This book examines the changing conception of Native American cultures and histories within American public culture. Popular and academic representations of Native Americans have undergone significant alterations during the past 30 years, advancing, if not celebrating, interpretations which challenge images and narratives once central to national identity and cross-cultural relations. In spite of these positive efforts, museums, monuments, and other exhibitionary spaces continue to devalue, stereotype, and dismiss them. Importantly, then paradoxical effects of these modifications not only recuperate accounts which legitimated the conquest and subjugation of Native America, but also reproduce the inequalities and injustices which continue to structure the relations between EuroAmericans and Native Americans.
This book presents historical ethnographies of four contexts to substantiate these positions: the Smithsonian Institution; the invention of Chief Illiniwek, the athletic mascot of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument; the exhibition of Comanche, the horse dubbed "the sole survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn", at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. The study concludes with an evaluation of alternative strategies, including repatriation and reflexivity, which may promote the reconstruction of exhibitionary spaces. [via]