The Cherokee Kid: Will Rogers, Tribal Identity, and the Making of an American Icon
By Amy Ware
Just a quick review. I didn't know much about Will Rogers before reading this book, but Amy Ware's lucid prose and careful discussion taught me a lot. Specifically, Ware discusses how Rogers not only embraced his tribal identity as a Cherokee, he emphasized it in his films, appearances, and radio shows. His outreach meant that broad audiences thought about Cherokee differently—specifically, as a contemporary people, not just a historical one.
Ware organizes the book chronologically, essentially as a biography, so we can see how Rogers' self-presentation and rhetoric develop over the course of his life. She contextualizes this discussion well, allowing us to understand the biography in the context of historical and cultural changes. And the discussion is engaging; I didn't get bored, even though this subject matter is far afield from the subjects I usually read about.
If you're interested in Will Rogers, tribal identity, or the turn-of-the-century US, definitely pick it up!