This paper deconstructs the folklore surrounding an early twentieth-century zinc figure of an American Indian that stands in the center of the village of Mount Kisco, New York. The identity that “Chief Kisco” has assumed over the past hundred years elides the nature of the origins of the statue, which was intended not as a statement of communal identity, but rather as the exact opposite. As a ready-made art object, the statue was emblematic of a new network of commodified goods that transformed the cultural geography of the United States; as it was utilized in Mount Kisco, the statue was a piece of temperance propaganda with strong nativist undertones that tapped directly into the class, religious, and ethnic divisions running through the turn-of-the-century village.

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