Forrest Carter, best-selling author of The Outlaw Josey Wales and the autobiographical The Education of Little Tree, was the &”8216;storyteller in council’ for the Cherokee nation and a hero to many in the New Age movement. As a leader in the Native American cultural revival of the 1970s, Forrest touched millions of readers with his gentle and earthy tales of Indian life. Soon after his death, however, the public learned that Forrest had a hidden past. Forrest Carter was actually Asa Carter, violent Ku Klux Klansman and Alabama Governor George Wallace’s principal speechwriter, author of the infamous 1963 inaugural address, “Segregation Now! Segregation Tomorrow! Segregation Forever!”
Much more than a simple biographical film, THE RECONSTRUCTION OF ASA CARTER examines the phenomenon of ethnic impersonations and the influence they have had in shaping American notions of identity. Through studying Carter we are forced to confront difficult questions: how much of ethnicity is a construction? Is there such a thing as an authentic ethnic or racial identity? And what is it about American discourse that makes us accept these impersonators so readily—and then feel so betrayed when their deceptions are exposed? Ethnic impersonators like Carter force us to rethink our easy assumptions about identity; they disrupt the notion of the melting pot and make us question the ways in which all identities are constructed. They revise the basis for a national sense of self.