Bob Haozous, American (Chiricahua Apache / Diné [Navajo]), born 1943 

Apache Pull-Toy

  • 1988
  • Painted steel
  • Overall: 54 × 48 × 16 in.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Joseph B. Obering ’56 Fund; S.989.17. ©Bob Haozous

visibilityLook & Discuss

This work was created to challenge historical representations of “cowboys and Indians.”

explore the object

Bob Haozous has created a work that can be pulled along like a toy. In the past, native people were often caricatured in toys and served as the “targets” for children’s war games.

What is harmful about these kinds of toys? What do they teach young children about native people?

How does this work ask us to consider a different point of view?

Bob Haozous has said:

Indian humor and ridicule serve various functions. In Indigenous society the most biting form of humor for serious social misbehavior is ridicule. Harmony is maintained by using humor for serious and non-serious occurrences in daily life.

How is Bob Haozous using dark humor in this work?

He explains his work in this way:

The sculpture Apache Pull-Toy is a play on role reversal. Davie Crockett, celebrated frontiersman and Indian fighter, made the comment “just like shooting dogs” when questioned about his killing of Indian people. This dehumanized attitude toward the Indigenous inhabitants of this country was common throughout America’s history. During the Westernization of many countries, the killing of the natives was high sport. With this sculpture I’ve placed the viewer into the frame of mind of the victim and target of this sport. This stereotyped blond, blue-eyed example of racial dominance with the “good guy” white hat serves as a reminder of our past insensitivities. The message isn’t intended to challenge or threaten, but to remind and re-remind us of our common humanity. Apache Pull-Toy is a reversal of sensitivities that places the “white” man as a target for his own past and current misbehaviors.(Artist interview, 2010)

What do you think of this work? Is it effective? Does it achieve the artist’s goals?

meet the artist

Image 42 Bob Haozous.jpg

Bob Haozous was born in California but spent time with relatives in Apache, Oklahoma. He served in the Vietnam War and studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts. His works focus on his heritage and address political issues like climate change and race.

Haozous uses a wide range of media and has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, a bi-annual event considered one of the most important exhibitions of contemporary art in the world. His work is represented in many museum collections.

Bob Haozous is the son of Allan Houser, a world-renowned sculptor whose work is featured in the Gender Roles and Family section of this website.

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Southwest: Histories & Identities