By Karen L. Kilcup
The Memoirs exhibit a desirable and intricate 19th-century woman—an artist, track instructor, storyteller, accomplice slave proprietor, Washington socialite, spouse of a white railroad govt, widow, and mom of the 1st local American U.S. Senator, Robert L. Owen, Jr. Her writings interpret the heritage of the tribe and describe the cultural upheaval of the Cherokees relocating west. They additionally provide a glimpse into antebellum, Civil battle, and Reconstruction American life.
This version offers a wealth of heritage info 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.
Read or Download A Cherokee Woman's America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907 PDF
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Extra resources for A Cherokee Woman's America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907
In this context, we should observe another motivation for telling her story: to counteract and correct white falsehood and misconception. Repeatedly Owen highlights the inaccuracy of written accounts by whites; in discussing the first treaty between the English and the Cherokees, for example, she observes, “Certainly the histories I found have been misleading in regard to the above-mentioned journey” (65). In discussing Oconostota’s role, she sarcastically derides “the American historians”: “A certain illustrated history has him as a naked savage, and speaks of his warfare as treachery.
We love them without being told to. Our tenth cousin is as near to us 24 Contexts, Contemporaries, and Narcissa Owen’s Political Aesthetics as our first cousin; and we don’t marry into our relations” (44). In a narrative overwhelmingly concerned with wars, both literal and figurative, the opening assertion stands out as an indictment of white belligerence and an appreciation of the Paiutes’ morality. The second sentence dialogues with white precepts, including the ten commandments, as Winnemucca subtly and ironically suggests that Christianity represents a formal codification of values that are infrequently observed in white culture but need no formalization in Paiute culture.
Injustices toward her family and the Cherokees more generally before and during the removal period. After quickly providing an account of the Cherokee clan system, Owen moves directly to a sustained and caustic catalogue of whites’ broken treaties, lies, and failed promises. Although some whites, like Peter Stuyvesant, “won, by his fair dealing, the confidence and friendship of the Indians,” more often we hear of “cruelty and treachery” (51). After an honorific discussion of her ancestor John Beamor and other more personal matters, she returns to elaborate “The First English Treaty with the Cherokees, 1730,” de- 8 Contexts, Contemporaries, and Narcissa Owen’s Political Aesthetics scribing how the Cherokees who made this agreement, “being such simpleminded children of the forest, never dreamed of the horrors that would come to them for that very trusting friendship” (65).
A Cherokee Woman's America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907 by Karen L. Kilcup