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The Invented Indian: Cultural Fictions and Government Politics Reprint Edition

2.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1560007456
ISBN-10: 1560007451
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The collection will interest anthropologists and historians who may want to take up many of the challenges offered.”

—L. G. Moses, Choice

About the Author

James A. Clifton, an ethnohistorian and psychological anthropologist, is emeritus Frankenthal Professor of Anthropology and History at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, and is currently Scholar in Residence at Western Michigan University. His books include, Being and Becoming Indian, The Prairie People, Star Woman and Other Shawnee Tales, The Potawatomi, and A Place of Refuge For All Time. Though originally trained as a Pacific specialist, for some thirty years his research has been concentrated on American Indians.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers; Reprint edition (January 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560007451
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560007456
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,417,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By D. W. Chambers on March 29, 2015
Format: Paperback
This is a book that is very difficult to take seriously from an academic perspective, especially since, for the most part, the tides of scholarship have moved dramatically in the opposite direction of the book's major theses. In the generation since its original publication, much evidence has emerged demonstrating that Native American contributions to world knowledge and achievement have been systematically undervalued for centuries; whereas, from beginning to end, this book engages in what might be called "briar picking" as opposed to cherry-picking. One after another, the separate authors seek out the most negative interpretations possible of Native American culture, pointing exclusively to any evidence that tends to negate or deny any previously held views that may tend to value the achievements of the original inhabitants of the Americas. If this were done for Black culture in Africa, noone would doubt the blatant racism involved. Imagine a book written by non-Europeans which attempted in every chapter to doubt the value of European culture, slighting the Spanish in one chapter, the Swedes in another; pouring scorn on Lord Byron, or Cervantes, or Dante; belittling the Magna Carta; doubting the achievements of German or Hungarian art or French or British science; and pooh poohing the significance of European culture in general. It sounds like good fun, but not good scholarship and not balanced judgement.

No matter how reasonable such a book's arguments might be in specific cases, assembling only one side of the discussion in order to belittle a race that has already been sorely dealt with and stigmatized should be rejected with utter contempt for the editor's prejudiced approach and dubious intentions.
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Format: Paperback
"The Invented Indian" is a brilliant dissection of the myths that have been so widely circulated by Indians and their apologists. Trading on their supposed past victimization, Indians--like other minorities--have used the power of guilt and smear to gain socio/political and economic spoils from brow-beaten whites. Veteran anthropologist James Clifton is to be congratulated for bravely stepping aside the unwritten rules on how to talk about minorities in general, and Indians in particular by exposing these myths.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this up looking for some even-handed, honest critique of the politics of Indian identity, but this book is a bit too overzealous. The editor Clifton spends so much effort denying he has an anti-Indian agenda and ridiculing the Indians and Indian "apologists" who will predictably protest this book, one cannot help wonder if he himself "protests too much." The book includes as an appendix a laundry list of anticipated insults (e.g., "you are anti-indian," "you are racist") in a preemptive attempt to denigrate the book's detractors, which is completely out of place in a supposedly neutral, academic work.

Clifton is so obsessed with debunking the "Indian myth" that, instead of showing all the complexities of Indian existence, he goes a long way in painting them as frauds. While the book contains some interesting insights, it is hard to pick these out when the book conveys the overall sense that the editor has some sort of ideological or personal ax to grind.

Even giving Clifton the generous benfit of the doubt, this book provides a ready weapon for others like the reviewer below, who don't attempt to hide their resentment towards Indians and "other minorities." The intentions behind this book may not be malicious, as Clifton insists, but they are at least reckless as far as academic works go.
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Format: Paperback
Clifton's anthology is transparently racist and reactionary. I picked this book up at the library, thinking that it dealt with the politics of representation, a sort of "Orientalism" for Native Americans. Instead, I found white authors not only dismissing the rights and contributions of indigenous peoples, but having the gall to claim that non-Indians, because of their "critical distance," can understand natives better than natives can understand themselves. Upon further reading, I discovered that both Vine Deloria JR and Ward Churchill are extremely critical of this influential and racist collection. If one is genuinely interested in issues of representation, this is a much better collection:

Dressing in Feathers: The Construction

or, if one is concerned with the legal and political consequences of Indian stereotyping and misrepresentation, Robert Williams' "Like a Loaded Weapon" deals with these issues (although I recommend skipping the introduction and first chapter):

Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the Legal History of Racism in America (Indigenous Americas)
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By A Customer on September 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this book for a paper I had to write about Native Americans. It is an interesting collection of diverse essays dealing with the American Indians. Although I cannot say that each essay was equally interesting (I am not a lawyer), I can say that everyone writing or thinking about Native Americans in the nineties should include this book in his reading-list.
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