Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Mormon Studies Review


Elise Boxer


Mormonism, Native Americans


Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians adds to the growing body of literature that probes the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, and religion in the study of Mormonism. Author Angela Hudson considers how Mormons constructed ideas of “Indianness” and how the reinforcement or subversion of those ideas “influenced nearly every aspect of antebellum culture, often in surprising ways” (p. 3). She uses the lives of “professional Indians” Warner McCary and his wife, Lucy Stanton, as a lens to explore not just how they, as non–Native Americans, accessed indigeneity, but how they constructed and shaped nineteenth-century antebellum notions of Indianness. While Hudson has “tried not to get bogged down in questions of authenticity that emphasize the genuine or spurious nature of individual claims to indigeneity” regarding McCary and Stanton’s claims of Indianness, these important questions within the framework of American Indian studies would have better informed her understanding of “playing Indian.” Hudson fails to problematize how non-Native claims of indigeneity can also be seen as an expression of white privilege and whiteness (pp. 9–10).