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Mythic FrontiersRemembering, Forgetting, and Profiting with Cultural Heritage Tourism$
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Daniel R. Maher

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062532

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062532.001.0001

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The Invincible Marshal’s Oppression

The Invincible Marshal’s Oppression

Chapter:
(p.107) 5 The Invincible Marshal’s Oppression
Source:
Mythic Frontiers
Author(s):

Daniel R. Maher

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062532.003.0005

The frontier complex reinforces color-blind racism and neoliberal ideologies by silencing the complexity of race in Indian Territory, and by subverting the history of Bass Reeves, a nineteenth century African American Deputy US Marshal. Indian Territory is uniformly presented as savage and lawless despite the fact that each Indian nation had its own government, Lighthorse police, and supreme court. All their earmarks of “civilization” were insufficient to elevate the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” to the full privileges of white citizenry. The narrative of the frontier complex maintains their othered status of civilized-savages. African American author Art Burton popularized narratives of Bass Reeves that argued he was the basis for the fictional Lone Ranger. This chapter critiques this and other ways in which the Reeves story is co-opted to reinforce contemporary neoliberal, color-blind racism ideologies. Reeves is held up as a paragon of the law-abiding deputy who succeeds beyond measure despite all manner of obstacle. This narrative of a model African American man is complexified when put alongside the highly racialized discourse that was directed at Baridi Nkokheli, the very man who publicly performs Bass Reeves in Fort Smith.

Keywords:   Bass Reeves, Art Burton, color-blind racism, neoliberalism, Lone Ranger, Five Civilized Tribes, Baridi Nkokheli

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