Why are Europeans, Germans perhaps most famously, obsessed with Native Americans? So many reasons: The chance to delve into a past where the bad guys are not your grandparents. A crowded continent’s longing for wide open spaces. A romantic attachment to an idealized “authentic” humanity, rooted in the anti-industrial backlash of the 1800s. And, of course, Karl May, the 19th-century writer who devoured James Fenimore Cooper while in prison and cranked out novels of the American West (and the Middle East, and the fantasy planet Sitara) that have been best-sellers for going on 125 years. May’s most enduring hero, Winnetou, wages a heroic, doomed battle against the railroad and white settlement, and the books’ juxtaposition of bareback-riding freedom and overweening state power (plus a heavy dose of Christianity), made them an underground sensation behind the Iron Curtain. Today, Indian clubs from Prague to Potsdam put on elaborate reenactments complete with acres of buckskin outfits while (mostly) waving off concerns about how redface paint and the appropriation of sacred symbols like eagle feathers might play with actual Native Americans. As one hobbyist informed Indian Country Today‘s Red Haircrow, “No people should be allowed to keep their culture just for themselves.”

German dressed as Native American, holding a gun

Outside Leipzig, Germany
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
Man dressed as Native American, riding a horse

Czech Republic
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
Girl being fitted for a dress in front of tee-pees.

Czech Republic
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
Man dressed as Native American with face paint.

Hungary
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
Man dressed as Native American with mohawk and braid.

Czech Republic
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
American flag inside tee-pee.

Czech Republic
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
Man dressed as Native American being fitted with feather headdress.

Russia
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
Baby dressed as Native American.

Czech Republic
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
Man dressed as Native America carring a flag.

Russia
Jen Osborne/Redux
 
Portrait of man dressed as Native American.

Germany
Jen Osborne/Redux
 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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