Real Men Hunt Buffalo: Masculinity, Race and Class in British Fur Traders’ Narratives

TitleReal Men Hunt Buffalo: Masculinity, Race and Class in British Fur Traders’ Narratives
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsVibert, Elizabeth
EditorHall, Catherine
Book TitleCultures of Empire: Colonizers in Britain and the Empire in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: A Reader
Pagination281-297
PublisherRoutledge
CityNew York, NY
Abstract

British fur traders arrived in the Plateau region of northwestern North America early in the nineteenth century to find the indigenous peoples living in an 'unhallowed wilderness,' supporting themselves by fishing, hunting, and gathering -- living, as one trader phrased it and all presumed, in a 'rude state of nature.' In their writings from the region the traders ranked Plateau societies, casting those they identified as 'fishing tribes' as indolent, improvident, and suffering periodic starvation. Those described as hunters, by contrast, were cast as brave, industrious, stoic -- in a word, manly. In this essay, the author probes the gendered nature of traders' representations of 'the Indian buffalo hunter.' The aim is to expose the cultural logic by which this hunter was constructed and became the standard-bearer of manly Indian-ness. Integral to this project is the illumination of the process by which middle-class British masculinity, in its fur trade variant, was constructed as the norm and elevated above Indian manhood. [Author]

URLhttps://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0424.1996.tb00221.x
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44090463

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