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American MythologiesEssays on Contemporary Literature$
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William Blazek and Michael K. Glenday

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780853237365

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846312540

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Indians with Voices: Revisiting Savagism and Civilization

Indians with Voices: Revisiting Savagism and Civilization

(p.15) Chapter 1 Indians with Voices: Revisiting Savagism and Civilization
American Mythologies

Betty Louise Bell

Liverpool University Press

This chapter argues that Roy Harvey Pearce's seminal Native American studies text Savagism and Civilization fails to acknowledge its white elitist assumptions about what constitutes ‘The American Mind’ and views Native Americans along a primitive-savage binary which helped to create a twentieth-century ‘national mythos of innocence and destiny’. In political terms, this view reflected US government policies of assimilation and removal towards Native tribes. On the other hand, contemporary Native writers such as Linda Hogan, Tom King, and Gerald Vizenor have attempted to transform such segregationist attitudes and binary oppositions into ‘sites of hybridity that resist categorisation and, thereby, challenge systems of domination’.

Keywords:   Native American studies, Roy Harvey Pearce, Linda Hogan, Tom King, Gerald Vizenor

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