something i drew for a banner competition :)
POCAHONTAS AS CAP THO
Why not? She’s an original American
THATS WHY WE’RE EXCITED BC THEY GOT IT RIGHT
Did they get it right, though? There’s a long, long history of Native people being co-opted or coerced into displaying the symbols of US patriotism. And it was always done to deny the Native genocide, legitimize the US state, and consolidate the US’s power.
For example, there’s a lot of old-fashioned rhetoric out there that Native people were the first US patriots. (Take Paul Dyck’s Brulé: The Sioux People of the Rosebud, in which he describes 19th century Lakota — who were at war with the US! — as “American patriots” and asserts that “throughout the trying historical period of westward expansion, the Indian of the West never lost their allegiance to America.”) I run across this kind of talk a lot, in which someone asserts that a Native people were all about liberty and freedom JUST LIKE AMERICA, thus there’s just one big unbroken tradition of AMERICAFREEDOMLIBERTY leading from Native people to the US nation-state. What’s genocide? What’s colonialism? It was just Native-USians acting as the warm-up act for the American-Usians.
Furthermore, there’s a long, long history of the US government requiring subjugated Native people to display symbols of US patriotism. Know why so many powwows are on the Fourth of July? Because the government’s Indian Agents would only permit festivals that celebrated Christian holidays or the US nation-state.
Moreover, see the thing where serving in the US military was an official method of renouncing your NDN-ness and becoming an “American” instead. (Before the universal citizenship act, Native people got citizenship person-by-person, by doing something that asserted that they weren’t “really” Indians anymore. Serving in the military was one of those things.)
So given all that, Pocahontas dressed in red-white-and-blue, boosting for the US nation-state? How subversive is that, really?
Note, please, the issue of patriotism and military service in Indian Country is complicated. I in no way mean to suggest that it isn’t. There are lots of reasons that NDNs will wear the stars and stripes, man, I’d love to see a nuanced exploration of that.
But re the alleged subversiveness of this illustration? The US has usually been thrilled to see NDNs don the red, white, and blue. I’m just saying.
tl;dr: Pocahontas wasn’t an American — not the way you mean it here — and portraying her as one falls solidly within the US colonialist tradition.