|Strangely I could find no pictures of Buffalo's |
going to a tea party. But I will make sure that
one is created. The world needs it.
In the article she explores the history of the school through the words of the students gathered either from the student paper or through interviews with former students. She is particularly interested in their use of wordplay and humor as a means to explore this issue of identity. This space for Indian play was complimented by a collegial environment, which was reportedly free of violence and where students were not isolated from other adult Indians or surrounding Indian communities.
She mentions that some students were fearful that, "if they were educated they might no longer be considered "Indian" by their communities" and that some faced teasing when returning to their home communities. The students played with these themes through two long running fictitious newspaper characters, one the stereotyped ignorant Indian who couldn't understand why anyone would want an education and the other "educated" Indian who defied the stereotypes of that role (and was stupid).
Neuman is careful to note that this Indian play does not imply agency or resistance on the part of the students. She sees that their dialogue was primarily an internal discussion on the changing status of the students themselves, but at the same time she notes that in some cases, cultural persistence can also be read as resistance. We are still here.
Given the nature of the school, it also brought together students from different tribes and was thus unintentionally a space to explore early-pan Indian identity, with students sharing cultural information with each other as well as exploring similar challenges through the Indian play.
I also personally found this article interesting, as the family history was that James Brady Jr (Jim Brady) was accepted into Oxford and choose not to go as he felt it would make it difficult for him to maintain a connection with the people. It makes me think about how difficult it must have been for someone like him to go away into that very Europeanized space and what that would require that person to give up in terms of identities.
What is your Indian Play today?