Singing an Indian Song: A Biography of D'Arcy McNickle

Singing an Indian Song: A Biography of D'Arcy McNickle

Singing an Indian Song: A Biography of D'Arcy McNickle

Singing an Indian Song: A Biography of D'Arcy McNickle

Synopsis

Based on a wide range of previously untapped sources, this first full-length biography traces the course of McNickle's life from the reservation of his childhood through a career of major import to American Indian political and cultural affairs. In so doing it reveals a man who affirmed his own heritage while giving a collective Indian voice to many who had previously seen themselves only in a tribal context.

Excerpt

In D'Arcy McNickle last novel, Wind from an Enemy Sky (1978), the voices of Indians singing provide a kind of leitmotif. the Indians sing of the world's beauty, of courage in the face of adversity, and they sing to ward off death from an old man who knows that his end is near. McNickle described it this way: "The singing never stopped. It never swelled to loudness, and it never stayed the same. a few riders would start the chant and carry it along, others would take over, still another part of the group would pick it up, then it would spread to all voices. and after a while only a few would be carrying it along."

This singing of an Indian song might well be the theme of D'Arcy McNickle's life. Born in 1904, he was one of the first Native American historians to interpret the Indian's encounter with white people from the Indian's point of view; in fact, during his long career he wrote several Indian histories, one of which, Native American Tribalism, is still in print.

Much as he might have wished otherwise, however, writing was not the primary focus of D'Arcy McNickle's life. He also served as an administrator in the Bureau of Indian Affairs under John Collier in the 1930s and . . .

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