Constructing Comanche: Imperialism, Print Culture, and the Creation of the Most Dangerous Indian in Antebellum America
Metadata[+] Show full item record
Anglo-American print sources during the antebellum era framed the Comanche as “the most powerful” or “the most dreaded” Indian whom settlers encountered on the frontier. This research examines the pivotal role that American print culture played in constructing dubious stereotypes of Comanche Indians in American intellectual and popular culture during the nineteenth century, such as we find embedded in English language newspapers and captivity narratives. Though some scholars have examined the role that American media has played in constructing spurious images of Native Americans, this current research is the first of its kind that specifically examines the birth and development of Comanche stereotypes in American print culture during its formative years. This process of typification robbed Comanches of their own voice and identity. It marked them with indelible, negative impressions in the American imaginary – impressions that have lasted to this day in popular images of the Comanche. During the antebellum period, newspaper editors and authors often deemed Comanches as the most dangerous Indians in need of removal or possible extermination. Furthermore, Comanche captivity narratives that touched on Comanche prowess often insinuated that the spread of the American nation might not be assured in Comanche lands – therefore, Comanche removal from the frontier was essential for the ascendancy of the American empire. This, in turn, unleashed violent Anglo-American forces of subjugation against the Comanche with the aim of bringing the region firmly under the grip of the United States. The strength of the printing press as an epistemological tool of American empire in reifying these images cannot be discounted in the history of American continental imperialism.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Comanche in the press, 1803-1836 -- Comanche in the press, 1837-1861 -- Comanche captivity narratives, 1836-1859 -- Conclusion