American Studies Home Site Map Gallery of Prints Writing Across the Curriculum Currier & Ives Introduction Currier & Ives Opening

Native Americans

Three Native Americans standing.
"North American Indians"–modeled from images by George Catlin.

Cowboy fighting Native American.
"The Pursuit."

 

In the prints of Currier and Ives, Native Americans are portrayed either as savage (a dangerous element that was faced "heroically" by pioneers for the sake of progress and the safety of family and farms) or noble (like Nature itself, still meant to be conquered for the sake of progress).

Unlike African Americans who were a special category of Americans, or Asians who were clearly "foreign" and subject to oppressive laws, Native Americans "represented a special case in that the right to space lay bound up with the very right to exist" (26).

In 1887 the General Allotment Act (also called the "Dawes Act") broke up tribally owned lands, allegedly to create land ownership by individual Native Americans. Subsequent amendments to the act put these allotted lands up for sale or lease. As a result, Native Americans lost an estimated eighty percent of their most valuable lands and sixty-six percent of their total land base (26A).

For more information about Native Americans at the end of the nineteenth century, view "The Unincorporated: Native Americans and the Age of Incorporation, 1880-1990" and "Edward Curtis: Selling the North American Indian."

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American Studies Home Site Map Gallery of Prints Writing Across the Curriculum Currier & Ives Introduction Currier & Ives Opening

Site created by Marcy McDonald, American Studies, UVA. Last modified: July 30, 2005. E-mail: asgrp@virginia.edu

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