Reservation Reelism


Reservation Reelism

Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film

Michelle H. Raheja

360 pages
41 illustrations, index


January 2011


$50.00 Add to Cart

July 2013


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2011


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2011


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In this deeply engaging account Michelle H. Raheja offers the first book-length study of the Indigenous actors, directors, and spectators who helped shape Hollywood’s representation of Indigenous peoples. Since the era of silent films, Hollywood movies and visual culture generally have provided the primary representational field on which Indigenous images have been displayed to non-Native audiences. These films have been highly influential in shaping perceptions of Indigenous peoples as, for example, a dying race or as inherently unable or unwilling to adapt to change. However, films with Indigenous plots and subplots also signify at least some degree of Native presence in a culture that largely defines Native peoples as absent or separate.
Native actors, directors, and spectators have had a part in creating these cinematic representations and have thus complicated the dominant, and usually negative, messages about Native peoples that films portray. In Reservation Reelism Raheja examines the history of these Native actors, directors, and spectators, reveals their contributions, and attempts to create positive representations in film that reflect the complex and vibrant experiences of Native peoples and communities.

Author Bio

Michelle H. Raheja is an assistant professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. Her articles have appeared in American Indian Culture and Research Journal, American Quarterly, and edited volumes.


"A fascinating resource for those interested in the history of Native Americans in film, the contradictions of racial visual representations, and the emergence of a Native filmmaking aesthetic."—J. Ruppert, Choice

“Deeply researched and beautifully conceptualized and written, this volume will be of great interest to scholars of history, film, and indigenous cultural production.”—Beth H. Piatote, Western Historical Quarterly

"Raheja's archival research and extensive references to relatively unknown films will prove useful to scholars of indigenous media and representational practices, as will the exposition of visual sovereignty, the work's strongest contribution that will be discussed and utilized for years to come." —Leighton C. Peterson, Journal of the American Ethnological Society

"Reservation Reelism is a very important read for anyone interested in Film Studies, Native American Studies, Cultural Studies, and Gender Studies."—Jenell Navarro, Taylor and Francis Online

"Reservation Reelism is a focused and innovative study and will be crucial reading for anyone working in Indigenous film and media studies."—Joanna Hearne, Studies in American Indian Literature

"This thoroughly researched book is a significant contribution to film studies. . . . Raheja's theoretical inventions recommend Reservation Reelism not only to scholars of Native American history and film but also to all critics interested in portrayals of race in American popular culture."—Scott D. Emmert, Western American Literature

Table of Contents

Introduction/Chapter 1. Towards a Genealogy of Indigenous Film Theory: Reading Hollywood Indians
Chapter 2. Ideologies of (In)visibility: Redfacing, Gender, and Moving Images
Chapter 3. Tears and Trash: Economies of Redfacing and the Ghostly Indian
Chapter 4. Prophesizing on the Virtual Reservation: Imprint and It Starts with a Whisper
Chapter 5. Visual Sovereignty, Indigenous Revisions of Ethnography and Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)
Epilogue. Redfacing Redux


Winner of the 2011 Emory Elliott Book Award, from the Center for Ideas and Society, University of California, Riverside

Also of Interest