Scotland is a melting pot – a very old and complex one. We know bits and pieces of the ancient and diverse recipe but it is rarely foremost in our minds when we try to conjure up ideas of the famed Scottish ‘identity’. Instead, we try to find that one set of characteristics that can be compiled into one monolithic idea of Scottishness. In the Wandering Scots Book Club, we continue to be intrigued by the insights into deeper understanding of early Scottish emigrants as well as insights into 18th Century Scottish – British relationships that can be gained by exploring the relationship between Scottish immigrants and the varied indigenous North American people that lived here. While I am a believer in the basic adage that ‘coincidence does not equal causation’, as a comparative study there is surely significance in much of the story.
A large part of the exploration has to do with closely and rigorously defining both cultures. One thing that these two cultures do share is that both have become victims of very strong stereotypes – as have the English and the cowboy and the United States Calvary, to pick only a few. One aspect of this is has to do with “cultural appropriation” and it is nicely explained in a blog post by Wandering Scot Michael Newton here: http://virtualgael.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/cultural-appropriation-gaels-and-other-natives/. It is necessary for me to constantly remind myself that prior ‘Hollywood’ assumptions need to be either confirmed or abandoned. Many very interesting things have jumped out at me during the course of de and re – construction of the Scotsman.
I offer a short documentary film from 1947 as an absolute playground for discussion of these topics. There are no Scots or references to Scotland in the film (that I detected) but I think it speaks volumes about Scottish American heritage. Take a thoughtful peek at this wonderful little film and let us know if you agree that there is sooooo much going on here that provides commentary and insight into the questions we have been exploring. Check the film out HERE .