Cowboys, Indians and Interpreters. On the controversial role of interpreters in the conquest of the American West
During the nineteenth century, the United States Government engaged in frenetic negotiations with Native American tribes to persuade them to relinquish their sacred homelands by signing treaties. At these treaty negotiations, resulting in either the ethnic cleansing or the relocation of Indian tribes, interpreters were regularly present to enable communication between Native Americans and English-speaking government officials. The analysis of selected essays on the history of American Indians has provided insights into the role of interpreters in nineteenth-century America, revealing that they exerted considerable political power by acting as diplomats for the U.S. Government. After outlining the nature of interpreting in Indian-white relations, the paper focuses on land treaty negotiations between the U.S. Government and the Sioux tribes, depicting the two emblematic characters of ‘interpreters’ Charles Picotte and Samuel Hinman, who played an active role in the bloody conquest of the American West.
The Interpreters' Newsletter
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Emanuele Brambilla, "Cowboys, Indians and Interpreters. On the controversial role of interpreters in the conquest of the American West", in: The Interpreters' Newsletter n. 21 (2016), Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2016, pp. 63-78