Americans Companion Book

December 1, 2017
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Officially Indian: Symbols That Define the United States explores the nation’s habit throughout its history of using images of American Indians to distinguish itself from other countries and to define itself for its citizens. In 46 brief, illustrated essays, museum curator Cécile R. Ganteaume discusses the meaning and social significance of early European, colonial American and U.S. government uses of images of Native Americans. The book reveals how deeply embedded American Indians are in the United States’ sense of itself as a nation.

Shown in chronological order, the images range from map cartouches to political broadsides, presidential peace medals, coins, stamps, paintings, sculptures, murals, White House decorative arts, photographs of national political events and military weapons and insignia.

Officially Indian focuses on American Indians as central to debates over what it means to be American and who shares in the benefits of democracy. The imagery covers such foundational American experiences as the struggles of the colonists, fraternal patriotic societies, the Civil War, capitalism, presidential inaugurations and U.S. involvement in foreign wars. The author argues that the varied, continuous and ongoing use of American Indian imagery provides a fresh perspective on the United States as a nation engaged in an ongoing “democratic experiment.”

Book Details

Author: Cécile R. Ganteaume
Foreword by Colin G. Calloway
Afterword by Paul Chaat Smith
50 full-color reproductions of objects, paintings, engravings and photographs
7 by 10 inches; 184 pages; hardcover
Publication date: October 2017
Published in association with the National Museum of the American Indian’s “Americans” exhibition
Distributed by the University of Minnesota Press


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