Philip J. Deloria’s Indians In Unexpected Places (2004) challenges non-Native readers in particular to rethink how they conceive of Natives as something dichotomous to "modern" space. He uses various examples from the beginning decades of the twentieth century (focusing on indigenous groups from the northern plains) to show how "a significant cohort of Native people engaged the same forces of modernization that were making non-Indians reevaluate their own expectations of themselves and their society" (6). Delving into the relationships Natives had with cars, sports, movies, and art song, Deloria tries to show how Natives taking part in these so-called modern activities, for whatever reason, went against non-Natives' expectations and thus worked to disrupt those expectations to varying extents.

As I read this text, I found myself speculating not only on the historical content but also on my own relationship to this book. It seems important not only to speculate on how "Indians in unexpected places" shaped non-Native views about Natives during this period in American history, but also to consider how those expectations continue to shape non-Native thought today. For example, the discussion of the singer Tsianina Redfeather in Chapter Five complicates the relationship between Native singers (in the context of "high" art song) and their white audiences. Deloria tells us that Tsianina Redfeather had to be seen as both authentically Indian and racially invisible in order to find a place of value on the stage, as her Indianness was mitigated by her talent as a vocalist. Thus, audiences could choose to focus on her race or deny it in favor of fixating on her talent, and somewhere in the gaps, there stood a Native singer participating in what is perceived of as a traditionally European musical realm. Standing squarely in that gap, these performers could "play…with white expectation, holding out familiar signs that proclaimed ‘Indian’ even as they offered more nuanced musical performances" (212).

My study of folklore has driven home the idea that tradition is dynamic, not static; the perception of the static-ness of tradition, however, gives it its value. In reading this chapter in particular, I found even myself momentarily surprised out of my own expectations of what constitutes traditional art song or opera (for which I, uh, thank a particular academic musical training), and I feel that this is exactly Deloria's point. While non-Native audiences of the time may or may not have been jarred out of their own expectations, the actual goal of this book is to jar us out of ours, either again or for the first time.

Apologies, but I'm having real issue in coming up with questions at the moment. TBD?

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