- Contesting Constructed Indian-ness: The Intersection of the Frontier, Masculinity, and Whiteness in Native American Mascot Representations by Michael Taylor
by Michael Taylor
Lexington Books, 2013
Contesting Constructed Indian-ness: The Intersection of the Frontier, Masculinity, and Whiteness in Native American Mascot Representations continues the all-important dialogue and analysis on Native American mascots. Several texts and studies have scrutinized Native American mascots from distinct angles and approaches, and Taylor’s piece examines this issue from a similar perspective as Philip Deloria and Shari Huhndorf—that of the construction of [End Page 107] white male identity from historical experiences with Native Americans and the creation of an image not of Native peoples.
Taylor analyzes the mascot issue from the theoretical framework of place, masculinity, and whiteness. His discussion on place is thought provoking. In his examination of place, he uses the concept of the frontier as a way to describe how white male construction defined what Native American mascots meant. While this isn’t necessarily new or eye-opening, the framework of place is critical to understanding how Euro-colonial settlers to the land see themselves as inheritors of places, and therefore are “native” Americans themselves. They can construct who the Indigenous peoples were and are today.
The other two frameworks—masculinity and whiteness—also bring the concepts of gender, race, and ethnicity into the investigation. The framework of whiteness displays how history is used in the idea of the Native American other. The discourse is grounded in power, with whiteness in the superior position and Native Americans regulated to the subordinate. With masculinity, white males created an identity in personal and nationalistic constructs, resulting in an idealized Indian. This idealized image is the Indian warrior with headdresses and feathers for public display. With all three frameworks as the crux for Taylor’s analysis, a more comprehensive knowledge comes to the forefront.
Overall, the book contributes a critical dialogue on the issue of Native American mascots. Most Americans do not know the history of this issue and why it continues to be detrimental to not only Native people but to all peoples. The book contributes to the growing scholarship and hopefully to the national dialogue on ending the use of Native American mascots in schools, colleges, and professional organizations, and therefore is recommended for both universities and the general public. [End Page 108]
Lloyd L. Lee is a citizen of the Navajo Nation (Diné). He is assistant professor of Native American studies and director of the Institute of American Indian Research at the University of New Mexico. He has been the book review editor for the American Indian Quarterly for the past five years and is the author of Diné Masculinities: Conceptualizations and Reflections (2013) and editor of Diné Perspectives: Revitalizing and Reclaiming Navajo Thought (forthcoming).