Ethnic Studies 151, Fall 2013
Professor Duane Bigeagle
Analysis of "Adventures of an Indian Princess", By Patricia Riley
The feelings and emotions that make this a powerful and thought-provoking story on stereotyping and general ethnic insensitivity are carried primarily in the internal narrative dialogue and careful observation of a young Cherokee girl named Arletta. Much is communicated without a spoken word by her throughout the essay. Much is said in a one sentence reply to her foster mother at the close of the story.
As the central character and protagonist, Arletta finds herself sandwiched between her foster sisters on a car trip, with Jackson Rapier at the helm and wife by his side as they end up exploring 'by providence' an absolutely authentic Cherokee trading post, as the author put it elsewhere, in a "John Wayne movie and TV reruns of The Lone Ranger" version of Indian culture. Riley uses a clever literary device in the choice for the name of the foster family, as a rapier is in fact the name for a short swordÃ¢ÂÂ¦and this family does indeed live up to this as it relates to their antagonistic jabs at American Indian culture. Through gross ignorance, indifference or a lack of intelligence, or maybe all three, they are indeed the perfect antagonists . You realize from the very beginning that Arletta is in a 'stuck' position, with this family that does not care to listen to her and lives exclusively in their own world, incapable of sensitivity to others beyond their own preset cultural bias.
Riley points out the Rapiers have adopted on many occasions. From the author's description of a previous adoption, you feel that Jackson Rapier and his wife like to 'collect' foster children from multi-cultural backgrounds, like fireflies in a jar.