For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Which Chosen People? Manifest Destiny Meets the Sioux
As Seen by Frank Fiske, Frontier Photographer
  • Robert V. Dodge
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Which Chosen People? Manifest Destiny Meets the Sioux. As Seen by Frank Fiske, Frontier Photographer
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The belief in American exceptionalism reached its apex during the 1800s and was expressed as a God-given passport called "Manifest Destiny". Among its victims were Native Americans. The Sioux resisted, eventually in desperation resorting to Ghost Dancing and claiming that Indians, not the whites, were the chosen people. The military, political, and legal destruction of Indian culture provided precedent and justification for the empire building that accelerated soon after Sioux resistance was crushed. Frank Fiske was a young boy who observed this confrontation firsthand at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, where Sitting Bull was held, then killed. Fiske recorded the story as he grew and also kept the glorious past of the Sioux alive with his spectacular photographs of the people and their traditions.

About the Author

Robert V. Dodge, born and raised in North Dakota, holds a master's degree from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a master's in Education, and has done extensive graduate work in history and law. He has published numerous books and articles. His latest include three with Algora Publishing, Catherine Cater: An Elegant Rise Above Race and Gender as Scholar and Professor (2016),  Andrea and Sylvester: Challenging Marriage Taboos and Paving the Road to Same-Sex Marriage (2015), and Which Chosen People? Manifest Destiny Meets the Sioux, As Seen by Frank Fiske, Frontier Photographer (2013).

Bob taught social studies and Advanced Placement history in North Dakota, in London and for many years in Singapore; he now lives in Denver. Bob was once an ace on the tennis court but he says that, too, is history.

About the Book
Frank Fiske was a young boy in 1890 when he moved to Fort Yates, on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where Sitting Bull was being held in a form of house arrest. He observed the confrontation of two “chosen people.” The whites believed they had...
Frank Fiske was a young boy in 1890 when he moved to Fort Yates, on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where Sitting Bull was being held in a form of house arrest. He observed the confrontation of two “chosen people.” The whites believed they had the right to take Indians’ land as their manifest destiny. Wovoka, the Indian Messiah, declared Indians were the chosen people and would be saved when all whites were eliminated from earth and Ghost Dancing followed.

The story presents Sitting Bull’s anger over the notion of American exceptionalism, experienced as profound condescension. He saw broken promises and treaties and these were supported by court decisions and congressional action, adding supposed legitimacy to repeated degradation. Frank Fiske met the great chief and had respect for him throughout his life.

This book is the story of the Sioux based on Fiske’s personal knowledge of them and their memories, augmented with additional carefully selected historical material. Fiske lived with the Sioux and became a leading Indian photographer. His accounts of major events, such as the confrontation following the Minnesota Sioux uprising of 1862 and the story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, include recollections from Sioux who were involved or had relatives involved whom Fiske encountered. He recorded the stories they recalled in two books and numerous articles in two regional newspaper columns over the years, as well as personal notes maintained in the eight cubic feet of documents maintained by the North Dakota Historical Society that the author relied on as his main sources.

The story of the Sioux is interwoven with the story of the early years in the life of the multi-talented Fiske, who attended school at Fort Yates with Indian children. He entertained soldiers, cowboys, and Indians by playing the violin, worked as a steamboat cabin boy and helped in the army post’s photograph studio. Photography proved to be his specialty and when still in his teens, he opened his own commercial studio. His appreciation of Native American culture led him to photographing the Sioux. Fiske’s photographs feature prominently in this book and his photographic techniques are explained.


More Information
The principal Indian featured in the book is Sitting Bull, who is the subject of some 3,000 books in his own right. Although this book is inherently a critique of U.S. policies and presumptions of “exceptionalism,” it is not a treaty-by-treaty indictment of the treatment of tribes everywhere like Dee Brown’s powerful Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (New York: Bantam Books, 1970). Brown’s book probably remains the standard, but this is more a story where the presentation allows the reader to do...
The principal Indian featured in the book is Sitting Bull, who is the subject of some 3,000 books in his own right. Although this book is inherently a critique of U.S. policies and presumptions of “exceptionalism,” it is not a treaty-by-treaty indictment of the treatment of tribes everywhere like Dee Brown’s powerful Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (New York: Bantam Books, 1970). Brown’s book probably remains the standard, but this is more a story where the presentation allows the reader to do the criticizing.

The photography that appears throughout the book and a small photo gallery at the end also differentiate this work as Fiske’s view of the unfolding events and their impact on those most deeply affected. Edward Curtis left a similarly extensive and elaborate collection of Native American images from the time, and his work has received considerable attention. Amazon has nine books of Native American photography by Curtis and a number of other collections of his work by other authors. Curtis sought to buy Fiske’s work and introduced him to flexible film but Fiske’s collection is nearly the size of Curtis’ and he has many of the famous Indians of the period; the images are spectacular. The photographs make the book special, whether or not one is interested in the thesis.


Categories

Pages 228
Year: 2013
BISAC: SOC021000
BISAC: HIS036040
BISAC: PHO011000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-027-5
Price: USD 22.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-028-2
Price: USD 32.95
eBook
ISBN: 978-1-62894-029-9
Price: USD 22.95
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