Bad Indians By Deborah Miranda Summary

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The tribal memoir, Bad Indians by Deborah Miranda is an intricately written body of work that recounts the social and historical story of an entire peoples. The memoir’s use of several different mediums assists in exposing all aspects of Indian life including periods of subjugation through missionization and secularization. The period labeled as “Reinvention” focuses deeply on the wave of immense interest in the study of Indian culture by white men. Miranda includes in this period a section titled “Gonaway Tribe: Field Notes” which recounts the effort of ethnologist, J. P. Harrington to obtain the Indian language through the use of native informants. The use of the term “field notes” implies that the subjects being studied are only samples …show more content…
The animalization that Harrington and others with anthropological motives concentrated on was the idea that Indians were plain savages who lacked the capacity of intelligence. When considering the basis of objectification, the study made certain to reduce the Indians to mere objects and possessions of the dominant culture.
The exploitation of indigenous peoples did not end with labor in periods of missionization, but rather continued in the process of retrieving knowledge and the use of native informants. White researchers found ways to continue their abuse of Indians through attaining knowledge meant for scientific preservation and observation. Ethnologist, J.P. Harrington is an example of a white researcher who traveled to a reservation in order to pluck out Indians who he felt could be used to aid his research in preserving the tribal language. The knowledge of language and tradition was highly sought after because of its impact on the scientific community. In the excerpt from Harrington’s field notes he writes, “There are twenty-one Indians left. Very few of them are old and wise,” which highlights
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The deception directly relates to animalization because the Indian peoples were deprived of the truth behind the intentions of the researchers and were therefore considered ignorant. In an attempt to secure his informants, Harrington repeatedly deceives Susie and her brother, members of the reservation he is studying, by suggesting that he is in agreement with them about the abuses of the American government. This deception was done by means of relatability and can be observed as Harrington notes, “After I made friends with them and made them believe I felt the same as they did—they finally consented to talk,” which illustrates the consistent dishonesty regarding the purpose of the encounter (101). The language that the informants were sharing would ultimately be preserved for the purposes of white institutions such as the Smithsonian. White researchers weren’t opposed to subjecting Indians to constant manipulation for their benefit in their anthropological

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