Killing the Indian Maiden
Images of Native American Women in Film
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
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Killing the Indian Maiden: Images of Native American Women in Film analyzes a particular figure in Hollywood cinema, which I term the Celluloid Maiden, that depicts a young Native American woman who enables, helps, loves, or aligns herself with a white European American colonizer and dies as a result of that choice. This work brings together ...
Introduction: Emergence of the Celluloid Maiden
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... while I was wandering through a collection of prints at the University of Arizona’s Museum of Art, an engraving by William Blake caught and held my attention. The image, entitled Europe Supported by Africa and America (1792), presents three young women, scantily clad, dwarfing the landscape on which they stand. The simplicity of Blake’s composition enhances the social commentary woven ...
Section One: The Celluloid Princess
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1. Death, Gratitude, and the Squaw Man's Wife: The Celluloid Princess from 1908 to 1931
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... a textual body effaced, erased, and written over—evokes images of violent silencing. Tellingly, the metaphor also reveals a certain amount of repression, uncertainty, and ambivalence related to the action of reinscribing and covering alternative narratives. The metaphor is particularly relevant to early cinema, ...
2. White-Painted Lady: The 1950s Celluloid Princess
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... of Sonseeahray from Delmer Daves’s 1950 film Broken Arrow precedes the white hero Jeffords’s and the audience’s first encounter with the exceptional Indian woman who will marry him and help bridge the tensions between his culture and hers.1 As a beautiful young maiden who embraces the white hero, she symbolizes the best of Indian culture and the possibility of assimilation ...
Section Two: The Sexualized Maiden
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3. What Lies Beneath the Surface: The Sexualized Maiden of the 1940s
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... described above, is Cecil B. DeMille’s envisioned Métis woman for his 1940 epic Northwest Mounted Police. Her original name, Lupette, parodies the word “lupine” as well as the French slang term for a “street girl,” suggesting that she is both sexually promiscuous and innately animalistic.1 DeMille’s conception of Louvette as a character whose sexual and destructive nature ...
4. The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian: The Sexualized Maiden of the 1950s and 1960s
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... four films released between 1953 and 1969, illustrate the diversity in the representations of the Sexualized Maiden character during that time. Familiar stereotypes emerge in these epigraphs, as the films build on two of the basic components that informed the 1940s Sexualized Maiden figure: the femme fatale and the wanton squaw. Rather than adhering to the fairly cohesive set of ...
Section Three: The Hybrid Celluloid Maiden
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5. Free Love and Violence: “Going Native” with the Celluloid Maiden in the 1970s
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... connected with both the Celluloid Princess and the Sexualized Maiden, the hybrid Celluloid Maiden of the 1970s emerges as a symbolically modified offspring of previous Princess figures. The quote above from Jack Crabb, or Little Big Man, as the Cheyennes called him, about his wife Sunshine’s potential to sway him toward “going native” hints at this change. Sunshine ...
6. Ghosts and Vanishing Indian Women: Death of the Celluloid Maiden in the 1990s
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... in the 1990s, after a hiatus of seventeen years, in a number of films that reaffirm this figure’s ability to adapt to changing cultural trends in representing Native Americans. The figure emerges in a diversity of roles—including an avenging ghost, a political activist, and a mixed-blood Princess who crosses genres and ...
Conclusion: Into the Twenty-first Century
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... and the “war against terror” plunged the nation into another era of national conflict, uncertainty, and questioning about what it means to be an American, what the nation’s role is in the world, and what its political and social boundaries are. In the past, the United States relied on images of the frontier and itself as a frontier nation to answer such questions. According to Fredrick Jackson Turner, ...
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Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2006