The introduction discusses the connection between Native activism and popular culture as an entry into considering the recurring trope of playing Indian in American culture, especially focusing on comics. Comics provide a representative body of work for American popular culture, demonstrating how playing Indian circulates and is transmitted throughout American culture. A theoretical consideration of visual rhetoric, including Charles Peirce's semiotics, helps establish the unique nature of playing Indian in comics because of the visual nature of the medium. A consideration of whiteness and control of racial identity illustrates the contradictory dynamic of playing Indian.
Keywords: popular culture, playing Indian, comics, semiotics, racial identity