Staged encounters : Native American performance between 1880 and 1920
Evans, Katherine Liesl Young
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This dissertation explores the unique political and cultural possibilities that public performance held for Native American activists and artists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Not only did these performance texts, generated in multiple genres, offer a counternarrative to the mainstream discourse of Native assimilation, they also provided Native writer-performers with a vehicle for embodying tribally-specific epistemologies, cosmologies, and diplomatic histories. These Native dramatists transformed the stage into a site of political possibility left unrealized on the printed page, a site where they could revise images of their peoples from shadows and stereotypes to sovereign nations. Included in this study are analyses of the speaking tours of Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins/Thocmetony (Northern Paiute), the performance poetry of Emily Pauline Johnson/Tekahionwake (Mohawk), an opera co-written by Gertrude Bonnin/Zitkala-Ša (Yankton Dakota), and pageants performed by the Garden River First Nation (Ketegaunseebee Anishinaabe). Drawing primarily on contemporary scholarship in Native American literary studies, including American Indian literary nationalism and internationalism, the burgeoning work in Native American performance studies, and methodologies from theater history, the following chapters contextualize both printed and performance versions of these texts with tribally-specific political, economic, and cultural histories, as well as performance reviews and broader federal Indian policy of the time.