Next Article in Journal
“Our Self-Undoing”: Christina Rossetti’s Literary and Somatic Expressions of Graves’ Disease
Next Article in Special Issue
Two 1916s: Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way
Previous Article in Journal
Body Fluids and Fluid Bodies: Trans-Corporeal Connections in Contemporary German Narratives of Illness
Previous Article in Special Issue
Demonizing the Enemy, Literally: Tolkien, Orcs, and the Sense of the World Wars
Article Menu
Issue 1 (March) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Humanities 2019, 8(1), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8010056

Depictions of American Indians in George Armstrong Custer’s My Life on the Plains

Department of Liberal Arts & Education, University of Minnesota Crookston, Crookston, MN 56716, USA
Received: 8 February 2019 / Revised: 8 March 2019 / Accepted: 10 March 2019 / Published: 14 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue War and Literature: Commiserating with the Enemy)
  |  
PDF [215 KB, uploaded 18 March 2019]

Abstract

General George Armstrong Custer remains one of the most iconic and mythologized figures in the history of the American West. His infamous defeat at the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn largely defines his legacy; historical scholarship and popular representations of Custer consistently focus on his “Last Stand.” However, Custer was also a writer with a keen appreciation for arts and culture. This article analyzes Custer’s descriptions of American Indians in his memoir My Life on the Plains (1874). I trace how Custer’s descriptions of Indians and Indian culture clearly reveal a colonial mindset; yet, Custer regularly reflects on Indians and Indian culture with interest, curiosity, and even respect. I analyze these moments of potential commiseration and question whether these moments depart from a colonial mindset. Additionally, I analyze how Custer constructs Indians as the “enemy” and show how these constructions are problematic, yet critical for Custer’s aestheticizing of military conflict. Ultimately, I argue that Custer’s memoir is deserving of increased attention as a literary text and show how to reveal complexities and contradictions with literary and historical implications. View Full-Text
Keywords: Indian Wars; George Armstrong Custer; war narratives; colonialism; settler-colonialism; Western American literature; frontier literature Indian Wars; George Armstrong Custer; war narratives; colonialism; settler-colonialism; Western American literature; frontier literature
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Johannesen, D. Depictions of American Indians in George Armstrong Custer’s My Life on the Plains. Humanities 2019, 8, 56.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Humanities EISSN 2076-0787 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top