Killing the Indian Maiden: Images of Native American Women in Film

By M. Elise Marubbio

Killing the Indian Maiden examines the attention-grabbing and infrequently aggravating portrayal of local American girls in movie. via dialogue of thirty-four Hollywood motion pictures from the silent interval to the current, M. Elise Marubbio examines the sacrificial position of what she phrases the "Celluloid Maiden"―a younger local lady who allies herself with a white male hero and dies due to that selection. Marubbio intertwines theories of colonization, gender, race, and picture reports to flooring her learn in sociohistorical context all in an try and outline what it capability to be an American. As Marubbio charts the constant depiction of the Celluloid Maiden, she uncovers basic characterizations―the Celluloid Princess and the Sexualized Maiden. The archetype for the unique Celluloid Princess looks in silent motion pictures comparable to Cecil B. DeMille's The Squaw guy (1914) and is punctiliously validated in American iconography in Delmer Daves's damaged Arrow (1950). Her extra erotic sister, the Sexualized Maiden, emerges as a femme fatale in such movies as DeMille's North West fixed Police (1940), King Vidor's Duel within the solar (1946), and Charles Warren's Arrowhead (1953). the 2 characterizations finally mix to shape a hybrid Celluloid Maiden who first seems to be in John Ford's The Searchers (1956) and reappears within the Seventies and the Nineties in such motion pictures as Arthur Penn's Little immense guy (1970) and Michael Apted's Thunderheart (1992). Killing the Indian Maiden unearths a cultural iconography approximately local americans and their position within the frontier embedded within the American psyche. The local American girl is a racialized and sexualized other―a conquerable physique representing either the seductions and the hazards of the frontier. those motion pictures express her being colonized and ache by the hands of occur future and American expansionism, yet Marubbio argues that the local American girl additionally represents a chance to the belief of a white the USA. The complexity and durability of the Celluloid Maiden icon―persisting into the twenty-first century―symbolizes an identification concern concerning the composition of the yank nationwide physique that has performed many times all through diversified eras and political climates. eventually, Marubbio establishes that the continued illustration of the Celluloid Maiden signs the ongoing improvement and justification of yank colonialism.

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A฀number฀of฀basic฀similarities,฀rendered฀differently฀within฀ the฀films,฀exist฀between฀the฀helper฀and฀lover฀figures฀that฀serve฀to฀link฀the฀ two฀characters. ฀The฀essential฀qualities฀that฀signify฀the฀Celluloid฀Princess฀ exist฀in฀some฀form฀in฀both฀figures:฀she฀is฀innocent,฀attached฀to฀an฀exotic฀ culture,฀and฀linked฀to฀ritual฀and฀the฀American฀landscape;฀she฀yearns฀for฀ the฀white฀hero฀or฀western฀European฀culture;฀and฀she฀sacrifices฀herself฀ to฀preserve฀Whiteness฀from฀racial฀contamination. ฀Within฀this฀context,฀ Whiteness฀ symbolizes฀ an฀ perfect฀ photograph฀ of฀ purity,฀ final฀ civilization,฀ and฀ tradition฀ that฀ is฀ held฀ as฀ a฀ utopian฀ version฀ of฀ excellence฀ and฀ hope. ฀ While฀the฀helper฀films฀center฀the฀maiden฀as฀the฀focus฀of฀the฀action,฀the฀ lover฀films฀shift฀the฀focus฀to฀the฀white฀hero. ฀Of฀great฀importance฀to฀the฀ subtext฀of฀the฀films,฀the฀mode฀of฀death฀differs—the฀helper฀is฀killed฀while฀ the฀lover฀commits฀suicide. The฀helper฀figure฀appears฀almost฀exclusively฀in฀the฀early฀short฀films฀ (one฀to฀three฀reels฀long),฀such฀as฀Red฀Wing’s฀Gratitude฀(1909),฀The฀Broken฀Doll฀(1910),฀and฀Iola’s฀Promise฀(1912),฀but฀also฀surfaces฀as฀a฀minor฀ 30฀ Killing the Indian Maiden figure฀in฀two฀feature-length฀films฀of฀the฀1920s—Out฀of฀the฀Snows฀(1920)฀ and฀The฀Vanishing฀American฀(1925). ฀A฀primary฀character฀in฀the฀early฀ shorts฀but฀a฀secondary฀figure฀by฀the฀1920s,฀the฀helper฀often฀appears฀as฀an฀ innocent฀child฀figure฀whose฀involvement฀with฀the฀hero฀never฀manifests฀ itself฀as฀a฀love฀relationship. ฀Her฀attempt฀to฀warn฀her฀white฀friends฀of฀an฀impending฀Indian฀attack฀always฀results฀in฀her฀accidental฀death. ฀The฀actionpacked฀narratives,฀which฀emphasize฀gratitude฀and฀generosity,฀highlight฀ the฀female฀lead’s฀athleticism฀and฀her฀desire฀to฀repay฀a฀kindness฀done฀to฀ her฀by฀a฀leading฀white฀character. ฀On฀the฀surface,฀these฀films฀appear฀to฀ aid฀ an฀ assimilationist฀ time table฀ and฀ a฀ romantic฀ nostalgia฀ for฀ local฀ Americans;฀ however,฀ their฀ constitution฀ and฀ heavy฀ reliance฀ on฀ the฀ savage฀ image฀undermine฀such฀a฀reading฀and฀result฀in฀a฀validation฀of฀westward฀ expansion,฀conquest,฀and฀separation฀of฀groups. The฀ lover฀ films฀ are฀ additionally฀ commentaries฀ on฀ assimilation฀ and,฀ like฀ the฀ helper฀ films,฀ current฀ an฀ blameless฀ and฀ noble฀ local฀ girl฀ who฀ dies฀ simply because฀ of฀ her฀ interplay฀ with฀ white฀ society. ฀ not like฀ the฀ helper฀ films,฀which฀center฀on฀a฀desexualized฀child฀maiden,฀these฀focus฀on฀a฀ sexually฀mature฀figure฀who฀participates฀in฀interracial฀love. ฀Often฀called฀ “squaw฀man”฀films฀because฀the฀white฀hero฀marries฀an฀Indian฀“squaw,”฀ their฀themes฀of฀interracial฀marriage฀reflect฀concerns฀about฀cultural฀difference,฀miscegenation,฀and฀interracial฀families. ฀The฀blueprint฀for฀later฀ manifestations฀of฀the฀Celluloid฀Princess,฀this฀early฀Princess฀figure฀differs฀ from฀those฀of฀other฀eras฀in฀the฀combination฀of฀plot฀elements฀that฀define฀ her฀ personality. nine฀ 4฀ key฀ subject matters฀ floor฀ in฀ those฀ films:฀ her฀ personality฀ holds฀a฀primary฀role฀in฀these฀stories;฀she฀is฀a฀full-blooded฀Native฀woman฀ and฀usually฀a฀chief’s฀daughter;฀she฀often฀has฀children฀who฀are฀being฀taken฀from฀her฀to฀be฀educated฀in฀the฀East;฀and฀she฀commits฀suicide.

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