THE LAST PORTAGE by Walter O'Meara


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A surprising number of post-colonial American youths apparently suffered the fate of Indian captivity, growing up neither truly white nor red. The memoirs of many such individuals have found their way -- for better or worse -- into books over the years. Walter O'Meara, whose The Savage Country is being set for the stage, has done much research on American Indian history and the cultural implications of manifest destiny. Now he has turned his attention to the records of one John Tanner, son of a pioneer minister, who at age nine fell into the hands of the Shawnee and was fostered by the shrewd, powerful Ojibway woman to whom John's captors traded him. Growing up to think and act like an Ojibway, Tanner experienced the same pressures of which all Indian society was victim in that era -- Internecine strife, famine, loss of lands, and the spectre of racial extinction. Tanner's Narrative, published in London in 1830 and in America in 1956, forms the basis of this work. The drama of the clash of cultures has been quite thoroughly explored, but at least low-key scholarly interest can be expected in any new work of this kind. Frankness concerning the Indians sexual customs rather limits the potential for immature readers, although the simplicity of style otherwise commends itself to the young history student.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1962
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin