USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘indians’
Game

Cowboys and Indians

As a child my informant would commonly play a game of Cowboys vs Indians during recess in elementary school. It was a basic last man standing game in which you would case each other around and tagging the opposing side meant you had “gotten them”. The game itself was very simple, but what I found particularly intriguing was the fact that–as he told me–they always had trouble finding Indians, and that he, unlike the majority of his peers would always play as an Indian.

He explained that looking back on this game now, ” I see is as more as a psychological way of expressing dissent and counter hegemonic positionality.” When analyzing this game, it is evident that it was a game with a define good guy vs. bad guy, though at the age they were playing one doesn’t see it as good vs. bad, but more what  subconsciously is comfortable vs what is not as comfortable. “Ya know you’re probably more comfortable being part of a cowboy culture if you’re part of the dominant culture that’s raised in the united states.”

As such, the simple act of choosing to play as an Indian rather than a Cowboy is a possible indicator of a rebellious personality type. Those who choose to play as Indians are more willing to explore outside of their comfort zones whether or not they even consciously realize it at that young of an age.

Folk Beliefs
Narrative

Texas Indians with Cadillacs

My informant told me a story that his father told him once as a child:

“My father tells the story that when he was a small boy he lived with his family in Dallas Texas in the 1930’s. Back then local Texans and Native Americans didn’t get along real well. My grandfather used to tell my father that the “Indians” have so much money from oil on their reservations that they all drive brand new Cadillacs. And when the car runs out of gas they simply leave it by the side of the road and walk away from it and just buy another one with a full tank.”

My informant said that his father was a slightly racist man, and although he would never admit it, he did tell stories such as this one that showed it. He said that his father told this story only once or twice when he was younger, but he remembered it because he believed it to be true.

This piece of folklore shows the racial tension between the Texans and the Indians there at the time. There was clearly a bit of resentment that went into the telling of this story. It seems like this story was meant to put down the Indians by painting them to be less economically responsible than the Texans.

 

Legends
Narrative

The Rice children kidnapping

My informant told me the story of the Rice children’s kidnapping in the town of Westborough, Massachusetts:

“Back in the 1700s when Westborough was young, the three Rice children were playing in a field. Indians came and killed one son, and kidnapped the other two. The children were raised by the Indians, and when they had grown one son returned to Westborough and his family while the other stayed and lived out his life with his new tribe. Today there is a large rock that sits on the spot of land next to the High School where the incident occurred. There is a plaque on the rock that tells the story. Sometimes, late at night, there is an eerie fog that can be seen around the rock.”

My informant first heard this legend from her mother, and then read it again on the rock. She tells it to people when they pass the rock on their way to school. She heard the part about the fog from her friend who lives near the rock and can see it from her bedroom window.

I found this to be an interesting piece of folklore because it is widely known in the town. I grew up in Westborough and the rock with the plaque keeps the legend alive because it is where kids hang out after school. You can’t help but read it as you sit on the boulder so the legend keeps getting revived. It is supposedly true since the town made an official marking to display the story, but the exact spot of the kidnapping is approximated. I also found it interesting that there was no apparent reason for the kidnapping. It represents the Native Americans in a negative light in that they seemingly randomly abducted/killed the children. It reflects upon the tension between the two ethnic groups at the time.

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