Taking a Second Look with Charles Alexander Eastman
This chapter considers the aesthetics of western reservations and the so-called “Indian Wars” of the later nineteenth century. In the post-Civil War decades of US national expansion, print media promulgated a range of damaging narratives about savage, vengeful Indian warriors from a distant perspective. Meanwhile, Native artists and authors including Amos Bad Heart Bull (Oglala Lakota) and Charles Alexander Eastman (Mdewakanton Dakota) experimented with perspective and perception in image and text to make visible the many, diverse Native sites and forms of creative knowledge production inaccessible in print media. Their texts call for a model of reading that links the sensational battles of this period with histories of Indigenous representational practice well versed in stories and images of battle. Their works draw surprising connections between a variety of events, spaces, communities, and forms in a period known for the compartmentalization of Indian nations and lands, demonstrating that locally grounded aesthetic analysis remains important to understanding networks of Indian representation in more modern periods.
Keywords: Eastman, Charles Alexander, Indian Boyhood, Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains, Bull, Amos Bad Heart, Pictographic History of the Oglala Sioux, Battle of the Little Bighorn, Wounded Knee Massacre, Ledger Art, Sitting Bull, Rain in the Face
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