By Karen L. Kilcup
The Memoirs exhibit a desirable and complicated 19th-century woman—an artist, tune 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 background of the tribe and describe the cultural upheaval of the Cherokees relocating west. They additionally supply a glimpse into antebellum, Civil warfare, 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. furthermore, 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 overdue nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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Extra info for A Cherokee Woman's America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907
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.
In all instances, however, Ward’s speeches reflect the centrality of community preservation and survival rather than individualistic expression. Moreover, they underscore for us “the link between literature and social relationships that is a natural part of the oral tradition” and the transformative power of language in effecting social change (Womack 16, 17, 66–67; see also Bruchac 91; Armstrong 183). As Theda Perdue indicates: “The political organization that existed in the Cherokee Nation in 1817 and 1818 had made it possible for women to voice their opinion.
More than fifty of their towns had been burned, their orchards cut down, their fields wasted, their cattle and horses killed and driven off, their stores of buckskin and other personal property plundered; hundreds of their people had been killed or had died of starvation and exposure; others were prisoners or slaves; those who had escaped were fugitives in the mountains, living upon acorns and chestnuts and wild game, or were refugees with the British. From the Virginia line to the Chattahoochee the chain of destruction was complete.