Presenter Information

Zehui Dai, University of Arkansas

Location

Panel 25: Kearney 312

Start Date

27-10-2012 3:00 PM

End Date

27-10-2012 4:30 PM

Description

From the beginning of European exploration and settlement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through the end of the nineteenth century, Native American captivity was very much a historical reality for countless explorers and settlers living on the edge of the American frontier. It also touched the imaginations and fears of virtually everyone for whom it was a possibility. Conservative estimates place the number of captives taken by Indians in the tens of thousands. Some scholars share a central captivity image of a victimized woman in a genre of captivity literature. Even though women were not the only image in captivity narratives, they were the dominant ones. The images of women’s victimization concentrate on abuse or torture, slavery, and food deprivation. The captured women who tried to escape were scalped by the Native Americans.

Furthermore, the captivity myth played a significant role through Hollywood filmmaking and also has been represented in some American films, such as Little Big Man, Dances with Wolves, The Searchers, Soldier Blue, and Taxi Driver. In films dealing with Native Americans, ranging from silent movies in the 1900s to the high budget films in the 1990s, female characters also often serve as sacrificing roles that are delicate and fragile. Female characters share a common experience that they are captured and raped, sometimes murdered by the savage Native. Gender, Identity, Sex and Sexuality area. 2 Americans. Worse, women were forced to undergo extraordinary physical and spiritual trials in the wilderness. To stress victimization, females often mentioned in connection with rape were adolescents and mothers still of childbearing age (either pregnant and/or nursing at time of capture). The image of “outraged virginity” (Kathryn Zabelle Derounaian-Stodola, 1993) was a powerful propagandist tool which made the audience to believe that the Native Americans were destroying the future mothers of a new generation of whites. In the white popular imagination, family life was disrupted, perhaps damaged. Even though after women were rescued by the white men and returned to the white culture, they were isolated from the community they used to belong to and were not accepted. However, there are two special female characters, which are captured by Native Americans and are not fragile or delicate. They were not raped or murdered. They partially undermine and provide counter point to the captivity myth in Hollywood filmmaking, present filmmakers’ sympathetic response to Native Americans, and promote women’s power. They are Cresta Marybelle Lee in Soldier Blue and Stand with a Fist in Dances with Wolves.

In this paper, I discuss presentations of the two special female characters, Cresta Marybelle Lee and Stand with a Fist, who portray different images of female captives through their personal experiences with Indians, and their undeniable impacts on male characters’ changing attitudes to Native Americans. The paper will be examined in the following approach. At the beginning, two special female roles partially undermine the misrepresentations of Native American men through their captivity experiences. Also, their experiences with Native Americans establish the real image of Native American men. Furthermore, the paper examines Cresta’s and Stand with a Fist’s powerful influence on Gant and Dunbar’s changing attitudes towards Native Americans retrospectively.

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Oct 27th, 3:00 PM Oct 27th, 4:30 PM

Captivity Narratives and the Positions of Female Captives in Soldier Blue and Dances with Wolves

Panel 25: Kearney 312

From the beginning of European exploration and settlement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through the end of the nineteenth century, Native American captivity was very much a historical reality for countless explorers and settlers living on the edge of the American frontier. It also touched the imaginations and fears of virtually everyone for whom it was a possibility. Conservative estimates place the number of captives taken by Indians in the tens of thousands. Some scholars share a central captivity image of a victimized woman in a genre of captivity literature. Even though women were not the only image in captivity narratives, they were the dominant ones. The images of women’s victimization concentrate on abuse or torture, slavery, and food deprivation. The captured women who tried to escape were scalped by the Native Americans.

Furthermore, the captivity myth played a significant role through Hollywood filmmaking and also has been represented in some American films, such as Little Big Man, Dances with Wolves, The Searchers, Soldier Blue, and Taxi Driver. In films dealing with Native Americans, ranging from silent movies in the 1900s to the high budget films in the 1990s, female characters also often serve as sacrificing roles that are delicate and fragile. Female characters share a common experience that they are captured and raped, sometimes murdered by the savage Native. Gender, Identity, Sex and Sexuality area. 2 Americans. Worse, women were forced to undergo extraordinary physical and spiritual trials in the wilderness. To stress victimization, females often mentioned in connection with rape were adolescents and mothers still of childbearing age (either pregnant and/or nursing at time of capture). The image of “outraged virginity” (Kathryn Zabelle Derounaian-Stodola, 1993) was a powerful propagandist tool which made the audience to believe that the Native Americans were destroying the future mothers of a new generation of whites. In the white popular imagination, family life was disrupted, perhaps damaged. Even though after women were rescued by the white men and returned to the white culture, they were isolated from the community they used to belong to and were not accepted. However, there are two special female characters, which are captured by Native Americans and are not fragile or delicate. They were not raped or murdered. They partially undermine and provide counter point to the captivity myth in Hollywood filmmaking, present filmmakers’ sympathetic response to Native Americans, and promote women’s power. They are Cresta Marybelle Lee in Soldier Blue and Stand with a Fist in Dances with Wolves.

In this paper, I discuss presentations of the two special female characters, Cresta Marybelle Lee and Stand with a Fist, who portray different images of female captives through their personal experiences with Indians, and their undeniable impacts on male characters’ changing attitudes to Native Americans. The paper will be examined in the following approach. At the beginning, two special female roles partially undermine the misrepresentations of Native American men through their captivity experiences. Also, their experiences with Native Americans establish the real image of Native American men. Furthermore, the paper examines Cresta’s and Stand with a Fist’s powerful influence on Gant and Dunbar’s changing attitudes towards Native Americans retrospectively.