Indian Lives Illuminate History New Books about Native Americans Include Biography, Fiction, and Personal Narrative

By Terry P. Wilson. Terry P. Wilson, a. member of the Potawatomi tribe, is professor and former chair of Native American Studies and Ethnic Studies . His publications include "Teaching American History. " | The Christian Science Monitor, September 3, 1993 | Go to article overview

Indian Lives Illuminate History New Books about Native Americans Include Biography, Fiction, and Personal Narrative


Terry P. Wilson. Terry P. Wilson, a. member of the Potawatomi tribe, is professor and former chair of Native American Studies and Ethnic Studies . His publications include "Teaching American History. ", The Christian Science Monitor


THE LANCE AND THE SHIELD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SITTING BULL By Robert M. Utley. Henry Holt & Co., 413 pp., $25

BLACK ELK: HOLY MAN OF THE OGLALA By Michael F. Steltenkamp. University of Oklahoma Press 211 pp., $19.95

ONCE THEY MOVED LIKE THE WIND: COCHISE, GERONIMO AND THE APACHE WARS By David Roberts. Simon & Schuster, 368 pp., $24

BRAVE ARE MY PEOPLE: INDIAN HEROES NOT FORGOTTEN By Frank Waters. Clear Light Publishers 189 pp., $24.95

NEARLY a quarter of a century has passed since Dee Brown's "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (1970) set off a publishing avalanche of books about American Indians. Earlier works, often of dubious distinction, were refurbished with fresh dust jackets and contemporary forewords to vie with new writings for the attention and dollars of a mostly non-Indian readership. As a result of 1960s and 1970s demonstrations of red power at Alcatraz (1969) and Wounded Knee (1973), some readers had become guiltily aware of their government's and society's past injustices to native Americans. Others sought portents and visions in treatises on native-American spirituality and belief. Many simply desired more information about the cultures and histories of the nation's indigenous peoples.

Among the more difficult tasks faced by scholars and popular writers alike who hope to illumine our understanding of Indian America has been the crafting of biographies of individual native Americans. Historical members of many tribes will likely remain obscure, because insufficient research material exists to frame a book-length portrait. And what about the problem of "the other"? How can a non-Indian biographer penetrate alien tribal worlds to uncover the motivations, goals, and desires of individuals shaped by dimly perceived belief systems and lifestyles? Can an outsider even grasp what was significant to tribal peoples of a century or two ago, a necessity if a person's life is to be discerned and evaluated.

The books reviewed here reflect four distinctly different approaches to meeting the formidable challenges of Indian biography. Most satisfying of the efforts is "The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull." Robert M. Utley, a former chief historian of the National Park Service and author of numerous publications in Western history and biography, has produced a superlatively written and researched life of Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Sioux leader. Born sometime between 1831 and 1837, this Lakota warrior came to embody his people's four cardinal virtues - bravery, fortitude, generosity, and wisdom - as he led the resistance of the tribe to the wasichus (white men) until his death in 1890.

Utley manages to impart an astonishing array of facts about Sitting Bull's Lakota world to inform the reader about the man. He explains the reasons behind intertribal warfare as well as the defensive strategies of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse against the advance of the Anglo-American frontier. Drawing on the memories of the chief's contemporaries recorded in the 1920s and early 1930s, Utley reveals Sitting Bull's wisdom, spiritual power, and foibles so that a man emerges, a Lakota personage significant within his own tribe and in the history of the nation that subdued his people.

Native-American spirituality is the overriding theme in Michael Steltenkamp's "Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala." Initially I was dismayed at receiving a slim volume about one of the most famous Indians in United States history. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Indian Lives Illuminate History New Books about Native Americans Include Biography, Fiction, and Personal Narrative
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.