[Marxism] Frank Baum on Native Americans - from Wikipedia

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 13 19:17:33 MDT 2013


Counterpunch Weekend Edition
June 26 / 27, 2004
L. Frank Baum: Racist
Indian-Hating in "The Wizard of Oz"
By THOMAS ST. JOHN

Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919) advocated the extermination of the American
Indian in his 1899 fantasy "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". Baum was an
Irish nationalist newspaper editor, a former resident of Aberdeen in the
old Dakota Indian territory. His sympathies with the village pioneers
caused him to invent the Oz fantasy to justify extermination. All of
Baum's "innocent" symbols clearly represent easily recognizable frontier
landmarks, political realities, and peoples. These symbols were
presented to frontier children, to prepare them for their racially
violent future.

The Yellow Brick Road represents the yellow brick gold at the end of the
Bozeman Road to the Montana gold fields. Chief Red Cloud had forced the
razing of several posts, including Fort Phil Kearney, and had forced the
signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty. When George Armstrong Custer cut
"the Thieves' Road" during his 1874 gold expedition invasion of the
sacred Black Hills, he violated this treaty, and turned U.S. foreign
policy toward the Little Big Horn and the Wounded Knee massacre.

The Winged Monkeys are the Irish Baum's satire on the old Northwest
Mounted Police, who were modelled on the Irish Constabulary. The scarlet
tunic of the Mounties, and the distinctive "pillbox" forage cap with the
narrow visor and strap are seen clearly in the color plate in the 1900
first edition of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". Villagers across the
Dakota territory heartily despised these British police, especially
after 1877, when Sitting Bull retreated across the border and into their
protection after killing Custer.

The Shifting Sands, the Deadly Desert, the Great Sandy Waste, and the
Impassable Desert are Frank Baum's reference to that area of the
froniter known always as "the great American desert", west and south of
the Great Lakes. Baum creates these fictional, barren areas as
protective buffers for his Oz utopia, against hostile, foreign people.
This "buffer state" practice had been part of U.S. foreign policy
against the Indians, since the earliest colonial days.

The Emerald City of Oz recreates the Irish nationalist's vision of the
Emerald Isle, the sacred land, Ireland, set in this American desert like
the sacred Paha Sapa of the Lakota people, these mineral-rich Black
Hills floored by coal. Irish settlements in the territories, in Kansas,
Nebraska, and Minnesota--at Brule City, Limerick, at Lalla Rookh, and at
O'Neill two hundred miles south of Aberdeen--founded invasions of the
Black Hills.




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