Century United States Narrative Monday, April 5, 2010

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Deanne Sparks

19th Century United States Narrative

Monday, April 5, 2010
The Life of Black Hawk (1833)
Racial and Cultural Labels
Indian -- American Indian Native -- Native American

Aborigine Chief

Tribe Clan
How is tribal hierarchy presented?

What is Black Hawk’s position in the tribe?

What is Black Hawk’s relationship and view of Keokuck’s position within the tribe?
Literary Forms
Autobiography Biography

Bicultural composite composition

  • What are the differences between the two forms, including purpose and transmission?

  • How does the “contact” embedded within the autobiography alter its reception by the audience?

    • Considering the plethora of editions for Life and the locations for the printings, how is reception significant to the geography? Consider the East versus West view of the Indian.

  • How is the genre distinctly European as opposed to the Native worldview? (i.e. coup tale)

  • What are the differences between eastern and western Anglo autobiographies as argued by Krupat?

  • “Whereas victory is the enabling condition of western autobiography, defeat is the enabling condition of Indian autobiography.” (Krupat, 38) – Explain.

    • How is it possible for Krupat to argue that Indian autobiography is a comedy?

    • How can Black Hawk be considered a hero by Krupat and Patterson?

    • How is Black Hawk presented as a tragic hero? Why is this archetype necessary?

  • The narrative structure of the as-told-to Indian autobiography is predictable (and comparable to hagiography): “a limited epic-like tragedy followed by glorious insight and expiation….emerging from such a hapless condition, rhetorically at least, redeemed and at the edge of self-knowledge” (Valandra, 111) Does Life of Black Hawk use this structure? If so, how?

Interpreter Cultural mediator

Antoine LeClaire

The son of a French-Canadian father and a Potawatomi mother. Under the sponsorship of William Clark, he learned English. He was fluent in several tribal languages as well as French and English. He was employed as a U.S. Interpreter beginning in 1818 at Fort Armstrong. His name appears on eleven treaties as the interpreter of record. In the 1832 treaty closing the Black Hawk war, “the Indian insisted that LeClaire be given two sections of land as a reward for faithful service” (Jackson 33-34)

John B. Patterson

Transplanted Virginian who was acting editor of the Galenian (frontier newspaper) at the time he was contacted by LeClaire. He provided no account of the extent of his editing (although the 1882 edition is much longer and more embellished) and it is not clear as to whether or not he ever met Black Hawk. He would later publish an Illinois newspaper, Oquawka Spectator, for forty years. (Jackson 34)

Criticism of the Life of Black Hawk – (Jackson, 31)

Black Hawk didn’t dictate it

The facts are garbled

No Indian would talk that way

No Indian would ever think of dictating his life story

LeClaire was an unreliable half breed.

  • What is the purpose of voice and why is it important to the text and/or the audience?

  • What happens when the voice is classified as being unmediated? Is any published voice ever fully “unmediated”?

  • What is the role of the interpreter/translator? How do they function as “cultural mediators”?

    • What are the two different types of translation? How does this process alter the text?

  • Considering the text as a collaborative construction between three people, what is the significance behind the interpreter’s certification of credibility, Black Hawk’s original and translated dedication, and the editor’s note advertisement?

    • Why are minority authors prior to the mid-nineteenth century required to have an authenticating white voice in the preface and/or introduction of their work? How does the authentication affect the narrative itself?

History Forms
History Oral tradition vs. written tradition

  • How is western history different/similar from a Native view of history?

  • What differentiates oral tradition from written? Which is better and why?

  • How is the legitimacy of one’s knowledge connected to the oral and written tradition?

  • How does memory interact with the oral record and written record differently?

Historical Political Terms
Civilization Sovereignty

Assimilation Removal

Manifest Destiny Doctrine of discovery


  • What is the political status of Natives? Are they independent/dependent political entities?

    • How does the treaty determine the political status of a people?

      • Edward Everett presented “the treaty as a signifier of Anglo-American moral superiority” – how is this possible?

    • How is land and trade intimately connected to the debate regarding political status and imperialism?

  • How is the New England Native experience different from the western experience?

  • “Indians cannot exist in contact with the highest form of human society without becoming corrupt, and the humane thing to do was to remove them to some place where missionaries could work on them in isolation.” (Konkle, 314)

  • How does Keokuck and Black Hawk represent the ongoing political debates regarding US-Indian policy at the time?

Identity Politics
Agency (“middle ground”) Myth of the “vanishing Indian”

Noble savage Barbarian/Heathen/savage

Authenticity Cultural evolution

Literacy Exhibition

  • How did the Natives in Life show agency?

    • Does a “middle ground” exist?

  • How was the East’s view different from the West toward the Native American during the majority of the nineteenth century?

  • Why is it significant that the narrative be the product of an “unassimilated” Indian?

    • What is “authentic”? How does one classify an “authentic” Native?

    • How does the literary form of autobiography legitimate authenticity?

  • Considering Krupat argument that Indian autobiographies are only composed by Indians who have not been “civilized” or Christianized, how does this restrict the genre?

  • How is the literacy of the author used to limit voice and by extension identity?

    • How is it possible for “an Indian to speak for himself “ when his voice is being mediated by a translator and an editor (Wallace 483)?

  • What was the original purpose of Black Hawk’s eastern tour? How did the audience change the purpose?

Possible Influences

  1. How is Black Hawk’s narrative different/similar to the canonical Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1794)?

(Between 1794 and 1828, twenty-two editions of Franklin were published.

How is the “self-made man” theme visible in Black Hawk?

  1. Wallace (488) connects Life of Black Hawk with Dante’s Inferno. What other Christian texts could have influenced the narrative?

  1. Wallace (489) also mentions the similarity in themes and elements between Life of Black Hawk and nineteenth century slave narratives.

    1. What were these similarities?

    2. Why was it necessary to include descriptions of daily life and culture in minority texts?

  1. How is Life of Black Hawk similar/different to a conversion narrative?

  1. What is the difference between Apess and Black Hawk?

Consider the reception of Apess and Black Hawk. What are the problems presented by audience reception and expectation?

  1. Apess argued for that each mode of warfare (the Anglo and the Native) were equally just within its own cultural framework. Does The Life of Black Hawk maintain this view or alter it slightly?

  1. Who is more dangerous: the Native writer (Apess) or the Native warrior (Black Hawk)?

  1. How is Life of Black Hawk similar to Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans? Consider the elegiac tone of the novel and its attempt to represent the supposed death of an entire culture allegorized by a single Indian character (Sweet, 497).

  1. How does Life incorporate/manipulate irony? (consider the medals)

  1. Ashwill notes that Black Hawk “resembles numerous white moralists” (Mielke, 257).

    1. How does Life reflect the social reform literature of the day?

    2. How is its “author” a cultural critic?

Historical Events
1804: Louisiana Purchase

Treaty of 1804 in St. Louis

Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806), aka Corps of Discovery
War of 1812 (1812-1814)
Monroe Doctrine (1823)
Johnson and Graham’s Lessee v. William McIntosh (1823)

Doctrine of discovery: The European nation claiming discovery of land held exclusive right to buy that land from the Indians.

“The case declared indigenous people savage hunters, not landowners, making them the equivalent of tenants merely occupying their own land at the whim of the United States.“ (Konkle, 310)
Indian Removal Act (1830)
Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia (1831)

The Cherokee did constitute a state, “a distinct political society, separated from others, capable of managing its own affairs and governing itself,” the Cherokee Nation did not “constitute a foreign state in the sense of the constitution.”

Native tribes are “domestic dependent nations”; Indians occupy land but remain “in a state of pupilage. Their relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian.” (Konkle, 462-3).
Southwestern Indian Removal (1831-1839), Trail of Tears (1836-9)
Worcester vs. Georgia (1832)

Indians’ inherent difference and inferiority may be taken for granted; the acculturated Cherokee are a “savage people.”

Black Hawk War (1832)

Publication Dates
First Edition (1833)
Additional editions in: Boston, Philadelphia, and New York (1834)

London (1836)

Cooperstown (1842)

Boston (1845)

Leeuwarden, Netherlands (1847)

Significant Anglo Figures Associated with Life of Black Hawk
William Clark (1770-1838), Superintendent of Indian Affairs (1829)
Andrew Jackson (1767-1841), 7th president (1829-1837)
William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), 9th president (1841)

Battle of Tippecanoe during Tecumseh’s War

Jefferson gave him the power to create treaties (1803-1809)

Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), 12th president (1849-50)

He accepted the surrender of Black Hawk.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th president of the Union (1861-1865)

The only military experience (IL. militia) he obtained prior to becoming president

Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), CSA present (1861-1865)

Spent all of Black Hawk’s war at home in Mississippi; but was assigned by his colonel, Zachary Taylor, to escort Black Hawk to prison. Black Hawk comments that he held him in high regard for the treatment that he provided. (Davis would later marry Zachary Taylor’s daughter, but the marriage was short-lived due to her contracting malaria and dying three months after the wedding).

He would later be imprisoned at Fort Monroe in 1865 for two years (he also was held in chains for three days)

George Catlin (1796-1872), Anglo

Painter specialized in portraits of Natives in the West

He created the “Indian Gallery” and showcased in the US and Europe from 1838-4

Significant Native Figures in Native History
Pontiac (c.1720-1769), Ottawa

Joseph Brant (c. 1743-1807), Mohawk

Tecumseh (1768-1813), Shawnee

Seattle (c. 1780-1866), Suquamish/Duwamish

Black Hawk (1767-1838), Sauk
Lakota Sioux:

Red Cloud (1822-1909), Sitting Bull (c. 1831-1890), Crazy Horse (c. 1840-1877)

Chief Joseph (1840-1904), Nez Perce

Geronimo (1829-1909), Apache

Black Elk (1863-1950), Lakota

Ishi (c. 1860-1916), Yana

Literature by Anglos and Natives Associated with the Native Experience
Rev. Samson Occom (1723-1792), Mohegan

Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul (1772), approximately 19 editions

A Choice Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1774)

Autobiography was penned in 1768, but remained unpublished until 1982.

Red Jacket (c. 1758-1830), Seneca

The Religion of the White Man and the Red, council speech in 1805
Hugh, Henry Brackenridge, Anglo

Law Miscellanies (1814), an edited compendium by Hugh Henry Brackenridge

“Hunters were not human because their way of life violated God’s dictate that man should tell the ground. Indians being merely savage hunters in a state of nature, they could therefore have but small pretense to a soil which they have never cultivated.” (Konkle, 309)

William Robertson, Scottish Enlightenment

The History of America (1819)

A key account of the North American indigenous people through the nineteenth century. Created the four stages of human society.

John Everett Seaver, Anglo

Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison, the White Woman of the Genesee (1824)

Mary Jemison was an acculturated Seneca
Sequoya (c.1767-1843), Cherokee

Created the alphabet that laid the foundation for the Cherokee Phoenix (1828)

Washington Irving, (1783-1859), Anglo

The Sketchbook, Traits of Indian Character and Philip of Pokanet (1820)

A Tour of the Prairies (1835)

Astoria (1836)

The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837)
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), Anglo

The Pioneers (1823)

The Last of the Mohicans (1826)

The Deerslayer (1841)
William Apess (1798-1839), Pequot

Son of the Forest (1829, 1832S), autobiography

The Experiences of Five Christian Indians of the Pequo’d Tribe (1833)

Includes the anthologized: An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man

Indian Nullification of the Unconstitutional Laws of Massachusetts (1835)

Eulogy on King Philip (1836), delivered in Boston

Edward Everett, Anglo

Address at Bloody Brook (1835)
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), Anglo

Young Goodman Brown (1835)

The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Francis Parkman (1823-1893), Anglo

The Oregon Trail (1847)

The Conspiracy of Pontiac (1847)
Henry David Thoreau, (1817-1862), Anglo

Walden (1854)

The Maine Woods (1864)
John Rollin Ridge (aka Yellow-Bird), Cherokee

The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta (1854; 1873)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), Anglo

Hiawatha (1856)
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885), Anglo

Century of Dishonor (1882)

Ramona (1884) – attempted to create a Uncle Tom’s Cabin for the Natives
Sarah Winnemucca (c. 1841-1891), Paiute

Life Among the Piutes (1883)
Charles Alexander Eastman (1858-1939), Sioux

Indian Boyhood (1902)

Soul of the Indian (1911)

Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Bonnin), (1876-1938), Yankton Sioux

Impressions of an Indian Childhood (1900)

Theoretical Concepts
Colonialism Imperialism

Paternalism Postcolonialism

Transnationalism Literary nationalism

Sentimentalism Literary tourism/cultural tourism

  • What is the difference between colonialism and imperialism?

  • How is paternalism intimately linked with colonialism and/or imperialism?

(Consider: Rudyard Kipling’s The White Man Burden and Black Hawk)

  • Is the United States a postcolonial society?

  • How is transnationalism portrayed in Black Hawk’s autobiography?

(Consider the peace medals and the “middle ground” phenomenon in trade and military affairs)

  • With Federalism being a political imperative from 1789-1841 and 1865-1877, how was literature used to further that political goal and articulate a distinctly American identity?

  • Can the reader see the global in the local? (Boelhower, 360)

    • How does Life present resistance/opposition in the form of microhistory?

    • Is this presentation effective?

    • By saving the oral traditions and history of his village he won the war?

  • How does sentamentalism alter the message of Life of Black Hawk?

  • Why is Life of Black Hawk included within nineteenth century literary nationalism?

Bataille, Gretchen M. Native American Representations: First Encounters, Distorted Images, and Literary Appropriations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001.
Boelhower, William. “Saving Saukenuk: How Black Hawk Won the War and the Way to Ethnic Semiotics.” Journal of American Studies 25 (December 1991), 333-361.
Derounian-Stodola, Kathryn Zabelle and James Arthur Levernier. The Indian Captivity Narrative, 155-1900. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.
Jackson, Donald. ed. Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, Black Hawk: An Autobiography. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1955.
Johnson, Kendall. “Peace, Friendship, and Financial Panic: Reading the Mark of Black Hawk in Life of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak.” American Literary History (2007), 771-799.
Krupat, Arnold. “The Indian Autobiography: Origins, Type, and Function.” American Literature 53 (March 1981), 22-42.
Konkle, Maureen. “Indian Literacy, U.S. Colonialism, and Literary Criticism.” American Literature 69 (September 1997), 457-486.
Konkle, Maureen. “Indigenous Ownership and the Emergence of U.S. Liberal Imperialism.” American Indian Quarterly 32 (Summer 2008), 287-323.
Mielke, Laura L. “ ‘Native to the Question’: William Apess, Black Hawk, and the Sentimental Context of Early Native American Autobiography.” American Indian Quarterly 26 (Spring 2002), 246-270.
Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jacks and His Indian Wars. New York: Viking, 2001.
Rifkin, Mark. “Documenting Tradition: Territoriality and Textuality in Black Hawk’s Narrative.” American Literature 80 (December 2008), 677-705.
Ronda, James P. “Red-Head’s Domain: William Clark’s Indian Brokerage.” in Margaret Connell Szasz, ed. Between Indian and White Worlds: The Cultural Broker. Norman: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.
Sayre, Gordon M. The Indian Chief as Tragic Hero: Native Resistance and the Literatures of America, From Moctezuma to Tecumseh. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2005.
Unsigned (Snelling, William Joseph). “Review: Life of Black Hawk.” The North American Review 40 (January 1835), 68-87.
Sweet, Timothy. “Masculinity and Self-Performance in the Life of Black Hawk.” American Literature 65 (September 1993), 475-499.
Valandra, Edward. “The As-Told-To Native [Auto]biography: Whose Voice is Speaking?” Wicazo Sa Review (Fall 2005), 103-119.
Wallace, Mark. “Black Hawk’s ‘An Autobiography’: The Production and Use of an ‘Indian’ Voice.” American Indian Quarterly 18 (Autumn, 1994), 481-494.

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