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{89}

STUDIES IN AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURES
Volume 9:3 Summer 1985



Editor: Karl Kroeber
Assistant Editor: Linda Ainsworth
Bibliographer: LaVonne Brown Ruoff

Table of Contents

Salute to University of Nebraska Press
        Books Reviewed:

        Hum-ishu-Ma, "Mourning Dove," Cogewa:
                  The Half-Blood                                                               91

        George Bird Grinnel, Blackfoot Lodge
                 Tales                                                                              93

        Luther Standing Bear, My People The
                  Sioux                                                                            93

        Hartley Burr Alexander, The World's
                  Rim                                                                               93

        Father Berard Haile, Navajo Coyote
                  Tales and Ekkehart Malotki and
                 Michael Lomatuway'ma, Hopi Coyote
                          Tales                                                                     94

        Laurel J. Walkins, A Grammar of
                  Kiowa. Review by Paul D. Kroeber                                95

        Gretchen M. Bataille and Kathleen
                 Sands, American Indian Women                                     96

        George Bird Grinnell, The Punishment
                 of the Stingy
                 Review by Eric Lott                                                         99
                 Review by Joseph E. DeFlyer                                         102

Reviews

D. M. Dooley, The Sons of the Wind.
        Review by Karl Kroeber                                                          106

{90}
Ake Hultkrantz, The Study of American
        Indian Religions. Review by
        Ralph Maud                                                                            113

James W. Schultz, Blackfeet and
        Buffalo, and Hugh A. Dempsey,
        Charcoal's World. Review by
        William Thackeray                                                                  117

Herman Grey, Tales From the Mohave.
        Review by Helen Jaskoski                                                       122

John Joseph Mathews, Wah'Kon-Tah.
        Review by Terry Wilson                                                          124

Paula Gunn Allen, Studies in American
        Indian Literature.
        Review by Paul Zolbrod                                                           127
        Review by Susan Fraiman                                                          131

John Joseph Mathews, Talking to the
        Moon. Review by Carol Hunter                                                135

Short Reviews
        William E. Farr, The Reservation
            Blackfeet, 1882-1945                                                            137

        William M. Clements and Frances
            M. Malpezzi (Compilers), Native
            American Folklore, 1879-1979                                            138

        Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst,
           The Raven Steals the Light                                                   138

Announcements                                                                              139

Illustrations in the issue are from Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst, The Raven Steals the Light (reviewed page 139).

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        Because of special issues past and soon to come, SAIL has piled up a disgraceful backlog of reviews. In this issue and the next we reduce the accumulation, apologizing to reviewers for our delay in publishing and for the necessity we have been under to reduce the length of their reviews. We have tried to concentrate cuts on quotations and never to distort, but we regret that we haven't been able to present all reviews totally complete. To prevent recurrence of this situation, we shall in future provide a small number of extensive reviews and a large number of brief notices.

The Editor

*         *         *         *

All of those who study and care for American Indian literatures owe a special debt of gratitude to the University of Nebraska Press, which for many years has been the principal publisher of books in our field. Consistently the Nebraska Press has been willing to publish important, if not wildly popular, titles, to republish titles that have fallen out of print, and, rather than attempting pretentiousness of format, to find capable and responsible editors and commentators to make their books as useful as possible. SAIL is pleased to take the opportunity to salute Nebraska's continuing commitment to these practices by noting just a few of their recent offerings.

Cogewea: The Half-Blood, by Hum-ishu-Ma, "Mourning Dove," Given through Sho-pow-tan, with notes and biographical sketch by {92} Lucullus Virgil McWhorter. Introduction by Dexter Fisher, 1981. $23.50 Cloth, $6.95 pb.

        This reprinting of the first work of fiction by a Native American woman (the novel originally appeared in 1927) is an important and welcome event. Cogewea, to be sure, is not a great novel. As Dexter Fisher observes in her valuable introduction,

the book is uneven, wrenched in parts, replete with cliches and unnatural language. Nevertheless, it stands as the first effort of an American Indian woman to write a novel based upon the legacy of her Indian heritage, and for that alone, as well as for the preservation of those beliefs and stories of Okanogan culture that might have disappeared, we must be grateful for Mourning Dove's aspirations and McWhorter's assistance.

The judiciousness of this comment is characteristic of every portion of Fisher's sensitive and informative introduction, which traces the collaborative work of McWhorter and Mourning Dove, sketches her life and the outlines of major Okanogan traditions which Hum-ishu-Ma integrated, sometimes with impressive effects, into her novelistic narrative. All teachers of modern Native American writing in English will be grateful to Dexter Fisher and the Nebraska Press for this reprint.

*

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George Bird Grinnell. Blackfoot Lodge Tales: The Story of a Prairie People, 1962, 10th reprinting 1984. $5.95 pb.

        A classic collection of tales by a gifted storyteller and a lucid ethnographic description of the Blackfeet, originally published in the later nineteenth century.

*

Luther Standing Bear. My People the Sioux, 1928 (1975), 4th reprinting 1984. $5.50 pb.

        This famous autobiography has, justifiably, been more praised for its content than for its style, but it remains a fascinating and important document for a variety of topics, including Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Europe and the Ghost Dance uprising leading to the massacre at Wounded Knee. This edition contains a judicious introduction by Richard N. Ellis.

*

Hartley Burr Alexander. The World's Rim, 1953 (1967), 7th reprinting 1984. $4.95 pb.

        This strange work, first published fourteen years after the author's death, fits no intellectual categories. Its popularity is perhaps due to the fact that it provides an easily accessible commentary upon many of the major American Indian rituals and ceremonies. {94} Burr sees these as illuminating our understanding of old world cults and mysteries, particularly those of the ancient Near East.

*

Navajo Coyote Tales: The Curly To Aheedlinii Version, by Father Berard Haile, O.F.M.; Navajo Orthography by Irvy W. Goosen. Edited with an Introductory Essay by Karl W. Luckert, Volume 8 in the American Tribal Religions series, 1984. $17.95 cloth, $8.95 pb.

Hopi Coyote Tales: Istutuwutsi, by Ekkehart Malotki and Michael Lomatuway'ma; illustrations by Anne-Marie Malotki. Volume 9 in the American Tribal Religions series, 1984.

        These two volumes form a pair; the preface to the second refers the reader back to Luckert's introductory essay, "Coyote in Navajo and Hopi Tales," in volume 8. Both volumes present both translations and original texts, but the first contains translations made by Father Haile half a century ago, while the second consists of tales only recently collected. This volume adds a useful glossary and a brief description of the Hopi alphabet. Both books sustain the high standards of this useful series.

* * * *

{95}
Laurel J. Watkins (with the assistance of Parker McKenzie). A Grammar of Kiowa, 1984. xvi + 268 pp. $17.95 hb.

        As far as someone not a specialist in Kiowa and Kio-Tanoan family can judge, we have here an excellent treatment of the phonology, morphology, and some of the syntax of this Plains Indian language. Watkins draws on linguistic theory to clarify her description rather than obscure it, and she provides plenty of exemplification. Unfortunately the book will be very difficult to follow without familiarity with linguistic terminology, likely a drawback for many readers of SAIL; but its compactness could hardly have been achieved otherwise. Parts of the grammar are dense and difficult even when one knows linguistics--I am thinking in particular of section 3.2 on pronominal prefixes, though this is admittedly a very complex aspect of the language. The coverage seems thorough and organization in general good. As far as I know there are few published texts in Kiowa: just Watkins' two short sample texts and an article by J. P. Harring (IJAL 12: 237-242). This is a frequent problem in American Indian linguistics, also, and so is its opposite, text collections available when grammars of the language are not. I hope everyone buys this book whether they intend to read it or not--publishers need to be encouraged to bring out more descriptive material of this quality.

Paul D. Kroeber
University of Chicago

*         *         *         *

{96}
Gretchen M. Bataille and Kathleen Sands. American Indian Women: Telling Their Lives, 1984. xii + 210 pp. Bibliography. $18.95 hb.

        Every reader of Gretchen Bataille and Kathleen Sands' American Indian Women will find this book useful. The thoughtful commentary provides a good introduction to native American women's autobiography for those unfamiliar with these works and provides a cogent analysis of these works for those who know the autobiographies well.

        The first chapter is especially useful, tracing as it does the sources for these narratives and providing comments on the relative literary merit of individual narratives within the context of the function they were meant to serve. The sources for native American autobiography include the oral tradition of the native Americans, captivity narratives, and slave narratives. The captivity narratives heightened the colonists' awareness of the native American populations, and the native American autobiography served to satisfy some of the colonists' curiosity about these strange, exotic people. Slave narratives, as well, chronicled experiences unfamiliar to the white population and provide analogies for study.

        The narratives Bataille and Sands select for closer analysis, Maria Chona's Papago Woman (edited by Ruth Underhill), Mountain Wolf Woman's Mountain Wolf Woman, Sister of Crashing Thunder: The Autobiography of a Winnebago Indian (edited by Nancy Lurie), {97} Anna Shaw's A Pima Past, Helen Sekaquaptewa's Me and Mine: The Life Story of Helen Sekaquaptewa (edited by Louise Udall), and Maria Campbell's Halfbreed, help clarify the distinction Bataille and Sands wish to make between the "ethnographic" autobiography and the "as-told-to" autobiography. The distinction is largely a measure of the degree of intrusion on the part of a recorder-editor in polishing a work for publication.

The relationship in the as-told-to autobiography is between a recorder-editor and a narrator chosen because of the narrative skill as well as valuable information. . . . The editor-recorder does not simply collect information from a female informant, but works in partnership with the narrator to create a full-length autobiography of a woman, who while she may be representative of the roles of women in her society, is also highly individual and a competent storyteller. This shift in emphasis presumes an altering of the recorder-editor's function in the compiling and editing of the life story, a more intense and intimate relationship with the narrator, and a greater concern for stylistic preservation in the structuring and expression of the narrative. (11)

The ethnographic autobiography, on the other hand, is "documentary in nature, valuable not because of its mode of expression, but because of the ethnographic data it contains, a {98} personal document to support anthropological interpretations of social data about tribal peoples" (10).

        Though the fundamental premise of this book--the native American woman played a much more significant role in native American society than Anglo-European commentary and history allows--is by now a familiar one, this fact bears repeating. The care with which Bataille and Sands make this pronouncement may indeed make you think you are hearing it for the first time.

        One other feature of this book warrants special praise: the annotated bibliography. Bataille and Sands divide the bibliography into five sections: American Indian Women's Autobiographies, Biographies of American Indian Women, Ethnographic and Historical Studies, Contemporary Literature and Criticism, and Additional Articles and Books About American Indian Women. They do so in an effort "to present the variety, the scope, and the very real bulk of material that exists and that defines American Indian women's experiences" (155). Their efforts have been successful and they will no doubt receive much-deserved praise.

Linda Ainsworth
Columbia University

*         *         *         *

{99}
George Bird Grinnell. The Punishment of the Stingy and Other Indian Stories, 1982. Illustrated by E. W. Deming. Introduction by Jarold Ramsey. pp. xix + 235. $5.95 pb.

        Despite the moralism of its title, The Punishment of the Stingy and Other Indian Stories recounts myths of mystery as much as culpability. Central to these stories of generosity rewarded and parsimony punished are questions of larger and more mysterious implication: not merely of the responsibility of human to human, but also of the relationship of a people to the land, and of their relationship to the Creator. Ragged Head, a Nez Perce, is made invincible (thanks to his "dream helper") to all but the shot of a ramrod; yet he is accidentally killed. A young Pawnee boy gambles too much and badly at the stick game; but it is because the Wind has forced him to leave home in order to make the boy an emissary of corn to his hungry tribe. Even stories in which the generous are more directly rewarded rely on a kind of mystery. Pi-wap-ok, a brave and generous Blood warrior, is stricken with blindness; his affliction later brings him great healing power. Scarface, possessed of a good heart and an ugly face, is made handsome and given healing power by the Sun and the Moon. The effect of all this is to raise generosity to the level of cosmological virtue. Parsimony not only hurts a brother or sister, it also brings divine retribution.

        We owe the compelling mystery of these narratives to the skillful retelling of George Bird Grinnell, an influential man of {100} many careers, among them naturalist, explorer, ethnologist, and editor, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It would have been easy for a man interested in preserving and popularizing traditional Indian stories to justify them (and their original tellers) by recourse to an easy moralism, a cheap lesson in a tag line. Grinnell, however, intimately familiar with the Blackfoot, Pawnee, Cheyenne, and Gros Ventre tribes, knew that a story plainly told, as he had heard it--often without an explicit moral or point--was justification enough. This is important because the book, one of several Grinnell collections, was one of the first to make its way into mainstream American literary culture: originally published in 1901, it was, as Jarold Ramsey writes in his helpful introduction, the fifth volume in Harper's "Portrait Collection of Short Stories," the first volume of which had been William Dean Howells' A Pair of Patient Lovers. As a result of Grinnell's scrupulous renderings (vis-a-vis narrative movement and mythic detail), the stories stand as an important intervention of cultural difference into this country's literary establishment. Native Americans, it was clear, had their own story to tell, neither inferior nor superior to the dominant culture's--simply their own. And it was skillfully told. It is true that Grinnell's plain style is due less to the demands of art than, as he says, to his faithfulness to "the lips of aged historians." But it is precisely this manner of telling which does the most service to the artistry of these stories.

{101}
        Most of the stories in this collection are narratives of explanation. True to the mystery of myths of origin, however they mostly explain by their inexplicability. "The First Corn" comes about, for instance, merely because the Father instructs the Pawnees in the right sacrifices to be made: "All these things the people did, and it was a help to them in their living." Corn exists simply because the Father is good, essentially an attitude of mystery and faith. Indeed, there is mythic detail in abundance to substantiate the inexplicable. The raven is black, we find, because in an early time it drove buffalo away from the Blackfeet and as a result was blackened with smoke by Nothing Child. And there is this, from "The First Corn," as the Wind carries the boy to the Father:

They travelled many days . . . until they came to the end of the world, where the sky bends down and touches the ground. The last thing the young man saw was the gate through the edge of the sky. A great buffalo bull stands in this gateway and blocks it up. He had to move to one side to let the Wind and the young man pass through.

Every year one hair drops from the hide of this bull. When all have fallen the end of the world will come.

Such detail reminds us of the desire of these stories to explain the world, and to define their tellers' place in it. A Chinook story {102} like "Bluejay Visits the Ghosts," in other words, manages to satisfy both our desire for a chilling tale and a working definition of the afterlife; Bluejay discovers in "the country of the ghosts" the nearly incomprehensible "difference" that is death.

        Some comprehension of the world must have come easier with the help of these tales. For us, though, they do not elucidate mysteries as much as show us how earlier Native Americans tried to make sense of their world. These stories rather give the lie to Grinnell's asseveration in the preface that they are "full of unconscious suggestion as to how the primitive mind worked." With Levi-Strauss in the wings, we might say instead that they are spirited and often lovely attempts to describe our relation to the earth. Although there are tales here from several tribes, and tribal particularity is occasionally lost, close attention to these stories will reveal how the natural or mythic materials at a tribe's hand were shaped into articulate and useful narratives of self-definition.

Eric Lott
Columbia University

*

        University of Nebraska Press has reprinted a long list of older Indian-related books in its Bison Books Series, and its latest, The Punishment of the Stingy, by George Bird Grinnell, is a fine addition. The original version was c. 1901, and consists of fifteen stories with two short {103} introductions by Grinnell and about sixteen imaginative illustrations of events from the stories. This 1983 edition includes a new ten-page introduction by Jarold Ramsey which provides a lot of interesting material about Grinnell himself, some helpful background about the original 1901 edition, the tribal origins of the stories (Chinook, Pawnee, Piegan and Blackfoot), and information about where to find other written versions for comparison.



        One of the best of these stories, placed in the middle of the Blackfoot section, is the "Nothing Child" story. This story combines several marvelous motifs from tribal literature; a wife who falsely accuses her brother-in-law; a tree which grows into the other world, carrying that brother-in-law away; the older brother (and husband) killing his wife, eating his lodge, and becoming a baby who is found and raised by an old woman; and that baby or "Nothing Child" marrying the chief's daughter, finding new nourishment for the people, and eventually renewing or remaking himself and all his things through the powers given him by his Bear Dream-Helper. At the end he punishes the greedy white raven by smoking him in the fire (that's why Ravens are black now). These motifs are combined very artfully by Grinnell's unnamed storyteller, and I can already testify from my own experience that the story is well liked by kids young and old. Eating the lodge, shrinking to become a baby, and regurgitating the lodge plus all his things, all made over and beautiful, are absolutely delightful vehicles for carrying the profound meanings involved, which deal with the true meaning of {104} heroism, humility, tradition, sharing and generosity, and other tribal and community dynamics which are based upon spiritual values rooted deeply in American Indian tribal philosophy.

        Most of these stories are fairly accessible, and even the most profound messages are fairly "inter-tribal." Thus the book should serve well for those teaching oral traditional literature, and it may find a wider readership, too, joining other delightful recent works like Barry Lopez's collection of "Coyote" stories.

Joseph E. DeFlyer
University of North Dakota





{105}



{106}
The Sons of the Wind: The Sacred Stories of the Lakota, ed. D. M. Dooley (from the James R. Walker Collection); foreword by Vivian Arviso One Feather. New York: Parabola, 150 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011. pp. 136 + xix. $8.95 pb.

        For those of us concerned professionally with the study of oral literatures and the functions of imaginative narrative, this volume poses with engaging neatness two fundamental problems, one of authenticity, the other of cultural sharing. Ms. Dooling disclaims any pretense of dealing with "questions of provenance and authenticity," leaving these matters to "scholars." Her book, she says, has been prepared for "lovers of myth," and she refers those interested in scholarly dimensions to Lakota Myth, edited by Elaine Jahner (University of Nebraska Press, 1983). Fine, except perhaps for those scholars who are also lovers of myth, of whom Elaine Jahner is one. The question of authenticity, in fact, may be too complicated to be answered by conventional scholarship.

        The texts Ms. Dooling has used for her book have a complex history, fully described by Raymond DeMallie and Elaine Jahner in Lakota Belief and Ritual (University of Nebraska Press, 1982) and again by Jahner in Lakota Myth. James R. Walker from 1896 to 1914 served as physician for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Becoming profoundly interested in the life, beliefs, and ceremonial practices of the Sioux, he collected from them a vast amount of information, much from older and respected leaders. These men liked {107} Walker, and, fearing their traditional beliefs and ideals were threatened with extinction, helped him to make a permanent record, treating him as a "holy man" and confiding in him information not given to other outsiders. Walker was not a trained ethnologist, and he presented this material in the form of a composite description of Lakota culture. The importance of the papers DeMallie and Jahner have been editing is that they enable one to look behind Walker's syntheses to recover something of the originals from which he worked.

        Walker's synthetic presentation prompted Franz Boas in the 1930s to encourage Ella Deloria, herself a Sioux and a trained anthropologist, to "verify" Walker's work. The men with whom he had talked were by then dead, and most of the Lakota with whom Deloria consulted cast doubt on the "religious system" Walker reported, and, while recognizing the stories of some of Walker's informants, were puzzled by the tales of Walker's most important teacher-friend, George Sword. Sword was literate in Lakota, and between 1896 and 1910 wrote out for Walker a variety of texts (which Jahner is editing for publication). Deloria concluded that Sword's tales had never been in the oral tradition.

        The "verification" sought by Boas was corroboration, the appropriate way to begin study of a culture or religion. For example, a tale in the traditional scholarly view is "authentic" if it is like, that is, it can be identified as a version or variant of, tales told by other members of the same group. The danger in this approach is its tendency to {108} obscure for the unimaginative that only different reports corroborate. An oral tradition is sustained through such non-contradictory differentiations, and this is why advanced study of a culture, religion, or literature tends increasingly to focus on the significance of differences within it. Any communal tradition is strong when it does not depend on identical repetitions. This does not mean there will be no value for accuracy, exactness, and consistency in such a tradition, but as a living continuity sustained by diverse performances it will not merely accommodate, but to a degree even encourage, variations ensuring its vitality. A tradition that is not captivating the most vigorous intellects and imaginations of a people risks atrophy and exhaustion. Like any living entity, an oral tradition persists by continuous self-modifications.

        A peculiarly critical point, however, comes when what had been exclusively oral is written down, exactly what happened when George Sword began writing for Walker. Ella Deloria decided that Sword's work was "fiction" not "folklore," the original inventions of a superior imagination. And Deloria suggested that "inventions" like Sword's must have played a part in the development of the purely oral tradition. We still have no systematic means for assessing the nature and significance of such originality within the processes of oral continuity, but we are today more ready to recognize that such originality does exist. What happens with the advent of writing remains almost as obscure, but the factual evidence is more readily analyzable. Kathleen Sands, for {109} instance, in "The Singing Tree: Dynamics of a Yaqui Poet" (American Quarterly 35:4 [1983], 355-75) has splendidly documented the storytelling evolution of Refugio Savala. He began listening as a youngster to tales told by his elders, and slowly developed skill in retelling their stories in English. Sands describes the difference between an early and a late version of his "Singing Tree" myth, of the latter observing

while it does not suggest so clearly the relationship of myth, ritual, and belief apparent in the old version . . . it focuses clearly on the concept of Yaqui identity and survival as maintained through cultivation of the land that is central and sacred to the people. (373)

Savala's second version is "art not lore, yet in no way violates the oral tradition," Sands says, and it is "accessible and comprehensible to contemporary Yaquis and non-Yaquis" (373).

        Sands' fine analysis draws our attention to the problem of audience. What is written, as contrasted to what is told orally, addresses more than an immediate audience of one place and time. Writing is, potentially, for anyone, anytime. But, if this is to the advantage of contemporary Yaquis, what is the value to a non-Yaqui? In the case of Dooling's work, if, as One Feather asserts in the foreword, its primary value is in permitting Lakota children to preserve the spiritual knowledge assuring the continuation of the Lakota nation, then the value of the material {110} to non-Lakotas must be dubious. Another way to pose this issue is to ask if the shift from "lore" to "art" does not invalidate the specifically communal spiritual value of the work--exactly the point later Lakota raised to Deloria about Walker's work. Here, however, I want to consider only the issue of value to an outsider. If I, say, am a white Anglo-Christian, what value can there be for me in a version of Lakota creation stories, if I am not a scholar of comparative mythology or of narrative art?

        Encounters with an alien sacred tradition, one is sometimes told, are "enriching." Enriching how? It is obvious how such material might weaken or contaminate my different beliefs, but how strengthen, enhance, broaden them? Some "appreciation" of "foreign" spiritual traditions has produced unpleasant phenomena such as White Shamanism and half-baked cults and sects, some very ugly and sinister indeed. Concealed within the idea of "enriching" or "spiritual deepening" lies a possibility of denigration of the foreign tradition. So far as Lakota belief has an independent integrity it is not, and should not be, compatible with other Indian beliefs or Christianity, Buddhism, and so on. The continuity through change I've mentioned arises from its distinctness even from analogous systems and parallel transmission processes. In making such specific materials "accessible" there is danger of making them superficial, of denying, in effect, the originality of spiritual and imaginative commitments from which they arose and which they manifest. No thoughtful {111} person should be blind to the obscene possibility that the indiscriminate proliferation of materials like these can be part of a debasing of genuine spirituality, for junk-myth is as bad for the health as junk-food, and nowadays one is being peddled almost as fast as the other.

        Sympathy for those sharing one's struggle to find spiritual bearings in our wasteland of post-industrialized life, therefore, must not seduce us into concealing from ourselves the fact that our difficulty is not an absence of spiritual impulse or lack of imagination. These are intrinsic to being human. The difficulty and danger is that spiritual impulse and imagination are easily distorted, what the Freudians call displaced. The worst enemy of belief is not skepticism but false belief. We must, then, confront the problems of the possible meaning or meaninglessness to us of alien myths as honestly as Jahner and Sands have confronted the intricately evolving duplicities of traditions. Such scholars show that by admitting uncertainties and deviances in transmission, by tracing out in the most precise detail the irregularities of a tradition's erratic, branching, hybridizing continuity, one may finally validate its profoundest integrity.

        In analogous fashion we must not take lightly the doubtful value to us of an alien mythology. Merely to claim to be a "lover" of myth is not enough. And cheap and casual references to "primal significance" or "universality" may disguise an unwillingness honestly to examine how and why a specific {112} system of belief, a particular pattern of mythic structuring, might--or might not--be of value to someone other than those for whom it was originally intended. We must seriously face up to the problem of how imagination may significantly relate to belief.

        One fashion of so doing is opened to us by the existence of diverse versions. The mythology of Western Europe seems to some quite impoverished, one cause being the European tendency to condemn variation as heresy, which, in effect, denies individual creative participation in a shared system of belief. Our Western tradition tends to reduce the role of the individual to accepting its mythology, not helping to keep that mythology alive by remaking it. A different tradition like that of the Lakota may alert us to the worth of a different kind of relation between an individual and systems of his culture

        This possibility suggests that an outsider's focus normally ought to be not on content, not on the substance of beliefs, but on aspects of form. As One Feather says, for the Lakota the content of The Sons of the Wind matters deeply. For non-Lakotans the value of these myths is likely to come through perception of their narrative shape, and a serious outsider will not be wrong to take a "scholarly" view of Dooling's work, attending to the nature of forms, structures, and styles in the tellings, and seeking to develop some sense of the socio-cultural matrix out of which they arose. Part of the wide appeal of Black Elk Speaks is due to the book's providing this matrix, the visionary's {113} biography giving us means for appreciating the historical dimensions of his religious experiences. One is also justified in approaching mythic materials through study of them not as lore but as literature so far as they embody and release acts of imagination. This need not mean aestheticizing myth, if one keeps in the foreground myth's cultural significance and does not fall into merely formalistic analyses. It is a constraint of current culture that most of us come to the spiritual through the aesthetic, so aestheticizing, that is, losing sight of the practical, ethical functions of myths, is a constant danger today. Even in our scholarly approaches, therefore, we must be true lovers of myth, remembering that love is never easy, demanding intense self-honesty and a responsible respect for inalienable otherness.

Karl Kroeber
*         *         *         *

Ake Hultkrantz, The Study of American Indian Religions, ed. Christopher Vecsey. New York: Crossroads Publishing Company; Chico: Scholars Press, 1983. pp. 134. $12.95 pb.

        Since this book is a survey of the field of American Indian religion, it does not offer the proper occasion for an assessment of Hultkrantz's own formidable contribution. We will consider this particular book on its own terms, i.e., as "the most extensive annotated bibliography of Indian religions ever published in a single work"; and if it turns out to have inadequacies, our adverse criticism should not be taken at all to {114} detract from the reputation of a most distinguished scholar.

        Immediately we run into a serious practical omission in the book. That it has no index is almost unforgivable. How can I find that other comment that I seem to remember being made on Father Morice besides the one I noted on page 8? What does the book say about Dennis Tedlock? I can't find it. Was it more than the mere mention of Teachings from the American Earth? There were innumerable interesting incidental comments in this book which I despair of finding again, because I did not mark them in the margin.

        And as for items I think are left out of this bibliography, how can I be sure? I am fairly confident that mention was made of "The Career of a Medicine-Man According to Isaac Tens," but I am far from confident about the equally important The Faith of a Coast Salish Indian. Was Louis Shotridge mentioned at all? I know that Charles Hill-Tout's ethnographic work was not listed, only his theorizing about totemism. I know because I was on the look-out for it, and underlined. (I pity the poor library copies of this book.)

        Another item I am pretty sure is missing (because I was looking for it) is Jarold Ramsey's crucial article, "The Bible in Western Indian Mythology" (Journal of American Folklore, 1977). It should be self-evident that American Indian religion is something that we can approach only when we have put aside those religious concepts {115} imported from Europe by conquistadors of all kinds, fur-traders, missionaries, whatever. This overriding issue, where Ramsey would have been very useful to him, Hultkrantz treats as one topic among many (41-45), mainly worried about Schmidt's theory of "Supreme God" and if Radin's conclusions support it.

        Hultkrantz does not define "American Indian Religion" at the outset; the whole book, in a sense, is the definition of a field that has grown up around those three words. However, after seeing the extent of the field as proposed, we might want to ask for a definition that justifies its separate existence as a field from anthropology in general. There is a problem here. If "American Indian Religion" is defined as anything less than the study of all Native manifestations of the spirit in ritual, myth, healing, hunting, etc., indeed, in all phases of everyday life, then that lesser definition may turn out to be of little compelling use. Why should we bother to separate out a field called "American Indian Religion" which is narrower than the whole study of man on this continent? The only reason that this book offers is that there exists a traditional department of study inhabited by theorists on the religions of the world, and that America will inevitably come within its purview, and recorded Native notions about God or gods will be fitted into its schemata.

        I feel that it is possible to throw back a fundamental challenge to the religionists and their categorizations. Since religion, as such, is essentially priestly bullying in {116} the presence of scarcity and uncertainty, and since American Indians had the most productive area of the world to range or settle in, and no overpopulation had time to occur, then obviously little rigmarole religion developed, and we have chiefly personal spirit quests and amusing creation stories. "So why beat a dead horse?" I would ask. "There's none of your `religion' here." Perhaps this is overstating the case out of fondness for my "existentialist" Northwest Coast tribes.

        Hultkrantz is quite clear that the distortions have their haven among the armchair thinkers of Europe rather than the empirical fieldworkers of American scholarship. Lowie once told him "that if his European colleagues really had experienced Indian fieldwork they would not have committed themselves so easily to all-explaining theories" (55). Hultkrantz himself, having done much fieldwork in America but also holding the chair of Comparative Religion at the University of Stockholm, is in a position to bridge the two worlds, and does indeed give a balanced view. The only question is whether or not balance is appropriate: why bother with the Europeans very much at all?

        So much for the implications of The Study of American Indian Religions. As a reference work, it is not extensive enough--for instance, many scholars are named without even their chief works being listed. The annotations are spotty: Levi-Strauss (122) and Castaneda (124) get their wrists slapped, but Hultkrantz is too much of a gentleman to relish that sort of work. In spite of the {117} obvious drawbacks of the narrative presentation and lack of index, however, this bibliography serves to remind us all how much has been done in this field and, in a section "Some Tasks of Future Research" (131-134), how much there is to do.

Ralph Maud
Simon Fraser University--Burnaby, B.C.

*         *         *         *

The Emic and Etic of James Willard Schultz
and Hugh A. Dempsey

        An uninitiated reader coming upon two recently circulated works of James Willard Schultz (Blackfeet and Buffalo, University of Oklahoma; 1980) and Hugh A. Dempsey (Charcoal's World, Bison, 1979) might at first not realize that the books are dealing with the same group of people, the Blackfeet or Siksika of the Rocky Mountain region of northwestern Montana and southern Alberta. Part of the reason for this is understandable enough. Schultz deals primarily with the Piegan (Pikuni) branch of the Blackfeet in Montana, Dempsey with the Bloods of Alberta; Schultz deals with average tribal members, Dempsey with leaders or, in the case of Charcoal, a legendary outlaw; Schultz wrote his stories near the turn of the century, Dempsey's work is recent.

        But what separates Schultz' and Dempsey's work is more a contrast of technique and attitude than of subject. In some respects, this may seem surprising of authors who apparently share much common experience and a {118} kind of common relationship to the tribe they are describing. Neither are Indian, but both have Blackfeet wives. Both depended heavily on their wives as an entry into the confidence of tribal members and as a corrective for their understanding of tribal attitudes. Both spent extended periods of time living with or near the Blackfeet. Both, as it were, made a living partly from their relationship with the Blackfeet, Schultz as an Indian trader, Dempsey as chief curator of the Department of History of the Glenbow-Alberta Institute in Calgary.

        Here similarities end, however, and manifest differences become apparent. Schultz lived among the Blackfeet, travelled with them, hunted with them, shared their life and outlook. Dempsey lives in Calgary, deals with historical documents, examines anthropological data, and visits the Blackfeet to confirm his information from oral sources. Schultz sees the tribe from within and shares their values and concepts. Dempsey views the tribe from without and imposes on them the categories and values of White culture or, when he describes their "thought-world," he does so in terms of White values and White categories and in comparison with White world-views.

        As Schultz' editor correctly says, "though a white man, he [Schultz] was also truly an Indian," a faithful reporter, and an "interpreter of . . . Indian peoples to all who are capable of appreciating them" (Schultz vii). Dempsey's is another outlook. He reveals his perspective by the choice of subject of his earlier two books, Crowfoot {119} and Red Crow. Both were Blackfeet band leaders who collaborated with the Canadian government, adopted White ways, became rich as a result, and, to use Dempsey's words in another context, kept "the Bloods in line," and worked "to discourage their outmoded practices and beliefs" (Dempsey 25). Dempsey interprets this as seeing the reality of the Indian situation and reacting to it sensibly.

        How does dark, moody, superstitious, shriveled Charcoal fit this pattern of movers and shakers of the Blackfeet tribe that Dempsey admires and celebrates. Clearly enough, Dempsey views him as the antithesis, the loser who clings to his archaic Indian ways, fails to shake off his impractical superstitions, and meets a suitable end, feared and shunned by his own people, who betray him, and by the Mounties, who execute him.

        Dempsey reveals his preconceptions at other points as well. Charcoal is a "rabid coyote" (55), "capable of killing without rhyme or reason" (51). Even Dempsey's own account indicates the rationale of Charcoal's killings, but, "Now he was like some maddened beast" (51). On the Indian reserves the Bloods themselves were "like caged animals, ready to explode in rage but aware of the hopelessness of any action" (75). Members of Charcoal's family who don't take well to reservation life are lazy and "spoiled" (12). At one point he contrasts two early pictures by saying, "The haphazard arrangement of the [Indian] camp is in significant contrast to the geometrical order of police headquarters" (97). Significant to whom and for what purpose? Are we really to believe that the {120} sterile geometry of the police camp is a significant element of the superiority of European culture. Dempsey implies this conclusion, even as he describes the disorder and duplicity of police efforts to capture Charcoal.

        Dempsey's rhetoric becomes even more pronounced as he enters into Charcoal's psyche to tell us his thoughts: "frustration and fear . . . gripped him," says Dempsey, because "He did not have the arrogant, haughty demeanor that a warrior might have displayed fifty years earlier" (74). No, no, now all good warriors should have been humbled to learn the superiority of White culture and the joys of simple husbandry. Red Crow, most admirable Indian of all, we are told, even had a sewing machine. We are not told whether it could do beadwork.

        By contrast, Schultz never makes such judgments and never uses such rhetoric. If a character in his stories is said to be worried or despondent, such as Bear Head in "White Dog's Last Trail," it is because he told Schultz he was worried or despondent (14-24).

        However, don't misunderstand my conclusion. I'm not suggesting categorically that Dempsey's is the wrong approach to Indian history and literature and Schultz' the right approach. That judgment depends on what the reader is looking for. Dempsey tells a good story that needs to be told and that has considerable historic value relating to the clash of cultures along the northern plains during the early reservation era, that clash {121} that included the Second Riel Rebellion, the remarkable career of the Cree warrior, Almighty Voice, and the Marias and Wounded Knee Massacres--to say nothing of cataclysmic epidemics of small pox, tuberculosis, and starvation among the tribes.

        Rather, the distinction I am making between Schultz and Dempsey is like the distinction Ward H. Goodenough makes when he suggests that the etic and emic distinction derived from linguistics and applied to behavioral sciences should be expanded to cultural descriptions in general: "the description is an emic one to the extent that it is based on elements that are already components of that system; and the description is an etic one to the extent that it is based on conceptual elements that are not components of that system."1 Imposing White historical categories and techniques on Indian cultural systems is a characteristically etic technique.2

        If you want to see the Blackfeet culture as the Blackfeet saw it, read Schultz, who, by the way, is "an artist of narrative and a master of suspense" (Schultz ix). If you want to read a well-researched and interesting historical tale of the Blackfeet, read Demsey, but be skeptical whether the rhetoric and judgments are those of his personae or his own.

        Or, better yet, read both of them along with John C. Ewers' The Blackfeet and James Welch's Winter in the Blood.

{122}

Notes

        1Ward H. Goodenough, Culture, Language, and Society, 2nd edition (Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin Cummings, 1981), 14-18.

        2See Calvin Martin, "The Metaphysics of Writing Indian-White History," Ethnohistory 16, no. 2 (Spring 1979): 153-159.

William Thackeray
Northern Montana State University

*         *         *         *

Herman Grey. Tales From the Mohaves. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. Civilization of the American Indian Series, vol. 107, 1980 (originally published 1970). Foreword by Alice Marriott. pp. xv + 86. $5.95 pb.

        The eight tales in this collection were told to Herman Grey by an uncle who had learned them in a series of dreams; later, Grey says, he heard similar accounts from a Yuma. The stories follow the life of a Northern Mohave man named Swift Lance from the time of his birth through his young manhood, ending with the loss of his first love, an Apache woman, while he is on a raiding party. While they center on the character of Swift Lance, the tales represent a variety of generic formulations. The opening story, "Swift Lance," contains poetry and ritual; it depicts ceremonies presenting the baby boy to the world, and the later {123} vision quest and initiation into young manhood. The second tale is a story-within-a-story: Swift Lance's grandmother tells him of the Mohave migration from Yucatan. There follow four tales centering on the supernatural. "Frog People" and Coyoteman" are monster stories belonging to the traditions of culture-heroes/saviors; the former is unusual among American Indian traditional literatures in being a political allegory. "The Spirit Deer" is a moral fable, while the chapter on the "Fire Ghost" is an out-and-out ghost story. The last two tales, "The Courtship of Swift Lance" and "The Fate of Moonbeam," move from legend to history, and suggest the forms of epic and tragedy.

        Despite the differences in type, the eight stories form a cohesive whole, linked by the personality and growth of Swift Lance and by the presence of two other major characters, Shy Owl, the young man's friend, companion and confidante, and Grandmother. The character of Grandmother deserves special note: she clearly has an important role in Swift Lance's growth and in the life of the society. She is the people's historian and their interpreter of omen and law; in times of crisis the village council turns to her authority to learn what they must do.

        Grey originally wrote the stories down for his children to take to their teacher, who could then share the tales with other children. They are short in length and lucid in style. I read them to my husband to confirm my supposition that they are in reality tales for adults--or rather, stories for people of any age. It's true. They read {124} well aloud, and their appeal goes beyond the limited audience of children: these are classic folk tales exemplifying by their simplicity that ultimate sophistication of the art that conceals art.



The introductory apparatus is brief, judicious and informative. There is one disappointment here, though. Grey stresses in his Preface and Introduction the well-known importance that Mohaves attach to dreaming. The tales however reflect virtually none of this. None of the characters dreams or speaks of dreaming, and one would never guess from reading them that the stories depict a culture in which dreaming is the most important mental activity. This does not detract from appreciation of the tales themselves, framed as I noted before according to well-known conventions, but suggests that Grey has suppressed what might have been their most interesting dimension.

Helen Jaskoski
California State University--Fullerton

*         *         *         *

John Joseph Mathews. Wah'Kon-Tah: The Osage and the White Man's Road. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981. pp. xiv + 336. Illustrations. Maps. $7.95 pb.

        Students and scholars of American Indian literature and history should be satisfied with this softbound reissue of Wah'Kon-Tah, originally published in 1932 by the University of Oklahoma Press. It makes accessible a piece of literature that also qualifies as {125} informal history pertaining to the Indian and written by a Native American, John Joseph Mathews, a mixed-blood Osage.

        Mathews, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and Oxford University, had grown up on the Osage reservation, returning there after serving in the army during World War I and completing his education and travels in 1929. Other than some short stories and descriptive narratives for The Sooner Magazine, the University of Oklahoma alumni journal, Wah'Kon-Tah was his first publication. He was to write four more books, including a novel about the Osage land and people between 1934 and 1961, and completed a lengthy, as yet unpublished autobiography before his death in 1979.

        Wah'Kon-Tah, the third volume of the Oklahoma Press's Civilization of the American Indian series, created a minor sensation when it first appeared. Not only was the book noteworthy as having an Indian author but the Book-of-the-Month Club selected it as the November 1932 offering--the first university press book thus singled out--and it sold 50,000 copies within a year.

        Wah'Kon-Tah possesses merit beyond its initial popularity and novelty as an "Indian" book. Mathews used in his account the diary and notes of "Major" Laban J. Miles, Quaker agent to the Osages on their northeastern Oklahoma reservation between 1878 and 1884, and for a second term beginning in 1889 and lasting until his retirement in 1892. The Major had died in 1931 bequeathing his papers to Mathews who wrote his narrative in four {126} months, holed up in a farmhouse with his only visitors fellow tribesmen who stopped to discuss events that the young mixed blood was describing in his manuscript.

        Mathews successfully captured the essence of life on the Osage reservation during the last quarter of the l9th century. With little concern for precise dates or chronological sequence, he dramatically presented a variety of the traits that combined to form the Osage tribal culture and its interactions with the people and government of Anglo-America. He consistently stressed the spirituality, dignity, and humor of the Osages who grudgingly acculturated to the white man's road, adapting those aspects of the new way for their own purposes.

        The style is that of a storyteller, not a professional historian. Mathews tried to duplicate the idiom of Indian full bloods and mixed bloods as well as the Major and other whites on the reservation. There are conversations and descriptions of thought processes that render the narrative more literary than historical, yet it is the addition of these that add a dimension to the recital of facts making Wah'Kon-Tah especially valuable for non-Indian scholars. That Mathews was completely aware of the effect of his mode of expression cannot be doubted: he appended a dozen pages of factual "Notes on the Osages" to his narrative, and thirty years later {127} published a full scale history of his tribe in The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961).

Terry P. Wilson
University of California--Berkeley

*         *         *         *

Paula Gunn Allen. Studies in American Indian Literature: Critical Essays and Course Design. New York: Modern Language Association, 1983. pp. xiv + 384.

        Indispensible to anyone who teaches American Indian literatures or wishes to, this volume marks the progress that our young discipline has made over the past ten years or so. All of us should welcome its publication, then, although it also serves to remind us that much remains to be done before we can safely assume that Native American poetry has won the full attention it deserves.

        Edited by Paula Gunn Allen, herself a poet with native American roots, and published by the allegedly conservative Modern Language Association, this volume grew, as she states in her introduction, "out of the lectures and workshops" of a jointly sponsored MLA-NEH Summer Seminar in 1977, and "out of a series of later exchanges among participants . . . along with their students and colleagues" (ix). Thus it enjoyed the endorsement of a supposedly hostile organization. She points out, in fact, that the project was part of a major commitment of MLA "to support ethnic and minority literary studies in the university." And she goes on {128} to list its purposes--fully sanctioned by the sponsoring agencies. Those included integrating "American Indian literary traditions into the study of American literature at every level"; providing "tools to broaden the scope, insights, and approaches of criticism"; enriching university curricula with Native American materials; exploring possibilities for further research into these materials; and coming to terms with the absolute depth and full range of literary experience to which we are all heir (vii-ix).

        The volume's chief virtue is that it is designed as a pedagogical tool, and that its contributors explain how courses in Native American poetry might be taught. In addition to offering a set of strategies for the classroom, it can also be used as a research guide, especially for a newcomer to the discipline. As part of a final section on resources, the bibliography is singularly rich. It includes titles and addresses of selected periodicals which regularly publish articles on Native American cultures and works by and about Native American writers; special issues of journals devoted to American Indian topics; the names and addresses of publishers large and small who specialize in works by American Indian authors or books about Indians; and a detailed list of individual books, essays, and articles. Accompanying the bibliography itself is a comprehensive directory of available resource materials by the redoubtable LaVonne Ruoff, including handbooks, other bibliographies, anthologies, and various additional teaching and research aids. Between them, the guide and the bibliography comprise nearly eighty {129} pages in what seems the best list of source material available under a single cover for the teacher.

        In its organization, Studies in American Indian Literature is certainly adequate, although in my estimation a fully comprehensive system of classifying material remains to be worked out. After all, we are dealing with items that reflect a preliterate and prehistoric past along with a chronicled history; we are dealing with the traditions of well over three hundred language communities often as dissimilar as any set of linguistic communities in Eurasia; we are dealing with printed matter that reflects distortions caused by Anglo European influence over the process of transforming oral testimony into written texts; we have the work of contemporary Native American writers themselves to deal with, which is often a meld of what accrues from several different tribes; and we must learn to recognize and describe unfamiliar relationships between the individual work and its cultural matrix in traditions where authorship is often subordinated to a set of orally transmitted traditions. Putting such material into a comprehensive scheme will not be easy, as many of the essays included here acknowledge.

        But we must remember that Native American poetry is not just a matter of pedagogy or institutional enterprise. As someone still working to perfect a good college-level course, I appreciate the availability of this volume and I expect to consult it again and again. But something more is at stake here than my own pedagogical or professional {130} concerns or anyone else's. Native American poetry should not be reduced to academic terms alone. I believe that unlike all too much of what academic critics publish, what is written about Native American literature must be clear and accessible beyond a narrow, specialized academic readership. As long as it is treated only in the context of college teaching or academic advancement, there will be reason for lingering concern over how widely Native American poetry will ultimately be accepted.

        Certainly we must build good courses and earn a place for this kind of material in every curriculum. And we must follow established procedures for sharing our ideas and discoveries with our professional colleagues or for opening up new frontiers of knowledge. But we need to appeal to a wider, more secular public as well, which has been conditioned to doubt the relevance of literature because professional literary study has promoted its own complex apparatus and exclusive vocabulary. True, the academic reward system provides little incentive for such service; but I like to believe that the wide dissemination of that kind of material will bring other rewards. I consider Studies in American Indian Literature an important step in broadening the awareness of the material it treats. The more our undergraduates learn about Native American poetry, the better. Hopefully, we can help them enjoy it as we rely on it to train them to become disciplined, open-minded thinkers. But we must not make the mistake of assuming that it exists only to assist us in our professional strivings, and that it has no bearing on a {131} public which does not read as widely as we might ultimately wish and whose aesthetic range somehow grows narrower and narrower. The ideal of cultural plurality can never be realized in a society of non-readers where enlightened literacy is reckoned only in narrow academic terms and literary works are only read to meet college requirements.

Paul Zolbrod
Allegheny College

*

        The God of Genesis creates man and woman in His image--and under his thumb. He gives them in turn dominion over the other living things, though He suggests they avoid a particular tree. So even before the Fall, Adam and Eve are radically isolated: divided from Divinity above and Nature below. The Judeo-Christian God doesn't want people talking to snakes.

        In "The Sacred Hoop: A Contemporary Perspective," Paula Gunn Allen invokes this world view in order to contrast it with that of the American Indians:

The notion that nature is somewhere over there while humanity is over here . . . is antithetical to tribal thought. The American Indian sees all creatures as relatives. (7)

Allen points out that Divinity, too, is not aloof from but akin to the American Indian. The Creator shares creative power with the creatures. The spiritual is mixed in with {132} the mundane. Allen's is the opening essay in Studies in American Indian Literature: Critical Essays and Course Designs, an M.L.A. volume intended to promote and facilitate the study and teaching of American Indian literature. Arguing above all for an understanding of Indian literature in its own terms, in the context of Indian thought and practice, Allen's essay goes a long way toward providing this context. Her analysis is elaborated and refined, if never quite matched, by the essays that follow it.

        Larry Evers ("Cycles of Appreciation") joins Allen in urging teachers to locate oral literature not only within its larger cultural context, but also within its original performance context. The transcription of an Indian song, like any musical score or dramatic script, is but a ghost of its live performance. We need, as teachers, to reanimate the gestures, instrumentation, and audience response that are essential to its oral texture. Transcription, the move from performance to page, is itself problematic. Addressing this issue in "American Indian Autobiography," Kathleen Mullen Sands asks us to recognize the role played by the recorder-editor. When using transcribed texts we must evaluate the degree of editorial intrusion and its intention.

        If the transcription of oral literature (usually by non-Indians) compromises many of its original qualities, some of these qualities are effectively recuperated by the written literature of contemporary Indians. Linda Hogan's good essay observes, for example, that Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn {133} reproduces both the dynamic interaction between teller and audience, and the original performative function of American Indian literature. In House Made of Dawn, as in Indian ritual, words are actions. They rearrange the physical world, transform and restore. Words do work. Such continuity between oral and written Indian literature, between the pre- and post-reservation eras (as well as the continued vitality of oral literature in Indian communities today) is emphasized throughout the volume. Little wonder that a people romanticized as a vanishing species should stress continuity at all costs.

        This brings me to my only quibble with an otherwise politically compelling and pedagogically useful anthology. The chapter called "American Indian Women's Literature" (four essays and three course designs) makes a point of distinguishing its discourse from that of non-Indian feminists. I find this curious, since the very inclusion of a chapter on Indian women per se owes a clear debt to the discussion by feminist critics of textual gender specificity. The final paragraph of this chapter warns that:

Although some American Indian women articulate feminist views, generally the references to Mother Earth, Spider Woman, Changing Woman, Thought-Woman, and other female principles and deities arise from the oral tradition and not from a political stance . . . as an expression of the cultural heritage of American Indians, not as political {134} rhetoric. The values expressed throughout the contemporary writing reflect a continuation, not a corruption, of the past [emphasis added]. (144)

        The question I would raise is this: Are the Indian heritage and a political stance mutually exclusive? Isn't the Red Power Movement precisely a political stance based on the Indian heritage? Might not Spider Woman both arise from the oral tradition and participate in a feminist politics? The reason for resistance to feminism is, I think, implied by the last sentence of the passage cited: feminism is seen as a corruption of the Indian past, a discontinuity with tradition. Yet if, as several authors insist, "Indian women were not and are not the stereotypical followers of men" (144), then feminism is less a corruption than a reaffirmation of American Indian tradition. The feminist and Indian projects are alike in many respects: both pose a challenge to violence against nature, to bipolarity, to hierarchy, and to Cartesian epistemology. Feminism signals discontinuity only as the Indian tradition itself does--both are discontinuous with the tradition of white male hegemony. The question is not whether Indian women need feminism; the question is whether the Indian and feminist endeavors need one another, and in this age of cruise missiles and toxic waste, surely they do.

        None of this should keep me from praising the generally thoughtful polemic and careful scholarship of this collection. A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff's survey of Indian literature {135} written in English ("Old Traditions and New Forms"), her "Guide to Anthologies, Texts, and Research," and the lists of materials throughout, make this text a rich bibliographical resource. Joseph M. Backus' essay ("`The White Man Will Never Be Alone'") is an especially helpful guide to integrating Indian literature into "mainstream" American literature courses. Like this volume as a whole, Backus' Indian additions are calculated to adjust not only the way we construe American literature, but also our idea and image of America.

Susan Fraiman
Columbia University

*         *         *         *

John Joseph Mathews. Talking to the Moon. University of Oklahoma Press. Reprint 1981. 233 pp. $12.95 pb.

        John Joseph Mathews, writer and scholar, of Osage Indian and English descent, was born on the Osage reservation Indian Territory in northeastern Oklahoma in 1894. After serving as a pilot in World War I, acquiring an advanced degree in natural science at Oxford University, and adventuring across Europe, he returned to Osage County in 1932. There in the seclusion of the prairie and Blackjack hills near his birthplace, Pawhuska he built a sandstone house. And there he devoted a lifetime to studying the ethnohistory of his ancestors, the Osage Tribe. Wa'Kon-Tah, a historical narrative about the Osage reservation, was published in 1932 and became a best seller. Sundown, a novel in which the {136} main character's life is similar in some aspects to Mathews' life, was published in 1934. Talking to the Moon was published in 1945. This autobiographical narrative relates in a Walden format, divided into seasons around the Osage twelve moon calendar, Mathews' experiences during the ten years he lived close to nature in his sandstone house, secluded by the black-jack brush and isolated prairie ranchland.

        The narrative begins with "The Sandstone House" which expresses poignantly why Mathews left the "roaring river of civilization" to find solitude. It was through "living to the very brim each day" in balance with the harmonious wild life that he felt he would experience the meaning of life and come to understand the "creative urge" heard in the song of a thrush, the coyote, or the Indian drum and ritual. Thus from the scattered white bones of his favorite colt struck dead by lightning, a water well was dug, and on that location, he designed a thirty by fifteen foot house. With the help of a neighborly ranch hand, he dug out the native rock and hauled it from the sandstone ridges of the Mathews' Indian land. His plan was to live a simple existence in balance with nature, as the Osage Indians had lived in an earlier period.

        Each chapter, titled with a translated Osage description of the moon calendar, reveals the spiritual richness of Mathews' life. He describes the character and actions of the animals he observed daily from season to season. For our further enrichment, he gives us the local color as well as the {137} dialogue of visitors, ranch hands, and the Indians of the region. The dialogue is filled with humor as he reminisces about the people he loved. Still, there is a spiritual essence conveyed through Mathews' acute and sensitive awareness of the aesthetic, delicate balance so easily destroyed by man through greed and war. Nature lovers and environmentalists will appreciate Mathews, but it is an enriching experience for many reader.

Carol Hunter
University of Oklahoma

*         *         *         *

Short Reviews

William E. Farr. The Reservation Blackfeet, 1882-1945: A Photographic History of Cultural Survival. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1984. xxii + 200 pp. Illustrations, maps, bibliography. Foreward by James Welch. $19.95 pb.

This is a fascinating book and a visually exciting one so far as it renders in a wealth of visual detail the changing life of the Blackfeet on the reservation. There is a wide range of pictures, everything from casual snapshots to carefully staged scenes appropriate to the complex evolution of lifeways displayed. Farr's text is succinct and useful.

*

{138}
Native American Folklore, 1879-1979: An Annotated Bibliography. Compiled by William M. Clements and Frances M. Malpezzi. Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1984. 248 pp. $34.95 hb.

Many books called indispensable are in fact quite dispensable. This one is truly precious for both folklorists and students of Indian literatures. The brief annotations on the nearly 5500 items are extremely helpful. The general division by geographical area plus two indexes, one of subjects, the other of authors, editors, and translators, make the looking-up process extraordinarily easy. If you can't afford a copy for yourself, be sure your library orders one.

*

Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst. The Raven Steals the Light. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1984. Illustrations by Bill Reid. 94 pp. $19.95 hb. (Limited Edition $200.00).

This truly handsome book will please the reader's ear and eye. Bill Reid's illustrations of mythological figures accompany each of the Haida tales and will reinforce his reputation as one of the most talented of the artists working in the native American tradition. The stories themselves are ones we may be familiar with from other sources, but their presentation in this format attests to their vitality and "contemporaneity." This edition could not and is not intended to replace any of the more scholarly collections of Haida stories. Rather, it is intended to {139} delight and entertain and should give hours of pleasure to those who wish to follow the exploits of trickster Raven and his cohorts.

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AnnouncementsA LaVonne Brown Ruoff has been appointed general editor of the University of Nebraska Press's "American Indian Lives" series, which will include both previously published and unpublished autobiographies and biographies of Native Americans. It replaces the "Native American Autobiographies" series.

        Members of the editorial board of the new series are Alfonso Ortiz (San Juan), Michael Dorris (Modoc), R. David Edmunds (Cherokee), Carol Hunter (Osage), and Kathleen Sands.

        Both the general editor and the University of Nebraska Press seek proposals for works to be published or reprinted with new introductions and bibliographies. Those interested or those who know of people working on manuscripts should contact Professor Ruoff, Department of English, University of Illinois--Chicago, Box 4348, Chicago, IL 60680, or the University of Nebraska Press, 901 North 17th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588-0520.

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Several of our subscribers who purchased copies of the Supplement to Volume 9: Bibliographies of Fourteen Native American {140} Poets have pointed out errors in the publication. We are currently compiling a list of errata and will be sending it to everyone who bought this volume. Given the small staff with which we work, we were unable to check out every entry given to us by the poets included in this volume. For the most part, we published what was given to us. We would appreciate hearing from anyone who has noticed mistakes or who would like to make suggestions regarding such publications. In the meantime, we apologize for any inconvenience.





Studies in American Indian Literatures, the Newsletter for the Association for the Study of Native American Literatures, is issued four times a year. Annual subscriptions are by the calendar year and are $4.00. For back issues and special publications by SAIL contact the editor, 603 Lewisohn Hall, Columbia University, New York, NY 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 Literatures 1985
@ SAIL. ISSN: 0730-3238

 

 


Contact: Robert Nelson
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