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ASAIL Newsletter, N.S. Vol. 4, No. 3, Summer, 1980

Recent Trends in Indian History

        Since the publication of Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn in 1968 an increasing number of works by Indian writers has been published which confirm the continued vitality of Indian peoples. James Welch's Winter in the Blood, Simon Ortiz's Going for the Rain, Leslie Silko's Ceremony, and Gerald Vizenor's Darkness in St. Louis Bearheart, illustrate the richness of this literature. These works are informed by a sense of history, a knowledge of the Indians' blending with the land over thousands of years and of their recent contacts with alien cultures whose relations to the land have been inimical and destructive.
        It would seem that these matters of Indian endurance and change would properly be in the purview of historians. History and literature both arise from similar needs to distill and preserve human experience. At its best history can provide a chronological perspective that deepens our appreciation of how Indian communities and their literatures originated and were given expression. Yet the study of Indian history has been seriously flawed. Historians have tended to perceive Indians only in the context of the frontier, where they are important only as they directly affect the expansion of whites across the continent. Their works neglect trends and events that occur away form the line of frontier advance and, as reservations were created in the backwash of white settlement, almost completely ignore Indians in the 20th century. Much of this is understandable, since it becomes increasingly difficult to identify Indians who now comprise a rich genetic mix and whose tribal status has been disrupted in a period when economic pressures and federal programs have compelled them to abandon the reservations for employment in urban areas. Historians have been reluctant, moreover, to incorporate Indian points of view and testimony into their studies and have failed to understand the spiritual dimension of Indian cultures and behavior.
        General surveys of Indian history best exemplify these failings. Since the difficulties of synthesizing four hundred or more tribal histories into one text are virtually insurmountable, surveys concentrate on Indian and white relations as the most convenient thematic approach. William Hagan's {32} American Indians (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961; revised, 1979), is a study of American expansion which depicts Indians as problems to overcome. After briefly mentioning the precontact era, Hagan moves tribes in and out of his narrative in keeping with their military and economic impact upon each stage of white settlement. Indians in the 20th century are conspicuously absent. The final chapter of his earlier edition mentions only Ira Hayes in the text and includes a photograph of W. W. Keeler His revised edition cites Vine Deloria, Jr., and D'Arcy McNickle, and discusses Mad Bear Anderson, Russell Means, Dennis Banks, and the American Indian Movement, again giving undue attention to the dramatic. Angie Debo's A History of the Indians of the United States (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970) suffers from similar defects. Much like Hagan, she gives scant attention to the pre-Columbian years, before turning to Indian and white relations. She presents a scenario in which whites are paramount and Indians are victims. This view is to be expected from an author whose earlier works on the Choctaws, The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1934), on the Creeks, The Road to Disappearance (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1941), and on the Five Civilized Tribes from the 1890s to the 1930s, And Still the Waters Run (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940), reveal her long-standing dismay with United States Indian policy. One of the most valuable aspects of her text is its incorporation of Indian testimony, mostly garnered from her research on Oklahoma and her personal involvement with Indian people over several decades. Nonetheless, Debo's history takes a traditional approach with predictable results: Indians are important only as they respond to white initiatives.
        Wilcomb Washburn's more recent survey, The Indian in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), has an organization and perspective that reflect a wide reading in ethnological sources. His narrative may be seen in part as a response to his earlier article, "A Moral History of Indian-White Relations: Needs and Opportunities for Study," Ethnohistory, IV (Winter, 1957), pp. 47-61. To his credit Washburn, realizing that historians need a better understanding of Indian cultures, emphasizes the nature and structure of Indian societies prior to contact. Washburn is reluctant, however, to give credence to Indian perceptions about themselves. In his chapter on the "Origins of the American Indians," he asserts that the theory of Asian origin "is now about universally accepted." It may be true that a number of Indian scholars accept this theory, but most Indian peoples have different ideas about their {33} origins. Whether or not Indians emigrated from Asia, their behavior cannot be understood without comprehension of their creation beliefs. In his chapter on Indian personality Washburn quotes the Reverend Frederick A. Rauch, Father La Jeune, and the Moravian missionary John Heckewelder to support his ideas about the Indians' relation to nature. Descriptions of Indians made in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, especially by persons interested in their conversion, do not establish Indian characteristics as they existed before the advent of Europeans. At the least Washburn's ideas could be better supported by citing the views of Indians themselves. In his final chapter, "The Indian in Search of Identity," Washburn considers the aspirations represented by the American Indian Movement as untenable. By connecting AIM's "radicalism" with expressions of traditional belief, he dismisses both as romantic responses to the overwhelming pressure of the larger society. It seems clear that what Washburn earlier defines as moral history is in fact a kind of colonial and proprietary pose that avoids a deeper understanding of continuities within Indian existence.
        When one turns to the work of a historian of Indian descent, the contrast is obvious. D'Arcy McNickle, a member of the Flathead tribe, whose novel, The Surrounded (1936), is a sensitive evocation of his people in the 1920s, has left a number of works, beginning with They Came Here First (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1949; revised, New York: Octagon Books, 1975), and continuing through Indians & Other Americans, with Harold Fey (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), The Indian Tribes of the United States (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), and Native American Tribalism (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), that are graceful summaries of Indian history. His books are not detailed histories and much is neglected, but they are especially informative on the impact of federal policy on Indian peoples in the 20th century and attest to the survival of the Indians' spirit. McNickle's approach to Indian life is best expressed in his words, "With their singing voices they becalmed the wilderness."
        The study of Indian history is now in a state of renascence, yet it is accompanied by a considerable amount of methodological and philosophical disarray. One of the forces engendering these changes has been a movement into the field by anthropologists. In the 19th century anthropologists were primarily interested in fitting Indian tribes into a general evolutionary framework of human societies and were less concerned with detailed analyses of culture. For instance, Lewis Henry Morgan's Ancient Society (New York: Henry Holt, {34} 1877), defined mankind as proceeding in seven stages from savagery to civilization and perceived private property as the primary impetus to progress. Indian tribes were assigned to positions of either higher savagery or lower barbarism. At the end of the century Franz Boas led a movement away from this evolutionary approach by emphasizing a concept of cultural relativism and by advocating an intensive study of native cultures. Such works as James Mooney's "The Ghost-Dance Religion and Sioux Outbreak of 1890," Part 2, Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1896), his "Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians," Part I, Seventeenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1898), Alexander Lesser's impressive study, The Pawnee Ghost Dance hand Game: Ghost Dance Revival and Ethnic Identity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1933), and John R. Swanton's "Source material for the Social and Ceremonial Life of the Choctaw Indians," Bulletin 103, Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1931), stressed the importance of collecting and interpreting historical documents.
        Only in the past two decades, however, has anthropology as a discipline given emphasis to the historical approach in the study of Indian societies. As older generations of Indians died, anthropologists shifted their attention to modern Indian communities. In the 1940s and 1950s they began to focus on such phenomena as the impact of returning war veterans and the emigration of Indians to urban areas. Just as government programs in these years failed to integrate Indians into the larger society, anthropologists found that their theories of acculturation could not explain the survival of core Indian behavioral and religious patterns. They were thus drawn to historical sources to explain the sequential adaptations of Indian communities to outside and internal pressures.
        Anthropologists have long been interested in comparative descriptions of Indian cultures. Their most common method has been to describe North America in terms of nine or ten cultural areas. This approach was pioneered by Clark Wissler's The American Indian (New York: Douglas C. McMurtrie, 1918) and developed by A. L. Kroeber's "Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America," University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, XXXVIII (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1939). A useful summary is found in Harold E. Driver and William C. Massey, "Comparative Studies of North American Indians," Transactions of the American Philosophical {35} Society, XLVII, Part 2 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1957). The authors endeavor with a great deal of success to correlate various aspects of Indian subsistence, material culture, economics, and social organization. This work should be supplemented by Driver and James L. Coffin, "A Classification and Development of North American Indian Cultures: A Statistical Analysis of the Driver-Massey Sample," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, LXV, Part 3 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1975), which presents the results of programming cultural traits on a computer. Both works provide a necessary corrective against hasty generalizations about "the American Indian."
        One of the major drawbacks of the cultural area approach is its tendency to minimize the dynamics of cultural change and to perpetuate static descriptions even as momentous events take place and major changes in the environment occur. Anthropologists have addressed this problem by incorporating historical data into their recent introductory texts. Harold E. Driver's Indians of North America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961; revised, 1970) is the best comparative study of native cultures. In his revision Driver has deleted his final chapter and appended five new ones devoted to Indian history. Since his history is not blended with his ethnographic materials, these chapters are only partially successful. Wendell H. Oswalt's This Land Was Theirs (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1966; revised, 1973) provides a general analysis of Indian history in introductory and closing chapters and presents ethnographic and historical data in chapters that deal with a representative tribe within each cultural area. His discussion of the Eskimo, based largely on his own field work, and his summary of Mesquakie relations with whites in the 19th century, are particularly valuable; but his history overall does little more than serve as scaffolding for his descriptions of tribal cultures. Eleanor Burke Leacock's and Nancy O. Lurie's North American Indians in Historical Perspective (New York: Random House, 1971) has chapters on cultural areas or representative tribes written by specialists. Leacock provides an introduction, and Lurie concludes with an analysis of the contemporary Indian situation. The essays by William Fenton on the Iroquois, James Downs on California, and William Sturtevant on the Seminoles exhibit the most careful use of history. Fenton perceives Iroquois history in spiritual dimension, marking its major phases by Deganswidah's founding of the Longhouse and by Handsome Lake's prophecies at the end of the 19th century. Downs describes {36} the crushing impact of whites upon California Indians, whose experience has largely been overlooked by historians. Sturtevant analyzes the metamorphosis of Creeks and other refugees into the modern Seminole people. D'Arcy McNickle thoughtfully reflects on the peopling of America as a series of ecological adaptations to the land. Within great diversity, he suggests, there existed an underlying homogeneity of attitude and practice. The essays by Lurie and the late Pueblo anthropologist, Edward Dozier, are the most disappointing, only because their previous works have been invariably cogent. Dozier merely summarizes the cultural history of the Southwest, while Lurie explains the actions of contemporary Indians as "articulatory movements" that are maneuvering to maintain a separate identity and a decent level of existence within a larger society whose presence cannot be escaped and might even be necessary.
        Two of the most impressive books written by anthropologists are Charles Hudson's The Southeastern Indians (Nashville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976) and Edward Spicer's Cycles of Conquest: The Impact of Spain, Mexico and the United States on the Indians of the Southwest, 1533-1960 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1962). Hudson's chapter on the "Belief System" vividly depicts the spiritual cosmos of Southeastern Indians and lays the foundation for his discussion of economic and political organization and for his treatment of Indian and white relations. Hudson relies heavily on Cherokee and Creek materials and thus draws conclusions on religion and political developments that may not apply to other tribes. His final chapter outlines Southern Indian history from the DeSoto expedition to the 1970s. Their conquest was expedited by epidemic diseases, Hudson makes clear, and was assured by their inability to cope with the aggressive and technological nature of American society. Spicer, despite his convoluted format, successfully traces the enclavement of Southwestern peoples whose cultures were preserved largely by exceptional tribal cohesion and an isolation that made their lands and resources less desirable to whites. His analysis of Spanish missionary activity and Indian response is especially perceptive. At the time when Spicer was writing this book, it appeared that tribes in the United States were powerless to withstand federal termination of their independence. Consequently his writing is imbued with a certain degree of pessimism about the survival of Indian communities.
        A number of recent books indicate that anthropologists have reached a new level of sophistication in the use of historical materials. Anthony F. C. {37} Wallace's The Death and rebirth of the Seneca: The history and Culture of the Great Iroquois nation, Their Destruction and Demoralization, and Their Cultural Revival at the Hands of the Indian Visionary, Handsome Lake (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970) is a superb blending of history, anthropology, and psychology. Wallace focuses on the late colonial and early reservation history of the Seneca and on the emergence of Handsome Lake, whose visions in 1799 and 1800 led to religious changes that have persisted to the present. He ably describes the culture and religion of the Iroquois as it existed in the ebullience of their power and of their subsequent defeat and demoralization in the American Revolution. The Old Way of Handsome Lake, by shaping traditional beliefs to contemporary realities, permitted the Seneca to accommodate the overwhelming presence of whites. What was revolutionary in the prophet's day is now a deeply entrenched tradition and adherence to it is an expression of strongly-felt identification with one's own people. Joseph Jorgensen's The Sun Dance Religion: Power for the Powerless (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), is another example of the skillful handling of ethnohistory. Originally a religion of the northern Plains, the Sun Dance was adopted by the Utes and Shoshones in the misery of the late 19th century and persisted in the face of continued misery and suffering. By adapting the Sun Dance to their won needs, these tribes have established a coherent sense of identity and integrity that permits them to survive the vagaries of a dominant metropolitan economic and political system that had relegated them to a neocolonial status and ruthlessly exploits their resources.
        Another important change in the study of Indian history is a renewed interest in demography. Prior to 1966 the accepted estimate of North American Indian population at the time of contact was between 1,000,000 and 1,200,000. A. L. Kroeber, for example, estimated the population north of the Rio Grande at 1,025,950, which constituted he thought about 10% of the hemispheric population. In 1966 Henry L. Dobyns published an article, "Estimating Aboriginal American Population," Current Anthropology, VII (October, 1966), pp. 395-416, which held that Kroeber and others had not taken into sufficient account the impact of epidemic diseases. Dobyns, by determining the demographic nadir of Indian tribes or regions and establishing a depopulation ratio that took into consideration the effect of diseases, estimated that the population of North America in 1492 was between 9,800,000 and 12,250,000, and the hemispheric population was between 90,000,000 and 120,000,000. His totals found support in the investigations of Sherburne Cook and Woodrow Borah for Mexico and the Carib-{38}bean, Essays in Population History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974). Cook, whose research in biohistory goes back to the 1930s, has also made an analysis of The Population of the California Indians, 1769-1970 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976). Dobyns' estimates and methodology have been hotly debated. William M. Donovan's collection of articles, The Native Population of the Americas in 1492 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976), reveals the contours of this debate. If Dobyns' estimates are approximately correct, historians cannot so easily present the European conquest of America as a relatively quiet expansion into sparsely settled lands, and much greater attention must be given to the impact of disease upon Indian spiritual systems.
        Demographic and biological changes are central themes of Alfred W. Crosby's The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1972) and Calvin Martin's Keepers of the Game: Indian-Animal Relationships and the Fur Trade (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978). Crosby places the European invasion of the Americas in biological perspective as a complex interaction of New and Old World ecosystems. Although this book is not specifically Indian history, it is rich in implications for the understanding of the effects on Indians of European and African flora, fauna, and microbes. Martin develops a provocative thesis that challenges the traditional explanation of the Indians' willingness to exploit fur-bearing animals as a desire for the material goods obtained through European trade. Instead, he stresses the importance of spiritual factors in the hunters' relationship to animals. Prior to the coming of whites, Indians believed that all aspects of nature were animated and infused with power. Their relation to animals was one of mutual respect, affirmed through ritual and taboo. Indians did not abuse animals because their keepers (the spirits) would retaliate if man killed too many or was irreverent. With the onset of devastating diseases which their shamans could not cure, many Indians came to believe that the mutual contract between man and animals had broken down and that the animals were engaged in a conspiracy to kill Indians. They took the occasion of the fur trade to embark on what Martin describes as a holy war of revenge against the beaver and other animals.
        Historians have shown a greater concern for Indian history over the past decade. Much of this interest reflects the social and political atmosphere of the late 1960s and early 1970s and an impulse to use Indian experience as a {39} measure of the American commitment to social justice. One of the most important books in recent years is Francis Jennings' The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975), a compelling analysis of Puritan and Indian relations that has been sharply criticized for its presentism. It is divided into two sections, one a superb ethnographic description of Algonkian society and of the Puritan rationale for conquest, and the second a study of English expansion from the 1620s to 1677. Intent on explicating the ideology that allowed Christians to engage in genocide, Jennings unfortunately allows Indians to fade into the background of his narrative.
        Historians have been especially drawn to the study of United States Indian policy. Ronald N. Satz's American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975) treats the 1830s and 1940s, when eastern tribes were removed with disastrous consequences to Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Their emigration in turn had ramifications for the tribes indigenous to the Plains. Satz provides an invaluable study of federal policy and of the development of the Office of Indian Affairs. Robert A. Trennert's Alternative to Extinction: Federal Indian Policy and the Beginning of the Reservation System, 1846-51 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1975), takes up the story where Satz leaves off and holds that the Mexican Cession and the American advance to the Pacific compelled the United States to alter its traditional policy of removal and displacement of Indians to one of concentrating them on reservations where federal officials could directly supervise their "civilization." In The End of Indian Kansas: A Study of Cultural Revolution, 1854-1871 (Lawrence: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1978), H. Craig Miner and William E. Unrau describe the intimidation and removal of Indians from Kansas to Oklahoma, while millions of acres passed into the rapacious hands of an Indian Ring composed of sundry federal agents, military officers, territorial and state officials, railroad executives, businessmen, and attorneys. An especially revealing chapter on "The Government Chief" demonstrates how tribal leaders were selected and maintained by the government in order to insure their complicity.
        After the Civil War the United States intensified pressure upon Indians to accept programs leading to their ultimate absorption. Robert Winston Mardock's The Reformers and the American Indians (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1971), perceives United States policy arising from a debate between Eastern reformers who were eager to assimilate Indians and frontiersmen {40} who proposed to exterminate them. The reformers were highly effective in shaping president Grant's peace policy and in pushing the General Allotment Act of 1887. Francis Paul Prucha's American Indian Policy in Crisis: Christian Reformers and the Indian, 1865-1900 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976) is a more sophisticated analysis of the same materials. Prucha sees the Indian reform movement as one aspect of a general Protestant crusade whose goals were imbued with a notion of cultural and religious superiority and were intended to obliterate Indian culture and personality. Prucha concludes with a chapter on Indian Territory, whose liquidation was encouraged by Christian reformers who brooked no opposition and could tolerate no Indian enclave. H. Craig Miner's The Corporation and the Indian: Tribal Sovereignty and Industrial Civilization in Indian Territory, 1865-1907 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1976) presents a tangled skein of corporate manipulation and Indian resistance and cooperation that led to the absorption of the Five Civilized Tribes into the state of Oklahoma. Miner is able to portray such leaders as E. C. Boudinot and Dennis W. Bushyhead of the Cherokees as vital human beings, struggling to control the world that was being created around them.
        A number of works are concerned with Indian policy in the 20th century. Hazel Hertzberg's The Search for an American Indian Identity: Modern Pan-Indian Movements (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1971) concentrates on the Society of American Indians (SAI), founded in 1911 to promote such goals as education, reform of the Office of Indian Affairs, and American citizenship. Among its members were Charles Eastman, Carlos Montezuma, Arthur Parker, Henry Roe Cloud, Charles Carter, and Gertrude Bonnin, all of whom are worthy of biographical treatment. The SAI functioned most effectively before World War I and then deteriorated when its members could not form a consensus on such issues as peyotism, the immediate abolition of the Bureau, and the role of Indians in the war. Hertzberg's attempts to trace pan-Indian movements after the 1920s is less successful. Kenneth R. Philp's John Collier's Crusade for Indian Reform 1920-1954 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1977) is the first full-length study of Roosevelt's Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Collier's most important innovation was the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which established the structure of modern reservation governments. Philp's work is invaluable, but much more needs to be known about the administration of New Deal programs on the reservations and about the actions of tribal governments chartered under provisions of the IRA. Margaret Szasz's Education and the American Indian: The Road to Self-Determination 1928-1973 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974) also deals with an highly important {41} but greatly neglected topic. Szasz's evaluation of federal educational efforts in the 1930s is excellent, but her focus is less sharp for the years after World War II. She clearly shows that matters of Indian cultural change and survival are intimately tied to education.
        Historians have also given more attention to Indian biographies. Thurman Wilkins' Cherokee Tragedy: The Story of the Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People (New York: Macmillan, 1970) is a sympathetic study of Major Ridge and his son John, whose doubts about the Cherokees' ability to remain in Georgia led them to promote the removal treaty of 1835. Both were assassinated in 1839. Wilkins raises important questions about Cherokee politics and tribal patriotism and about United States duplicity. Gary E. Moulton's John Ross: Cherokee Chief (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1978) is the first adequate biography of this major tribal leader, whose policies from 1827 to 1866 were shaped by crises engendered by federal actions and rooted in Cherokee factional disputes. W. David Baird's Peter Pitchlynn: Chief of the Choctaw (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972) brings to light the accomplishments of an educator, diplomat, and principal chief, whose career paralleled the troubled course of his people form the 1820s to the 1870s and whose idealism and pecuniary interests were inextricably entwined. Baird's discussion of Choctaw fiscal matters is especially valuable. William H. Armstrong's Warrior in Two Camps: Ely S. Parker, Union General and Seneca Chief (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1978) concentrates on Parker's roles as General Grant's military secretary and as Grant's first Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Charged with corruption by the Board of Indian Commissioners, Parker resigned from office even though he had been exonerated by a Senate investigating committee. Armstrong is less successful in presenting Parker's role as a Seneca sachem. Norma Kidd Green's Iron Eye's Family: The Children of Joseph La Flesche (Lincoln, Nebraska: Johnsen Publishing Company, 1969) describes a remarkable Omaha family whose individual careers as teacher, reformer, physician, and ethnologist illustrate the difficulties of maintaining an Indian identity in a period of great assimilationist pressure. The decisions of the Father, Joseph La Flesche, as tribal chief were crucial in bringing about Omaha cooperation with missionaries and federal agents in the 1850s and after. His son Francis has left a sensitive memoir of his early schooling, The Middle Five: Indian Schoolboys of the Omaha Tribe (Reprint edition, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1963). James C. Olson's Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965) focuses on a major Oglala leader, who signed the important Laramie Treaty of {42} 1868 and attempted thereafter to mediate between federal officials and those among his people who were dissatisfied with reservation life. Olson's analysis of Red Cloud's interpretation and adherence of the 1868 treaty is exemplary. Angie Debo's Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976) carefully chronicles this famous Chiricahua's relations with Mexicans and Americans and extensively treats his years in exile, 1886 to 1909. Her work suffers, however, because she does not adequately comprehend Apache religion and culture.
        A number of tribal histories written in the past two decades have been based solidly in archival research and reveal a more careful reading of documents created initially and almost entirely by whites. Some of the most valuable tribal studies include William T. Hagan's The Sac and Fox Indians (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958), Arrel M. Gibson's The Kickapoos: Lords of the Middle Border (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963), Gibson's The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), William E. Unrau's The Kansa Indians: A History of the Wind People, 1673-1873 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), John Fahey's The Flathead Indians (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974), and R. David Edmunds' The Potawatomis: Keepers of the Fire (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978). Despite their individual virtues, all of these works concentrate on Indian and white relations from initial contacts to the establishment of a tribal reservation or to the implementation of severalty. For example, Hagan emphasizes the histories of the Sac Fox tribes from 1804, when they signed treaties with Governor Harrison, to 1834, when they resisted removal under Black Hawk; Edmunds superbly discusses Potawatomi and French relations from 1642 to 1760 and concludes with their removal to Kansas and Iowa in 1840; and Fahey presents a tribal history that ends with Charlot's resistance to removal in the 1890s and with land allotment in 1906.
        Several recent books on Indian tribes deal with 20th century conditions in considerable detail. Roy M. Meyer's History of the Santee Sioux: United States Indian Policy on Trial (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967) traces Santee history from the 1660s to the 1960s and is especially useful for its discussion of Santee communities now present in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Nebraska and of small groups in Minnesota who escaped eviction after the war of 1862. Meyer's The Village Indians of the Upper Missouri: The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikaras (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, {43} 1977) is the first major historical study of these affiliated tribes and devotes four chapters to the 20th century. His discussion of the smallpox epidemic of 1837 and of the construction of the Garrison Dam in the 1940s, which forced the relocation of these people and required two decades of recovery, are especially poignant. Patricia K. Ourada's The Menominee Indians: A History (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979) describes the experiences of this Wisconsin tribe from first European contact to the 1970s. Under the leadership of Chief Oshkosh the Menominee had avoided removal, but in the 1950s their reservation was terminated. Responding to tribal activism the United States in the Restoration Act of 1973 again placed the Menominee under federal trust. C. Gregory Crampton's The Zunis of Cibola (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1977) outlines 400 years of Zuni history as a series of clashes and visitations by whites, despite his attempt to project a Zuni point of view. Crampton relies heavily on secondary sources and is unable to overcome the limitations of his research. His treatment of the Zunis after the 1930s is especially cursory. William T. Hagan's United States-Comanche Relations: The Reservation Years (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976) and Donald J. Berthrong's The Cheyenne and Arapaho Ordeal: Reservation and Agency Life in the Indian Territory, 1875-1907 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976) are impressive studies of the early reservation histories of these tribes of the southern Plains. Berthrong's book supplements his earlier work, The Southern Cheyenne (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963), that deals with the two centuries prior to the subjugation of the tribe in 1875. Both Hagan and Berthrong illuminate the debilitating pressures of reservation existence and assimilationist policy. Berthrong is more aware of Indian perspectives and incorporates more Indian testimony. Donald L. Parman's The Navajos and the New Deal (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976) analyzes the administration of federal programs on the Navajo reservation in the 1930s and early 1940s. He skillfully portrays Navajo resistance to soil conservation, stock reduction, and the Indian Reorganization Act, and reveals the factional disputes that centered on J. C. Morgan's attempts to use Navajo apprehensions to further his own political objectives.
        Perhaps the most significant trend in recent years has been the publication of tribal histories produced by the tribes themselves, usually funded and sponsored by non-Indian organizations. The Center for the Study of the American West at the University of Utah has assisted in the development of several {44} tribal histories, including James Jefferson, et. al., The Southern Utes: A Tribal History (Ignacio, Colorado: Southern Ute Tribe, 1972), Edward C. Johnson, Walker River Paiutes: A Tribal History (Schurz, Nevada: Walker River Paiute Tribe, 1975), Southern Paiute Tribe, Nuwuvi: A Southern Paiute History (Reno: Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, 1976), Beverley Crum, et. al., Newe: A Western Shoshone History (Reno: Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, 1976), and Byron Nelson, Jr., Our Home Forever: A Hupa Tribal History (Hoopa, California: Hupa Tribe, 1978). All of these works have a similar format. The author of each is a member of the tribe, who is assisted by white historians. Each narrative begins with descriptions of the homeland and culture of the people and then summarizes the history of the tribe from first contacts with whites to the mid-20th century. Despite their brevity, these works express tribal perspectives on reservation life, economic hardships, land allotments, and education, and they make extensive use of oral history.
        Another tribal account is by Alvina Quam, translator, The Zunis: Self-Portrayals (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1972), with the assistance of the Duke Indian Oral History Project at the University of Utah. This book presents forty-six stories from the oral literature of the Zuni, incorporating history, myth, and prophecy. It is not a work of history, but its stories provide insights that can be applied to the study of Zuni history. The Navajo Tribe has also been active in publishing historical materials, including interviews compiled by Ruth Roessel, Navajo Stories of the Long Walk Period (Tsaile Lake: Navajo Community College Press, 1973) and Navajo Livestock Reduction (Tsaile Lake: Navajo Community College Press, 1974), that concern the two most traumatic periods of recent Navajo history. These interviews reveal the immediacy of the past in determining contemporary Navajo perceptions of themselves. Memories of their incarceration on the Bosque Redondo in the 1860s continue to effect their relations with the federal government. The testimony regarding livestock reduction in the 1930s explains how Navajo beliefs about animals and the land shaped their reactions to federal enforcement of this program. Allen P. Slickpoo, project director, Noon Nee-Me-Poo (We, the Nez Perces) (Lapwai, Idaho: Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, 1973) is a rich study of the Nez Perce from the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition to 1940 and serves as a companion volume to Nu-Me-Poom Tit-Wah-Tit (Lapwai, Idaho: Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, {45} 1972), a presentation of tribal stories and culture. More of a chronicle than a history, this book contains extensive quotations from secondary accounts, government documents, and oral testimony, and emphasizes the survival of tribal sovereignty.
        These works are clear indication of a need felt by Indian peoples to present their histories without distortion and to provide an alternative view of Indian and white relations. In addition a small number of Indians trained in university departments of history are now writing about the experiences of their people. Such historians as Donald Grinde, Jr. (Yamasee), Jack Norton (Hupa-Cherokee), Veronica Tiller (Jicarilla), Terry Wilson (Potawatomi), Clara Sue Kidwell (Choctaw-Chippewa), Priscilla Russo (Santee), and Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz (Cheyenne) reflect a movement whose impact upon the interpretation of Indian history is only beginning to be felt. Grinde's The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation (San Francisco: Indian Historian Press, 1977) examines the influence of the League of the Iroquois upon the Constitution and political structure of the United States. Norton's When Our Worlds Cried: Genocide in Northwestern California (San Francisco: Indian Historian Press, 1979) is an indictment of United States policy and American racism that led to the conquest of the California Indians in the 1850s and 1860s. Tiller's dissertation, "A History of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe" (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1976: University Microfilms Order No. 77-16.124) covers the history of her people from 1541 to 1970 with special attention given to the establishment of the reservation in 1887 and its political reorganization after 1934. Wilson is presently completing research on the Osage, Kidwell on the Mississippi Choctaw and White Earth Chippewa, and Russo on the Santee in the mid-19th century. Dunbar Ortiz has compiled testimony from the "Sioux Treaty Hearing" at Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1974 in The Great Sioux Nation: Sitting in Judgment on America: an Oral History of the Sioux Nation & Its Struggle for Sovereignty (New York: American Indian Treaty Council Information Center, 1977). This book contains a wealth of information about United States policy, Indian legal status, and Sioux religion. As Indian historians continue the task of recovering the past, their insights and the voices of Indians they restore will add vitality to the study of Indian history and will complement and affirm the meanings now more fully realized in the writings of Momaday and Welch, Silko and Ortiz.

Charles Roberts                       
Department of History            
California State University       

Jarold Ramsey (compiler and editor), Coyote was going there. Indian literature of the Oregon country. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1977. Pp. xxxv + 295. $14.95

        Ramsey was born in the country from which these stories come. The Ramsey ranch is on land above the canyon of the Deschutes River, a few miles west of the central Oregon town of Madras; a mile or so further west, the road declines precipitously, spectacularly, amidst rimrock, to the level of the river and the edge of the Warm Springs Reservation. The home was an apt representative of the coming of American high culture to Oregon, an island outpost of its literature and music, tree-shaded, under an endless sky. Nearby another tradition, older in the land, continued almost unseen. Ramsey's father, the judge, knew some of the leading Indian people of his generation. Ramsey, growing up, found arrowheads, sought out petroglyphs, and let curiosity grow into poetry and scholarship. For some sons, the country has a history, for others a living, and those who pursue the former find the latter hard to come by in the place itself. So, from Rochester, Ramsey offers this book, his major effort so far to help make the older tradition of the land alive in public understanding. It is, I suppose, both a way of giving back some of what he has learned and of getting back, imaginatively, himself.
        It would be easy to skim the book and say of it, well, another non-book, a litterateur's putting of other people's hard work between covers of one's own. Just as Indian people can resent that anthropologists, folklorists, and linguists publish things taken from their old people, so the scholars may find themselves resenting what literary people publish from their old people. Boas, Sapir, Jacobs and the rest. There is more to this book than that. Some of the material is previously unpublished, found in the Library of the American Philosophical Society (Cayuse, p. 25, Kalapuya, p. 110), or recorded by Ramsey himself from Alice Florindo, a Wasco at Warm Springs (pp. 52, 58, 85). A good deal is from periodicals and volumes that are out of print, some very early, some rare and almost impossible to find. Among names that scholars would readily recognize, Barker, Boas, Curtin, Curtis, Dixon, Frachtenberg, Gatschet, Jacobs, Kelly, Marsden, Phinney, Ray, Sapir, are others {47} of only local fame or none at all--Katherine Berry Judson, Lucien N. Lewis, H. S. Lyman, A. B. Meacham, A. W. Nelson, Silas B. Smith. There has been a lot of digging, a lot of thinking, a lot of changing. The author has grown in security of knowledge in the process, while enduring delays and frustrations. And he has succeeded in the goal making something representative of the literature of the region available to its people, both Indian and non-Indian.
        The fact is that the value of the Native American literature of the region is neglected by most there. There has not been any collection such as this that could provide a decent, intelligent view. Students, including Indian students, may learn in school about the Iroquois or Delaware or Navajo, but not about the Indians of Oregon. The principle, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian," has survived not far below the surface. We see this in the resentment that emerges when Indians are found to have learned how to use the law (as they were told to do) for their own purposes. We can infer this from the fact that the essential collections of native literature in the native language are almost entirely the work of people who came from outside the state. No native Oregonian was moved to do that work, when it could still be done. Its results have been neglected, have hardly become a part of Oregonian life. Archaeology, yes, mute artifacts let us interpret them, while remaining as if dead. Texts are different. Even if old, even if the speaker is dead, the voice may emerge. And so there has been very little consciousness of what native American texts do say.
        Ramsey's book makes an important difference to this context. One can hope that the surge of interest in Native American literature will bear fruit in Oregon as well as elsewhere, and that the future will see new editions, new understandings, of the old texts. There are signs that this is happening. For now, Ramsey's book is the difference between silence and speech. It ought to be in every library and school in the region. And it will be of general interest as well. First, there are the excellent pictures. Not just another set of Curtis pictures, though there are some of those, but a variety of pictures, especially from collections at the University of Washington and Washington State University. Most of us will not otherwise have access to most of these pictures.
        Second, there is the mingling of stories with other texts and information: a hitherto unpublished Kalapuya song (116), Wishram and Klamath calendars, a charm, an Indian understanding of a treaty, speeches. Some of these materials come from archives, and rare volumes, and again, most of us would not have access to them otherwise.
        Third, there is the use of Ramsey's own skills as a poet, not obtrusively, but in a reworking of a thunderstorm exorcism from the Alsea (144) and of a short Paiute tale (231) and account of the Thunder-Badger (256). There is also my own reworking in terms of Chinookan verse-form of a Clackamas story (100). The currents of ethnopoetics appear, but subordinated to a concern for authenticity.
        It would be easy for someone like myself, also born and raised in Oregon, also involved with Native American materials, to find fault or alternative on page after page. It would be unfair, since I had the opportunity to read the text in manuscript. And it would be presumptuous, since the manuscript was passed with approval by the oldest living speaker of the language with which my own claims to knowledge are bound up. The University of Washington Press sought an opinion from a brilliant young Wasco then in Seattle, Deni Leonard, and he sought an opinion from his grandmother at Warm Springs, Annie Smith. She enjoyed the stories, and had only one serious reservation. Since people live so differently today, they would have trouble understanding what the stories meant. The stories were so serious, even when funny, shot through with matters of survival and values, I think she meant. Ramsey addresses such points in his introduction, and I am persuaded that he is right in considering the formal recitations of winter nights as ritually dramatic (p. xxvi), a form of "world-renewal" in keeping with the participant-maintenance view of the world and the place of people in it.
        I will, to be sure, make one complaint. It would be very helpful in a book such as this to have the notes at the back keyed to the pagination of the main text. Sometimes one wants to work back from the notes to the text. But one can only applaud the inclusion of motif-index numbers with the titles of individual stories in the notes.
        As Ramsey notes with one of the Columbia River stories, the coming of the first salmon was heralded by the arrival for swallows in the spring. The swallows had been women who wished to keep the salmon hoarded for {49} themselves, knowing that the people were coming and would need them, but Coyote released the salmon and transformed the women into birds. Ramsey is a serious fellow, but perhaps he will not mind being compared to Coyote, and his book a blow to help free the salmon of stories for the people who are near and will need their nourishment.

Dell Hymes                         
University of Pennsylvania  

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AMERICAN INDIAN ART MAGAZINE, 7333 E. Monterey Way, #5, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, seeks mss. suitable for this very handsome journal. Articles based on original research, treating topics from an art historical perspective are wanted. Subscript. $14.00/yr. Contains book reviews, exhibition listings, plus superb color reproductions.


Robert Davidson: Haida Printmaker
U. Washington Press, 1979 (SAIL 4:2)

Studies in American Indian Literatures, the Newsletter of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, is issued four times a year. Annual subscription $2.00 until Jan. 31 for four issues, thereafter $2.00 for remaining issues of that calendar year with back numbers for the year $1.00 each. For prices of vols I-III consult 3:4 or write The Editor, 602 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, to whom contributions, subscriptions, and inquiries should be addressed. Advisory editorial board: Paula Gunn Allen, Gretchen Bataille, Joseph Bruchac, Vine Deloria, Jr., Larry Evers, Dell Hymes, Maurice Kenny, Robert Sayre. Bibliographer, A. LaVonne Ruoff. Editor, Karl Kroeber. ©1980 SAIL



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