Opinion: 'Bloody' Andrew Jackson play insults all Native Americans
"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)