Cover for COWARD: The Newspaper Indian: Native American Identity in the Press, 1820-90

The Newspaper Indian

Native American Identity in the Press, 1820-90

Newspapers were a key source for popular opinion in the nineteenth century, and The Newspaper Indian is the first in-depth look at how newspapers and newsmaking practices shaped the representation of Native Americans, a contradictory representation that carries over into our own time. John M. Coward has examined seven decades of newspaper reporting, journalism that perpetuated the many stereotypes of the American Indian.

Indians were not described on their own terms but by the norms of the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant society that wrote and read about them. Beyond the examination of Native American representation (and, more often, misrepresentation) in the media, Coward shows how Americans turned native people into symbolic and ambiguous figures whose identities were used as a measure of American Progress.

The Newspaper Indian is a fascinating look at a nation and the power of its press. It provides insight into how Native Americans have been woven with newsprint into the very fabric of American life.


"Greeley's contempt for Indian people as lazy, violent, unprogressive, and unworthy of justice mirrored a larger national view that had flourished since the first captivity narratives had been published in Puritan New England. . . . Coward's book emerges as the most comprehensive and authoritative account of journalistic treatment of American Indians in the nineteenth century." -- Michael L. Tate, South Dakota History

"Coward's outstanding study . . . places Indian stereotyping within a broader historical context and demonstrates the continuity of popular misconceptions. . . . Extremely well written, researched, and organized, this monograph makes a major contribution to nineteenth-century Native American historiography and provides unique insights into the press's role in molding the popular imagination." -- Thomas A. Britten, The Historian

"Ideal for an undergraduate class since it is written in an informed and up-to-date, but very accessible style. . . . An engaging read." -- Gillian Poulter, Left History

"A strong contribution to research engaging the complexities resulting from the nineteenth century newspaper accounts of American Indians. . . . A lucid analysis of why perceptions of American Indians by the American public and the American press even to this day are biased, unbalanced, and unclear." -- John Sanchez, Rhetoric and Public Affairs

"Every scholar who uses newspaper sources in the study of nineteenth-century Indian affairs would do well to read it carefully." -- Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., New Mexico Historical Review

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