unspeakable
    outrage, but Dances With Wolves cannot con
    tain himself. Enraged, he says (in Lakota):
    “We must wait for these people.” Yet Kicking
    Bird notes that the criminals have been gone
    for more than a week. With great sadness in
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    his voice, he says, “We will water the horses
    and go home.”
    The sequence clearly alludes to the white
    assault on the Black Hills following George
    Armstrong Custer’s expedition in 1874,
    which precipitated the Great Sioux War.
    Despite its historicity, however, the scene
    might well be superfluous, since the slaughter
    of the buffalo has already elicited, through the
    services of the voiceover, the intended denun
    mentioned the taunts of the women, they
    dropped their heads in shame; but when
    he pointed out their means of vengeance,
    he struck a chord which never failed to
    thrill in the breast of an Indian. (592;
    emphasis added)
    The Black Hills sequence almost had to be
    cut if the massacre of the white hunters was
    also to be omitted. The hero might have
    seemed much too eager to hack off a hand or
    lift a scalp. He had earlier condemned the
    ciation of white rapacity. The sequence seems
    all the more unessential because we have still
    mutilation of the white hunters as an act of
    to witness (in both versions) the white sol
    diers’ wanton shooting of Cisco and, later,
    Two Socks (the wolf that befriends Dunbar).
    unbridled savagery, yet he would now appear
    to yield to the selfsame “savage” impulse?if
    only as due stamp and seal of his complete
    But the sequence, at least on the surface,
    cultural metamorphosis. To have kept the
    marks the extent of Dunbar’s cultural trans
    sequence would have meant, moreover, that
    the essential Otherness of the hero?as, by
    formation?designates, at least, the intention
    to declare that transformation complete. We
    note, accordingly, that the phrase “these peo
    extension, that of the Lakotas and, yet more,
    that of Native Americans in the white man’s
    ple,” ever so functional (not to say suspi
    cious) in the designation of the Other?and
    earlier invoked in Dunbar’s praise of the
    Lakota (“Nothing I had been told about these
    people . . . “)?now assigns cultural differ
    ence, Otherness itself, to white men. Princi
    pally, however, cultural transformation here
    takes the form of the hero’s implicit sanction
    of the impulse to avenge?an impulse that,
    when he saw it satisfied in the massacre of
    the white buffalo hunters, revolted him and
    precipitated his voiceover meditation on the
    “gap” between the cultures. Costner, intend
    ing to refigure, defines his hero’s Indianness
    by unintended yet clear reference to the time
    less canonical demand that, of all possible
    Indian Other?it is vengeance that most
    constitutes the trait at once essential and
    ineradicable. So, for example, Fenimore
    Cooper’s Magua, in full possession of his
    “red gift,” as he tries to set the Hurons against
    his white captives:
    canonical sources to equate difference with
    savagery. To be sure, then, the Black Hills
    sequence tends to cast Dances With Wolves
    not as antitype but as the “Savage Reac
    tionary” of the western’s typology. Yet it also
    displays the complexity of cultural transfor
    mation?even if in so messy a form?dis
    closes, indeed, the slippage between intention
    and figure.
    Scene 3
    traits?alone among all vices and virtues that
    enable and empower the identification of the
    exactly defines the Indian, vengeance that
    history?could be confirmed by this one cus
    tom that has time out of mind enabled the
    Of all the soldiers at Fort Sedgewick, only
    Lieutenant Elgin (Charles Rocket) shows
    concern for Dances With Wolves. When the
    soldiers bring the hero, bloody and manacled,
    to the fort’s stable, it is Elgin who proffers the
    wet handkerchief; Elgin, also, who restrains
    Spivey and Bauer; Elgin who seems less
    inclined than the Major (Wayne Grace) to
    label the hero a “traitor.” Elgin’s compassion
    is as much in evidence in the theatrical release
    as in the ABC edition. In both versions Elgin
    is the first to die in the rescue of Dances With
    When [Magua] spoke of courage, [the
    Hurons’] looks were firm and respon
    Wolves. Omitted from the theatrical release,
    however, is the following scene, in the imme
    diate aftermath of the rescue. Wind In His
    sive; when he alluded to their injuries,
    their eyes kindled with fury; when he
    Dances With Wolves stops him. Interpreting
    Hair draws his knife to scalp Elgin, but
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    this action to mean that his friend wants to
    must save Wind In His Hair from?just how
    scalp Elgin himself, Wind In His Hair offers
    Dances With Wolves the knife. Dances with
    does one put this??being too much the
    Wolves declines the offer, and Wind In His
    cannot possibly explain why the hero will not
    Hair walks off, puzzled. As the Lakota earlier
    distinguished between Dunbar and the white
    buffalo hunters, so now the white hero distin
    let Wind In His Hair take Elgin’s scalp?for
    that culture, as we have been led to believe,
    guishes between the only other humane white
    man and the rest of the vicious soldiers.
    Yet Wind In His Hair never needed Dunbar’s
    conscience to distinguish between himself and
    Indian. The canonical censure of scalping
    has long since ceased to define the hero’s
    humanity. The hero’s, of course, but not the
    viewers’?for Costner could count on his
    viewers to applaud this reassuring affirmation
    of a “civilized” moral impulse. Yet here is
    also, together with the approbation, an
    In His Hair on the distinctions between indi
    implied judgment of Wind In His Hair, and
    the source of that judgment is the supposed
    humanity of the white hero (or, again, the
    vidual and race. Besides, Elgin is no less dead
    for so nice a discernment. For whom was such
    hero’s restraint). We must therefore distin
    the white hunters, so that the arresting gesture
    could hardly have been meant to instruct Wind
    a gesture performed? Certainly we respond
    with a measure of sympathy to the effort to
    spare Elgin’s scalp, but just as certainly our
    sympathy subverts any conviction we might
    have had about the completeness of the hero’s
    transformation. Elgin thus serves the purposes
    of a stratagem whereby Costner avoids impli
    cating his hero in a custom that would have
    confirmed his Indianness even as it questioned
    postulated viewership that commends the
    guish not only good white men from bad?
    Elgin from Spivey?but good Indian from
    bad: Wind In His Hair must be different from
    the Toughest Pawnee (Wes Studi), who
    scalped Tirnmons alive. Such an irresolute
    and back-handed deliverance of Wind In His
    Hair from his own culture summons inevitably
    the revulsion that Dunbar felt at the scalping
    of the white buffalo hunters. Costner/Dances
    his humanity. (The issue here is hardly
    With Wolves would save Wind In His Hair
    whether or not scalping is indigenous to the
    Indians of North America. It was the conquer
    ing culture that coded scalping as the mark of
    the Other.) For in this sequence at least the
    conquering culture?the very type to which
    the hero would be antitype?defines “human
    ity” by contesting and condemning scalping,
    by confirming it as the mark of the Other, by
    (and by extension “the Indian”) from his own
    Indianness, even as he would implicitly
    reestablish the cultural distance that earlier
    kept him from the circle of dancers.
    Typological Exigencies and the
    Texts of Cultural Transformation
    reassigning it to its place of prominence in the
    age-old catalogue of “savagery.” The “human
    ity” that prevents Elgin from being scalped
    When Natty Bumppo sees Chingachgook
    bearing “the reeking scalp” of a French sentry,
    thus produces, no doubt despite itself, an
    he reflects: ‘Twould have been a cruel and
    implied condemnation of the Indian. Scalping
    delimits the hero’s transformation; it marks
    unhuman act for a white-skin; but ’tis the gift
    the outer margins of his Indianness and identi
    fies the threshold of inhumanity: he will there
    fore be unequivocally Lakota?fully so, down
    to the last ethnographically authentic detail?
    but (for all we know alone among all Lakota
    men) he will not take a scalp.
    Moreover, Dances With Wolves’ eagerness to
    save himself from “savagery” spills over into
    a clear, and clearly ironic, conviction that he
    and nature of an Indian, and I suppose it
    should not be denied!” (628). Only an acute
    and vigilant awareness of the difference
    between red gifts and white could secure the
    unblemished?the racially pure?paradise.
    Natty was the original of the type that Richard
    Slotkin considers central to the Myth of the
    Frontier?”the man who knows Indians” (47).
    To know Indians was hardly to be one of
    them: it was to know them not only for their
    “gifts”?for their wilderness wisdom, or even
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    ?it is the image of the white hero that bears
    the chief burden (and also claims the high
    privilege) of contesting the canonical sources
    of figuration; we are to know the real Indian
    for their fantasied freedom?but by the ele
    mental Otherness that authorized and entitled
    white mythocultural self-definition.
    In Bird’s Nick of the Woods, Nathan Slaugh
    ter, a Quaker whose family has been massa
    principally through this white man who learns
    to value, and in time claims to be, the Other.
    cred by the Indians, possesses all the
    And so the conviction with which we
    woodcraft of Natty Bumppo and none of his
    beatific wilderness wisdom. In the climactic
    embrace the refigured Indian depends on the
    completeness with which the hero becomes
    Other. There is no doubt that Dunbar would
    confrontation Nathan kills the evil Wenonga
    and then scalps him. Thus, he surrenders for
    be wholly Indian, without a trace of his for
    ever the one essential “gift” of his race?
    mer culture. In the aftermath of the battle with
    vengeance, and the wilderness reclaims his
    soul. If Cooper’s hero could be as the Indian
    yet superior for the singular good fortune of
    being white, Bird’s could be as the Indian in
    the Indian’s unmitigated savagery and lose his
    white soul in the unholy bargain. Thus, after
    he secures the wilderness for the emergent
    dynastic powers, he takes to the woods again,
    there to be lost forever. ‘Thee would not have
    exults: “I felt a pride that I had never felt
    before. I had never really known who John
    Dunbar was. Perhaps the name itself had no
    meaning. But as I heard my Sioux name being
    me back in the Settlements,” he says to the
    high-born Roland Forrester by way of refus
    ing conquest’s promised bounty, “to scandal
    ize them that is of my faith? No, friend, my
    lot is cast in the woods” (402).
    that he will leave the village because the vin
    dictive soldiers will hunt him down, and when
    Christian forgiveness. He sates his
    the Pawnees, for example, the voiceover
    called over and over, I knew for the first time
    who I really was.”
    Later, following his captivity among the white
    soldiers, Dances With Wolves tells Ten Bears
    they find him they will also find the village
    and destroy it. However exaggerated the
    hero’s sense of his own importance, Costner
    anoints him with a complete Indian identity:
    “The man that the soldiers are looking for,”
    More than a century later, John Ford (via Alan
    LeMay’s novel) would reinvent Nathan
    Ten Bears replies, “no longer exists. Now
    there is only a Sioux named Dances With
    Wolves.” No longer merely “the man who
    Slaughter in the image of Ethan Edwards. The
    near-miracle of Fordian economy would ren
    der Nathan/Ethan the unregenerate hero in
    two memorable images: (1) Ethan, horse and
    knows Indians,” and certainly no Indian hater,
    he renounces his typological inheritance.
    all, emerges from the lodge of Chief Scar
    Renunciation makes for an improbable strat
    egy of opposition. If Costner comes to reject
    the full range of canonical sources, he also
    bearing Scar’s scalp; (2) at the threshold of
    the Jorgensen home (which has become
    America itself, “the fine, good place to be”),
    Ethan turns and walks away into the open
    rejects the dialectical imperatives through
    spaces as the door closes on him.
    which he had proposed to refigure the Indian,
    beginning with Dunbar’s declaration that
    Between Natty and Nathan/Ethan lies the
    “nothing [he] had been told about these peo
    range (far broader than the similarity of the
    names would seem to render it) of types that
    Costner intended to oppose. More than the
    ple is correct.” The decisive moment of
    renunciation precedes the battle with the
    white soldiers. When the major offers him
    ethnographic correctness of Dances With
    clemency if he will lead them to the Lakota
    Wolves, more than its casting of Native Amer
    icans in the roles of Lakotas and Pawnees,
    With Wolves responds defiantly?and in
    more even than its almost fastidiously proper
    Lakota (which is of course unintelligible to
    camps and serve as “interpreter,” Dances
    appeal to the Lakota language as a way of
    the soldiers)? “I am Dances With Wolves. I
    insisting on the cultural integrity of the Other
    have nothing to say to you. You are not worth
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    makes evident?Costner/Dunbar’s
    rather a transparent surrender to
    white fantasy,
    one all the more dangerous
    because it is in part just such a fantasy that pro
    duces the canonical types that
    Costner meant to
    resist. The refigured
    Indian of the theatrical
    suffers from the paradox whereby he is
    ourselves release
    once exotic?outside (ex?) the range of tha
    recognize, at
    canonical types for refusing toin
    engage them?
    and the very source of thesePerhap
    canonical types.
    Not in his Indianness,
    in his Adamicity?or
    to but resist
    in his Indianness
    only to the discurs
    extent that we rec
    ognize in it die untainted, prelapsarian hero of
    and beggar.
    the conquering
    culture?do we figure
    behold Cost
    ner’s refigured “Other.”
    In the theatrical release, Costner’s refigured
    The ABC edition subverts the theatrical release
    Indian, vested almost entirely in the character of
    not by contradicting it but by complicating it.
    Its antitype?its own version of the theatrical
    the white hero, fulfills his ideological intent
    only under penalty of irony. If only because he
    avoids the complications of cultural transforma
    tion?the complications that the ABC edition
    release’s Costner/Dunbar?seems so much
    more reluctant to yield to the Other, so much
    more disposed to emphasize the difficulty, even
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    phosis. The three sequences from the ABC edi
    tion underscore the hero’s difficulties?his
    its manifestation in the plenitude of his
    Adamic being. Do we then know Costner’s
    Other to be other than what he has been
    cultural aporia?on his way to becoming wholly
    Other. The ABC edition therefore suggests that
    Other ever but what the Other ever has been?
    Costner glimpsed the incongruity between inten
    the supplement of the Same?
    to hint at the impossibility, of cultural metamor
    before?in history or in film? Was such an
    tion and figure. I emphasize one last time that the
    ABC edition is no less insistent on the com
    pleteness of the hero’s cultural transformation
    than the theatrical release is. But where the the
    atrical release leaves no trace of the hero’s for
    visibly the erasure (to appeal to Derrida); it func
    1 In the fall of 1994, Orion Home Video
    released a version subtitled the “Widescreen
    tions as the palimpsest that reimposes upon fig
    ure and intention alike the marks of doubt and
    Expanded Edition.” The three sequences that I
    discuss in detail are almost identical in the
    mer cultural self, this version reveals all too
    distance, of reserve and revulsion. The ABC edi
    “Expanded Edition” and the ABC edition. The
    tion thus appears both as a discursive possibility
    aspect ratio is, of course, different. I refer to the
    longer version throughout as “the ABC edition,”
    and a discursive possibility already abandoned,
    or at least deferred. Even when the omitted
    if only to avoid the confusions of polytextuality
    sequences are reintegrated with the text of the
    created by commercial motives that are largely
    theatrical release, they function principally to
    present an absence, to emphasize an omission.
    The ABC edition is therefore a textual ‘Other” to
    the textual “Same” of the theatrical release. We
    irrelevant to this essay.
    2 The Nielsen ratings for the week of Novem
    ber 5-11, 1993, show that ABC did well on Sun
    day the 7th (three hours) against Murder, She
    Wrote and Ghost, both on runner-up CBS; it did
    know these sequences as the erasures whereby
    the Other of the theatrical release?that is, the
    even better, however, on Wednesday the 10th
    (two hours) against CBS’s In the Heat of the
    Night and 48 Hours, NBC’s The Mystery of the
    Sphinx and Law and Order, and Fox’s Me Irose
    Place (Miller 22). ABC returned with Dances
    With Wolves for its February 1995 sweeps, but
    Indian refigured through the image of the white
    hero?is made present not as a refigured Other
    but as an ideal Same.
    The ABC edition compels us to distrust the sim
    this time it did not show the long version. Thus,
    plicity of the theatrical release, to take the prof
    fered cultural conversion of the hero?and thus
    the total programming …

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