The German love affair with American Indians that took shape during the modern era was always androcentric. Literary scholars have underscored the general absence of leading female characters in German narratives about American Indians, and they have paid great attention to the power of Karl May’s tales about the Apache hero Winnetou over German boys and men during the twentieth century. Yet they have neglected German women and girls, and as this paper will show, German men were never alone in producing and embracing tropes of American Indian masculinity. Leading German authors of texts about American Indians—Anna Jürgen, Eva Lips, and Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich—were women, even if their central characters remained men, and so too were many of the people who consumed their texts, and who avidly sought Winnetou across many generations. This paper explores how that long tradition affects contemporary interactions, and it underscores the ways in which those actions throw many post-colonial assumptions into question.
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