Indians in unexpected places is a series of compiled essays that seeks to (re) describe the stereotypical conceptions commonly held about First People. These essays range from the dual-representation of Indians as violent/pacifist to the careers Indians had in the nascent American sport industry to the juxtaposition of Indians and technology such as the automobile. Of particular intrigue for me was Deloria’s narration of his grandfather. Recounting the story of Vine Deloria Sr. ascendency as an Episcopalian minister, beloved by South Dakota congregations, Deloria situates his grandfather in the pivotal paradigm shift between savagery and pacification, belonging “to that ‘pacified’ generation of Native people who were supposed, once and for all, to be finally assimilating into the American melting pot or simply dying off” (112). Tracing Vine Deloria’s career as a football player, Deloria positions the rise of American consumer sports with that of marginalized bodies. However, as Deloria—as well as Tsing and Paige have—describes:
This new kind of athletic competition could sometimes be seen as part of a refigured warrior tradition, but it also provided an entrée into American society—a chance to beat whites at their own games, an opportunity to get an education, and, even at its most serious, an occasion for fun and sociality. (116)
1 – One of Deloria’s main contentions is to address how Indian history has been documented and disseminated. As a critic to the hegemonic framework that attempts to make "sense of the diverse experiences of hundreds of tribal peoples" (11), Deloria concludes that this framework then becomes a narrative of U.S. government policy. What are your thoughts on this? I wonder if we can ascertain Deloria’s critique—that teaching First People history often becomes teaching about colonial rule—within the same lens that Coombe offers in her notion of cultural appropriation? What has been your relationship with institutional departments such as Ethnic Studies? Did you find it perpetuates or remedies Deloria’s argument?
2 – Describing that while the Indian athlete was granted access to the nascent U.S. sports economy, at the same time, Black and Latino bodies remained subjugated to institutional discrimination (125). Do you see any parallels in today’s contemporary capitalist moment? Has the era of appropriating marked bodies for specific purposes—or rather expectations—simply redesigned itself to include Black and Latino bodies now?