The Invented Indian: Cultural Fictions & Government Policies

By James A. Clifton

James Clifton, a trained anthropologist, spent many years studying various Indian tribes. His expertise and experiences slowly led him to some uncomfortable conclusions. He discovered that the “Indian industry” operates from an unspoken Eleventh Commandment that reads “Thou Shall Not Say No to an Indian.” This “industry” includes many scholarly organizations, commercial and academic presses, private and public foundations and universities, independent research institutes, the profession of Indian law, the mass media, state and federal governments and numerous advocacy organizations. For example, he observed highly skilled lawyers selectively using and suppressing judicial evidence. By systematically distorting facts, they carefully manipulated both judicial and public sentiments. One of these lawyers explained to Clifton that the aim was not truth but winning at any cost.

Clifton concluded that much of what we “know” about Indian Americans has been carefully invented for the purpose of obtaining temporary power and money for tribal clients irregardless of the social consequences. One of the biggest of these public relations campaigns can be labeled, “The Massive Debts the Whiteman Owes the Indian.” This campaign consists of at least two parts including, “I – The Good Things the Indian Has Given the Whiteman; and II – The Bad Things the Whiteman Has Done to the Indian.”

Much of this book is devoted to exploding some of these myths and therefore their power to pervert our values, Constitution and system of government. How many things do you “know” about Indian Americans that are really only carefully marketed myths designed to politically manipulate you and the rest of us?

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