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Lunchtime Lecture: The Weird World of Fake Native Americans

Past event archive
21 February 2019, 13:15

Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

Chief White Elk © The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Chief White Elk © The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Immerse yourself in history, art and culture at our popular Lunchtime Lectures. Doors open at 12.45. Lectures begin at 13.15 and last approximately one hour.

Biographer Paul Willetts discusses the long history of white people dressing up as Native Americans. The focus of his talk is the former vaudeville star Edgar Laplante (1888-1944), better known as Chief White Elk, by far the most flamboyant and colourful of these so-called “pretendians”, who even managed to secure an audience with King George V.

Paul Willetts is the author of five acclaimed works of nonfiction that have attracted praise from people as varied as Jonathan Meades, Richard Holmes, Mark Gatiss, and Steve Coogan. The latest of Paul’s books is King Con, which tells the story of Chief White Elk’s adventures in the U.S.A. and Europe. Paul’s previous books include Members Only, later adapted into the Steve Coogan movie The Look of Love. In addition, Paul has written occasional journalism for publications such as B.B.C. History Magazine, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the Guardian, the Spectator, and the Daily Telegraph.