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W e s t e r n A m e r i c a n L i t e r a t u r e f a l l 2 0 0 6 Indians in Unexpected Places. By Philip J. Deloria. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. 312 pages, $24.95/$ 17.95. Reviewed by N ancy Cook University of Montana, Missoula Vi/ith Indians in Unexpected Places, Philip Deloria continues the work taken up in Playing Indian (1998), but while his earlier book concentrated on the way white American cultures used “Indianness,” here he focuses on Indians themselves. Deloria’s book uses anomaly and dissonance as a means to engage and analyze both the ways in which white American culture sought to control and contain possibilities for Native people after the Indian Wars, as well as the spaces created by Indians within the very practices and representations that sought to limit them. Working from the premise that “expectations and anom­ alies are mutually constitutive,” Deloria builds his book around a series ofrepre­ sentations of Indians mostly taken from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (5). He begins, however, with a photograph, titled Red Cloud Woman in Beauty Shop, Denver 1941, and uses its anomalous qualities—“An Indian woman in a beaded buckskin dress sits under a large salon hair dryer”—to pose a series of questions that the essays then take up (3). As he counters a reading of the image that suggests that Native Americans “missed out on modernity,” Deloria argues “instead, that a significant cohort of Native people engaged the same forces of modernization that were making non-Indians reevaluate their own expectations of themselves and their society” (6). Deloria’s book breaks new ground both in form and content. Rather than a monograph, Deloria offers five essays—“Violence,” “Representation,” “Athletics,” “Technology,” and “Music,”—along with an introduction and conclusion. Coupling the historian’s careful attention to the archive with the rigor and com­ plexity of the best work in cultural studies, Deloria creates a sophisticated, com­ pelling analysis that is sometimes personal and often humorous, while he eschews forms of argument that might undermine the complexity he is after. The essay form affords him attentiveness to the individual and the particular that works to refocus the reader’s attention away from stereotypical ideas of “Indianness” and toward the ways in which many Indians used stereotypes to their own advantage or for critique. The essays, which include many stories and profiles of Native actors, movie producers, athletes, musicologists, musicians, and other perform­ ers, work to create a new set of images and expectations, even for those Indians whose biographies remain elusive. For example, Red Cloud Woman, whose image opens the book, appears in two other photographs: one, as a passenger in a con­ vertible stopped in front of a teepee and, in the last photo in the book, at a soda fountain (173, 239). That she appears in all three suggests a story that exceeds the possibilities implied by any one photograph, and for Deloria, “what matters ... is Red Cloud Woman’s willingness to shape the imagery around which Indian people—and Indian women in particular—were to be seen” (240). b o o k R e v i e w s 3 4 9 The essays blend Deloria’s own archival research, family stories, the disparate work of other scholars, and methodologies from cultural studies to create a complex rendering of a critical moment in Native American and dominant American culture. Deloria resituates Indians’ roles in early cinema, reframes the legacy of Wounded Knee, and reexamines the role of the automobile on west' ern reservations, reshaping the American West of the early twentieth century. The great accomplishment of this book, I think, is in the way Deloria demonstrates “that some Indian people—more than we’ve been led to believe— leapt quickly into modernity and not necessarily because they adopted political and legal tools from whites or because they were acculturated into the edu­ cational, political, and economic order of twentieth-century America. They leapt, I think, because it became painfully clear that they were not distinct from the history that even then was being...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 348-349
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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