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Vaudeville, Indigeneity, Modernity

What is the impact of remapping one site of mass entertainment—in this case, vaudeville—on wider assumptions and conversations about modernity? And what are the challenges to a settler scholar of popular culture—in this case, me—contributing to the return of Indigenous figures in this historical venue to broader visibility?

“Vaudeville Indians”

In popular culture scholarship, vaudeville has borne considerable weight as a central engine of Western modernity-making between the 1880s and 1930s. Vaudeville, along with its overseas close equivalents, variety and Varieté, was the first international system of mass entertainment, connecting management through transnational syndicates and labor through international artists’ unions. It responded and accommodated audiences to the fast-changing environment of urban industrialization through the atomized rhythms of its line-ups which juxtaposed short bursts of diverse, often spectacular performance; its continuous format which fitted with new modes of urban work and commerce; its facilities which were designed to attract family audiences; and the integration of early moving pictures into its show bills which trained spectators in new viewing habits.[1] And all this at “popular prices” which led promoters then and commentators more recently to claim that vaudeville achieved a cross-class, cross-race, cross-gender embrace, a living example of democracy in entertainment. Within such understandings, a number of scholars have analyzed vaudeville as an important stage for negotiating stereotype and agency with respect to ethnic and racialized groups, including Irish, German, Jewish, “new immigrant,” African American, and Asian performers and audiences.[2]

But not, apparently, Indigenous participants. With all the weight of primitivism, vanishment, and savagery applied to the Peoples of Turtle Island (North America) at the turn of the twentieth century—a period often characterized as the nadir of genocidal policies, practices, and discourses—Indigeneity did not fit the narrative of vaudeville’s centrality to modernity. Indigenous participants as a significant group in vaudeville seem to have been largely unthinkable in dominant cultural history in which popular Native performers of the period are almost automatically and exclusively associated with Wild West shows.[3] These were very important venues for Indigenous talent and its visibility on the world stage, and there is increasing evidence of ways in which Indigenous actors negotiated agency within the form’s coordinates.[4] But Wild West shows did not have vaudeville’s diversity of performance, intimacy of scale, and room for individual initiatives. The conditions of vaudeville employment were hard, especially in the English-speaking world and especially at the small-time end of the entertainment hierarchy. Nevertheless, within its structures, Indigenous entertainers could negotiate more creative control, more contractual leverage, and more direct audience relations than in the other forms of paid performance—Wild West shows, Chautauqua, world's fairs—available to them between the 1880s and 1930s. Vaudeville turns out to be one of the “unexpected places” elaborated by Philip J. Deloria (Dakota descent) seized by Indigenous peoples for their own survivance.[5]

In Indigenous remembrances, however, vaudeville seems taken for granted. Johnny Beauvais, Mohawk of Kahnawà:ke, notes of his people: “Those performers who outlasted the wild west genre went on to vaudeville. Vaudeville itself was one step away from the Broadway stage shows where some of our young lady dancers found some success.”[6] Penobscot showman Frank Loring/Chief Big Thunder (1827–1906) played a significant role in the history of the Penobscot Nation on Indian Island, Maine. Among other cultural and political activities, Loring starred in and produced vaudeville shows in the early nineteenth century, before the onset of mass-marketed and -managed vaudeville (usually termed “polite vaudeville,” its inception dated to around 1881).[7] Some contemporary Indigenous theater artists—most notably the distinguished and much-decorated Guna-Rappahannock sisters of Spiderwoman Theater in New York City (Gloria Miguel, Muriel Miguel, and Lisa Mayo)—trace one strand of their familial lineage and performance techniques to the vaudeville moment.[8] In this context, signs of vaudeville’s suppressed debt to Indigeneity—evidence hiding in plain sight—bears further scrutiny. On the eastern edge of the country, “polite vaudeville” took off in Tony Pastor’s 14th Street Theatre in Manhattan under the outstretched hand of Tammany, the seventeenth-century Lenni-Lenape leader Tamanend, made over as patron saint of the Tammany organization in whose building Pastor’s theater was lodged, while the Western vaudeville circuit had its first stirrings in the Wigwam Garden, San Francisco.[9] In performance archives across North America, Europe, and the Antipodes, vaudeville Indians—Indigenous and not—are at once buried and omnipresent, in cabinet cards and studio photographs, programs and playbills, trade journals, and newspapers.

Listening to Indigenous people’s memories, sifting digital databases, and following global trails of archival ephemera have produced a list of three hundred (and counting) Indigenous and Indigenous-identifying performers on vaudeville stages between the 1880s and 1930s. The rich variety of “Indian” acts challenges long-held assumptions and categories by which Native peoples, lived Indigeneity, and constructed Indianness are often understood. As well as singers, dancers, and orators, there were athletes, acrobats, sketch writers, mind readers, lasso artists, comedians, and tragedians, performing in groups or solo. Some passed briefly through vaudeville, some were career vaudevillians. Cumulatively Indigenous performers shaped vaudeville into a transitional space important in the making of public Indigenous voice and presence within a climate intent on their erasure.

 Will Rogers, photograph taken before 1900
Fig. 1. Will Rogers, photograph taken before 1900. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

At least half the three hundred referenced above were Indigenous artists recognized by the communities with which they identified across several Nations (including Seneca, Mohawk, Cherokee, Penobscot, Kiowa, Mapuche, Pawnee/Otoe, Winnebago, Oneida, and Chippewa—in the terms which they used at that time). They include well known performers such as Will Rogers of the Cherokee Nation (1879–1935), who developed his public voice on the vaudeville stage prior to moving into revue, cinema, and popular print media (fig. 1).[10] There are performers well remembered in their communities, such as Esther Deer/Princess White Deer (1891–1992), Mohawk of Caughnawaga and St. Regis (now Kahnawà:ke and Ahkwesáhsne), who has her own archive in the the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center of Kahnawà:ke (Fig. 2). Performing with her family and as a solo artist, Princess White Deer negotiated international circuits from North America to South Africa to Western and Eastern Europe, before returning to North America where she starred on Broadway.[11] Lucy Nicolar Poolaw/Princess Watahwaso (1882–1969) and Mary Alice Nelson Archambaud/Molly Spotted Elk (1903–1977) were two prominent performers of the Penobscot Nation recognized for their achievements across multiple forms of performance, print, and politics on and far beyond their home of Indian Island, Maine. In both cases, their journey through vaudeville is a significant part of their careers, their participation in trans-Indigenous networks, and how they have been remembered and cherished in contemporary Indigenous artistic and theatrical practice.[12]

Princess White Deer, 1909/10, Postcard.
Fig. 2. Princess White Deer 1909/10, Postcard, Karl Markus Kreis Private Collection.

The other half of the list-in-progress includes some entertainers who lived and performed as Native peoples but seem to have been without ties to community and others who were more clearly members of what Rayna Green (Cherokee descent) calls “The Tribe Called Wannabee,” seeking cover in assumed Indianness on and off the vaudeville stage.[13] Among the most slippery figures is Princess Chinquilla (ca.1867–1938), the performer who introduced me to Indian vaudeville and whose self-identification as Southern Cheyenne has been doubted by many over the decades.[14] Nevertheless, following Chinquilla’s circuits as she sang, danced, orated, and played banjo from Montana to Oceania reveals real connections between vaudeville and Indian boarding school, performance and survivance. Some Indian boarding school students ran away to join vaudeville, others joined the circuit after graduation, and still others performed on vaudeville stages in the schools’ musical bands. Above and beyond these three hundred-plus are the vaudevillians who donned “redface” on stage only, in acts which demonstrate through imitation the power of what they saw as Indian modernity.

From this vantage point, it is clear that Indian vaudeville was not simply a reactive form but was constituted by deft enactments of what Michelle Raheja (Seneca heritage) calls “visual sovereignty.”[15] Virtuoso acts went well beyond a dynamic whereby stereotyping occupies center ground and agency comes in subverting it. Among the categories which these performers trouble are the very lineaments of “playing Indian” (in the term coined by Rayna Green and Philip Deloria), often assumed to be legible in gesture and dress.[16] When reattached to particular performances, stock gestures can be understood to join performers’ own gazes to each other at least as much as to dominant conventions. On far-flung vaudeville circuits, Indigenous performers’ dress seems more like connective tissue joining families and communities in ways only partially visible to the non-Indigenous spectator than any static binary revolving around notions of authenticity. Often, outfits combined regalia of the performer’s Nation, pieces gifted from other Nations, pieces made by family members both in their own and other Indigenous styles, and items derived from the world of dominant commerce and theatrical wardrobe stock. Some Indigenous performers on the vaudeville stage, lacking familiar “Indian” markers, were not recognized as such by the press but Indigenized the space of performance no less for that. Take Mildred Bailey, one of the first women jazz vocalists, who appeared in vaudeville early in her career. According to Chad Hamill, Bailey credited her Coeur d’Alene upbringing and familial legacy for her distinctive musical talents and spoke proudly of her Indigenous identity, yet the jazz context in which she performed occluded its public acknowledgement.[17] It is perhaps the other side of the same coin that the explosion of Indian jazz revue in vaudeville—claimed by Esther Deer, among others, as an originary Indigenous movement—was also long forgotten.[18] Bailey’s example suggests the likelihood of many more Indigenous artists on vaudeville, spiraling beyond the numbers documented here. And what of the audience makeup? The “working girls” so central to cultural analysis of cheap entertainment would include Indigenous urban women too, some of whom are on record attending popular theater.[19] How are dominant notions of “cosmopolitanism” challenged by Indigenous performers sustaining kinship relations and trans-Indigenous community on popular stages, weaving these processes into the fabric of mass modernity while globe-hopping from New York to St. Petersburg, London to Wellington?[20]

Challenges for Popular Culture Studies and Settler Scholars

Henry Jenkins argues that the disruption of narrative by spectacle was one of vaudeville’s significant influences on early moving pictures.[21] Indigenous creation of spectacle on the vaudeville stage—whether it was the disciplinary formations of the Carlisle Indian School Band, Cherokee Will Rogers circling his rope above the audience’s heads, or Mohawk Esther Deer choreographing her Caughnawaga cousins in counterpoint to a white Pocahontas—took that disruption to another level. Press coverage of the period suggests that it was harder to slot Indigenous performance into the usual evolutionary paradigm in the non-linear vaudeville context. Their virtuoso acts, especially those involving feats of athleticism, challenged ideologies of “vanishing Indians” in which public culture of the period was steeped. Their mobility on global vaudeville circuits defied the containment imposed by reservation, incarceration, and allotment policies. In the direct address between performer and audience in the vaudeville auditorium, what might have been the stakes when Indigenous performers, subjected to “unrelenting surveillance” in residential schools and on reservations, returned so closely the spectators’ gaze (Troutman, Indian Blues, 114)? And in how many ways did Indigenous performers bridge the movement from vaudeville to early moving pictures, acclimatizing spectators to the shift from liveness to cinematic representation with their inter-reel acts and their ballyhooing—that is, framing and enabling another entertainment technology heralded as central to Western modernity? Take all these acts and relations and networks together, and they fundamentally reorient the compass of popular culture.

Which brings me to some methodological challenges concerning how scholars enter these archives, help to bring these performers back to more general visibility, and situate these histories within existing disciplinary paradigms. Especially given the long fetch of settler exploitation and trivialization of Native figures in popular entertainment, the pitfalls involved in a non-Indigenous scholar contributing to this recovery process are many. Australian Aboriginal scholar Henrietta Fourmile has pointed to one consequence of unequal power relations in the presumption of brokerage by non-Aboriginal scholars who enjoy access to official archives and resources while “the historical Indian [remains] the captive of the archives.”[22] My own first attempt at archival sharing came fifteen years ago, when I took a letter by a self-professed vaudeville Indian to the co-Artistic Directors of Toronto Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble—Monique Mojica (Guna and Rappahannock Nations), Jani Lauzon (Métis), and Michelle St. John (Wampanoag Nation), senior artists, creators, and researchers in several performance media. At that time, they were workshopping their own recovered and reembodied “unsung predecessors” from the turn-of-the-twentieth-century popular stage.[23] I’ve come to recognize how the principles which first emerged, for me, in that meeting jibe with Indigenous Research Methodologies—often summarized as respect, responsibility, reciprocity, relationality, and usefulness.[24] In the scale of this project, these principles translate into building research relations through archival exchange; learning from Indigenous artists, scholars, and archivists practices of looking and listening which move beyond colonizing assumptions and make the settler scholar’s position transparent, without recentering whiteness or invading Indigenous space; and negotiating ways of “giving back” to communities (Kovach, Indigenous Methodologies, 82). I continue to be indebted to conversations with and guidance from many Indigenous artists, scholars, and archivists, especially extended exchanges with Monique Mojica, Michelle St. John, Gloria Miguel, Muriel Miguel, and Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer (Kanien'kehá:ka of Kahnawà:ke and Cultural Liaison, Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center).[25] Details of cultural and familial histories; identifications and memories of performers; ways of reading newspaper clippings, studio portraits, and family photographs; lines that can be negotiated and those that must not be crossed—such specifics I could not have learned by any other means.

Giving back is its own journey. In this case, it consists of practical negotiations, small steps back and forth across cultural lines that the performers themselves navigated, a lot of listening, and always asking permission. One of the primary efforts of this project is to move archival materials in non-Indigenous institutions back into Indigenous sites of creativity, collection, research, and recirculation. Sometimes the dynamic is familial, as in returning copies of archived photographs of their relatives and community to the Miguel family; sometimes it is more institutional, involving negotiations between colonial and Indigenous spheres; and in all cases, the building of reciprocal relations is necessary to the process. A game-changer for the non-Indigenous scholar has been the creation of The People and the Text. This is an Indigenous digitization site dedicated to the recovery, study, and recirculation of “one of the most neglected literary archives” in North America.[26] Created by a team of Indigenous and allied scholars, led by Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), and working with Indigenous protocols, it changes the relations and shifts the power balance in making Indigenous archival materials accessible. It brings together Indigenous creative expression across periods and Nations, including some pieces by Indigenous vaudevillians, their work embraced by contemporary Indigenous caretakers in a new, digital version of community-making.

Go-won-go Mohawk, 1885, cabinet card, photograph by John Wood.
Fig. 3. Go-won-go Mohawk, 1885, cabinet card, photograph by John Wood. © Trustees of the British Museum.

The process of building relations of research exchange—which is to say, building trust across settler-Indigenous divides—is always ongoing, always unfinished, and new challenges, responsibilities, and opportunities continue to emerge. Recently, Monique Mojica, Michelle St. John, and I got together for a recorded discussion in which I presented materials I had assembled from the career of Seneca playwright and performer, Go-won-go Mohawk (1859/60–1924) (fig. 3).[27] In approaching Monique and Michelle, I was inviting contemporary Indigenous artistic engagement with archival remains as one way of reanimating the archive, one step towards increasing the visibility of an intriguing, significant figure, one of the many who are legible as, simultaneously, distinctly modern and specifically Indigenous.[28] Mohawk declared that, in order to “have something free and wild that would fit with my own nature. . . . I must act a man, or better, a boy,” and she queered audience expectations, to great success, on both sides of the Atlantic.[29] Monique’s and Michelle’s responses were rich with meaningful details of dress, community and family echoes, codes of communication—too much to address here. One of my overarching impressions concerns reciprocity and divergence. For part of the session, I had copied two dozen Go-won-go Mohawk cabinet cards, potent embodiments of the persona she circulated in public. Two in particular had excited me, because they possibly portray Mohawk costumed as a twin sister and brother she had created in her long-forgotten vaudeville playlet, crystallizing her gender play on stage. As Monique and Michelle scrutinized their way through the sequence, they agreed on two quite different cards as the real story, two that they read as signaling layers of agency and sexuality and identity—and that I had barely considered. To a degree, this divergence of interest was reassuring. From early in the project, difference was built into the fostering of reciprocity: my goal was to leverage institutional resources—including funding—that would support Indigenous artists’ work while advancing my research.[30] I’d known that our purposes and priorities diverged—one reason why this is a process of building relations of research exchange, rather than full collaboration. And I’d appreciated that my sphere of research was the public presence of these figures—how their recovery changes the landscape of popular culture and understandings of modernity itself—not their private subjectivities and lives. But I was surprised by how graphically this difference played out in the reading of archival remains and by my dawning sense that, in engaging in a recovery exercise together, we were talking about two different things. A new challenge, for me, lies in understanding the contours of the space between. Negotiations continue.[31]

What emerges from one focused research project, then, is a rich landscape of Indigenous agency in the making of popular culture at the heart of Western modernity. These Indigenous performers also break the frame of what Mark Rifkin calls “settler time,” exceeding “non-native frames of reference” with enduring relations sustained on, around, and beyond turn-of-the-century vaudeville circuits.[32] And they establish lines of negotiation, navigation, and demarcation in terms of where, how far, for what purposes, and in whose company the settler scholar can go. From where I sit, to engage with modernity, by any definition, is necessarily to be responsible to and work at such relations.


Notes

[1] Among the many works making this case over the years: Robert C. Allen, Vaudeville and Film, 1895–1915: A Study in Media Interaction (New York: Arno, 1980); Peter Jelavich, “Modernity, Civic Identity, and Metropolitan Entertainment: Vaudeville, Cabaret, and Revue in Berlin, 1900-1933,” in Berlin: Culture and Metropolis, ed. Charles W. Haxthausen and Heidrun Suhr (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990), 95–110; Henry Jenkins, What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992); and Arthur Frank Wertheim, Vaudeville Wars: How the Keith-Albee and Orpheum Circuits Controlled the Big-Time and Its Performers (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

[2] This large body of scholarship includes Nadine George-Graves, The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville: The Whitman Sisters and the Negotiation of Race, Gender and Class in African American Theatre, 1900–1940 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000); Mark Hodin, “Class, Consumption, and Ethnic Performance in Vaudeville,” Prospects 22 (1997): 193–210; M. Alison Kibler, Rank Ladies: Gender and Cultural Hierarchy in American Vaudeville (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999); Lawrence E. Mintz, “Humor and Ethnic Stereotypes in Vaudeville and Burlesque,” MELUS 21, no. 4 (1996): 19–28; Krystyn R. Moon, Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850s–1920s (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005); Karen Sotiropoulos, Staging Race: Black Performers in Turn of the Century America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006); and Judith Thissen, “Film and Vaudeville on New York’s Lower East Side,” in The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times, ed. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Jonathan Karp (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 42–56.

[3] One exception is John W. Troutman’s allusion to “hundreds of American Indians who travelled the country playing music in various vaudeville troupes and ensembles” in the 1920s (“Joe Shunatona and The United States Indian Reservation Orchestra,” in Indigenous Pop: Native American Music from Jazz to Hip Hop, ed. Jeff Berglund, Jan Johnson, and Kimberli Lee [Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016], 21). There is also a growing literature on Indigenous performers beyond Turtle Island whose circuits included vaudeville: see Adria L. Imada, Aloha America: Hula Circuits through the U.S. Empire (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012) and John W. Troutman, Kīkā Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

[4] See, for example, Philip J. Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004); Linda Scarangella McNenly, Native Performers in Wild West Shows: From Buffalo Bill to Euro Disney (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012); L. G. Moses, Wild West Shows and the Images of American Indians, 1883–1933 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996).

[5] The term coined by Gerald Vizenor (White Earth Anishinaabe) for Indigenous continuance, resistance, and resurgence (see Gerald Vizenor, Fugitive Poses: Native American Indian Scenes of Absence and Presence [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000]), 15 and passim. The growing body of scholarship on Indigenous popular performance includes Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places; Native Acts: Indian Performance, 1603–1832, ed. Joshua David Bellin and Laura L. Mielke (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011); Indigenous Pop, ed. Berglund, Johnson, and Lee; Imada, Aloha America; John W. Troutman, Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879–1934 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009); and other works cited elsewhere in these endnotes.

[6] Johnny Beauvais, Kahnawake: A Mohawk Look at Canada and Adventures of Big John Canadian, 1840–1919 (Khanawake, Québec: Khanata Industries Reg’d, 1985), 137.

[7] See Bunny McBride and Harald E. L. Prins, Indians in Eden: Wabanakis and Rusticators on Maine’s Mount Desert Island 1840s–1920s ([Camden, ME]: Down East Books, 2009); Harald E. L. Prins, “Chief Big Thunder (1827-1906): The Life History of a Penobscot Trickster,” Maine History 37, no. 3 (1998): 140–58.

[8] Spiderwoman Theater was formed in 1976 and is currently “the longest running Native theatre company in North America and the longest running feminist troupe in the world” (Jill L. Carter [Anishinaabe-Ashkenazi], “Repairing the Web: Spiderwoman’s Children Staging the New Human Being,” PhD Diss., University of Toronto, 2010, 10).

[9] Christine Bold, “Fellows Find: Seeing ‘the Indian’ in Vaudeville,” Ransom Center Magazine, November 3, 2016.

[10] See, among the voluminous scholarship on and published papers of Will Rogers, Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee Nation), Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006); Amy M. Ware, The Cherokee Kid: Will Rogers, Tribal Identity, and the Making of an American Icon (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2015).

[11] Work on Princess White Deer includes David S. Blanchard, “For Your Entertainment Pleasure—Princess White Deer and Chief Running Deer—Last ‘Hereditary’ Chief of the Mohawk: Northern Mohawk Rodeos and Showmanship,” Journal of Canadian Culture 1 (1984): 99–116; Patricia O. Galperin, In Search of Princess White Deer: The Biography of Esther Deer (Sparta, NJ: Flint and Feather, 2013); McNenly, Native Performers 100–39; Melissa Otis, “From Iroquoia to Broadway: The Careers of Carrie A. Mohawk and Esther Deer,” Iroquoia: The Journal of the Conference on Iroquois Research 3, no. 1 (2017): 41–66; Ruth B. Phillips and Trudy Nicks, “‘From Wigwam to White Lights’: Popular Culture, Politics, and the Performance of Native North American Identity in the Era of Assimilationism,” in Historical Reenactment: From Realism to the Affective Turn, ed. Iain McCalman and Paul A. Pickering (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 159–79. My essay, “Princess White Deer’s Blanket: Brokering Popular Indigenous Performance across International Borders, 1880s–1920s,” is forthcoming in Theatre Research in Canada/Recherches théâtrales au Canada (Spring 2020).

[12] Bunny McBride, Princess Watahwaso: Bright Star of the Penobscot (Old Town, ME: Charles N. Shay, 2001) and Molly Spotted Elk: A Penobscot in Paris (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995); Molly Spotted Elk, Katahdin: Wigwam's Tales of the Abnaki Tribe (Orono, ME: Maine Folklife Center, 2003); poems by Molly Spotted Elk in Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England, ed. Siobhan Senier (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014). Contemporary Indigenous remembrances include Evening in Paris (premiered 2006), a dance piece by Michelle Olson (Tr’ondek Hwech’in [Han] First Nation) and Muriel Miguel (Guna-Rappahannock Nations) and Emergence of a Legend (2006), a performance-photography work by Kent Monkman (Cree).

[13] Rayna Green, “The Tribe Called Wannabee: Playing Indian in America and Europe,” Folklore 99, no. 1 (1988): 30–55.

[14] See Christine Bold, The Frontier Club: Popular Westerns and Cultural Power, 1880–1924 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 209–15.

[15] Michelle H. Raheja, Reservation Reelism: Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), especially 193–94 and passim.

[16] See Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998) and Green, “The Tribe Called Wannabee.”

[17] See Chad Hamill, “American Indian Jazz: Mildred Bailey and the Origins of America’s Most Musical Art Form,” in Indigenous Pop, 33–46.

[18] See James Henle, “Indian Tomtoms Started Jazz On Its Syncopated Flurry,” printed in, among others, Muskogee County Democrat, February 26, 1920, 1.

[19] In foundational works such as Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1986).

[20] Recent foundational works on these international dimensions include Jace Weaver, The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000–1927 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014) and Coll Thrush, Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016). Other scholars central to this field—Kate Flint, Shari Huhndorf, Scott Richard Lyons, Phillip Round—recently appeared in The World, the Text, and the Indian: Global Dimensions of Native American Literature, ed. Scott Richard Lyons (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2017).

[21] See Jenkins, What Made Pistachio Nuts?, 2.

[22] W. T. Hagan “Archival Captive—The American Indian,” The American Archivist 41, no. 2 (1978): 135–42 138, quoted in Henrietta Fourmile, “Who Owns the Past? Aborigines as Captives of the Archives,” Aboriginal History 13, no. 1 (1989): 1–8, 1.

[23] Monique Mojica, “Stories from the Body: Blood Memory and Organic Texts,” alt.theatre: Cultural Diversity and the Stage 4, no. 2–3 (2006): 16–20, 16. Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble was formed in Toronto in 1999. In 2006, Falen Johnson (Mohawk and Tuscarora from Six Nations) and Cheri Maracle (Mohawk/Irish of the Six Nations Grand River Territory) joined as Artistic Associates; in the same year, Monique Mojica resigned as co-Artistic Director. In 2008, the company disbanded. Discussion of their work includes Jill Carter, “Writing, Righting, ‘Riting’: The Scrubbing Project: Re-members a New ‘Nation’ and Re-configures Ancient Ties,” alt.theatre: Cultural Diversity and the Stage 4, no. 4 (2006): 13–17 and Daniel Heath Justice, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter (Waterloo, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2018), 173–78.

[24] See, for example, Margaret Kovach (Sakewew p’sim iskwew) of Plains Cree and Saulteaux ancestry and a member of Pasqua First Nation, Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009); Leanne Simpson (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg), Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence (Winnipeg, Canada: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011); Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou, Māori), Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (London: Zed, 1999); and Shawn Wilson (Opaskwayak Cree), Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods (Halifax, Canada: Fernwood, 2008).

[25] For an example of such conversation, see Christine Bold with Monique Mojica, Gloria Miguel, and Muriel Miguel, “Outbreak from the Vaudeville Archive,” Western American Literature 53, no. 1 (2018): 113–26.

[26] I am honored to have “Research Colleague” standing on this site.

[27] I received permission to do this work from the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum Board of Trustees.

[28] I first learned of Go-won-go Mohawk in Roger A. Hall, Performing the American Frontier, 1870–1906 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) and “Cross-Dressing in Nineteenth-Century Frontier Drama,” in Representations of Gender on the Nineteenth-Century American Stage, ed. Noreen Barnes-McLain (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002), 90–99. Subsequent discussion of her work includes Christine Bold, “Did Indians Read Dime Novels?: Re-Indigenizing the Western at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” in New Directions in Popular Fiction: Genre, Distribution, Reproduction, ed. Ken Gelder (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 135–56, and “Violence, Justice, and Indigeneity in the Popular West: Go-Won-Go Mohawk in Performance and Print,” in America: Justice, Conflict, War, ed. Amanda Gilroy and Marietta Messmer (Heidelberg, Germany: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2016), 99–115; Otis, “From Iroquoia to Broadway”; and Matthew Rebhorn, Pioneer Performances: Staging the Frontier (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). Patricia O. Galperin is working on a book-length biography.

[29] Unidentified clipping, Locke Collection Envelope 1495, Mohawk, Go-Won-Go folder of clippings, Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library.

[30] This work would not have been possible without generous funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; the University of Guelph; Canada Council for the Arts Killam Research Fellowship; Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst; Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin; Eccles Centre for North American Studies, British Library; Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University.

[31] The book from this project, “Vaudeville Indians” on Global Circuits, 1880s–1930s, is to be published by Yale University Press in 2022.

[32] Mark Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017).