Cover image for Injun Joe's ghost : the Indian mixed-blood in American writing
Injun Joe's ghost : the Indian mixed-blood in American writing
Brown, Harry J. (Harry John), 1972-
Publication Information:
Columbia : University of Missouri Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 271 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS374.I49 B76 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



What does it mean to be a "mixed-blood," and how has our understanding of this term changed over the last two centuries? What processes have shaped American thinking on racial blending? Why has the figure of the mixed-blood, thought too offensive for polite conversation in the nineteenth century, become a major representative of twentieth-century native consciousness?

In Injun Joe's Ghost , Harry J. Brown addresses these questions within the interrelated contexts of anthropology, U.S. Indian policy, and popular fiction by white and mixed-blood writers, mapping the evolution of "hybridity" from a biological to a cultural category. Brown traces the processes that once mandated the mixed-blood's exile as a grotesque or criminal outcast and that have recently brought about his ascendance as a cultural hero in contemporary Native American writing.

Because the myth of the demise of the Indian and the ascendance of the Anglo-Saxon is traditionally tied to America's national idea, nationalist literature depicts Indian-white hybrids in images of degeneracy, atavism, madness, and even criminality. A competing tradition of popular writing, however, often created by mixed-blood writers themselves, contests these images of the outcast half-breed by envisioning "hybrid vigor," both biologically and linguistically, as a model for a culturally heterogeneous nation.

Injun Joe's Ghost focuses on a significant figure in American history and culture that has, until now, remained on the periphery of academic discourse. Brown offers an in-depth discussion of many texts, including dime novels and Depression-era magazine fiction, that have been almost entirely neglected by scholars. This volume also covers texts such as the historical romances of the 1820s and the novels of the twentieth-century "Native American Renaissance" from a fresh perspective. Investigating a broad range of genres and subject over two hundred year of American writing, Injun Joe's Ghost will be useful to students and professionals in the fields of American literature, popular culture, and native studies.

Author Notes

Harry J. Brown is Assistant Professor of English at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Scholars of Native Americans in literature continue to cite Lucy Maddox's Removals: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Politics of Indian Affairs (CH, Jan'93) for its pivotal influence. Brown (DePauw Univ.) discusses Twain's mixed-blood figure Injun Joe no more than he does other figures in 19th-century historical romances, dime novels, and mixed-blood narratives. His three-chapter study turns on the ghostly ascription as a strategy for reading the hybrid identities portrayed by Jefferson, Rowson, Brockden Brown, Cooper, Child, and Sedgwick; he advocates gothic fantasy as a method for appreciating the miscegenation fears of whites and how narratives by Apess and Jemison subvert this paradigm. Brown surveys both dime Westerns and realist novels by Mourning Dove, La Farge, Mathews, and McNickle. The "half-breed" was problematical to national identity, a hated pariah as dime-Western fixture, misshapen, degenerate, and criminal, a product not of a white woman and Indian man as earlier but the reverse. Brown examines how early modern narratives respond to both Indian legislation and American nativism; he carefully juggles issues like assimilation and cultural changes affecting author self-perception. Yet, like other critics, Brown neglects Tom Whitecloud's story "Blue Winds Dancing" (1938) for its narrator's uncertainties. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. R. Welburn University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Sunday Morning, 18p. 1
The Invisible Indianp. 3
Hybridity, Alternation, and Simultaneityp. 7
The Murderin' Half-Breed in Tom Sawyerp. 12
Racial Amity in Reuben and Rachelp. 16
Methods and Overviewp. 20
1 Miscegenation and Degeneracy in Antebellum Historical Romance
Magua's Horrid Alternativep. 27
National Literature and the Vanishing Indianp. 30
Jefferson, Buffon, and the Marriage of Racesp. 33
Gothic Degeneracy and Edgar Huntlyp. 40
The Last of the Mohicansp. 45
Hope Lesliep. 50
Hobomokp. 56
A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemisonp. 62
William Apess and the Children of Adamp. 73
A Resemblance and a Menacep. 82
2 Homo Criminalis and Half-Breed Outlaws in the Dime Western
What Will We Do with Them?p. 85
Malaeskap. 92
The Half-Breed and the Hybrid Grotesquep. 99
The Half-Breed as Homo Criminalisp. 104
Redlawp. 111
The Half-Bloodp. 117
The White Squawp. 123
John Rollin Ridge and Joaquin Murietap. 129
Ramonap. 134
The Problem of Assimilationp. 145
3 From Biological to Cultural Hybridity in Cogewea, Sundown, and Twentieth-Century Magazine Fiction
Yukon Burial Groundp. 150
Nostalgia and Degenerationismp. 158
Race as Biology in the Saturday Evening Postp. 166
The Test of Language, Redefinition, and Reorganizationp. 173
Oliver La Farge's Navajo Storiesp. 181
Hybrid Subjectivity in Cogeweap. 190
Problems of Assimilation and Authenticity in Sundownp. 205
Epilogue: Contemporary Reflections on Mixed Descent
What Is Indian?p. 219
D'Arcy McNickle's Tribalismp. 226
N. Scott Momaday's Word of Creationp. 230
Interwoven Beadwork in Erdrich's The Antelope Wifep. 235
Reconsidering Racep. 240
Bibliographyp. 247
Indexp. 261