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"Indians": Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History

Jane Tompkins

When I was growing up in New York City, my parents used to take me to an event in Inwood Park at which Indians-real American Indians dressed in feathers and blankets-could be seen and touched by children like me. This event was always a disappointment. It was more fun to imagine that you were an Indian in one of the caves in Inwood Park than to shake the hand of an old man in a headdress who was not overwhelmed at the opportunity of meeting you. After staring at the Indians for a while, we would take a walk in the woods where the caves were, and once I asked my mother if the remains …