Bad Indians By Deborah Miranda Summary

Great Essays
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
…show more content…
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

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Progressive Era Attitudes

    • 954 Words
    • 4 Pages

    For example, the Indians believed that the land was sacred, and the whites felt that the land was to use. As the white population grew, they required more land and attempted to take the land from the Indians. Although well intended, the fundamental beliefs and attitudes of the progressives resulted in loss of identity and led to the ultimate failure of Native American education. The Progressives believed that Indians were inferior to white people, and the solution was to assimilate the Indians into white society, which caused great damage to the Indians. The whites did not recognize the tribal systems and thought the Indians uncivilized.…

    • 954 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Hyeon Chung 10/24/17 SSCI 350 Personal Analysis of “In the White Man’s Image” The film “In the White Man’s Image” illustrates how white Americans wanted to civilize Native Americans. Anglo Americans, settlers who colonized United States, encroached on the land and culture of Native Americans. At that time, any hostile or violent behavior toward Whites’ intention was punished severely. Moreover, Whites believed that Native Americans needed to conform to the white way of civilization in order to live in America and thought that the way of life of Native Americans as immoral. Due to their strong belief, they felt Native Americans could not be civilized until they accept the social practices of whites’ society, or superior society.…

    • 850 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    A civilized white man visiting Indian territory was repulsed by the hideous rituals which they practiced; it only created a type of antipathy of them that made coexistence nearly impossible. Either the Indians would voluntarily submit to white authority or they would perforce be removed from their lands, relocating elsewhere, and going through an extensive “reeducation” of what it meant to live in a moral and civil society. There have been numerous sects of Indians, just to name a few: the Chickasaws, Chippewas, and Choctaws, each with distinct “personalities”, rituals, customs and so on. To merely address the Indian problem as a general one without delineating the specific details which created it would essentially be useless and an exercise in futility. In colonial America, the British and French peoples vied for the cooperation of and manipulated Native Americans.…

    • 713 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Bad Indians

    • 1141 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Harrington, a research ethnologist from the Smithsonian Museum who interacts with several American Indian individuals, all of whom were trying to survive a world that was no longer their own. Harrington documented American Indians, their beliefs, cultures, and languages to keep in the Smithsonian and archives, knowing that soon, these people would all be gone and take the last vestiges of their existence with them. These indigenous peoples were trying and failing to simultaneously hold onto their heritage and native identity while learning to survive in a society centered on wealth and property, a mindset brought over by the Europeans. Harrington remarks in his field notes on the Gonaway Tribe, “These Indians realize they are the last of their tribe and they ask a frightful price. But I have managed to jew them down to half of what they ask or less” (100).…

    • 1141 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Perhaps the most questionable resources are those that were recorded by the Indians’ adversaries. Papers from figures like William Henry Harrison would naturally cast a biased shadow upon the Natives and may have been elaborated upon in order to produce favor for the Americans. At best, all accounts by the author are historically accurate; at worst, they contain misinformation. However, the author used his well-qualified discretion in selecting the sources; which are arguably the best available. Without the ability to travel back in time, we will never know how truly accurate these sources…

    • 1000 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    77). In the previously mentioned quote, Mary Crow Dog talks about how both the African Americans and the Native Americans were treated similarly by White America however, the key difference was the fact that the Indians did not want to be accepted by white Americans, they wanted to be left alone. Additionally. the Indian Civil Rights movement came about as a way of protesting the treatment of Indians by the…

    • 847 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    The Civil Rights Movement allowed Native Americans an opportunity to address the adverse effects of European culture on their ability to access and succeed in higher education. Native Americans “were no longer willing to passively accept the inadequate programs offered them at white controlled public and private institutions” (Oppelt, 1990, p. 42). This dissatisfaction with White institutions of higher education led to the creation of the Tribal College Movement and…

    • 2261 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Young Flecher was so caught up in what he thought was right that, when he learned the truth, it vexed him so much that he cried. Ultimately, he understands that his people, the Puritans, had wronged the Native Americans. From this newfound information, Everell loses his remaining innocence and begins on a path to seek…

    • 1949 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Spirituality” (Burns). Through this, it is learned that the American culture tries to relate with the Indians off what they think to be true, and ignorance is shown through the lack of understanding of the actual circumstance. All viewpoints can be used to build and knock down cultural circles of the Native Americans however, because the viewpoints work in their own circle. The Native Americans work to eradicate false assumptions about their culture, while the white culture serves as an example for initiating changes in themselves and others that do not rely on working from past…

    • 1455 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Christopher Columbus described in his diary the indians ignorance and lack of religion as a motive for them to willingly convert to Christianity and learn the spanish language (doc 1). Columbus’s diary represents the ethnocentrism european explorers felt towards the indigenous people. This shows that one of the many goals of European explorers was to evangelize the Indians in order to stake their control over the area. Eventually, those indians that opposed the conversion would be threatened with their lives. Since Columbus is a white european voyager sent by Spain during the 15th century, he displays his superiority over the indians due to their lack of knowledge in weaponry and distinct physical features.…

    • 1371 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays