Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation argues that the publication of Copway’s American Indian (1851) challenges accepted representations of nineteenth-century American Native peoples by countering popular stereotypes. Interrogating a multiplicity of cultural artifacts at the moment of their meeting and investigating the friction created as they rub against one another within the columns of the periodical, I argue that the texts that contribute to the make-up of Copway’s American Indian are juxtaposed in such a way as to force nineteenth-century readers to reconsider the place of the indigenous inhabitants in the American nation. Seemingly disconnected tidbits of information, presented not individually but as components of a whole, establish a specific set of ideas within the periodical and I contend that the editor, George Copway, specifically sought pieces for the journal that buttressed the ideology of the vanishing Indian as a means of rationalizing the publication of his newspaper and to convince Euro-Americans that the Native people must be saved. By recontextualizing texts by Euro-American novelists, poets, ethnologists, politicians, and historians that reinforce the myths of American exceptionalism, masculinity, benevolence, and manifest destiny and that attempt to write the Indian out of the national conversation, Copway’s American Indian reinvests these writings with meaning in support of the need for Indian removal. By reading key instances in the works of Euro-American figures alongside Native folklore and tracing the web that connects them to George Copway and Copway’s American Indian, I show how these individuals and their texts, existing in contentious dialogic relationships, are employed to achieve a common goal and I argue against those scholars who claim that pre-twentieth-century Native authors were rhetorical innocents and, having no real effect on white writers or writing, did not participate in the construction of the national narrative.



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Committee Chair

Kennedy, J. Gerald