THE SINGING SPIRIT: Early Short Stories by North American Indians by Bernd C.--Ed. Peyer

THE SINGING SPIRIT: Early Short Stories by North American Indians

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Eighteen stories--written between 1881 and 1936--with brief biographies of the 11 Native American authors (including Gertrude Bonnin and D'Arcy McNickle), most of whom were primarily known for accomplishments in other fields. According to Peyer's useful introduction, the rise of an educated Indian elite at the end of the 19th-century coincided with a boom in the short-story genre and a growing interest in Indians among white Americans. Native American intellectuals responded with stories aimed almost exclusively at educating the non-Indian population to recognize the Indian's humanity and appreciate Native American culture (even while occasionally adopting a white viewpoint, as when Susette La Flesche refers to the heroine of her children's story ""Nedawi"" as ""a little savage""). The collection includes ethnographic slice-of-life stories: Indians in daily life, in illness, at war, hunting, storytelling. Other stories explore the pain and confusion of acculturation and the arbitrary imposition of white values. Romantic stories in which beautiful women succeed in exploits to save their men are less convincing. In contrast to most of the work in the anthology, Alexander Posey wrote his numerous ""Fus Fixico"" letters for an audience that specifically included Indians; two selections here introduce a Creek equivalent of Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley and of Jesse B. Semple (""Simple""), the spokesman for Afro-America created by Langston Hughes. Mostly old-fashioned magazine fiction of sociological value--with some interesting background material for those interested in contemporary Native American literature.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1989
Publisher: Univ. of Arizona Press