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The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930$
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Kate Flint

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691203188

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691203188.001.0001

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Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and English Identity

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and English Identity

(p.226) Chapter Nine Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and English Identity
The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930

Kate Flint

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the image of the Indian put across by William Cody in his Wild West Show. The ethos and implications of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show have recently received a good deal of thoughtful academic attention. But understanding the ways in which Buffalo Bill's show was received in Britain, not just in 1887 but on its subsequent visits, involves exploring not only what British spectators might be encouraged to internalize about the American-ness from the shows themselves, but also what is revealed about perceptions of British national identity from their reception. The chapter then looks at the resonances that the Wild West could be made to have for a number of domestic concerns—about mass culture, about gender, and, above all, about Britain's position as a world power. What, however, may we learn of the responses of the Wild West Indians themselves to their experiences? Frustratingly, not as much as one would hope. If the Show Indians were angry about their treatment—whether at the hands of Buffalo Bill or the American government back home—there is no prominent record of it.

Keywords:   Indians, William Cody, Wild West Show, Buffalo Bill, Britain, British national identity, mass culture, gender

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