Posts tagged native american
“How to Write the Great American Indian Novel” by Sherman Alexie
All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.
The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, preferably
from a horse culture. He should often weep alone. That is mandatory.
If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful. She must be slender
and in love with a white man. But if she loves an Indian man
then he must be a half-breed, preferably from a horse culture.
If the Indian woman loves a white man, then he has to be so white
that we can see the blue veins running through his skin like rivers.
When the Indian woman steps out of her dress, the white man gasps
at the endless beauty of her brown skin. She should be compared to nature:
brown hills, mountains, fertile valleys, dewy grass, wind, and clear water.
If she is compared to murky water, however, then she must have a secret.
Indians always have secrets, which are carefully and slowly revealed.
Yet Indian secrets can be disclosed suddenly, like a storm.
Indian men, of course, are storms. The should destroy the lives
of any white women who choose to love them. All white women love
Indian men. That is always the case. White women feign disgust
at the savage in blue jeans and T-shirt, but secretly lust after him.
White women dream about half-breed Indian men from horse cultures.
Indian men are horses, smelling wild and gamey. When the Indian man
unbuttons his pants, the white woman should think of topsoil.
There must be one murder, one suicide, one attempted rape.
Alcohol should be consumed. Cars must be driven at high speeds.
Indians must see visions. White people can have the same visions
if they are in love with Indians. If a white person loves an Indian
then the white person is Indian by proximity. White people must carry
an Indian deep inside themselves. Those interior Indians are half-breed
and obviously from horse cultures. If the interior Indian is male
then he must be a warrior, especially if he is inside a white man.
If the interior Indian is female, then she must be a healer, especially if she is inside
a white woman. Sometimes there are complications.
An Indian man can be hidden inside a white woman. An Indian woman
can be hidden inside a white man. In these rare instances,
everybody is a half-breed struggling to learn more about his or her horse culture.
There must be redemption, of course, and sins must be forgiven.
For this, we need children. A white child and an Indian child, gender
not important, should express deep affection in a childlike way.
In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written,
all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will be ghosts.
One question for fans of the “hipster indian” look
If its just that you “appreciate the culture” and “think its beautiful” why don’t I ever see fashion spreads of Native Americans dressed in the attire as it was meant to be worn? Why is it always shirtless white ladies in the desert with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of whisky in the other?
My theory? Its because the culture being appreciated is not any particular Native American culture. It is the culture of middle class America from 30 years ago, back when if you dressed your kid up as an “indian princess” for Halloween no one would think twice about it (I’m looking at you, mom.)
You can tell because all these pictures also often exhibit artifacts of the 70s, like feathered hair and tube socks pulled up to your knees, or have orangey red faded color palettes or excessive lens flare like a flashback in a Wes Anderson movie or something.
The “more innocent time” these images are hearkening back to is not to some imagined time of pre-colombian noble savagrey but the time from my childhood when middle America felt free to stomp all over Native American culture without guilt.
I plan on writing a more thought out post about this on blogger when I’m more awake. It will have spellchecking!
ooh, good point.
I read this interesting article a while ago — I wish I could remember where, sorry — about young women dressing in 50s fashion. and one of them mentioned in passing that women who were actually alive in that time had come up to her and been like “what the fuck are you doing? why do you want to go back to then? do you know what life was actually like?”
threadbared had a really good link round-up on the politics of vintage fashion a while ago, check it out