Liberty, Equality, Power: a history of the American People 5/e



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Questions to consider:
1. Examine the cast of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. What sorts of people are represented? What role did Indians play in Cody's production? Were they partners in the production or objects of it? How accurate a depiction of Western life did Cody's show seem to offer?

2. Based on the advertisement for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, how did Cody "sell" the West to the outside world? What elements of the West did he exaggerate and which did he ignore? Why might eastern audiences have found Cody's product so enticing?

Poster-Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
1. Examine the cast of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. What sorts of people are represented? What role did Indians play in Cody's production? Were they partners in the production or objects of it? How accurate a depiction of Western life did Cody's show seem to offer?

Your answer should include the following:


• Large numbers of Indians
• A few Anglo women; more Anglo men
• Indians largely undifferentiated
• Presents a West in which Indians remained a central fixture, and had not been pushed to marginal reservation lands
• Created an image of West as wild, tamed by whites' martial skills
• No apparent role for blacks, Hispanics

2. Based on the advertisement for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, how did Cody "sell" the West to the outside world? What elements of the West did he exaggerate and which did he ignore? Why might eastern audiences have found Cody's product so enticing?

Your answer should include the following:
• Mixed in exotics from various parts of the world
• Emphasis on martial competition
• Emphasis on riding (horses and camels)
• Limited presence of women, if any
• Little evidence of corporate interests, wage labor
• No evidence of settlements or farms
• West as a place of adventure and freedom

U.S. History

Mr. Detjen

Source Analysis


“‘Americanizing’ the Indian”

The federal government began a program to “Americanize” Indians in 1887, by force if necessary. Children were separated from parents and sent to boarding schools such as the one at the Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania. Its founder, Captain Richard Pratt, explains the rationale for the schools in the first document below. In the second document, Zitkla-Sa (later known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin) describes the experience from an Indian point of view.

DOCUMENT 1

Advantages of “Americanizing” Indians

A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man….

It is a sad day for the Indians when they fall under the assaults of our troops, as in the Piegan massacre, the massacre of Old Black Kettle and his Cheyennes at what is termed “the battle of the Washita,” and hundreds of other like places in the history of our dealings with them; but a far sadder day is it for them when they fall under the baneful influences of a treaty agreement with the United States whereby they are to receive large annuities, and to be protected on reservations, and held apart from all association with the best of our civilization. The destruction is not so speedy, but it is far more general….

The Indians under our care remained savage, because forced back upon themselves and away from association with English-speaking and civilized people, and because of our savage example and treatment of them….

We make our greatest mistake in feeding our civilization to the Indians instead of feeding the Indians to our civilization. America has different customs and civilizations from Germany. What would be the result of an attempt to plant American customs and civilization among the Germans in Germany, demanding that they shall become thoroughly American before we admit them to the country? Now, what we have all along attempted to do for and with the Indians is just exactly that, and nothing else. We invite the Germans to come into our country and communities, and share our customs, our civilization, to be of it; and the result is immediate success. Why not try it on the Indians? Why not invite them into experiences in our communities? Why always invite and compel them to remain a people unto themselves? …

The school at Carlisle is an attempt on the part of the government to do this. Carlisle has always planted treason to the tribe and loyalty to the nation at large. It has preached against colonizing Indians, and in favor of individualizing them. It has demanded for them the same multiplicity of chances which all others in the country enjoy. Carlisle fills young Indians with the spirit of loyalty to the stars and stripes, and then moves them out into our communities to show by their conduct and ability that the Indian is no different from the white or the colored, that he has the inalienable right to liberty and opportunity that the white and the negro have. Carlisle does not dictate to him what line of life he should fill, so it is an honest one. It says to him that, if he gets his living by the sweat of his brow, and demonstrates to the nation that he is a man, he does more good for his race than hundreds of his fellows who cling to their tribal communistic surroundings….



Source: Official Report of the Nineteenth Annual Conference of Charities and Correction (1892), pp. 46–59. Reprinted in Richard H. Pratt, “The Advantages of Mingling Indians with Whites,” Americanizing the American Indians: Writings by the “Friends of the Indian” 1880–1900 (Cambridge, Mass., 1973), pp. 260–271.

DOCUMENT 2

An Indian Girl's Experience

Late in the morning, my friend Judewin gave me a terrible warning…. She heard the paleface woman talk about cutting our long, heavy hair. Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards! We discussed our fate some moments, and when Judewin said, “We have to submit, because they are strong.” I rebelled.

“No, I will not submit! I will struggle first!” I answered….

I watched for my chance, and when no one noticed I disappeared, I crept up the stairs as quietly as I could in my squeaking shoes—my moccasins had been exchanged for shoes…. On my hands and knees I crawled under [a] bed, and cuddled myself in the dark corner….

What caused them to stoop and look under the bed I do not know. I remember being dragged out, though I resisted by kicking and scratching wildly. In spite of myself, I was carried downstairs and tied fast in a chair.

I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades on the scissors, against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit. Since the day I was taken from my mother I had suffered extreme indignities. People had stared at me. I had been tossed about in the air like a wooden puppet. And now my long hair was shingled like a coward's! In my anguish I moaned for my mother, but no one came to comfort me. Not a soul reasoned quietly with me, as my own mother used to do; for now I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.



Source: Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), “The School Days of an Indian Girl,” Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 89 (1900) January–March, pp. 45–47, 190, 192–194.




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