Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (i, 69 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Charles Shepherdson

Committee Members

James Lilley, Carolyn Yalkut


Native Americans, Paternalism, Washington Irving, Indians of North America

Subject Categories

American Literature | Arts and Humanities | United States History


The most common narratives of encounters with the indigenous race are from the early colonial period of American history. Indian relations were central to the struggle of early American settlers to tame the American wilderness and flourish as colonies under the Crown. After the Revolution, however, it seems that the Indian position in history has been thought of as a side story to the main event of American Independence. In this thesis I explore an alternate perspective, a reading of history which promotes the idea that after the American Revolution, the fate of the new nation was irrevocably defined by its political and cultural relationship to the indigenous Americans. The laws that would be passed, the wars that would be fought, and the ideologies that would construct a unique American character are results of US-Indian relations. Moreover, I would like to explore this topic using an alternative literary medium to dissect ideologies behind this relationship that have not often been acknowledged. In order to draw attention to and understand the significance of Native American influence on the United States, as well as the United States' influence on the Native American experience after the Revolution, I use Washington Irving's The Sketchbook and A Tour on the Prairies as guidelines to trace the shifting political and cultural ramifications of US-Indian policy on both American society and the Native American lifestyle.