Voicelessness of Indigenous People in American Literature: A Transmedial Phenomenon?

Red Dead Redemption

This paper elaborates on the depiction of indigenous people in American literature across centuries and media exemplified by George Catlin’s “Indian Gallery”, Ernest Hemingway’s “Indian Camp” and Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption. In addition to the lack of diversity and historical accuracy in representations of Native Americans, most novels, films, comics or video games dealing with the lives of indigenous people are written from a Eurocentric perspective. The resulting voicelessness of Native Americans, both in metaphorical and literal ways, as this paper aims to show, is rooted in the pictorial and literary depiction, which is often informed by stereotypes. It is a narrative told across media and centuries, starting with natives’ depiction in seventeenth-century works and remaining dominant in currently popular video games. As this paper shows, this transmedial representation establishes a trope of disempowerment within American literature.

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