By Fergus M. Bordewich
In the face of the current, highly romanticized view of Native Americans, “Killing the White Man’s Indian” confronts our myths and misconceptions to reveal many realities of tribal life today. Following two centuries of negative stereotypes of the “savage red man,” Americans have recast Native Americans into another equally stereotyped role – that of of the eternal victims, politically powerless and weakened by poverty and alcoholism, yet whose spiritual ties with the natural world form the last, best hope of salvaging our natural environment and ennobling our souls.
What will surprise many Americans, however, is that a virtual revolution is underway in Indian Country, from New England to Florida, and from New York to the Pacific Northwest. It is an upheaval of epic proportions: for the first time in generations, Indians are shaping their own destinies largely outside the control of whites, reinventing Indian education and justice and exploiting the principal of tribal sovereignty in ways that empower tribal governments far beyond most American’s imaginations–posing profound challenges to regional economies and both state and local governments. Claimed as a renaissance for Indian tribes, from a different angle, tribal sovereignty may be seen as yet another facet of the cultural balkanization of the United States. In that sense “Killing the White Man’s Indian” is a book about the values of American society at large as we stand on the threshold of a new century.
Based on four years of research on tribal reservations, and written without a noticeable political bias or agenda, “Killing the White Man’s Indian” takes on Native American politics and policies today in all their contradictory and controversial guises.