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Native Performers in Wild West Shows


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About the Author

Linda Scarangella McNenly is an independent scholar and instructor in Anthropology. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from McMaster University and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Comparative Studies (ICSLAC) at Carleton University, Ottawa.


"Few people might seem more prone to exploitation than Indians performing in Wild West shows. But by illuminating the continuing dance between objectification and agency, loss and resilience, cultural destruction and cultural rebirth, this carefully researched, eye-opening book explains the long history of these remarkable performers from the nineteenth century to the present."--Louis S. Warren, author of Buffalo Bill's America: William Cody and the Wild West Show

"A distinguished contribution to the literature about Wild West shows and the performative tradition in Native America. With imagination and skill, the author engages significant debates concerning representations of Native peoples and recurring questions about Native agency. The scholarship is not only sound; it is a model for ethnohistory."--L. G. Moses, author of Wild West Shows and the Images of American Indians, 1883-1933

"The most complete and varied analysis of Native agency in Wild West shows to date. . . . McNenly's use of traditional archival sources, as well as oral histories, photographs, and material culture, and her effective synthesis of the pertinent scholarship in a range of connected fields make Native Performers in Wild West Shows a significant addition to the field."--David M. Wrobel, in the American Historical Review
"Adeptly introduces readers to the representational politics of Native performers in Wild West shows and to what lies at stake for those who have chosen to perform in them."--Pacific Historical Review
"McNenly maps Native agency transnationally and across time to reveal a legacy of North American Indian performance that broadens our understanding of how power and representation are negotiated in colonial encounters."--Canadian Journal of History

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