Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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  • Michael Lynch, West Tennessee (2008-12)
         member, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
  • Pat Cummins, Middle Tennessee (2004-08)
         descendant, Cherokee
  • Mark Cantrell, Middle Tennessee (2010-14)
         unknown tribal affiliation
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  • Brent A. Cox (2008-2012)
    444 Cades Atwood Road
    Milan, Tennessee 38358

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    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee

    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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    Apparently that racist play is a "hit"

    Subject: [NativeNews] Play satirizes Jackson, but insults Native Americans

    Play satirizes Jackson, but insults Native Americans

    Sept. 7, 2010, Tennessee Voices
    By Albert Bender

    A play entitled Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson that is both an insult and a
    danger to Native Americans is scheduled to see the lights
    of Broadway on Sept. 20. The opening day of infamy is at the Jacob's Theater in
    New York City. This should be of particular moral
    concern to all Tennesseans and Nashvillians in particular, for obvious reasons,
    not the least of which is that Jackson's home, The
    Hermitage, is in this city.

    The play, although claiming to be satirical, is an extreme exercise in racism,
    in that all the Native American characters are
    demeaned and caricatured. Historic Indian leaders are portrayed as slow-witted
    and dull-minded, ever ready to sell their tribal
    homelands for a few paltry blankets and dream catchers. The great Muscogee Creek
    patriot Menawa, who fought Jackson's forces at the
    Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814 and was wounded seven times, is depicted
    wearing a dime-store headdress and signing a treaty he
    refused to even consider (keep in mind that Jackson's armies were composed
    overwhelmingly of Tennesseans). The valiant, iconic Sauk
    leader Black Hawk, who fought a war to hold his ancestral lands in 1832 against
    the American military juggernaut, is seen as a
    traitorous collaborator disposing of his tribe's birthright.

    The drama is permeated with crude, artless anti-Indian humor. Euro-American
    audiences have frolicked at this dreadful performance in
    its off-Broadway run, to the extent that an internationally prominent Native
    American literary figure, a good friend of mine who
    attended the play to review it, left halfway through the performance because she
    felt in physical jeopardy.

    Some critics have pointed out in defense of this sordid drama that other groups
    are also lampooned - Spaniards, gays, Southerners in
    general and rich whites. But where are the black people? Jackson was as much
    pro-slavery as he was anti-Indian, and the Hermitage
    was maintained by African-American slaves. There are no black characters in the
    play at all, much less any demeaning
    African-American stereotypes. Can anyone imagine a white audience in this day
    and time evincing riotous, knee-slapping guffaws at
    the portrayal of demeaning stereotypes of African-Americans or any other race in
    this country? If there had been even one demeaning
    stereotype of black Americans, there would have been a national uproar.

    This play has already finished a successful several-month run at the Public
    Theater in New York and has been a sellout. Largely
    white audiences have cheered on Jackson's character and critics have given rave
    reviews. Shockingly, audiences have even shouted,
    "We need Jackson to come back!"

    All decent-minded Tennesseans need to add their voices to a resounding cacophony
    of sentiment that this biased drama, a racist
    danger to Native Americans and ultimately to all moral-minded Americans, should
    never grace the lights of Broadway.

    Albert Bender, a Cherokee activist, journalist and historian, lives in Antioch.

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