The Image of Indian Women in American Culture

The Pocahontas Perplex: The Image of Indian Women in American Culture
Author(s): Rayna Green
Source: The Massachusetts Review , Autumn, 1975, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Autumn, 1975), pp.
Published by: The Massachusetts Review, Inc.
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Retrospect & Prospect
only to the Great Spirit of the savages and to his own good
deeds” (p. 439). But the Indian’s use of the providential the
ory is intended to exonerate the white settlers, not to inform
us of his religious beliefs. And in the construct of historical
foreordination the end was already appointed from the begin
ning of time, so that the means to the end will appear as noth
ing when compared with the force of God’s will.
By explaining his own and his nation’s extinction with a
providential interpretation of history, “Chingachgook” relieves
the settlers (and presumably the nineteenth-century reader) of
moral responsibility. He offers the fiction that he is not the
victim of evil deeds, and that the settlers are not the perpe
trators of high crimes. Rather, both are the tools of historical
As “Chingachgook” nears death, Leatherstocking leaps out
of nowhere to lead his young friends, Oliver and Elizabeth,
to safety. In a significant act, Natty then lifts the dying Indian
to his back, making graphic the psychological theme that has
undergirded the novel?the Indian is the white man’s burden
(p. 432). “Chingachgook” and all that he embodies dies, mak
ing it possible for the settlers to permit “John Mohegan” to
live on. But pathetically, time is already working upon memory,
for in engraving the Indian’s tombstone the names “Chingach
gook” and “Mohican” are misspelled, leaving to history only
“John Mohegan,” “Indian John” (p. 472).
The Pocahontas Perplex: the Image of
Indian Women in American Culture
by Rayna Green
In one of the best known old Scottish ballads, “Young Bei chan” or “Lord Bateman and the Turkish King’s Daughter”
as it is often known in America, a young English adventurer
travels to a strange, foreign land. The natives are of a darker
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Green ^r Pocahontas Perplex
color than he, and they practice a pagan religion. The man is
captured by the King (Pasha, Moor, Sultan) and thrown in a
dungeon to await death. Before he is executed, however, the
pasha’s beautiful daughter?smitten with the elegant and
wealthy visitor?rescues him and sends him homeward. But
she pines away for love of the now remote stranger who has
gone home, apparently forgotten her, and contracted a mar
riage with a “noble” “lady” of his own kind. In all the versions,
she follows him to his own land, and in most, she arrives on
his wedding day whereupon he throws over his bride-to-be for
the darker but more beautiful Princess. In most versions, she
becomes a Christian, and she and Lord Beichan live happily
ever after.
In an article called “The Mother of Us All,” Philip Young
suggests the parallel between the ballad story and the Poco
hontas-John Smith rescue tale.1 With the exception of Poco
hontas’ marriage to John Rolfe (still, after all, a Christian
stranger), the tale should indeed sound familiar to most Ameri
cans nurtured on Smith’s salvation by the Indian Princess.
Actually, Europeans were familiar with the motif before John
Smith offered his particular variant in the Generall Historie of
Virginie (1624).
Francis James Child, the famous ballad collector, tells us in
his English and Scottish Popular Ballads that “Young Beichan”
(Child #40) matches the tale of Gilbert Beket, St. Thomas
Aquinas’ father, as well as a legend recounted in the Gesta
Romanorum, one of the oldest collections of popular tales. So
the frame story was printed before 1300 and was, no doubt,
well distributed in oral tradition before then. Whether or not
our rakish adventurer-hero, John Smith, had heard the stories
or the ballad, we cannot say, but we must admire how life
mirrors art since his story follows the outlines of the traditional
tale most admirably. What we do know is that the ele
ments of the tale appealed to Europeans long before Ameri
cans had the opportunity to attach their affection for it onto
iaThe Mother of Us All,” Kenyan Review 24 (Summer, 1962), 391
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Retrospect & Prospect
Pocahontas. Whether or not we believe Smith’s tale?and there
are many reasons not to?we cannot ignore the impact the story
has had on the American imagination.
“The Mother of Us All” became our first aristocrat, and
perhaps our first saint, as Young implies. Certainly, the image
of her body flung over the endangered head of our hero con
stitutes a major scene in national myth (fig. 1). Many paint
ings and drawings of this scene exist, and it appears in popular
art on everything from wooden fire engine side panels to cal
endars. Some renderings betray such ignorance about the Pow
hatan Indians of Virginia?often portraying them in Plains
dress?that one quickly comes to understand that it is the
mythical scene, not the accuracy of detail that moved artists.
The most famous portrait of Pocahontas, the only one said to
be done from life (at John Rolfe’s request), shows the Princess
in Elizabethan dress, complete with ruff and velvet hat?the
Christian, English lady the ballad expects her to become and
the lady she indeed became for her English husband and her
faithful audience for all time. The earliest literary efforts in
America, intended to give us American rather than European
topics, featured Pocahontas in plenty. Poems and plays?like
James Nelson Barber’s The Indian Princess; or, La Belle
Sauvage (1808) and George Washington Custis’ The Settlers
of Virginia (1827), as well as contemporary American novels,
discussed by Leslie Fiedler in The Return of the Vanishing
American?dealt with her presence, or sang her praises from
the pages of literary magazines and from the stages of popular
playhouses throughout the east.2 Traditional American ballads
like “Jonathan Smith” retold the thrilling story; schoolbook
histories included it in the first pages of every text; nineteenth
century commercial products like cigars, perfume and even flour
used Pocahontas’ name as come-on (fig. 2); and she appeared
as the figurehead for American warships and clippers. Whether
or not she saved John Smith, her actions as recounted by Smith
set up one kind of model for Indian-White relations that per
2 See Jay B. Hubbell, “The Smith-Pocahontas Story in Literature,” The
Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 65 (July 1957), 275-300.
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Green ^ Pocahontas Perplex
sists?long after most Indians and Anglos ceased to have face
to-face relationships. Moreover, as a model for the national
understanding of Indian women, her significance is undeniable.
With her darker, negatively viewed sister, the Squaw?or, the
anti-Pocahontas, as Fiedler calls her?the Princess intrudes on
the national consciousness, and a potential cult waits to be resur
rected when our anxieties about who we are make us recall her
from her woodland retreat.3
Americans had a Pocahontas Perplex even before the teen
age Princess offered us a real figure to hang the iconography
on. The powerfully symbolic Indian woman, as Queen and
Princess, has been with us since 1575 when she appeared to
stand for the New World. Artists, explorers, writers and politi
cal leaders found the Indian as they cast about for some symbol
with which to identify this earthly, frightening, and beautiful
paradise; E. McClung Fleming has given one of the most com
plete explications of these images.4 The misnamed Indian was
the native dweller, who fit conveniently into the various tradi
tional folkloric, philosophical and literary patterns character
istic of European thought at the time.5 Europeans easily adopt
ed the Indian as the iconographic representative of the
Americas. At first, Caribbean and Brazilian (Tupinamba) Indi
ans, portrayed amidst exotic flora and fauna, stood for the New
World’s promises and dangers. The famous and much-repro
3 The many models, stereotypes and images operative for the Indian in
Anglo-American vernacular culture are discussed in my dissertation, “The
Only Good Indian: The Image of the Indian in Vernacular American Cul
ture,” Indiana University, 1973.
4E. McClung Fleming, “Symbols of the United States; From Indian
Queen to Uncle Sam,” in Ray B. Browne et al., eds. The Frontiers of Ameri
can Culture (Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1967), pp. 1?
24; “The American Image as Indian Princess, 1765-1783,” Winterthur
Portfolio 2 (1968), pp. 65-81.
5 For a summary of the philosophical backgrounds of the “Noble Savage”
complex of beliefs and ideas, see Roy Harvey Pearce. Savagism and Civiliza
tion: A Study of the Indian and the American Mind (rpt. 1953, Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967). For references to folk motifs in
Indo-European tradition, see Stith Thompson. The Motif Index of Folk
Literature. 6 vols. (rpt. 1932?36, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University
Press, 1955-58).
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Retrospect & Prospect
duced “Four Continents” illustrations (circa, early 16th cen
tury) executed by artists who had seen Indians and ones who
had not, ordinarily pictured a male and female pair in America’s
place.6 But the paired symbol apparently did not satisfy the
need for a personified figure, and the Indian Queen began to
appear as the sole representation for the Americas in 1575. And
until 1765 or thereabouts, the bare-breasted, Amazonian Native
American Queen reigned (fig. 3). Draped in leaves, feathers,
and animal skins as well as in heavy Caribbean jewelry, she
appeared aggressive, militant, and armed with spears and
arrows. Often, she rode on an armadillo, and stood with her
foot on the slain body of an animal or human enemy. She was
the familiar Mother-Goddess figure?full-bodied, powerful,
nurturing but dangerous?embodying the opulence and peril
of the New World. Her environment was rich and colorful,
and that, with the allusions to Classical Europe through the
Renaissance portrayal of her large, naked body, attached her
to Old World History as well as to New World virtue.
Her daughter, the Princess, enters the scene when the colonies
begin to move toward independence, and she becomes more
“American” and less Latin than her mother. She seems less
barbarous than the Queen ; the rattlesnake (Jones’ “Dont Tread
On Me” sign) defends her, and her enemies are defeated by
male warriors rather than by her own armed hand. She is Bri
tannia’s daughter as well as that of the Carib Queen, and she
wears the triangular Phrygian cap and holds the liberty pole
of her later, metamorphosed sister, Miss Liberty (the figure
on the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty dime). She is young,
leaner in the Romanesque rather than Greek mode, and dis
tinctly Caucasian, though her skin remains slightly tinted in
some renderings. She wears the loose, flowing gowns of classi
cal statuary rather than animal skins, and Roman sandals grace
her feet. She is armed, usually with a spear, but she also carries
6 See Clare de Corbellier, “Miss America and Her Sisters: Personification
of the Four Parts of the World.” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of
Art 19 (1961), pp. 209-223; James Hazen Hyde, Vlconografhie des quatre
forties du monde dans les tapis series de Gazette des Beaux Arts (Paris: Beaux
Arts, 1924).
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Green & Pocahontas Perplex
a peace pipe, a flag, or the starred and striped shield of Colonial
America. She often stands with The Sons of Liberty, or later,
with George Washington (fig. 4).
Thus, the Indian woman began her symbolic, many-faceted
life as a Mother figure?exotic, powerful, dangerous, and beau
tiful?and as a representative of American liberty and Euro
pean classical virtue translated into New World terms. She
represented, even defended America. But when real Indian
women?Pocahontas and her sisters?intruded into the needs
bound up in symbols and the desires inherent in daily life, the
responses to the symbol became more complex, and the Poca
hontas perplex emerged as a controlling metaphor in the Ameri
can experience. The Indian woman, along with her male coun
terparts, continued to stand for the New World and for rude
native nobility, but the image of the savage remained as well.
The dark side of the Mother-Queen figure is the savage Squaw,
and even Pocahontas, as John Barth suggests in The Sotweed
Factor, is motivated by lust.
Both her nobility as a Princess and her savagery as a Squaw
are defined in terms of her relationships with male figures. If
she wishes to be called a Princess, she must save or give aid to
white men. The only good Indian?male or female, Squanto,
Pocahontas, Sacagawea, Cochise, the Little Mohee or the Indi
an Doctor?rescues and helps white men. But the Indian woman
is even more burdened by this narrow definition of a “good
Indian,” for it is she, not the males, whom white men desire
sexually. Because her image is so tied up with abstract virtue?
indeed, with America?she must remain the Mother Goddess
Queen. But acting as a real female, she must be a partner and
lover of Indian men, a mother to Indian children, and an ob
ject of lust for white men. To be Mother, Queen and lover is,
as Oedipus’ mother, Jocasta, discovered, difficult and perhaps
impossible. The paradox so often noted in Latin/Catholic coun
tries where men revere their mothers and sisters, but use prosti
tutes so that their “good” women can stay pure is to the point
here. Both race conflict and national identity, however, make
this particular Virgin-Whore paradox more complicated than
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Retrospect & Prospect
others. The Indian woman finds herself burdened with an
image that can only be understood as dysfunctional, even
though the Pocahontas perplex affects us all. Some examina
tion of the complicated dimensions of that image might help
us move toward change.
In songs like “Jonathan Smith,” “Chipeta’s Ride” and others
sung in oral tradition, the Indian woman saves white men.7 In
“Chipeta’s Ride,” she even saves a white woman from lust
enraged Indian males. Ordinarily, however, she rescues her
white lover or an anonymous male captive. Always called a
Princess (or Chieftain’s Daughter), she, like Pocahontas, has
to violate the wishes and customs of her own “barbarous” peo
ple to make good the rescue, saving the man out of love and
often out of “Christian sympathy.” Nearly all the “good” Prin
cess figures are converts, and they cannot bear to see their fel
low Christians slain by “savages.” The Princess is “civilized” j
to illustrate her native nobility, most pictures portray her as
white, darker than the Europeans, but more Caucasian than her
fellow natives (see fig. 1).
If unable to make the grand gesture of saving her captive
lover or if thwarted from marrying him by her cruel father,
the Chieftain, the Princess is allowed the even grander gesture
of committing suicide when her lover is slain or fails to return
to her after she rescues him. In the hundreds of “Lover’s Leap”
legends which abound throughout the country, and in tradi
tional songs like “The Indian Bride’s Lament,” our heroine
leaps over a precipice, unable to live without her loved one.
In this movement from political symbolism (where the Indian
woman defends America) to psychosexual symbolism (where
she defends or dies for white lovers), we can see part of the
Indian woman’s dilemma. To be “good,” she must defy her
own people, exile herself from them, become white, and per
haps suffer death.
7 Austin Fife and Francesca Redden. “The Pseudo-Indian Folksongs of
the Anglo-Americans and French-Canadians,” The Journal of American Folk
lore 67, no. 266 (1954), 381; Olive Wooley Burt. American Murder Ballads
and Their Stories (rpt. 1958, New York: Citadel Press, 1964), pp. 146-49.
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/. Pocahontas Saving Captain John Smith. Anonymous painting. Private Collection.
CI:’ ” * . //^’bj” –
2. Pocahontas. Tobacco Label. Library of Congress.
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5. Personification of America. Engraving,
ca. 1595, by Adrien Collaert II after
Martin de Vos. Winterthur Museum.
j : ?m.M!,-i *k*t**.*t a?f v?iiiiii? ujifi;, ‘ I’M
r*ii?iji. ? * JsuwrrAjr citonx rjuura? ma^T i?,<v* a^j-jt mj ,j
;??* ‘* TOl?K?R??l J>K |UI . 1.ST i?lJ?J T15 TlEKKJiAiKllSE. II
4. Holland Recognizes American Inde
pendence. Engraving, 1782, by G.
Brouwer after A. Borghers and P.
Wagenaar. F. D. Roosevelt Library.
5. Louden & Co.’s Cherokee Liniment. Advertisement. Library of Congress.
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6. Poster advertisement. Smithsonian Institution.
7. Tobacco advertisement. Library of Congress.
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^M lfc& 1 * * I^Bi
^^ b: ;,;.: ,;| – MHf
HBs K -1:( ‘.’; I IMF
tf. Princess. Cigar Store Figure, ca. 1865.
National Gallery of Art.
P. Squaw. Cigar Store Figure. National
Gallery of Art.
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Green ik Pocahontas Perplex
Those who did not leap for love continued to fall in love
with white men by the scores, and here the sacrifices are several.
The women in songs like “The Little Mohee,” “Little Red
Wing,” and “Juanita, the Sachem’s Daughter” fall in love
with white travellers, often inviting them to share their bliss
ful, idyllic, woodland paradise. If their lovers leave them, they
often pine away, die of grief, or leap off a cliff, but in a num
ber of songs, the white man remains with the maiden, prefer
ring her life to his own, “civilized” way. “The Little Mohee”
is a prime example of such a song.
As I went out walking for pleasure one day,
In the sweet recollection, to dwell time away.
As I sat amusing myself on the grass, _
Oh, who should I spy but a fair Indian lass.
She walked up behind me, taking hold of my hand,
She said, “You are a stranger and in a strange land,
But if you will follow, you’re welcome to come
And dwell in my cottage that I call my home.”
My Mohea was gentle, my Mohea was kind.
She took me when a stranger and clothed me when cold.
She learned me the language of the lass of Mohea.
“I’m going to leave you, so farewell my dear.
The ship’s sails are spreading and home I must steer.”
The last time I saw her she was standing on the strand,
And as my boat passed her she waved me her hand.
Saying “when you have landed and with the one you love,
Think of pretty Mohea in the coconut grove.”
I am home but no one comes near me nor none do I see,
That would equal compare with the lass of Mohea.
Oh, the girl that I loved proved untrue to me.
I’ll turn my course backward far over the sea.
I’ll turn my course backward, from this land I’ll go free,
And go spend my days with the little Mohea.
Such songs add to the exotic and sexual, yet maternal and con
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Retrospect & Prospect
tradictorily virginal image of the Indian Princess, and are
reminiscent of the contemporary white soldier’s attachments to
“submissive,” “sacrificial,” “exotic” Asian women.
As long as Indian women keep their exotic distance or die
(even occasionally for love of Indian men), they are permitted
to remain on the positive side of the image. They can help,
stand by, sacrifice for, and aid white men. They can, like their
native brothers, heal white men, and the Indian reputation as
healer dominated the nineteenth century patent medicine busi
ness. In the ads for such medicines, the Indian woman appears
either as a helpmate to her “doctor” husband or partner or as
a healer herself (fig. 5). In several ads (and the little dime
novels often accompanying the patent medicine products), she
is the mysterious witch-healer. Thus, she shares in the Cauca
sian or European female’s reputation for potential evil. The
references here to power, knowledge, and sexuality remain on
the good side of the image. In this incarnation, the Princess
offers help in the form of medicine rather than love (fig. 6).
The tobacco industry also capitalized on the Princess’ image,
and the cigar-store figures and ads associated with the tobacco
business replicate the Princess figures to sell its products (fig.
7). Cigar-store Princesses smile and beckon men into tobacco
shops. They hold a rose, a bundle of cigars, or some tobacco
leaves (a sign of welcome in the colonial days), and they smile
invitingly with their Caucasian lips. They also sell the product
from tobacco packages, and here, like some of the figures in
front of the shops, Diana-like or more militant Minerva
(Wonder-Woman)-like heroines offer the comforts of the
“Indian weed.” They have either the rounded, infantile, semi
naked (indicating innocence) bodies of Renaissance angels or
the bodies and clothes of classical heroines (fig. 8). The
Mother Goddess and Miss Liberty peddle their more abstract
wares, as Indian Princesses, along with those of the manufac
turer. Once again, the Princess comforts white men, and while
she promises much, she remains aloof.
But who becomes the white man’s sexual partner? Who
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Green i% Pocahontas Perplex
forms liaisons with him? It cannot be the Princess, for she is
sacrosanct. Her sexuality can be hinted at but never realized.
The Princess’ darker twin, the Squaw, must serve this side of
the image, and again, relationships with males determine what
the image will be. In the case of the Squaw, the presence of
overt and realized sexuality converts the image from positive
to negative. White men cannot share sex with the Princess, but
once they do so with a real Indian woman, she cannot follow
the required love-and-rescue pattern. She does what white men
want for money or lust. In the traditional songs, stories, ob
scene jokes, contemporary literary works and popular and pic
torializations of the Squaw, no heroines are allowed. Squaws
share in the same vices attributed to Indian men?drunkenness,
stupidity, thievery, venality of every kind?and they live in
shacks on the edge of town rather than in a woodland paradise.
Here, Squaws are shamed for their relationships with white
men, and the males who share their beds?the “squaw men”?
or “bucks,” if they are Indian?share their shame. When they
live with Indian males, Squaws work for their lazy bucks and
bear large numbers of fat “papooses.” In one joke, a white
visitor to a reservation sees an overburdened squaw with ten
children hanging on her skirts. “Where’s your husband?” the
visitor demands. “He ought to be hung!” “Ugh,” says the
squaw, “pretty well-hung!” They too are fat, and unlike their
Princess sisters, dark and possessed of cruder, more “Indian”
features. When stories and songs describe relationships with
white men, Squaws are understood as mere economic and sexual
conveniences for the men who?unlike John Smith or a “brave”
?are tainted by association with her. Tale after tale describes
the Indian whores, their alcoholic and sexual excesses with white
trappers and hunters. A parody of the beautiful-maiden song,
“Little Red Wing,” speaks of her lewd sister who “lays on her
back in a cowboy shack, and lets cowboys poke her in the crack.”
The result of this cowboy-squaw liaison is a “brat in a cowboy
hat with his asshole between his eyes.” This Squaw is dark, and
squat, and even the cigar-store Indians show the changes in
conception. No Roman sandals grace their feet, and their fea
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Retrospect & Prospect
tures are more “Indian” and “primitive” than even their male
counterparts. The cigar-store squaws often had papooses on
their backs, and some had corrugated places on their hips to
light the store patrons’ matches. When realities intrude on
mythos, even Princesses can become Squaws as the text of the
ragtime song, “On An Indian Reservation,” illustrates.
On an Indian reservation, far from home and civilization,
Where the foot of Whiteman seldom trod.
Whiteman went to fish one summer,
Met an Indian maid?a hummer,
Daughter of Big-Chief-Spare-the-rod.
Whiteman threw some loving glances, took this maid to
Indian dances,
Smoked his pipe of peace, took chances living in a
teepee made of fur.
Rode with her on Indian ponies, bought her diamond
rings, all phonies,
And he sang these loving words to her:
You’re my pretty little Indian Napanee.
Won’t you take a chance and marry me.
Your Daddy Chief, ’tis my belief,
To a very merry wedding will agree.
True, you’re a dark little Indian maid,
But I’ll sunburn to a darker shade,
I’ll wear feathers on my head,
Paint my skin an Indian red,
If you will be my Napanee.
With his contact soon he caught her,
Soon he married this big chief’s daughter,
Happiest couple that you ever saw.
But his dreams of love soon faded,
Napanee looked old and jaded,
Just about like any other squaw.
Soon there came papoose in numbers, redskin yells
disturbed his slumbers,
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Green iV Pocahontas Perplex
Whiteman wonders at his blunders?now the feathers
drop upon his head.
Sorry to say it, but he’s a-wishing, that he’d
never gone a-fishing,
Or had met this Indian maid and said:
The Indian woman is between a rock and a hard place. Like
that of her male counterpart, her image is freighted with such
ambivalence that she has little room to move. He, however,
has many more modes in which to participate though he is still
severely handicapped by the prevailing stereotypes. They are
both tied to definition by relationships with white men, but she
is especially burdened by the narrowness of that definition.
Obviously, her image is one that is troublesome to all women,
but, tied as it is to a national mythos, its complexity has a spe
cial piquance. As Vine Deloria points out in Custer Died For
Your Sins, many whites claim kinship with some distant Indian
Princess grandmother, and thus try to resolve their “Indian
problem” with such sincere affirmations of relationship.8
Such claims make it impossible for the Indian woman to be
seen as real. She does not have the power to evoke feeling as a
real mother figure, like the black woman, even though that
image has a burdensome negative side. American children play
with no red mammy dolls. She cannot even evoke the terror
the “castrating (white) bitch” inspires. Only the male, with
upraised tomahawk, does that. The many expressions which
treat of her image remove her from consideration as more than
an image. As some abstract, noble Princess tied to “America”
and to sacrificial zeal, she has power as a symbol. As the Squaw,
a depersonalized object of scornful convenience, she is power
less. Like her male relatives she may be easily destroyed with
out reference to her humanity. (When asked why he killed
women and children at Sand Creek, the commanding general of
the U.S. Cavalry was said to have replied, “nits make lice.”)
8 Vine Deloria. Custer Died For Your Sins (N.Y.: Avon Books, 1968), p. 11.
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Retrospect ?f Prospect
As the Squaw, her physical removal or destruction can be un
derstood as necessary to the progress of civilization even though
her abstracted sister, the Princess, stands for that very civiliza
tion. Perhaps the Princess had to be removed from her power
ful symbolic place, and replaced with the male Uncle Sam
because she confronted America with too many contradictions.
As symbol and reality, the Indian woman suffers from our
needs, and by both race and sex stands damned.
Since the Indian so much represents America’s attachment
to a romantic past and to a far distant nobility, it is predictable
but horrible that the Indian woman should symbolize the
paradoxical entity once embodied for the European in the Prin
cess in the tower and the old crone in the cave. It is time that
the Princess herself is rescued and the Squaw relieved of her
obligatory service. The Native American woman, like all
women, needs a definition that stands apart from that of males,
red or white. Certainly, the Native woman needs to be defined
as Indian, in Indian terms. Delightful and interesting as Poca
hontas’ story may be, she offers an intolerable metaphor for the
Indian-White experience. She and the Squaw offer unendurable
metaphors for the lives of Indian women. Perhaps if we give
up the need for John Smith’s fantasy and the trappers’ harsher
realities, we will find, for each of us, an image that does not
haunt and perplex us. Perhaps if we explore the meaning of
Native American lives outside the boundaries of the stories,
songs, and pictures given us in tradition, we will find a more
humane truth.
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