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E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake

E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake: Collected Poems and Selected Prose

Carole Gerson
Veronica Strong-Boag
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 336
  • Book Info
    E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake
    Book Description:

    The first complete collection of all of E. Pauline Johnson's known poems, many painstakingly culled from newspapers, magazines, and archives, along with a selection of her prose, including fiction, journalism, and discussions of gender and race.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7415-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction: ‘The Firm Handiwork of Will’
    (pp. xiii-xliv)

    From the 1880s, when her poems first began to appear in Ontario newspapers and magazines, until her spectacular funeral in Vancouver on 10 March 1913, Pauline Johnson captivated English-speaking Canada. A charismatic performer and beloved author, she self-consciously drew on her part-Mohawk heritage to create a public image that fostered her role as spokesperson for Native concerns; in the words of a close friend, ‘her unique position as the one Canadian of mixed white and Indian blood articulate in English verse was a source of inexhaustible interest to her own mind.’¹ Our earlier volume,Paddling Her Own Canoe: The Times...

  5. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  6. POEMS

    • I. The Early Years: Beginnings to 1888
      (pp. 3-39)
    • II. The Prolific Years: 1889–1898
      (pp. 40-128)
    • III. The Later Years: 1899–1913
      (pp. 129-167)
    • IV. Anonymous and Pseudonymous Poems
      (pp. 168-172)
  7. PROSE

      (pp. 175-177)

      The day has departed when it was considered ungentle and masculine for women to participate in outdoor sports. Within the latter half of this practical century America, at least, has decreed that feminine beauty and feminine health are synonymous, and to attain these woman-kind clamoured long and loudly at the iron portals so jealously closed by that most exacting of monsters, Good Form, betwixt her and her brethren, who themselves regarded the luxury of sports afield as their exclusive right. But the moment man championed the beauty of colour, of splendidly-developed figures, of firm flesh and a springy, tireless footstep...

      (pp. 177-183)

      Every race in the world enjoys its own peculiar characteristics, but it scarcely follows that every individual of a nation must possess these prescribed singularities, or otherwise forfeit in the eyes of the world their nationality. Individual personality is one of the most charming things to be met with, either in a flesh and blood existence, or upon the pages of fiction, and it matters little to what race an author’s heroine belongs, if he makes her character distinct, unique and natural.

      The American book heroine of today is vari-coloured as to personality and action. The author does not consider...

      (pp. 184-188)

      Ontario boasts many a beautiful inland river, whose waters fret shores historically famous and naturally picturesque, but the royal little stream that laughs and slumbers alternately through the south-western counties, that tosses its current wildly about rocky coast and midstream boulder, that hurls itself into spray, whirlpool and rapid, then, tired and silent, slips into dark, still pools and long, yellow sand reaches – Ah! who would not know it was The Grand River? with its romantic forests, its legend-thronged hills, its wide and storied flats, its tradition-fraught valleys? This was the great domain of that most powerful of North American...

      (pp. 188-202)

      ‘Be pretty good to her, Charlie, my boy, or she’ll balk sure as shooting.’

      That was what old Jimmy Robinson said to his brand new son-in-law, while they waited for the bride to reappear.

      Oh! you bet, there’s no danger of much else. I’ll be good to her, help me Heaven,’ replied Charlie McDonald, brightly.

      ‘Yes, of course you will,’ answered the old man, ‘but don’t you forget,there’s a good big bit of her mother in her, and,’ closing his left eye significantly, ‘you don’t understand these Indians as I do.’

      ‘But I’m just as fond of them, Mr Robinson,’...

      (pp. 203-205)

      To the majority of English speaking people, an Indian is an Indian, an inadequate sort of person possessing a red brown skin, nomadic habits, and an inability for public affairs. That the various tribes and nations of the great Red population of America, differ as much one from another, as do the white races of Europe, is a thought that seldom occurs to those disinterested in the native of the western continent. Now, the average Englishman would take some offence if any one were unable to discriminate between him and a Turk – though both are ‘white;’ and yet the ordinary...

      (pp. 205-212)

      They account for it by the fact that I am a Redskin, but I am something else, too – I am a woman.

      I remember the first time I saw him. He came up the trail with some Hudson’s Bay trappers, and they stopped at the door of my father’s tepee. He seemed even then, fourteen years ago, an old man; his hair seemed just as thin and white, his hands just as trembling and fleshless as they were a month since, when I saw him for what I pray his God is the last time.

      My father sat in the...

      (pp. 213-215)

      It is a far cry from a wigwam to Westminster, from a prairie trail to the Tower Bridge, and London looks a strange place to the Red Indian whose eyes still see the myriad forest trees, even as they gaze across the Strand, and whose feet still feel the clinging moccasin even among the scores of clicking heels that hurry along the thoroughfares of this camping-ground of the paleface.

      So this is the place where dwells the Great White Father, ruler of many lands, lodges, and tribes, in the hollow of whose hands is the peace that rests between the...

      (pp. 215-218)

      The Paleface is a man of many moods; what he approves to-day he will disapprove to-morrow.

      He is never content to let his mighty men rule for more than four or five years, after which time he wearies of their council fires, their law-giving, and their treaties with other tribes; he wants new chiefs, warriors, and braves, and he secures them by the voice and vote of the nation.

      We of the ancient Iroquois race can but little understand this strange mode of government. We and our fathers, and their fathers before them, have always been pleased with our own...

      (pp. 218-223)

      We-hro was a small Onondaga Indian boy, a good-looking, black-eyed little chap with as pagan a heart as ever beat under a copper-coloured skin. His father and grandfathers were pagans. His ancestors for a thousand years back, arid yet a thousand years back of that, had been pagans, and We-hro, with the pride of his religion and his race, would not have turned from the faith of his fathers for all the world. But the world, as he knew it, consisted entirely of the Great Indian Reserve, that lay on the banks of the beautiful Grand River, sixty miles west...

      (pp. 223-227)

      There exists to-day no more splendid specimens of vigorous woman-hood than those found among the mothers of the great Iroquois Indian nations of Canada. Semi-civilization has not yet obliterated the grand physique, the silent courage, the beautiful, old-fashioned womanliness that have their chief pride in giving warrior sons and gentle daughters to the nation. The Indian mother has not yet joined the ranks of ‘new women.’ The grace of motherhood is to her a primitive glory. She has been reared to consider it her right and privilege; and just because her entire life from babyhood to old age is so...

      (pp. 227-230)

      We had put in a bad night of it, boarding the train at the station of as mall prairie town about four in the morning. In the double seat behind us was a family consisting of a weary-looking woman, a serious-faced man and three small, pretty girl children, the youngest about three years of age. From time to time this little girl whimpered and fretted, occasionally breaking into a positive storm of weeping. The passengers seemed just to get settled, just lulled to that heavy slumber that assails one before daybreak – particularly when one has been up all night – when...

      (pp. 230-234)

      You can see them from the heights, from the pleasure grounds, from the gay thoroughfares, from the great hotel windows – those twin peaks of the twin mountains that lift their pearly summits across the inlet which washes with its ceaseless tides the margins of Vancouver, the beautiful city which is called ‘The Sunset Gateway’ of the Dominion of Canada. Sometimes the smoke of forest fires blurs these twin peaks, until they swim in a purple atmosphere too beautiful for words to paint. Sometimes the slanting rains festoon their grey and gauzy veils about the crests, and the peaks fade into...

      (pp. 235-237)

      The red Indian races have always been workers in metals, and the earliest records show that in their most primitive savagery they compelled the earth as well as the forest to yield them material whereby they might gain a living. Flint arrowheads were the main weapons of bringing down big game for food but these were frequently supplanted by arrowheads of beaten copper. Silver was seldom used except for ornamentation, but so deep a meaning was always attached to the ’white metal,’ as many tribes called it, that it finally became of the greatest importance, and ornaments made of it...

      (pp. 237-246)

      There are people who hold that the mother’s teaching will have a lasting influence upon the entire after life of a child. How, then, must we account for a family of, say, six children, all reared in the same environment, all taught the same codes of Christian morals and civilized etiquette, and with the same educational advantages, producing five worthy citizens and one black sheep? It is an odd thing, but invariably the black sheep shows his blackness from his very babyhood. His mother’s influence, which has been exerted over him with just as much love and earnestness as upon...

      (pp. 246-249)

      Unique, and so distinct from its surroundings as to suggest rather the handicraft of man than a whim of Nature, it looms up at the entrance to the Narrows, a symmetrical column of solid grey stone. There are no similar formations within the range of vision, or indeed within many a day’s paddle up and down the coast. Amongst all the wonders, the natural beauties that encircle Vancouver, the marvels of mountains, shaped into crouching lions and brooding beavers, the yawning canyons, the stupendous forest firs and cedars, Siwash Rock stands as distinct, as individual, as if dropped from another...

      (pp. 250-257)

      Young Ta-la-pus sat on the highest point of rock that lifted itself on the coast at the edge of his father’s Reserve. At his feet stretched the Straits of Georgia, and far across the mists of the salt Pacific waters he watched the sun rise seemingly out of the mainland that someone had told him stretched eastward thousands of miles, where another ocean, called the Atlantic, washed its far-off shore, for Ta-la-pus lived on Vancouver Island, and all his little life had been spent in wishing and longing to set his small, moccasined feet on that vast mainland that the...

      (pp. 257-262)

      The upcoast people called her ‘Hoolool,’ which means ‘The Mouse’ in the Chinook tongue. For was she not silent as the small, grey creature that depended on its own bright eyes and busy little feet to secure a living?

      The fishermen and prospectors had almost forgotten the time when she had not lived alone with her little son ‘Tenas,’ for although Big Joe, her husband, had been dead but four years, time travels slowly north of Queen Charlotte Sound, and four years on the ‘Upper Coast’ drag themselves more leisurely than twelve at the mouth of the Fraser River. Big...

      (pp. 262-283)

      When ‘Fire-Flint’ Larocque said good-bye to his parents, up in the Red River Valley, and started forth for his first term in an Eastern college, he knew that the next few years would be a fight to the very teeth. If he could have called himself ‘Indian’ or ‘White’ he would have known where he stood in the great world of Eastern advancement, but he was neither one nor the other – but here he was born to be a thing apart, with no nationality in all the world to claim as a blood heritage. All his young life he had...

      (pp. 283-288)

      In her untaught and primitive state one hundred years ago there was no happier woman in all this world than the Red Indian Mother who queened it over her forest home and reared her children in the principles, manners, morals and etiquette that for centuries had been approved and enforced by the men and women kind of her world-old race.

      In other articles published in this magazine I have emphasised the fact that the North American Indian woman, and especially the mother-woman, is most honoured and revered by the younger people and the men of her blood, notwithstanding all that...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 289-328)
  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 329-330)
  10. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 331-332)
  11. Index of Titles
    (pp. 333-338)
  12. Index of First Lines
    (pp. 339-343)