I just read the excerpt from Nemesis in which the boys from Camp Indian Hill participate in “Indian Night,” and I feel as though it’s ripe for discussion about stereotyping, gender, genocide or what have you. The boys all dress up in inauthentic Native American attire from the craft store, rub their faces with cocoa and participate in an “Indian” ceremony. One of the things that struck me as particularly sick and symbolic was this:

“In years gone by he had saluted the braves Indian fashion–using an upraised right arm with the palm forward–and they would collectively return the salute, simultaneously grunting ‘Ugh!’ But this greeting had to be abandoned with the arrival on the world scene of the Nazis, who employed that salute to signify ‘Heil Hitler!'” (208-209)

The camp director goes on to state that for millions of years “our race has seen in this blessed fire the means and emblem of light, warmth, protection, friendly gathering, council.” This whole section is packed with irony, as the boys take from a culture the mythic strengths and forget, even in the face of another genocide, America’s implication in the eradication of the culture they’re celebrating. At the end of the ceremony the camp leader tells the boys about the war news, and what’s going on “outside of Indian Hill.” Indian Hill seems to me to function as an escape; literally for Bucky from polio and his duties in Newark, and also as metaphor for escaping the reality of war, death and genocide. I’m interested to see what other people felt about this particular section (pages 204-216), because I’m sure I’m just scraping the tip of the iceberg.

“Reel Injun”

There’s a documentary on Netflix right now called “Reel Injun” that explores how cinema has represented, or rather misrepresented, Native American peoples through the creation of the mythological “Injun.” The film juxtaposes the historical and current account of American Natives with that of Hollywood representation. I think this documentary is relevant in regards to a lot of things we’ve been studying in class; namely how groups of people are are categorized based on unquestioned and purposely created stereotypes. It’s also a pretty good case for how historical context can lead us to think more deeply about the “whys” of injustice.

Here’s the movie site, in case you don’t have the flix.