Introduction xix productions documents, personal papers, and financial and legal records) are essential because they may reveal how Native American artists contrib- uted and at times compromised their input. Readers should be cautioned, however, that studio archives are for the most part privately held or remain under the control of a corporate entity. Thorough research and accurate scholarship can become challenging, especially when several studios either willfully destroyed or lost their production files through neglect or attrition. Still, other companies sold their production records to third parties: Hal Roach studios, for example, auctioned off most of the scripts from its two- reel silent films after the studio was demolished in 1963 (see chapter 2). Nevertheless, available documentation of Hollywood studio history is both imperfect and fragmentary in nature. Motion picture studios and production companies are nonpublic entities and are neither obligated nor motivated to grant access to individuals outside their companies for scholarship or any other purpose. The Walt Disney Company and Kevin Costner’s Tig Productions, for example, denied me access to their produc- tion files. Even when corporate records have landed in responsible archives, their availability is often limited: the Warner Bros. Archives at the University of Southern California (USC) contain a vast collection of scripts and production files, but its holdings are restricted to materials from 1968 and earlier, and the archives themselves are severely under- resourced. The Fox Film Corporation/Twentieth Century-Fox at one time housed its legal and script records at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where I along with other scholars had accessed them. But a number of years ago the company withdrew these files, and now they are no longer available to researchers.10 Other challenging issues have emerged. As the scholarship in this field has shifted from images of Indians to the contribution of Native artists themselves, scholars must wrestle with problematic questions of Native American identity. The United States maintains a unique government-to- government legal and political relationship with Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. Every tribal nation has its own criteria for enrollment—often based on blood quantum or lineal descent—which determines who is a member.11 Moreover, controversies surrounding Senator Elizabeth War- ren’s claims of Cherokee ancestry and Rachel Dolezal’s impersonation as an African American (supposedly born in a Montana tipi) have heightened sensitivity about racial and ethnic identities.12 Based on my own conversa- tions with Native Americans in Hollywood, tribal identity is a particularly sensitive issue and one that continually comes up. Those who write about Native performers must therefore exercise caution otherwise, they risk perpetuating more problematic images at their own expense.
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