The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The innocuous cover illustrations depicting Fish conceal many items that I
found troubling. To begin, the stories contain a cast of over-simplified charac-
ters based on stereotypes. For the most part, the stories and the brief histories
describe the Comanches and Apaches in terms that carry derogatory implica-
tions. Indians are described as superstitious, war-loving, vengeful, and they pose
a constant threat. Furthermore, they have a love for violence and theft and are
always looking for scalps.
Next, standards for success are always measured by "white" behavior. Indeed,
Book One describes Comanche warriors as lacking "the white man's sense of
right or wrong" (p. 96). Moreover, Indians always represent the "problem," pre-
sumably because they lack the same moral or ethical standards as whites. Fish is
always the undisputed hero, even when young Indians turn against their own
people to ensure the safety of Fish and his companions. Both Hunting Bear and
Child-of-the-Waters are represented as heroic only because their actions benefit
white people. At a time when much has been done to move away from over-sim-
plified generalizations about American Indians, these books present images of
the blood-thirsty and the noble savage once again.
The books also contain an evident gender bias. Women are inactive and have
no influence on Fish's development from a child to a "man." Even after his fa-
ther dies, Fish looks to his uncle and to strangers for validation rather than look-
ing toward home. Fish never asks his mother to help him face the grief he feels
over his father's death. More than once, Fish even faces his own death; however,
he never looks to his mother for comfort or solace.
Finally, the books lack historical balance, which is clearly evidenced in Book
Three. The Spanish rather than the Americans are described as conquerors and
as cruel to the Apaches, whom they forced to mine gold. In turn, the Apaches
become greedy for gold and will kill Fish once he unknowingly leads them to the
hidden treasure. The United States' role as a nation of people who displaced
and exterminated Indians is a theme that is never explored or used to justify the
raiding Indians' behavior.
I would recommend these books with caution. At best, they can be used to
teach children how to detect racism and sexism.
Pennsylvania State University Elizabeth Archuleta
Blood in Their Eyes: The Elaine Race Massacres of 19rg. By Grif Stockley. (Fayet-
teville: University of Arkansas Press, 2001oo. Pp. xxxii+264. Acknowledgments,
preface, introduction, chronology of events, notes, note on sources, index. IS-
BN 1-55728-717-1. $29.95, cloth.)
In late September and early October of 1919 the little town of Elaine in
Phillips County, Arkansas, became the scene of a white race riot. Local law offi-
cers, U.S. Army troops, and about one thousand white "volunteers" went to war
against area blacks. Depending on what contemporary sources a researcher con-
sults, the whites may have killed as many as 856 African Americans. In the major-
ity of the deaths, whites were guilty of outright murder. The immediate cause of

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed July 11, 2014.