Indians in Unexpected Places by Philip J. Deloria is about rethinking “a particular history of expectation” in order to complicate and destabilize the often dangerous assumptions that Native peoples participated outside notions of modernity. Deloria examines the “secret histories” of a number of Indian people in the late 19th and early 20th century, who he conceptualizes as a cross-tribal cohort, to illustrate the complex relationship “Native life” had in “escaping familiar expectations and reinforcing them” (233). Deloria is interested in the imaginative process that shapes the way “expectations” get framed by non-Indians, such as the “native ability to commit violence.” The state, as we saw Deloria explain, justified violent repression against Natives in the name of self-defense by imagining Natives as savages, primitive and “un-civilized” (colonial language). However, Deloria is interested in deconstructing those expectations by putting them into dialogue with “unexpected” lived experiences of certain Native people in order to show why “certain kinds of telling [get told] and not others” (7). He centers stereotypes, discourse and ideology in his analysis to complicate the relationship between Indian people and the United States (11).

What stood out to me about the power of expectations is that Native people are always forced to confront these expectations; however confronting these colonial white expectations will be different based on one’s own social locality. Deloria wants us to think about how Native cultural productions of knowledge, and the actors of those productions, are embedded in a contradictory relationship with colonial white expectations, “usually challenging and reaffirming those expectations at the same time” (13). This was essential to my understanding of the text because Deloria is not interested in reproducing dichotomies or tracing how counter-hegemony operated within the realm of hegemonic discourses of power. I believe he sees micro-resistances and reaffirmations of expectations (that often occur simultaneously) not so much as products of a grand counter-hegemonic movement, but instead specific to the experiences of certain subjects, which he argues can help us see and challenge how colonial violence gets framed and why it gets framed that way, in addition to what stories get told and why those get told and not others. Deloria unveils “secret” histories with the political intention of making us rethink how we see history, more specifically, what stories do we decide to pay close attention to and which ones we choose to ignore, but more importantly how our own socialized “expectations” of Indigenity and modernity influence those decisions.  


Who is the intended audience in this text? Are there multiple audiences? Why is identifying the audience important for this text? Or is it important at all? Does having a specific audience take away or add to the book? 

How can we use Deloria's framework for our own projects? 

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