Sorrow of the Earth
And now the show is starting. An Indian enters the arena; it's the victor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He's wearing his finest costume. "Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce the great Indian chief..." vociferates Frank Richmond from his rostrum. Sitting Bull has probably never been as alone as he is at this moment, in the midst of the American flags and the great entertainment machine...
How did Sitting Bull feel as he rode out into the ring of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show? The great warrior, veteran of Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee, reduced to re-enacting his defeat night after night, in front of whooping crowds. Buffalo Bill Cody's world-famous spectacular of horse-riding and sharp-shooting toured all over North America and Europe, even performing for royalty such as Queen Victoria. But there is another side to this tale: that of the Native American participants in the show, of their humiliation and of the simplification of their painful and complex stories for popular consumption. Vuillard's short, incisive book is a fiercely intelligent and highly entertaining critique of human cruelty, colonialism and dumbing down.