"A play entitled Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson
that is both an insult and a danger to Native Americans is scheduled to see the lights of Broadway on Sept. 20. The opening day of infamy is at the Jacob’s Theater in New York City. This should be of particular moral concern to all Tennesseans and Nashvillians in particular, for obvious reasons, not the least of which is that Jackson’s home, The Hermitage, is in this city.
The play, although claiming to be satirical, is an extreme exercise in racism, in that all the Native American characters are demeaned and caricatured. Historic Indian leaders are portrayed as slow–witted and dull-minded, ever ready to sell their tribal homelands for a few paltry blankets and dream catchers. The great Muscogee Creek patriot Menawa, who fought Jackson’s forces at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814 and was wounded seven times, is depicted wearing a dime-store headdress and signing a treaty he refused to even consider (keep in mind that Jackson’s armies were composed overwhelmingly of Tennesseans). The valiant, iconic Sauk leader Black Hawk, who fought a war to hold his ancestral lands in 1832 against the American military juggernaut, is seen as a traitorous collaborator disposing of his tribe’s birthright.
The drama is permeated with crude, artless anti-Indian humor. Euro-American audiences have frolicked at this dreadful performance in its off-Broadway run, to the extent that an internationally prominent Native American literary figure, a good friend of mine who attended the play to review it, left halfway through the performance because she felt in physical jeopardy.
Some critics have pointed out in defense of this sordid drama that other groups are also lampooned — Spaniards, gays, Southerners in general and rich whites. But where are the black people ? Jackson was as much pro-slavery as he was anti-Indian, and the Hermitage was maintained by African-American slaves. There are no black characters in the play at all, much less any demeaning African-American stereotypes. Can anyone imagine a white audience in this day and time evincing riotous, knee-slapping guffaws at the portrayal of demeaning stereotypes of African-Americans or any other race in this country? If there had been even one demeaning stereotype of black Americans, there would have been a national uproar."
Get the Story:
Albert Bender: Play satirizes Jackson, but insults Native Americans
(The Tennesseean 9/7)