Cover image for Native American identities : from stereotype to archetype in art and literature
Native American identities : from stereotype to archetype in art and literature
Vickers, Scott B., 1947-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xiii, 194 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1730 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E98.E85 V53 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Issues of identity and authenticity present perennial challenges to both Native Americans and critics of their art. Vickers examines the long history of dehumanizing depictions of Native Americans while discussing such purveyors of stereotypes as the Puritans, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Hollywood. These stereotypes abetted a national policy robbing Indians of their cultural identity. As a contrast to these, he examines the work of white authors and artists such as Helen Hunt Jackson, Oliver La Farge, the Taos Society of Artists, and Frank Waters, who created more archetypal fictional Indian characters.

In the second half of the book, Vickers explores the work of Indian artists and writers, such as Edgar Heap of Birds, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Linda Hogan, and Sherman Alexic who craft humanizing new images of authenticity and legitimacy, bridging the gap between stereotype and archetype. This is an essential book for all readers with an interest in the tragic history of Indian-white conflict.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Self, a "word drawing" by Edgar Heap of Birds, adorns the cover of this book, signifying the unexpected and reversals in how stereotypes and archetypes of "authentic" identity function in writings and paintings about and by Native Americans. Vickers examines linguistic and psychological effects of non-Indian portrayals by writers Helen Hunt Jackson, Oliver La Farge, and Frank Waters, and painters associated with the Taos Society of Artists, recognizing how they invested their subjects with nonromantic dignity in a culture preferring stereotypes. Emerging later, Native painters Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Heap of Birds, and Diego Romero and writers Linda Hogan, Simon Ortiz, Leslie Silko, and Sherman Alexie rely on their representational and oral traditions as well as modern Indian life and postmodern techniques to forge new archetypes and identity criteria. Discussing the foibles of "Indian identity" first and last circumscribes a trickster subtlety in Vickers's style: he spares readers obfuscating criticalese; he is nonjudgmental; and amidst his opposition to genocide, his shrewd deconstructions are sympathetic about how conditions helped white artists of Indian portrayals emerge. These readable inquiries include keen observations of Hogan's novel Mean Spirit and Taos painter Walter Ufer. Undergraduate and research collections. R. Welburn University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
1 Introduction Stereotypes and Archetypesp. 1
Part I The language of conquestp. 13
2 The Semiology and Psychology of Conquestp. 15
3 Wroughten Scoundrelsp. 35
4 Portraits of Dishonorp. 45
5 A Recapitulaion of Indiannessp. 55
6 The Enchantment of the Disenfranchisedp. 65
7 Grounds for Mythificationp. 85
Part II From Stereotype to Archetypep. 105
8 From Western Art to Archetypep. 107
9 The Storytellersp. 125
10 Conclusionp. 159
Notesp. 167
Bibliographyp. 179
Indexp. 187