Paleface anthropology

I'm reading William Tenn's 1958 story "Eastward Ho!" (as reprinted in the 60th-anniversary volume The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction). It takes place in a post-Collapse future in which American Indians (who are redeveloping science and technology) control most of the former US. I was rolling my eyes a bit at some Indian stereotypes transplanted into the future (though I figured, hey, 1958, I can cut the story some slack), but then I got to this bit:

Makes Much Radiation [the chief's son] shifted his shoulders back and forth and flexed his arm muscles. "All this talk," he growled. "Paleface talk. Makes me tired."


One of the other, older warriors near the chief spoke up. "In the old days, in the days of the heroes, a boy of Makes Much Radiation's age would not dare raise his voice in council before his father. Certainly not to say the things he just has. I cite as reference, for those interested, Robert Lowie's definitive volume, The Crow Indians, and Lesser's fine piece of anthropological insight, Three Types of Siouan Kinship. Now, whereas we have not yet been able to reconstruct a Siouan kinship pattern on the classic model described by Lesser, we have developed a working arrangement that—"

"The trouble with you, Bright Book Jacket," the warrior on his left broke in, "is that you're too much of a classicist."

And the scene goes on from there. A delightful moment, and it took me completely by surprise; I laughed a lot.

Sadly, the rest of the story isn't as much fun—the plot is okay (but it's not really a plot story), but I don't like its handling of gender, and a lot of the story's undermining of stereotypes of Indians consists of just applying them to white people; that kind of reversal approach always strikes me as a little simplistic. Still, the political stuff is not bad for 1958.

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