Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

The Imaginary Indian

The Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition

1. Introduction

I Taking the Image

   2. The Vanishing Canadian

   3. Writing off the Indian

   4. Red Coats and Redskins

II Presenting the Image

   5. Performing Indians

   6. Celebrity Indians and Plastic Shamans

   7. Indians of Childhood

III Appropriating the Image

   8. Marketing the Imaginary Indian

IV Implementing the Image

   9. The Bureaucrat's Indian

   10. Guns and Feathers

Afterword to the Second Edition

First published in 1992, The Imaginary Indian is a revealing history of the "Indian" image mythologized by popular Canadian culture since 1850, propagating stereotypes that exist to this day. Images of First Nations people have always been fundamental to Canadian culture. From the paintings and photographs of the 19th century to the Mounted Police sagas and the spectacle of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show; from the performances of Pauline Johnson, Grey Owl, and Buffalo Long Lance to the media images of Oka and the Vancouver Winter Olympics―the Imaginary Indian is ever with us, oscillating throughout our history from friend to foe, from Noble Savage to bloodthirsty warrior, from debased alcoholic to wise elder, from monosyllabic "squaw" to eloquent princess, from enemy of progress to protector of the environment. The Imaginary Indian has been, and continues to be―as Daniel Francis reveals in this book―just about anything the non-Native culture has wanted it to be; and the contradictory stories non-Natives tell about Imaginary Indians are really stories about themselves and the uncertainties that make up their cultural heritage. This is not a book about Native people; it is the story of the images projected upon Native people―and the desperate uses to which they are put. This new edition, published almost twenty years after the book's first release, includes a new preface and afterword by the author.


"Twenty years after its initial publication, The Imaginary Indian remains a relevant read. Featuring a new preface and afterword, this second edition of Daniel Francis's important popular history deserves the attention of audiences both fresh and familiar."
— BC Studies