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"Sioux Yells" in the Dawes Era: Lakota "Indian Play," the Wild West, and the Literatures of Luther Standing Bear
Abstract

Abstract:

In 1902, in an era when the federal government endeavored to immobilize, disband, and assimilate the Lakota into the national body, Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West enabled Luther Standing Bear to leave Pine Ridge and, consequently, transformed his life and his life's work. Ultimately Standing Bear's literature, in particular his autobiography My People the Sioux (1928), was dynamically conversant with both Cody's and cinematic representations of American expansion that featured Lakota violence. While dismantling accounts, such as the Battle of Little Big Horn, central to Cody's narrative, Standing Bear grounded the veracity of My People in a Cody-esque rhetoric of "authenticity." The Lakota writer also engaged the rhetoric of white liberal reformers who equated racial "uplift" with private-property-owning American citizenship. In Land of the Spotted Eagle (1933) he blasted "progressives" whose beliefs threatened to destroy, because they failed to understand, the sophistication and value of Lakota society.