Devotees of the Buffalo Bill legacy will no doubt appreciate Native Performers in Wild West Shows. It explores fertile ground first recognized by Vine Deloria Jr., almost a generation ago, and made familiar in the elegant histories of Louis Warren (2005), Phil Deloria (2004) and Joy Kasson (2000).
Taking to heart Deloria’s admonition to consult the participants, Linda Scarangella McNenly carries the story of the Indian performers beyond the collapse of the genre occasioned by Buffalo Bill’s death in 1917, a crackup hastened by the emergence of film. She examines a “performative tradition” begun in the traveling shows of the late-19th century and enduring to this day, albeit with some extraordinary variations, in the historical tableaus of Euro Disney.
—L.G. Moses, author of Wild West Shows and the Images of American Indians, 1883-1933