Captive Selves, Captivating Others: The Politics and Poetics of Colonial American Captivity Narratives

By Pauline Turner Strong | Go to book overview

ceremonies as he had been about Maliseet shamanism. When he heard that a Jesuit had been called to banish blackbirds from a field of wheat, for instance, Gyles told his fellow captives that he was "inclined to see the ceremony that I might rehearse it to the English" (127).

In its animosity toward the French and its providential mode of interpreting his deliverances, Gyles's narrative resembles those of John Williams and Hannah Swarton, and it is likely that these portions of the narrative are most influenced by what Derrida ( 1980) has called the "law of the genre."37 More importantly, however, in its focus on practical knowledge of his captors and their environment Gyles's narrative takes the selective tradition of captivity much farther down the path already cleared by the Quaker captives: It reflects the pragmatic empiricism of a person who acquired an "Indian education" and found a way to turn it to use on his "natal shore."


Notes
1.
On Phillips see Franklin 1980:409-411; on publishing and print culture in New England see Burnham 1997, and Hall 1979 and 1988.
2.
Dickinson's narrative was reprinted in England fourteen times between 1700 and 1868. Elizabeth Hanson's narrative was reprinted sixteen times in Samuel Gardner Drake's various anthologies of captivity narratives, which appeared between 1839 and 1872. See Andrews and Andrews 1961, Drake 1978 [ 1839], Derounian-Stodola and Levernier 1993:14, Mott 1947, and Vail 1949.
3.
Ebersole ( 1995:88-97) analyzes these and other eighteenth-century narratives as indicating a breakdown of the providential interpretive framework. For another discussion of the captive as ethnographer, see Sayre 1997.
4.
Dickinson 1977 [ 1699] is a facsimile of the first edition; 1961 [ 1699] is a modern edition with useful annotations and supplements by E. W. Andrews and C. M. Andrews, upon which I have relied heavily. The various colonial editions of Dickinson's narrative are listed in the Appendix.
5.
The Jeagas were located north of the Tequestas and south of the Ais and Timucuas ( Swanton 1946, map 1). They were probably subordinate to the Ais, the most powerful group in southeastern Florida, judging from the ability of the Ais cacique to confiscate goods salvaged from the shipwreck and to claim the captives ( Swanton 1946:84-85, 141, 504, 649, passim; 1952:121-122, 132; Dickinson 1961:146-162; Hodge 1959, 1:30-32, 629; 2:733).
6.
Ethnological and linguistic relationships are murky for southeastern Florida. Although not agricultural, the coastal peoples shared in various southeastern traits including chiefly privilege, the ceremonial use of black drink, and a summer ceremony somewhat resembling the Creek busk. Dickinson is our chief source for all of these. As Swanton ( 1946:762-765) indicates, we have little knowledge of the Ais, Tequesta, Jeaga, and Guacata languages, though they seem not to be related to Timucua. It is not possible to confirm Swanton's speculation that Calusa and the southeastern languages were Muskhogean ( Swanton 1946:239;

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