By Karen L. Kilcup
The Memoirs display a desirable and complicated 19th-century woman—an artist, tune instructor, storyteller, accomplice slave proprietor, Washington socialite, spouse of a white railroad government, widow, and mom of the 1st local American U.S. Senator, Robert L. Owen, Jr. Her writings interpret the historical past of the tribe and describe the cultural upheaval of the Cherokees relocating west. They additionally supply a glimpse into antebellum, Civil conflict, and Reconstruction American life.
This version offers a wealth of heritage details together with a biographical preface, chronology of Owen's existence, family tree, and textual footnotes. moreover, an introductory essay locations the Memoirs within the context of Owen's predecessors and contemporaries, together with Cherokee cultural and literary culture, the bigger Indian historical/literary context, and women's writing of the past due nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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Extra info for A Cherokee Woman's America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907
6 Placing Owen in conversation with a variety of texts and traditions—a conversation that she initiates—helps illuminate the challenges of reading earlier texts like the Memoirs, including such crucial questions as a writer’s negotiations with Euroamerican culture and her commitment to Native community. owen and cherokee (literary) tradition In addition to Ward, Owen’s literary antecedents and contemporaries include John Lynch Adair, DeWitt Clinton Duncan, Elias Boudinot, Lucy Lowrey Hoyt Keyes, John Oskison, and Ora Eddleman Reed.
Such an assessment suggests that the writer deploys various, often innovative means of opposition to dominant culture norms, values, and images while she sometimes seems to affirm those norms, values, and images: that is, her stance is frequently slippery, difficult to locate. Although I will offer sustained analyses that locate Owen in particularist Native contexts, I will also at the end of this essay position her briefly in the constellation of turn-of-the-century American women writers. Indicating that we can read Owen’s genre hybridity as both a form of resistance to canonical discourses and Euroamerican cultural norms and an example of several literary modes popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I will suggest that, in order to fully appreciate Native American women’s writing like the Memoirs and to ensure its continuing conversation with the adjacent tradition of American literature, readers must be attentive not only to its resonant historical and cultural dimensions but also to its innovative participation in a broad set of aesthetic contexts.
I . . They . . My people . . My grandfather”). As Weaver reminds us, “Natives tend to see themselves in terms of ‘self in society’”; that is, the self is part of a larger “we” (39). 41 Offering in part a kind of testimony, Winnemucca’s communitist narrative as a whole is, as Senier affirms, dynamic and participatory. 42 For example, her descriptions of family relations nearly vibrate with affirmation of her people’s “civilized” status and accusation of whites’ very different (and, she implies, inferior) values (see Walker 139–41): “We are taught to love everybody.