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| ix Foreword LeAnne Howe NOBLE SAVAGE: She’s too intense for me. And I feel nothing. No emotion. In fact, I’m offf all females—even lost my lust for attacking white chicks. PAUSE. THERAPIST: (He writes furiously on a yellow pad, but says nothing.) NOBLE SAVAGE: People expect me to be strong. Wise. Stoic. Without guilt. A man capable of a few symbolic acts. Ugh—is that what I’m supposed to say? THERAPIST: (He continues writing.) NOBLE SAVAGE: I don’t feel like maiming. Scalping. Burning wagon trains. I’m developing hemorrhoids from riding bareback. It’s an impossible role. The truth is I’m conflicted. I don’t know who I am. What should I do, Doc? THERAPIST: I’m afraid we’ve run out of time. Let’s take this up during our next visit. I ’vebeenthinkingaboutAmericanIndiansas“NobleSavages”fordecades,hence, the series of Noble Savage poems in Evidenceof Red (2005). Recently one of my new poems, “Noble Savage Learns to Tweet” from 99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetry, has had new life as a video poem.1 All this interest in “noble savagery” comes from my brother and me watching x | Foreword black-and-white Westerns as teenagers, although we didn’t have the vocabulary to discuss them in, uh-hem, sophisticated ways. What follows is more or less an accurate account of our dialogue after seeing a weekly Western on Oklahoma City’s Channel Five. “Crap,” I say as the end credits roll. My brother shrugs. “Whaddaya expect; it’s Stagecoach2 and John Wayne.” Some might call this rhetorical style stoic. I prefer concise. Same time the next week. Another Western. Indians shot to pieces. “Crap.” “Whaddaya expect; it’s Arizona3 and Jean Arthur,” says my brother. The following week. “Crap.” “Whaddaya expect; it’s Duel in the Sun4 and Gregory Peck.” (By now you know what I said.) “Whaddaya expect; it’s Broken Arrow5 and Jimmy Stewart.” Silence. “Whaddaya expect; it’s Broken Lance6 and Spencer Tracy.” “Crimony.” (Developing verbal skills.) “Whaddaya expect; it’s The Unforgiven7 and Audrey Hepburn.” “$%*@$#*@!” (Taking the Lord’s name in vain.) Then one Friday night, Channel Five had a salute to silent fijilms, and we watch our fijirst and last silentWestern together. My brother, bored witless, says he’ll never watch another silent fijilm as long as he lives. “Whaddaya expect,” I say. “It’s Douglas Fairbanks. “Crappo,” says my brother, adding the “o” for emphasis. “Westerns are all the same; Indians are either suck-ups to white people, or they are the bad guys.” That about sums up our viewing experiences in the late 1960s. At the time there were two kinds of movie roles for Indians in fijilm: Noble Savages or just plain Savages;bothwereplayedbynon-Indianactors.MybrotherandIdidn’tknowthese terms, but were developing our movie critic’s skills. Instead of thumbs up or down, the simple one-word “crap” was used. Today American Indians and American Indian Nations have made great strides ineconomicdevelopmentbecauseof Indiangaming.Eachsummerandallholidays I return home to Ada, Oklahoma, where my grandmother and mother once lived. Foreword | xi Their home is now mine. Ada is the seat of the government for the Chickasaw Nation, whose lands include the south-central region of Oklahoma. Located in Ada proper are the Chickasaw Nation’s Arts and Humanities complex, the Chickasaw Nation hospital, a Bedré Chocolatier gift shop, and many other tribal businesses. In the Chickasaw Nation’s 2011 report to the Oklahoma Indian Afffairs Commission, theChickasawNationoperationsincludeseventeencasinos,eighteensmokeshops, a chocolate factory in Davis, a hospital, several museums, and a publishing house, with a combined economic impact of $13 billion annually.The tribe employs some 10,000 people and is growing by leaps every year. Yet the image of the Noble Savage still prevails across America, its history dating back to early fijilmmakers. Film scholar and Washington and Lee University professor Harvey Markowitz has demonstrated in his insightful introduction in Seeing Red—Hollywood’s Pixeled Skins: American Indians and Film8 that early American fijilms lacked an identity of their own until exhibitors showed an interest in Indians and Western themes. Markowitz writes: GiventheconcomitantriseinU.S.nationalismandworldinfluencebeginninginthe early twentieth century, it should come as no surprise that some of these features focused on the challenges of creating movies that both reflected and promoted Americanidentityandexceptionalism.Considertheeditorial“WhatIsanAmerican Subject?,” which appeared in the January 22, 1910 edition of The Moving Picture World. The inspiration for this piece emerged from its author’s discovery...


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