Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson: The exhumation of a monster

By Albert Bender
NFIC October 2010

There is a monstrous specter haunting  Indian Country – a specter that when it last appeared sentenced tens of thousands of Native Americans to hideous, agonizing deaths. A specter that American Indians would  have never imagined to rise  again from the depths of Hades to anguish Native people; Andrew Jackson has been exhumed.

The wraith has taken the profile of an art form – the play Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. This iniquitous, malevolent production  parading itself as historical “satire” arose in Los Angeles  in 2008,  and after a “successful” run at the Public Theater in New York is now set gracing the lights of Broadway  at the Jacob’s Theater.  Its current run began on September 20.

This foul creation is replete with the most  racist anti-Indian lines passed off as “humor” and the most flagrant, biased stereotypes of Native people. This drama was meant to appeal to an undercurrent of anti-Indian hatred flowing through  white America. It has been  a sold out show and the subject of rave reviews including those appearing in the New York Times. In fact one reviewer said   “The last ten minutes are best, when Jackson offers Native Americans a final solution. This comment refers to Jackson’s statement to a Native character  “What I know to be true is that the extinction of your people is inevitable”.

Sound familiar – Hitler’s “final solution” was to send the Jewish people to the crematoriums.  The Nazi leader was the first to use the term the “Final Solution,” and now incredibly it is resurrected in reference to Native Americans by  mainstream journalism.

Native characters are caricatured and degraded. Historic Indian leaders are portrayed as slow-witted and dull-minded, ever ready to sell their tribal homelands for a few paltry blankets and dream catchers.

The great Muscogee Creek leader Menawe, who fought Jackson’s forces at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, and was wounded seven times, is depicted wearing a dime store headdress and signing a treaty to which he never even considered affixing his hand.

The valiant, iconic Sauk leader Black Hawk, who fought a war to hold his ancestral lands in 1832, against the American military steamroller, is seen as a traitorous collaborator disposing of his tribe’s lands.

This production is the result of anti-Indian racism that has seen an apparent  increase in recent years. The writers and producers of this despicable drama realized this and knew how to craft a play to appeal to the worst in the European American mentality.

Parallels can be made with Hitler’s Germany, in the 1930’s when the Nazis’ antics were first viewed with amusement and disdain by Jews as being too absurd to pose a menace. But, in a few years  they  found themselves the victims of the most horrendous and extensive genocide campaign of the 20th Century.

What is also so disturbing is that this “play” has been running to sell-out crowds in urban areas where one would expect to find sophisticated theater-goers and not advocates  and enablers  of the most crude, artless anti-Indian racism.

Moreover, to increase crowd appeal and to make the racism more palatable Jackson is presented as a rock star. But, the Indian hater side is always at the forefront of this so-called “satire” with other classic Jackson lines addressed to an Indian leader, “You  people are despicable creatures! You show no loyalty  to anything, your music is terrible, your table manners suck, and your painting skills are absolutely dreadful. You savages, you’re soul-less.”

You get the point. These  are crude racist insults covered in a mask of so-called “satire” and so-called artistic license - there is no humor. Satire by definition is a literary exercise using irony and wit to expose folly or wickedness. But what this play needs is satire on its satire.  

But even more telling is an omission by the writers and producers, that indicates out how eager they were to single out, to target Native Americans.

Some critics point out that other groups are also lampooned – Spaniards, gays , Southerners  and rich whites. But, where are the Black people?

Jackson was as much pro-slavery as he was anti-Indian and he in fact owned a large plantation. The Hermitage, his Nashville, Tennessee home, was maintained  by the toil of  numerous  African American slaves. Further, there were tens of thousands of enslaved African Americans in the South during Jackson’s heyday.

Obviously, the writers were afraid to have any Black characters in the drama with demeaning stereotypes or to have Black characters in the play at all. The writers were palpably afraid of an uproar from the politically powerful Black community.

If there had been even one demeaning stereotype of a Black character, I repeat, even one there would have been a national uproar. Obviously, Native Americans deserve the same respect accorded other races in this country, but, if it is not forthcoming.

In Bloody, Bloody, did the producers decided to “pick on’ American Indians because Native people are politically too weak to make a difference? Can anyone imagine a white audience in this day and  time sitting in a theater and emitting  knee-slapping laughs at the portrayal of demeaning stereotypes of African Americans or any other race in this  country?

Can anyone imagine a play entitled the Bloody, Bloody Slave Owners  with white actors in blackface?

I might add that all the Indian roles in Bloody are played by white actors.

Or how about a drama entitled Bloody, Bloody Adolf Hitler with derogatory, demeaning stereotypes of Jewish people? How far would that play  go in the U.S.?  It certainly would never make it to Broadway. Or what about a similar play depicting Hispanics, or Asians? Again, it would not go to Broadway and certainly would never  have gotten off the ground in of all places, Los Angeles.

Let’s take a look at the real Andrew Jackson. Actually his so-called Indian fighting  career   began rather late in life.  Jackson moved to Nashville in 1788, at a time when battles between white  settlers and  allied Cherokees and  Creeks were raging in the area , but there is no record of his having fought any Indians  at all, during this period. This seems somewhat odd in light of his later advocacy.

He was forty-six when the Creek War began in 1813. In the first two campaigns against the Creek Nation, his armies were actually repulsed by grimly determined, intrepid Creek warriors who were vastly  outnumbered and massively outgunned by Jackson’s forces.

According to Anglo history Jackson defeated the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend, with the Creeks losing over 800 warriors. But, there is a Creek version that Jackson’s forces actually slaughtered hundreds of women and children after making sure that most of the warriors were absent from the fortified village in the bend of the Tallapoosa River.

As for the Trail of Tears, Jackson was the evil architect and enforcer of Indian removal. He signed the Indian Removal Bill on May 28, 1830 and militarily enforced fraudulent treaties resulting  in the agonizing deaths of tens of thousands of Native American men, women, children and elderly.

Jackson carried out the most murderous removal campaign against American Indians in U.S. history. The most egregious of the so-called  treaties was the infamous Treaty of New Echota that brought death to thousands of Cherokees.

So bent was Jackson on Indian extermination that he even tried to prevent the issuance of soap to Cherokees on the Trail.  This was after he was no longer president, and his successor Martin Van Buren was carrying out his wishes.

Jackson  was a racist devil incarnate – an early day American Hitler whose deadly legacy for Native Americans remains extant to this day .

This loathsome production idolizing  this monster  should  be canceled. There should be a massive militant, mad, angry, furious, enraged Indian  demonstration at the Jacob’s Theater.  This abominable tribute to that racist villain, Andrew Jackson, must be stopped!

‘Bloody Andrew Jackson’ puts the pop in populism