Playing Indian

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Playing Indian
Playing Indian.jpg
Author Philip J. Deloria
Country United States
Language English
Published 1998
Media type Print

Playing Indian is a 1998 book by Philip J. Deloria. In it, Deloria discusses the way in which white American men have adopted Indian traditions, images, and clothing, citing examples like the Boston Tea Party, the Improved Order of Red Men, Tammany Hall, Scouting, hippies, and New Agers.[1] Referring to D. H. Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature, Deloria argues that white Americans used the idea of the Indian to create their own national identity, both identifying with Indians as liberated New World inhabitants and opposing them as a savage other. "Disguise readily calls the notion of fixed identity into question," writes Deloria. "At the same time, however, wearing a mask also makes one self-conscious of a real 'me' underneath."[2] The book is a reworking of Deloria's 1994 Yale doctoral dissertation.[3]

Deloria refers to David Roediger's The Wages of Whiteness, a similar book about the construction of the white race in opposition to black slaves;[4] his book has itself been compared to scholarly work on blackface[5] and to the work of Richard White.[3]


  1. ^ Faragher, John (May 2000). "Playing Indian". Pacific Historical Review. 69 (2). JSTOR 3641443. 
  2. ^ Deloria, Philip J. (1998). Playing Indian. Yale University Press. p. 7. 
  3. ^ a b Iverson, Peter (December 1999). "Playing Indian". The American Historical Review. 104 (5). JSTOR 2649387. 
  4. ^ Halttunen, Karen (2008). A companion to American cultural history. John Wiley and Sons. p. 365. 
  5. ^ Melnick, Jeffrey (Fall 2000). "Playing Indian". Radical Teacher (58): 31–32. JSTOR 20710052.