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.
The image of American Indians in the press has been much discussed, but mainly the focus is on limited areas, such as the journalism of a particular state or a particular war or incident. Coward (communications, Univ. of Tulsa) has written a broader work exploring the depiction of Indians in the press from 1820 to 1890. He considers a mix of newspapers, urban and rural, Eastern and Western, examining their coverage of Indian affairs by showing how they treated certain incidents or issues: the removal of the "Five Civilized Nations" from Georgia in the 1830s, the Sand Creek Massacre in 1865, the Fetterman Fight of 1866, Sitting Bull, and the Indian sympathizer reform movement of the 1870s. Coward provides an intelligent look at the varying American perceptions of Indians in the press and provides a panorama of newspaper development, including the growing influence of the Associated Press. Recommended for American history or communications collections in larger academic libraries.--Charles V. Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., Brockport, NY