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West of CenterArt and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977$
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Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677252

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677252.001.0001

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The Countercultural “Indian”: Visualizing Retribalization at the Human Be-in

The Countercultural “Indian”: Visualizing Retribalization at the Human Be-in

(p.208) Chapter 12 The Countercultural “Indian”: Visualizing Retribalization at the Human Be-in
West of Center

Mark Watson

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter discusses how the 1960s counterculture appropriated fragments of Native American cultural tradition, through citations of “Indian-ness,” to fashion what they called a “community of the tribe.” The 1960s conception of the tribe was an emergent political alternative that was historically specific, drawing from a number of idiosyncratic 1960s sources, most important the then-fashionable media theory of Marshall McLuhan. This 1960s tribe tied small-scale collectivity together with high technology and aesthetic experimentation in order to reinvent the relationship among art, technology, and politics. As the United States became increasingly dominated by high technology and the information economy—a “technocracy,” in Theodore Roszak’s 1969 coinage—this “techno-primitivist” political aesthetics grew in urgency and became a long-lasting part of late twentieth-century underground aesthetic politics.

Keywords:   Indians, tribes, counterculture, countercultural movement, Native American culture, aesthetic politics, Marshall McLuhan

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