The discusion examines American literature dealing with native Americans and develops a radical perspective based, in part, on Marxist literary criticism and moral criticism, applying this approach to works of Cooper, Longfellow, Thoreau, Custer, Garland, Jackson, Sandoz, Corle, Manfred, Borland, and Momaday. I examine the following questions: What political statements explicitly or implicitly does a particular work make? Does a specific work reinforce or support stereotyped notions of American Indians, and if so, does it support or reinforce racist policies, acts, or attitudes? Does a work educate its readers about native struggles or cultures? Does the work recommend specific political solutions to existing social or economic problems? Does the work defend treaty rights and tribal sovereignty?
In the study of the literature, I discuss first the text of a specific work, then its historical context, and finally its contemporary political implications. Although the list of primary works is by no means exhaustive, I have attempted to include enough primary works to give the reader an overview of white attitudes toward native Americans. Furthermore, the thesis assesses the political nature of academic literary criticism, suggests alternatives for scholars, and finally, concludes with a recommendation to academics to commit themselves to the struggle for justice for American Indians.