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{1}

STUDIES IN AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURE
Volume 8, no. 1, Spring, 1984

Editor: Karl Kroeber
 Book Review Editor: Mary V. Dearborn
Assistant to the Editor: Robert E. Clark
Bibliographer: Lavonne Brown Ruoff

* * *

Sail Bibliography # 6
LINDA HOGAN:

Who has been honored with an Outstanding Young Woman of the Year Award For Community Service, 1980, and by the Five Civilized Tribes Playwriting Award, Muskogee, Oklahoma, and by a D'Arcy McNickle Tribal Historian Fellowship, Newberry Library, Chicago, 1981, lives in Colorado, and contributes to a wide variety of poetry journals and anthologies.

Publications: Books

Calling Myself Home. Greenfield Review Press. New York, New York. 1979. 2nd Edition 1982.

Daughters, I love you. Loretto Heights Monograph Series. Denver, Colorado. 1981.

Eclipse. UCLA American Indian Studies Press. L.A., California. 1982-1983

The Grace of Wooden Birds. Novel. completed September, 1982. unpublished.

The Diary of Amanda McFadden. forthcoming.

Play

A Piece of Moon. produced Fall 1981. O.S.U. will be produced by Native American Theatre Ensemble. NY.

{2}

Editing

Frontiers Guest Editor. American Indian Women's Issue. Fall, 1982.

*   *   *

Out of Eden's Cold Bondage

Linda Hogan's first book of poems, Calling Myself Home, was focused very closely on her growing up. In that way the book is like many another first book of poetry. Unfortunately, in these days of overproduction, I guess it's simply in the cards that most poets and writers stay about there, puzzling over where they've come from and who on earth they might possibly be. What's remarkable about Calling Myself Home is Linda Hogan's refusal to get stuck anywhere. More than just a personal remembrance, or the parsing of the parts of a private self, the book recalls a rich and complex heritage of meanings and people; it reaches far beyond self, parents, or even grandparents.
        Daughter of a Chickasaw father and white mother, Linda Hogan grew up on Chickasaw "relocation land" outside of Ardmore in Gene Autry, Oklahoma. That meant that she also grew up with and into a living literature. Her grandparents and father kept the history and legends of their people alive for her by recreating them orally. The evidence of Calling Myself Home is that they did very well by her indeed. All that talk and all that lore not only fit the landscape, it suited Linda and instructed her. From it all she was able to draw conclusions and set for herself what really is a kind of mission. Following the example of their tellings, she would be responsible. Linda says this most directly at the end of "Blessing," a moving and candid poem of both affirmation and discontent:
{3}
                Blessed
                are those who listen
                when no one is left to speak.

Why blessed? Because having listened, one can learn to speak oneself, not only of what one has heard, but also of what one has seen within what has been told. If one listens well, there's no longer any necessity that there be no one left to speak. The mission is to keep the continuity of saying and telling what is true and vital. The poet is not a mirror staring into a mirror and reflecting only a mirror, but a conduit through which the gathered meanings of the past are shaped and find their way into the future to guide and enliven it.
        Literary overpopulation and fiscal underabundance take their toll. Many are the weeds who are rewarded, and some of the good go overlooked... for a time anyway. Linda Hogan's second book of poetry, The Diary of Amanda McFadden, shows that she is not only one of those who listen, but that she is able to listen to what cannot quite be heard, to what be imagined if it is to come alive at all.
        Amanda McFadden is a fictional member of the Oneida community of Perfectionists, founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1844 and dissolved by his son Theodore, with the consent of all 300 members, in 1880. Oneida was the brainchild and life's work of John Noyes. Under his inspired and imaginative leadership, Oneida flourished as a new Eden, a Christian community founded on the Apostolic, Pentecostal, and millenarian faith that the Second Coming of Christ had already passed, leaving the Perfectionist community free of all sin and able to live together without selfishness. The Perfectionists farmed successfully, sold their produce and manufactured steel traps, glass, and silk thread, silverware and other products.
{4} From these activities, the community grew very wealthy very quickly and continued to expand right up to the time of its dissolution. All wealth and property at Oneida were held in common. The community constantly suffered the curiosity and scorn of the surrounding world. To the extent that it embraced that world at all, the Oneida Community uniformly took radical and enlightened positions with respect to self-government, war, slavery, the equality and the emancipation of women. Yet all of Perfectionist life was characterized by that sweetness, gentleness, and absolute respect for the sacred integrity of each person we think of as typical of Quakerism at its best.
        At the heart of Oneida's successes was a unique teaching and practice concerning sexual love. Negatively, Noyes and the community believed that marriage, the separate family and the special love that bound both, were the root of all greed and jealousy as well as of the romantic and economic bondage of women. In the first ten years of their marriage Noyes' wife Harriet bore five children, only one of whom survived. For Noyes this experience, its physical and emotional pain, were representative of the inequality all women suffered. The efforts of Noyes and Harriet to rectify all this led them to the practice male continence, the withholding of the male ejaculation. By hit or miss experiment they had stumbled on a homespun version of occult Tantrism. The two functions of sexual love, the amative and the procreative, could be separated. Avoidance of ejaculation allowed the fullest possible range of sexual pleasure for both male and female partners and unwanted pregnancies could be avoided. Many of Noyes' writings are more or less veiled recommendations for oral sex.
        This sexual discovery was the basis of Noyes' belief that he had been saved from sin.
{5} It also was the foundation of his notion of "ascending fellowship" and the institution of complex marriage at Oneida. The community of the saved was itself a large family free of greed and jealousy because all members were sexually available to each other. Couples came together for brief periods through the offices of go-betweens who acted with exquisite tact, gentleness, and respect. The community as a whole through its institution of mutual criticism discouraged special love -- descending fellowship -- wherever it occurred between couples or parents and their children. Children were initiated into sexual experience by elders who had mastered the drive towards self-gratification and could be trusted to treat them gently and with love. Stirpiculture, a system of eugenics, was also practiced. Pregnancies were relatively few and mostly planned. Women were free to share equally in the work of the community, many being trained for jobs that never would have been open to them outside the community. Children lived together and were cared for in common. Virtually all of the many thousands who visited the community were impressed by the efficiency and harmoniousness of Perfectionist life in complex marriage.
        New England self-made Tantrist though he was, Noyes was anything but a crank or a petty despot. On the contrary, he was trained in theology and law at Dartmouth, Andover, and Yale, and was, therefore, a product of the best education of hi s day. He was a genius at devising all sorts of expedients for the smooth functioning of the community as it healed its internal rifts and navigated its tricky course among the shoals of public opinion. As Noyes grew older his leadership weakened and finally was passed on to his son. In Theodore, the spiritual and scientific elements of Perfectionist doctrine were no longer held in
{6} the creative tension that was the basis of his father's genius. The two sides were at odds and Oneida degenerated to table-rapping seances and super-rationalistic schemes. Younger members lost their passion for complex marriage and the community began to break apart. By 1879 the practice was abandoned. The following year the community was dissolved and Oneida was converted to a joint stock company for those who decided to remain. The return to capitalism, though harmonious, was as final and complete as the return to special love.
        The Diary of Amanda McFadden fills a very real imaginative gap in what we know of Oneida and all such impulses. Many of the Perfectionists did, in fact, keep diaries andjournals, but all were destroyed. Linda Hogan's Oneida poems -- one is written in the voice of Harriet Noyes, and several as if by Noyes himself -- recreate the experience of Perfectionist communality from the perspective of one fictional member. They begin with the hope of the community just founded and end, without despair, long after the community's dissolution. The Diary of Amanda McFadden records Amanda's faith in the success of the fulfillment of Oneida's historical role, its demonstration of one possible way down a river "flowing/ out of Eden's cold bondage" and on "toward a perfect world." Many of the poems are about the pleasures of the life of community and Amanda's joy in her being there:

        We sew rose petals
        and lavender inside the cloth
        smells
        which are the oldest love
        and warm us at night...

        Sisters,
        this Tree of Life is shoved into knowledge
        by Amanda's porcelain thimble
{7}
        and fingers that hold words
        she unlocks into ink each night.

Her feelings of love and community are strongest for the other Perfectionist women, but they extend also to the victims of slavery and war beyond the community and to the Oneida Indians from whom the communalists learned much.
        But Amanda is also forthright about her feelings, especially her lapses in "ascending fellowship," her special love for John Noyes and her daughter by Noyes, Ann. She bears the guilt of her failings but feels little shame about them. Her public confession, itself an act of self-affirmation and faith in community, makes this clear. She acknowledges with great definiteness the difficulty of giving up the habits of an earlier life within the communal and imperfect world:

                We come out of that garden
                where woman and man
                discovered themselves
                naked
                and hid behind their own small hands
                that grew into fists, closed
                white knuckles
                and fingers nearly blue
                from holding all the land
                coins and lovers
                as keys to a door
                they would someday find

But Amanda is also confident enough in the keys she has found at Oneida so that she meets the community break-up with courage and equanimity and with no loss of hope for its ultimate contribution to history as one example of how things might be better.
        Finally, Amanda is aware of the selfish motive from which, in part, her writing
{8} springs. But she also knows that her writing, which goes far beyond mere journal notations and becomes literature, is one of the indispensable activities for which Oneida exists. Were it not for the community and her life in it, she would never have the time to write. The Diary of Amanda McFadden can be read as Amanda's effort to make her words responsible, and to find within them the proper balance between the claims of self and community.

.... when I write I shape the world, give it shape. It is because I read my own words I see this life and the circle of it change and return... These words are power. They make this land, these buildings, this room solid. They make it real.

And how close this is to what Linda Hogan learned outside Ardmore from her father and grandparents. This book is a witness to the powers of writing: identification, realization, and finally, responsibility.

Geoffrey Gardner, Bristol Vermont
*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

The Diary of Amanda McFadden

History has been the subject of poetry since poets first began making poems. For what will surely prove to be a significant contribution to such work, Linda Hogan has chosen to remember the Oneida Community. A particular interest in communal groups and societies led Hogan Oneida Community, for which she holds intense special feelings. Through further research about the community, which included visits to the now historic site, she constructed the poetry and journal entries of a fictional member of the community, Amanda {9} McFadden.
        Though this work springs from a combination of curiosity and solid research, there is nothing stuffy about it. It is beautiful, imaginative, powerful language that springs from the heart to tell a story with poems. It is full of the emotion and excitement of life at Oneida, in its peak and in its decline.
        In an introductory note on the poems, Hogan says of Amanda that she is " a woman who has clarity of vision. She sees whole." There is no better way to describe the poet's own vision here. She, too, sees whole and is able to sustain the power of this long work through Amanda's daily life at Oneida.
        Natural historical movement is reflected in what people in the poems tell us. Mostly Amanda speaks, but we hear as well the voices of founder Noyes, for whom Amanda has a "special love" discouraged by the community, and that of his wife, Harriet, who mourns the loss of her children. The movement beneath the work, though, is always personal, always private, giving us the full dimension of this human experience instead of just repeating facts in a poetic way.
        Because she is whole, Amanda can always look backward as well as forward. Early in the work, she remembers the Oneida Indians whose name the community bears: " I touch your trees for you/ I follow the path of the fox/ I eat fur it leaves like wisps on snow/ to understand." In her there is more than the simple awareness of history. She knows more than events. When she looks at pictures of Egypt through a stereopticon, she is drawn into the past without losing her place in the present: "Thirty-three years I have been here,/ a woman, Amanda,/ on this other shore/ while the past crept toward me,/ no, flies! into this light/ to look like a ghost within my eyes/ my one eye/ dilating into thin vision,/
{10} the distance that is near and makes itself real."
        In the poem "Stereopticon: Pictures of Egypt," we are drawn into the work for the first time. Our presence as readers is a part of the poem. It reinforces history as a process. As we read about Amanda in the Oneida Community, she in turn "reads" about Egypt through the stereopticon. "Do not disturb this silence," the poem says in a later line. Is this a premonition that Oneida will fail, dry up as Egypt dried up? It's an inscription we might find written above an Egyptian tomb, or over the entrance to Oneida. But has the past failed? Amanda asks us. Hogan tells us.
        Yet in the very next poem, "Woman Gardening," we are pushed forward, moved on. The woman at her garden, tilling the earth, represents a new order, a new attempt. From this point on the poems are built around the life of the community. The women are quilting, making something out of old dresses. We get the first hint of Amanda's secret private life within this group: "Sisters,/ this Tree of Life is shoved into knowledge/ by Amanda's porcelain thimble/ and fingers that hold words/ she unlocks into ink each night." Amanda keeps a diary. Amanda writes poems.
        Amanda's struggle with her need for privacy, with her "special love" for her daughter and for John Noyes, are themes that grow along with the growing community. She believes in the community and in the order there, but her love for her child and the need to unfold the power of her words are too great. She struggles with herself and confesses to the elders.
        There is a wonderful intimacy in these pages. In "Mr. Noyes Initiates the Silk Girl Into Sex," for example, there is such a shimmering closeness that we can nearly feel the breath of the lovers. We are called so
{11} close that we share the breath-taking quality of the love scene: "She winds through my hands/ and stands waiting to be kissed/ before buttoning her dress/ and removing her shoes/ from beneath the chair/ to run out/ with the voice of a bird/ and leave me behind/ dreaming./" With her usual care for detail, Hogan succeeds again and again throughout this work in creating such real feelings. She goes into the moment of the poem, and more importantly, she always takes the reader with her.
        There is great difficulty here too. This is not a sentimental view of a bunch of people who went off to live together and ended up happily ever after. Amanda's confession is a good example. It is a cold, grey day. The confession itself is cold inside her, but of the love she feels for her daughter she says: "even the soft hair inside her ears/ is a blizzard of warmth, stirring me." Though Amanda is strong in her commitment to the Oneida Community, she is just as strong in what the community views as weakness; her love for her daughter, for John Noyes, and the need for privacy, for her writing. She is open. She is prepared for rebuke, yet she knows that "it is not as simple as that."
        The conflict grows. The section called "The Children's House" is more than just chronological or historical. It reinforces Amanda's painful separation from her child. It is wistful. In the poem called "The Children's House" we know that Amanda is watching from a distance, perhaps through the trees. It hurts her to be apart from her child. It hurts us to read it.
        A sense of foreboding is developed, and we feel that things are coming to a close, a resolution. The air is uneasy. Finally, in "Amanda: Ann, My Daughter," the outside world is mentioned. Amanda says of her daughter that
{12} "she stands between me and the world." Or is it that the world will soon stand between them? There is a sense of loss: "Already the west is in her face/ the color of grain, red sky./ In her, quiet now, a new world/ resting/ before men walk earth unnatural/ and tongues grow confused/ with the grace of exile."
        The final section consists of diary entries between 1862 and 1875. If the community is getting weaker, Amanda is getting stronger. Her words always give her power: "when I write I make the world, I give it shape." "These words are like the feathers on a bird. They let me fly and see. These words are power." She writes of the breakdown of the community, the growing attachment to spiritualism, of science that does not consider the human spirit, the place of women in the outside world. Amanda knows she must return to the outside. What she will do when she gets there worries her, but she continues to write. In the last section, "The Cup is Broken," the writing takes on a different tone. Some of the themes are biblical, but they are all themes of expulsion, of driving out or of driving away. Things are breaking, flying apart. There are seances. John Noyes dies. The dark side flourishes, but still there is hope: "If you cut the sun to pieces/ it still gives light/ swirling into being once again." The manuscript ends with Noyes' famous quotation: "We made a raid into an unknown country, charted it and returned without the loss of a man, woman, or child."
        Our world needs work like this. It is frightening, but we must look into the mirror Linda Hogan has made for us. Her familiar concerns and symbols are all there: animals, light, children, the earth, wholeness. Anyone who knows her work even slightly will know who speaks, but the voice is different, too; surer. The work moves in such a way
{13} that at times it seems uneasy. It is not uneasy. It is sure-footed, mature. It is however, complicated and dedicated to unity and wholeness, to the belief that all things fit together; even if some parts are smaller than others and do not fit quite the same way, they make up one whole of the world, of life, of history. Amanda, who knows her community will not endure, knows the attempt has been made, that there is room for it to be made again, that the circle can be reentered at some future time. The necessity of her history sustains her, her sense of place is enough. Oneida is only the example Hogan has chosen for us. This poet's world runs on a continuum. Oneida was just a stopping-off place. It could be us, too, she's describing. As Amanda said at the beginning, "In a hundred years/ these words will return." And so they have...
        I was surprised to learn that this manuscript had not been accepted for publication when I first read it, but as I grew more and more familiar with it I began to understand why. It may be that it's too powerful when first met, that it simply overwhelms. It also comes from the power of woman, full of the power that brings and keeps life, something that disturbs many, even if they do not know why. It is also obviously not "Indian" in any overt sense, and for publishers who need neat little slots to put and keep writers in, it just won't fit.

Kathleen Cain
Community College of Denver
*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Linda Hogan. Calling Myself Home. Greenfield Center. New York. 1979. Pb. $2.00

The impulse of much contemporary literature by women and non-whites is archeological. {14} Adrienne Rich's The Dream of a Common Language like Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, would record a lost culture -- unearthing its shards and piecing them back together. The twenty-six short poems in Linda Hogan's Calling Myself Home are both dream and song, and their work, too, is excavation. They are grouped under two subtitles ("By the Dry Pond" and "Heritage"); the first four lyrics are further distinguished by lowercase titles. But these divisions are misleading; if the tone of Hogan's poems is insistently the same, if their lexicons seem to interpenetrate incestuously, this is because they are best read as a single long poem.
        This long poem is a catalogue of vestiges: an arrowhead, small animals trapped in amber, the bones of birds strung on clear thread. Many of the vestiges are fossils -- negative spaces signaling vanished presences. In "Stolen Trees" Hogan laments woods robbed for rifles and sees "Vacant places where the dark/ vertebraes of trees/ pushed sugar/ rising up from trunks." In "Remembering the Lightning" she recalls a man stopped by "Silver light down the dark sky/... The place where he stood/ is empty with night" [emphasis added]. The fingers of Hogan's poem feel along the inside of these vacancies, reading them as the hieroglyphs of an ancient people. The "dry pond/ dry river" is a cavity carved out by the life stream of a now desiccated culture. In "Calling Myself Home" this deserted river divides the poet from those old women whose "... dark hands/ laced the shells of turtles/ together, pebbles inside." Yet it also joins her to them: "Its bed was the road/ I walked to return." Hogan's excavation expedition dreams the turtle back and the pond full. It imagines the flesh back on the birds and gives Chief Left Hand the words that were taken from him. In "Heritage" the poet reclaims a mixed estate: plague and purge, stain and food,
{15} silence and old chants.
        As the title carefully implies, Calling Myself Home is an expedition in, a dig that locates home -- for a people who are "always leaving" -- inside. The Indian, Hogan seems to suggest, resembles the inside-out turtle: apparent petrification outside; soft living parts inside, awaiting discovery. Hogan puts her ear to this shell, informing and exhorting us, "Something is breathing in there./ Wake up, we are women." Indeed, her volume seems not to speak so much as to listen and transcribe; it defers its own voice for other, older voices. In the final poem the poet lets herself go altogether, becomes perfectly receptive -- a channel for sound. So poised to listen, this is an almost challengingly quiet work. Its emotional terrain is relatively flat. Anger, irony, joy, surprise, when they do arise, are gentle and unobtrusive, perhaps too easily contained. Nevertheless, I think Calling Myself Home rewards the alert patience it requires. I tend to be persuaded by the last lines of "Blessing": "Blessed/ are those who listen/ when no one is left to speak."

Susan Fraiman
Columbia University
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The Grace of Wooden Birds by Linda Hogan

The Grace of Wooden Birds is living myth, creative mythology. Joseph Campbell says:

In what I am calling "creative mythology",... the individual has had an experience of his own -- of order, horror, beauty, or even more exhilaration -- which he seeks to communicate through signs: and if his realization has been of certain depth and import, his communica-{16}tion will have the value and force of living myth.

This adventure, The Grace of Wooden Birds, is written by one of those living "in the soles of their feet, hands and feelings" instead of within the boundaries of the intellect. It is no wonder then that the signs Linda Hogan uses to communicate arise out of primal consciousness and that we recognize them as living mythological symbols which Campbell maintains are rooted in the very biological prehistory of our species and therefore "touch and exhilarate centers of life beyond the reach of vocabularies of reason and coercion." The symbols each appear in a series of subtle but familiar transformations and we find spread before us a rich, provocative tapestry:

   The shawl slid down from her hair. There were hundreds of snakes... Their blind eyes without lids saw the light around Roberta's body... They moved toward her. They drew up like silver flames, fluid knives....
   On the backs of the snake were crescents and stars. On the round muscle of the snakes. The night and the water were all one thing. Primordial water. She stepped closer to the snakes.

Yet it is not the employment of these symbols that determines the quality of the myth. It is the depth of the author's realization. In response to the clarity of her understanding we find ourselves awakened. Everyday objects, an orange, a road-sign, a smudged handprint on a window, a child's urine, a sunburst broach, a flock of black birds are links that direct our vision and light our way. Daily routines, the walk beside the river, the bathing of the children, are sacred ceremonies. And we know where we are:
{17}

Lying on the hillside, Roberta felt the world magnet pull her close to earth... As it began to darken she heard children across the hill ... "Ready or not, here I come"...The sky blacker, the stars grew brighter... the blackness of the mountains between pale swaths of ice... the journey between places of light.

The journey into this labyrinth, this darkness of confusion, of terror of destruction, of lonesomeness, this darkness that is inside and outside us. This matrix of creation. We are lead here by two children, Roberta's children:

   Children of another world. It was as if they heard with different ears and saw with strange eyes. In both of them was an emptiness that could swallow matter..and these children are the seeds of the future. They are the seed corn that we need to keep us all alive.

We follow Roberta. It is a fragile thread she slips between her fingers as she enters this womb:

   Indian women were walking on a thread that was as delicate as spider silk, being one person one day and someone else the next, always keenly aware that the thread could break, the thread that was created from within their bodies and the bodies of those that came before...

Her grandmother, her teacher, has led her to this thread and placed it in her fingers:

   Roberta felt something growing in her back. Her grandmother whispered to her, "It's animals." I see them... she looked pleased, she sounded sympathetic... All the animals. I have them too!... She prayed over the tatooings of {18} crosses made on Roberta's feet. "Because the animals are in your back..Your feet will know where they stand on earth."

She knows why she has come here. She will follow the silken thread to "some kind of birth or death."

   "Mother." Roberta spoke to herself in the water. "They are filling me with crazy wind and now I am only a flute... The children are putting pins in my flesh. The birds are making music out of me...."
   She used a jagged stone and scratched herself... to let the humming and songs out... She saw them falling. The salamander fell out, the black birds, two children... A horde of plant life and small animals fell from her into the river... She scratched a cross into her forehead, not the cross of Christianity. It was an act that came deep from within her body. She submerged herself in the muddy salamander river and the minnows ran between her fingers and legs... She lay down in the cold water. She buried her face in the river clay. It was a dance she made of herself.

She will follow the thread into an awakening. And she will follow still until she finds the place where the new songs and the new ceremonies for our emergence are waiting to be discovered. Linda Hogan offers us living myth, which according to Joseph Campbell, fosters the centering and unfolding of an individual in integrity, in accord with himself, his culture, the universe.

Mabel Anderson
*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

Albert Yava, Big Falling Snow: a Tewa-Hopi Indian's Life and Times and the History and {19} Traditions of His People (ed. and annotated by Harold Courlander) Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press. 1982. and The Seven Visions of Bull Lodge ed. George Horse Capture. Ann Arbor: Bear Claw Press. 1980.

These two lives of American Indians could not be more diverse in approach to their subjects, and to the representation of the sacred element in Indian life. The Seven Visions of Bull Lodge is a tribal effort of the Gros Ventres or White Clay People of north-central Montana to recover their past as myth, a visionary narrative with dramatic confrontations between the heroic figure, Bull Lodge, and the powers of the Feathered Pipe. A detailed account of this 19th century medicine man remembered by his daughter, Garter Snake, Seven Visions was "gathered," that is, "transcribed" by Fred P. Gone, and finally edited by George Horse Capture, all members of the the Gros Ventres nation. This collective affirmation of the tribe's past is presented as a series of highly theatrical moments in which visionary experience brings the eternal into time, and makes Bull Lodge the type of the visionary Plains warrior, a heroic figure, a Hiawatha, in whom the aspirations and ultimate tragedy of his people are embodied. In contrast, Big Falling Snow is a more conventional "life," a first-person account by a Tewa-Hopi, Albert Yava, in which no figure is awarded mythic status, not even that of the narrator, whose low profile seems typical of his own cultural assumptions: "we Tewas and Hopis don't think of ourselves that way... we don't have individual heros with names to remember." (p.4) In consequence, Big Falling Snow is a quieter, more relativistic history, the narrator's life-span covering some eighty years, from the late nineteenth century up to the present. Yava reports tribal history, adventures in the {20} anthropology trade, the coming of the white man, and his own life with equal detachment.
        The Seven Visions of Bull Lodge is cast in the heroic mode, a drama of the visionary priest who becomes a myth in his own lifetime. For the visionary, what is above is below, according to the law of symbolic correspondences. The book's first section describes with the detailed precision of another Plains Indian visionary, Black Elk, Bull Lodge's seven encounters with the powers of the Feathered Pipe, ritual confrontations in which he is awarded healing rituals, animal helpers, and magical artifacts such as a therapeutic whistle and a shield which catches enemy bullets like a baseball mitt. These encounters with spirits, in the depths of the Montana buttes, which open into sacred tipis, describe a landscape of the mind in which the human being accepts the powers of the supernatural, a transfer which is an elevation. Only rarely does the ostensible narrator, Garter Snake, resort to descriptive commentary: "It was as though Bull Lodge were seeing a picture shown on a screen." (p.39) Usually the text is given with a sparseness and sense of event any story-teller might envy. Such visual exactitude reminds us that ceremonials partake most deeply not of the lyrical but of the narratival, the imminent, like the best visionary narratives of William Blake.
        In the last of the initiatory visions, Bull Lodge is shown how to raise the dead, an ironic foreshadowing of his own end. In fact, much of the final chapters are accounts of his healing powers, performed for others. But his own death is tied in mythic fashion to the end of his nation's power and the buffalo economy. At his death, Bull Lodge was to have achieved regeneration by building a series of "sweatlodges" with buffalo hides through which his body would have been passed and his life
{21} recovered. Ironically, the buffalo are gone, he cannot build the tents in time, and he dies, in fitting dignity. His death is given epical grandeur not only by its tribal relevance, like that of Beowulf, in which the hero's passing prefigures the nation's decline, but also by the inevitability of this end. Bull Lodge had been named the sixteenth and last guardian of the Feathered Pipe, a proleptic reading of his fate. His daughter inherited some of his "medicine," but the power was gone. Garter Snake makes it clear that what she remembers of her father's words and past are all that is left, in true elegaic vein: "What is not here is lost forever." This book is a superb poetic rendering of the supernatural history of a people.
        Big Falling Snow inevitably seems more staid, given its narrator's concern to provide more than a supernatural history of his times, and to deny any heroic aspirations on his part. The supernatural turns up mostly in Yava's accounts of traditional Hopi myths, available elsewhere (in Harold Courlander's The Fourth World of the Hopis, for instance), and in quite a few curious experiences which Yava characteristically identifies as superstitions, to be summarily dealt with by the commonsensical mind. The narrator was educated in white man's schools at Keam's Canyon and Chilocco; he came to live in old age at Parker, on the Colorado River Reservation; finally, his heritage as a Tewa contributes to the book's sense of historical detachment, on the part of a man who is of the Hopi world yet often away from it, living a calm, unheroic life. In consequence, Yava's account of myth or of religious ritual is heavily qualified by a gentle flatness of tone. He surrounds accounts of divine origin or kiva ceremony with oblique commentary that plays down its mythic or dramatic impact: "When you start telling how
{22} the Hopis got to these mesas you are in for some long stories. Every clan is a keeper of its own traditions, and sometimes you could call those traditions real history modified by legends." (p.46) We have only to compare Yava's account of the mythic trip made by the soul to Maski, the House of the Dead, "one of the Oraibi stories," and the dramatic personal journey made to Maski by Talayesva in Sun Chief, where the immediacy of the narrator's experience does not permit us to distinguish between dream and reality. Yava is calmly ruminative about his life, and about the influence of religious meaning in Hopi life which has occurred in his lifetime. Yava rejects both Sun Chief and Frank Waters' Book of the Hopi, as either full of misinformation, or too personal. His loyalty to the rituals and myths of his people is based on their moral value: "All those punishments given to people in Maski are reminders that there are approved ways of living, that in this world no ore can go around doing whatever comes into his head." (p.104) Centuries of deeply conservative social continuity speak from these gentle pages.
        Big Falling Snow is a kind of compendium of important Hopi mythical and historical events presented in the calm, reflective voice of one who has seen it all and who, in the last years of a long life, turns history over to others, not without trust or hope. The Seven Visions of Bull Lodge is an imaginative vision which takes the Blakean view that man can throw off history in favor of eternity. These two "biographical" works are complementary; in musical terms, they perform descants on each other. Harold Courlander, the editor of Falling Snow, has captured this tone beautifully in his fine novel, The Mesa of Flowers.

Robley Evans, Connecticut College

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Patricia Mason and Patricia Ellis. Indian Tales of the Northwest. Vancouver: CommCept Publishing Ltd. 1976.
Ralph Maud. A Guide to B.C. Indian Myth and Legend: A Short History of Myth-Collecting and a Survey of Published Texts. Vancouver:Talonbooks. 1982.
David Day and Marilyn Bowering. eds. Many Voices: an Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Indian Poetry. Vancouver: J. J. Douglas Ltd. 1977.
Leslie Monkman. A Native Heritage: Images of the Indian in English Canadian Literature. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1981.

Canadian writers, I find, tend to be entertainingly but somewhat too defensively self-mocking about "Can-Lit," as if trying to preclude mockery from outside. Two such observations I heard when teaching at the University of Victoria were: "The great secret theme of Canadian writing is Killing Mother," and "Canadian literature, having devoted its first hundred years to a desperate collective effort to escape from aboriginal wilderness, is now hysterically trying to reclaim it." Now the "Mother" in the supposed matricide theme is clearly "Mother England," as for the motif of the Wilderness, whether being fled from of now frantically sought after I can't say -- the Bush is simply there as a brooding presence in the best Canadian writing from the beginning.
        All of the books to be mentioned here have appeared in the last six years or so, and although a handful out of the harvest of new Canadian publications of Indians, they do roughly represent four of the main categories of this harvest: native traditional literature, literary studies of the literature, writings by contemporary Canadian Indians, and studies of the significance of the Indian in Canadian print-literature.
{24}
        Indian Tales of the Pacific Northwest, then, is a very well-thought-out anthology of 23 representative myth-narratives from British Columbia. I wish I had been able to use it in my Victoria courses! Edited and written by Patricia Ellis and Patricia Mason, with striking illustrations by Joey Morgan, it is a model of how to make native literary traditions accessible in their contexts to high-school and college level study. A separate "Teacher's Guide," loaded with maps, charts, and (most valuable) reading lists, is virtually an introduction both to the Indian cultures of Western Canada and to the serious study of oral traditional literatures. The guide also offers eminently sound advice on how to integrate such material into conventional courses, and I hope that both books are by now widely used in the British Columbia school system. (Why such responsibly edited regional exhibitions of native myth and culture aren't available to teachers in say, Washington, Oregon, New York, California, and elsewhere in American "Indian Country" is a question to be asked.)
        My only quarrel with Indian Tales of the Northwest is about its choice of myth texts. They are all, apparently, drawn from the great collections of Boas, James Teit, Charles Hill-Tout, and others of that era -- but why isn't the excellent contemporary transcription work of the B.C. Indian Language Project represented? Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy of the BCILP are listed as "consultants," but Indian Tales would be even richer as an introduction to the vitality of the native traditions if some to their modern transcriptions -- say, from the narratives of Charlie Mack and Baptiste Richie of the Lillooets -- were included.
        Ralph Maud's A Guide to B.C. Indian Myth and Legend is another book I wish I'd had in Victoria, and, like Indian Tales of the Northwest it too has as yet no Yankee
{25} equivalent. As his subtitle indicates, Maud is concerned to make the B.C. myth-heritage accessible to serious literary appreciation and. study, and in pursuit of this laudable aim he has gone straight to the texts and in a sense behind them, to find out what he can about the human circumstances under which ethnographers like Boas, Teit, Hill-Tout, Swanton, Barbeau, et. al. collaborated with their native informants. By looking at journals and letters as well as at the official texts, Maud is able to shed a new and useful light on these texts -- revealing the biases, animosities, ambitions, inter-racial conflicts and so on that were part of the process whereby they attained their ultimate remote and authoritative (and often therefore seriously misleading) status as scholarly "documents."
        In a "Postscript" Maud notes:

Behind all the judgments about authenticity in this book are a number of questions. What is the process of transmission? How did the story get on to the printed page? Are there any field notes or diaries that might reveal how scrupulous the ethnologist was?... Was the story gathered in a performance session, or with at least one other person present as an audience? Did the informant have stature as a story-teller among his people, or was it an average member of the tribe trying to remember things for an honorarium?... These are some of the questions we have a right to ask when we pull from the shelf an old ethnological collection of tales or a new anthology. (pp.191-2)

Maud is right: the questions he asks about the provenience of B.C. Indian texts (often, admittedly, without much hope of solid answers) are some of the questions we must be asking of native texts generally, if we are really to engage them seriously as literature.
{26}
        Authenticity in this vexatious textual sense is not an issue with the David Day/Marilyn Bowering anthology New Voices. The editors' energetically inclusive selection ranges from B.C. to Cape Breton, and in age from Okanagan slate-carver and poet George Lezard (b.1886) to writers three generations younger. For an American equivalent to this excellent anthology, one thinks of Duane Niatum's Carriers of the Dream Wheel -- but it is clear that Day and Bowering have been much more adventuresome as editors, tapping into strong poetry wherever they found it amongst Canadian Indians. They say: "We have selected the poems on the basis of merit and `voice' alone and have not wished to make a social statement. The poems speak for themselves." Indeed they do, in compelling combinations of native "tradition" and "individual talents" -- and if no Canadian writers have yet attained the stature and recognition in their country that Momaday, Silko, and Welch have in the U.S.A., anthologies like Many Voices will hasten that recognition.
        In his introduction to A Native Heritage, Leslie Monkman observes that "no white writer ever writes as a red man. Direct description of the North American experience must come from the rapidly growing body of work by red artists defining their own culture, past and present." (p. 4) One might wish, with the poetry of Many Voices in mind, that Monkman had offered at least a summary chapter on that "rapidly growing body of work," so as to play its endemic perspectives off against the kinds of imaginative appropriations and stereotyping of the Indian that this book surveys over 200 years of Anglo-Canadian writing. (I also wish that Monkman had given at least a sidelong glance to the way French-Canadian writers have imaged Indians, and themselves thereby; again, the contrast of Perspectives would have been
{27} useful for his purpose.)
        But A Native Heritage is, within its rather strait limits, a commendable book; and again, I am struck by the lack of an American equivalent to it. Since Albert Keiser's critically naive survey, The Indian in American Literature (1933) the subject has been addressed (albeit very skillfully) mainly by cultural and intellectual historians, like Roy Harvey Pearce, Richard Slotkin, and Robert Berkhofer, not in terms of literary history per se. Monkman's headings indicate how -- plausibly I think -- he views the main lines of Anglo-Canada's literary confrontation of the fact of its aboriginals -- "Indian Antagonists" (The Red Devils motif), "Indian Alternatives" (native life idealized as an alternative to the white way), "Death of the Indian" (the "Lo! the Poor Indian" theme as an expression of Anglo desire and guilt), "Indian Heroes," and "Indian Myths and Legends" (or assimilations by Anglo writers of native traditions -- a much neglected topic in American literary studies).
        Monkman's organization, then, cuts thematically rather than historically, a strategy whose main drawback is that the best-written and critically most-penetrating sections of the book -- not surprisingly those concerned with modern writers like Ruby Wiebe, Sheila Watson, Margaret Laurence, and Margaret Atwood, -- are broken up categorically, chapter by chapter. An overview of the remarkable growth of Indian-centered imaginative writing in Canada since World War Two would improve the book markedly -- still, it effectively points the way to the new studies, I think, and as with Canadian writing today in general, it ought to be closely read on this side of the Border, but probably won't be.

*    *     *
Jarold Ramsey
University of Rochester

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NOTICE

Andrew Wiget, Dept. of English, Box 3-E, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces NM 88003 is now publishing bi-monthly notices, announcements, and requests for papers, etc. for all those in Native American Literary Studies. He will also pick up bibliographical items of interest. Send him information, phone 505-646-3011, and get on his list.

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Studies in American Indian Literature the newsletter for the Association for the study of Native American Literatures, is issued four times a year. Annual subscriptions are by the calender year only and are $4.00. For back issues and special publications by Sail contact the editor, 602 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University, New York, New York, 10027, to whom contributions and subscriptions should be addressed. Advisory Editorial Board: Paula Gunn Allen, Gretchen Bataille, Joseph Bruchac, Vine Deloria Jr. Larry Evers, Dell Hymes, Maurice Kenny, Robert Sayre.

STUDIES IN AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURE 1984 @ SAIL

 

 


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