Kindred by Choice
Germans and American Indians since 1800
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
This book began as an effort to explain the abundant references to American Indians in contemporary Germany as well as the staggering numbers of Germans one encounters in Indian country today. That explanation, I quickly realized, has deep roots. It turns around a striking sense of affinity...
If I had known that this book would take so long to complete, I might well have pursued something else: a life history, a state history, a take on an era, something with a more explicit beginning, middle, and end. There were many times when I cursed myself for not choosing a topic with a finite set of...
Introduction: Beyond the Buckskin
In August 2006, I arrived in a forest clearing outside of Cottbus, a German city near the Polish border, to join approximately a thousand Germans dressed like nineteenth-century North American Indians. Hundreds of teepees, many of them quite old, were set in clusters around the meadow. As...
PART I: Origins and Transformations across the Nineteenth Century
In 1951 Hans Plischke’s From Cooper to Karl May set the stage for a half century of literary analysis. Presenting a genealogy of German authors of “ethnographic novels” set in Native America, he argued that romanticism led Germans to develop an interest in these books at the outset of the nineteenth...
1. From Cooper to Karl May—Recast
Germany’s black hills, the Elbsandsteingebirge, are replete with picturesque sandstone pillars jutting out of pristine forests textured by wide valleys, steep canyons, and imposing mesas. Much like in the Black Hills of South Dakota, tourists flock to the forests during the summer and take to the trails...
2. Accommodating Violence
In August 1862, while much of the United States was focused on the Second Battle of Bull Run in the American Civil War, the Minnesota frontier exploded. Dakota Indians began killing white, overwhelmingly German, settlers in southwestern Minnesota, leading to the “massacre”¹ of six hundred...
3. Changes in the Lands
When Rudolf Cronau arrived in Minnesota two decades after the Dakota confl ict, colonial encounters were no longer possible. The landscape had changed. A quest for “red winter wheat,” which began “rivaling king cotton,” had transformed areas once replete with meadows and forests. Farms had...
4. Modern Germans and Indians
In 1903 W. E. B. Du Bois famously remarked that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line,—the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and in the islands of the sea.” It was the color line that made him, as an African American, feel like...
PART II: Consistencies across Twentieth-Century Ruptures
Hitler’s fascination with Karl May, his concerns with the United States, and National Socialists’ interests in American Indians, even the ways in which the Nazis harnessed the American past to rationalize their efforts to colonize Eastern Europe, did nothing to undercut the widespread sense of affinity for...
5. Instrumentalization across Political Regimes
At first glance, the Karl May Indian seems to be the image that dominated German imaginations in the twentieth century. It was, after all, his books and the movies based upon them that outsold everything else. Scholars have posited countless theses for his continued success. Mary Nolan has argued,...
6. Race, Character, and Masculinity before and after Hitler
On 7 July 1959, the Süddeutsche Zeitung gleefully reported the burning of three thousand books in a public square in Munich. The bonfire took place toward the conclusion of a successful “Indian- Exhibition” in Munich’s Old Botanical Garden. About one thousand people, including U.S. military...
7. Comparative Genocides
During a recent meeting of the American Anthropological Association I had the pleasure of eating dinner with an anthropologist who works in Zimbabwe. We had just completed a panel on settler colonialism, where I had spoken on subaltern genocide and New Ulm. During the more general discussion...
8. Receptions in Native America
The Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation is an oasis on the prairie. Nestled behind a rise just off of Highway 18 about four miles north of the town of Pine Ridge, it makes a stunning impression. Tourists approach it from Hot Springs and Wind Cave National Park on the edge of...
Conclusions: What Persists
The German fascination with American Indians is not over, and I do not expect it to end any time soon. Thus, this book does not conclude, as so many history monographs do, with a rupture, a break, a moment after which everything is different, and yet some traces of the subject remain to be summed up...
Publication Year: 2013
OCLC Number: 855019770
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