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ERIC Number: EJ799700
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 28
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
Custer's Last Sitcom: "Decolonized Viewing of the Sitcom's "Indian""
Tahmahkera, Dustin
American Indian Quarterly, v32 n3 p324-351 Sum 2008
Playing Indian is one of the oldest and most pervasive forms of American cultural expression, indeed one of the oldest forms of affinity with American culture at the national level. This form of expression is "central to efforts to imagine and materialize distinctive American identities." Enacting redface has historically aided European Americans in various quests for identity and authenticity since the Revolutionary Era. Non-Native sitcom characters, too, have explored what it means to be authentically American and authentically "Indian" simultaneously through the process of playing "Indian." In this paper, the author introduces "decolonized viewing," an approach to interpreting these televisual "Indians," and then applies this process to his analyses of playing "Indian" in "The Brady Bunch" "The Brady Braves" (1971), "Saved by the Bell" "Running Zack" (1990), and "My Wife and Kids" "Michael's Tribe" (2002). Connected through an aim to educate characters and ultimately viewers, these three chief-filled episodes, which continue to air today in rerun form, present newly found "Indians" who share or receive supposed knowledge about Native Peoples in the process of playing "Indian." As narratives in which characters--often children and teenagers--fail to learn important lessons about real Indigenes, the episodes also largely fail in their attempts to educate viewers. Instead, they reiterate longstanding stereotypes and representations of "Indians." In the process, they also reveal key intersections between playing "Indian" and notions of authenticity, multiculturalism, and cultural appropriation that predominantly situate Native Peoples within a limited logic of what constitutes "Indianness." (Contains 47 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A