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ISBN: 9781551524252-06

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Performing Indians

From: The Imaginary Indian


Movies, shows and theatre invariably situate Indians in the past, usually on the western frontier. The result is that Indians in the movies seem marginal to modern life. Sympathetic regret or retrospective outrage are the feelings these movies seem most likely to evoke. In a sense, Indian movies have never really been about Indians at all. They have been about White concerns: White guilt, White fear, White insecurity. The persistent popularity of Performing Indians—whether in the Wild West Show or in the movies—suggests that these forms of entertainment respond to a deep anxiety that non-Natives have about our place in North America, and a deep need to legitimate our presence here.



Daniel Francis

Daniel Francis is an historian and the author/editor of more than twenty books, including five for Arsenal Pulp Press: The Imaginary Indian: The Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture , National Dreams: Myth, Memory and Canadian History, LD: Mayor Louis Taylor and the Rise of Vancouver (winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award), Seeing Reds: The Red Scare of 1918-1919, Canada's First War on Terror and Imagining Ourselves: Classics of Canadian Non-Fiction. His other books include A Road for Canada, Red Light Neon: A History of Vancouver's Sex Trade, Copying People: Photographing British Columbia First Nations 1860-1940, The Great Chase: A History of World Whaling, New Beginnings: A Social History of Canada, and the popular Encyclopedia of British Columbia. He is also a regular columnist in Geist magazine, and was shortlisted for Canada's History Pierre Berton Award in 2010. Daniel lives in North Vancouver, BC.