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Book Cover
Author Namias, June.

Title White captives : gender and ethnicity on the American frontier / June Namias
Published Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, ©1993
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (xix, 378 pages) : illustrations
Contents White actors on a field of red. White women held captive ; White men held captive ; Exploring sexual boundaries -- Women in times of change. Jane McCrea and the American Revolution ; Mary Jemison: the evolution of one captive's story ; Sarah Wakefield and the Dakota War -- Women and children first
Summary White Captives offers a new analysis of Indian-white coexistence on the American frontier. June Namias shows that visual, literary, and historical accounts of the capture of Euro-Americans by Indians during the colonial Indian Wars, the American Revolution, and the Civil War are commentaries on the uncertain boundaries of gender, race, and culture. She demonstrates that these captivity materials, which most often feature as victims white women and children (the most vulnerable members of their communities), vividly portray anxieties about gender and ethnicity on the frontier and in American society. Namias begins by comparing the experiences and representations of male and female captives over time and on successive frontiers, from colonial New England to mid-nineteenth-century Minnesota, and explores how the stories transformed victims of historical circumstance into heroes and heroines. She then uses the narratives of three captives - Jane McCrea, Mary Jemison, and Sarah Wakefield - as case studies, arguing that they describe the fears of sexual contact between native cultures and white settlers and illustrate issues of female survival, independence, and competence. Moreover, she finds that these and other stories also reflect the major role of women and children in the migration process. According to Namias, both the historical reality and the reworked tales of capture offered white Americans new ways of looking at gender and ethnic relations by contrasting their own roles and value with those presumed to be Indian. Thus, while elements of horror, propaganda, mythmaking, and ethnographic documentary characterized the accounts, captivity materials served a larger purpose by providing a framework for notions of gender and cultural conflict on the frontier
Analysis Ethnic groups Social interactions History
United States
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 281-366) and index
Notes English
Print version record
Subject Jemison, Mary, 1743-1833.
McCrea, Jane, 1753-1777.
Wakefield, Sarah F.
Jemison, Mary, 1743-1833.
McCrea, Jane, 1753-1777.
Wakefield, Sarah F.
Ethnicity -- United States -- History
Indian captivities -- United States.
Indians of North America -- Sexual behavior.
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY -- Social Scientists & Psychologists.
Ethnicité -- États-Unis -- Histoire.
Indian captivities.
Indians of North America -- Sexual behavior.
Indiens -- Amérique du Nord -- Sexualité.
Indiens -- États-Unis -- Captifs.
Prisonniers des Indiens.
SOCIAL SCIENCE -- Anthropology -- Cultural.
SOCIAL SCIENCE -- Discrimination & Race Relations.
SOCIAL SCIENCE -- Minority Studies.
Weibliche Gefangene
United States.
Genre/Form Electronic books.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 0807876097