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Old December 5th, 2012, 03:46 PM   #1
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White squaw


Obviously much of the old west is drawn from the imaginations of movie makers, TV show writers, western novel and dime novel writers, and historians with a bias. There seems to be a common theme I would like to explore. In the movies, and in TV shows, there have always been depictions of white women captured by the Indians and forced to become a part of the tribe. Whether it was John Wayne, James Garner or Glenn Ford or whatever episode of the TV western of the week, there always seemed to be that choice to make.

The choice is, if you find the white lady again, do you try to free her, or do you shun her from society, as if she is diseased, or do you even kill her to put her out of "her" misery.

I find this portrayal both sickening, yet understandable for the times, perhaps. Honestly I don't know what to think to be honest. What are your views?
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Old December 5th, 2012, 04:39 PM   #2
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This scene was certainly not the main opinion in the beginning of the film.

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Old December 5th, 2012, 04:44 PM   #3

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Family legend has it that one of my great (xX) grarndmothers and her child were captured by the Iroquois and taken to the Catskills. They were tied to stake and going to be burned to death, but my great (xX) grandmother began to sing religious songs. The Indiians were so intrigued that they stopped and let her sing. During this time, my great (xX) grandfather and others from the village were sneaking up on the village, and they broke in and rescued my ancestors.

Anyway, that's the legend. Did it really happen? I don't know. But I do remember the nightmares I had after first hearing this story.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 04:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rongo View Post
Family legend has it that one of my great (xX) grarndmothers and her child were captured by the Iroquois and taken to the Catskills. They were tied to stake and going to be burned to death, but my great (xX) grandmother began to sing religious songs. The Indiians were so intrigued that they stopped and let her sing. During this time, my great (xX) grandfather and others from the village were sneaking up on the village, and they broke in and rescued my ancestors.

Anyway, that's the legend. Did it really happen? I don't know. But I do remember the nightmares I had after first hearing this story.
Actually that is a wonderful family story in a way Rongo. You had nightmares, but the people who pass these stories down really do have a sense of wonder, a sense of the romance of history, and a feeling for what matters about the past. I think those are qualities we are blessed with.

Is it just me, as I have seen so many western movies, or is the theme I described not a big part of western film history?
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Old December 5th, 2012, 05:12 PM   #5
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Well, this is just funny. I don't know what story they were trying to tell with this.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 05:32 PM   #6

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It was very common for women and children to be taken, used, and some as hostages traded back for concessions. Some tortured to death and some married into the tribe. Some were simply sexual slaves and outcasts.

Indian Captives
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Old December 5th, 2012, 06:47 PM   #7

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A very famous real life episode of a white female hostage being taken, was Cynthia Ann Parker. In 1836 she and her family
were living in Texas when a party of Comanche Indians raided her settlement/fort of Fort Parker. It is about 100 miles or 173km south
of Fort Worth/Arlington/Dallas. She was about eight years old and at sometime in her captivity,
she married Peta Nocona, a Comanche chieftain & had three children with him. The most
famous was Quanah Parker who rose to power in the 1870s.
Click the image to open in full size.
(this photograph is in the Southern Methodist University DeGolyer Library collection)
In 1860 a party of Texas Rangers discovered a camp of Comanche and raided it in
retaliation for Comanche raids (Battle of Pease River) when they happened across Cynthia Parker
and took her back to Camp Cooper and contacted her uncle. They then moved on to Birdville where she
lived for ten years until she died in 1870. I've heard in the movie "The Searchers"
her experience is one of the real life events the author included in his novel.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 11:25 PM   #8
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There is a town in Arizona called Oatman, after a woman who was captured by the Indians and kept as a slave for several years. It is a quite famous Ghost town now, but was a mining centre in the 1880s.

Oatman, Arizona - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

PS - I wonder where the 'White Squaw' got that dress from? Never saw anything quite that low-cut in the old Indian pictures!
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Old December 6th, 2012, 05:47 AM   #9

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There are lots of stories, many taking place in an earlier time period, of white women being captured by Indians. I suspect the movies drew on some of these:

"In 1823 Mary Jemison related her life story to James Seaver, a doctor who lived near her home in western New York. Seaver’s story of “the white woman of the Genessee,” as she became known, sold over 100,000 copies in 1824."
Captured By Indians: Mary Jemison Becomes an Indian

Here's a list of some of the more famous captivity narratives:
Individual Women's Captivity Narratives

There were also women/children who refused to return to white society:
http://www.hoardedordinaries.com/lor...nredeemed.html

Last edited by d'artanian; December 6th, 2012 at 05:56 AM.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 05:51 AM   #10

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From my family going from the opposite direction (white father, indian woman)

Elizabeth Hignight, Choctaw
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