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The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction

Robert Warrior
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    The People and the Word
    Book Description:

    The People and the Word explores how the Native tradition of nonfiction has both encompassed and dissected Native experiences. Robert Warrior traces a history of American Indian nonfiction writing, including Pequot intellectual William Apess's autobiographical works; the Osage Constitution of 1881; accounts of boarding school in the late 1880s; and modern Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday's essay “The Man Made of Words.”

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9750-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Reading Experience in Native Nonfiction
    (pp. xiii-xxxii)

    These four chapters—on the nineteenth-century Pequot writer William Apess, the Osage Nation’s 1881 constitution, Native American educational narratives, and N. Scott Momaday’s philosophy of language—are examinations, each in their own way, of two primary concerns. First, they focus on nonfiction texts by Native authors, texts that, taken together, narrate a North American history of Native American literature, with nonfiction at its center, from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries into the 1970s.

    Second, these chapters take up the issue of what it means for contemporary Native critical practice that this history exists. In these pages, I develop an idea...

  5. 1 Eulogy on William Apess: His Writerly Life and His New York Death
    (pp. 1-48)

    “And while you ask yourselves, ‘What do they, the Indians, want?’ you have only to look at the unjust laws made for them and say, ‘They want what I want.’”¹ These words, which I have chosen to open this examination of Native nonfiction, were spoken on two occasions in the Odeon Theatre in Boston in January 1836. They are among the last statements that history records the Pequot intellectual William Apess making in public. They come at the end of what is surely the pinnacle of Apess’s intellectual career, hisEulogy on King Philip, a revision of American history in...

  6. 2 Democratic Vistas of the Osage Constitutional Crisis
    (pp. 49-94)

    Half a century after Apess ended his writing career, fifteen hundred miles to the west a group of Osage leaders facing drastically different circumstances penned the following words:

    The Great and Little Osages having united and become one body politic, under the style and title of the Osage Nation; therefore, We the people of the Osage Nation, in National Council assembled, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, promote the common welfare, and to secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessing of freedom—acknowledging with humility and gratitude the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe in permitting...

  7. 3 The Work of Indian Pupils: Narratives of Learning in Native American Literature
    (pp. 95-142)

    As the 1880s were drawing to a close and the Osages were nearing the end of the first decade of their experiment in constitutional democracy, the print shop of the Santee Normal Training School, which educated Dakota and other Native people in the late nineteenth century, produced a leaflet describing the history and philosophy of the school. The leaflet was a single sheet of paper 7½ x 4 inches, printed on both sides and folded twice to create six panels (three on each side). The cover identifies the leaflet as a “souvenir,” which indicates it was something visitors to the...

  8. 4 Momaday in the Movement Years: Rereading “The Man Made of Words”
    (pp. 143-180)

    The educational ideology that swept through Native American communities from the beginning of the Progressive Era in the United States set the stage for twentieth-century Native American life. Due to disease, military conquest, and the increasing degradation of reservation life, says Russell Thornton, “Native American population of the United States, Canada, and Greenland” combined, which had been seven million in 1492, “reached a nadir of perhaps 375,000 around 1900.”¹ In the American popular imagination, the idea of Indians vanishing was pervasive.

    The twentieth was a century of deep loss in terms of land, culture, knowledge, and other resources. The fictional...

  9. Conclusion: Intellectual Trade Routes
    (pp. 181-188)

    Though I have always preferred critical language that is less, rather than more, figural, I have found myself repeatedly fixing on the metaphor of intellectual trade routes as I have considered how to conclude this work. Perhaps the sheer variety of the texts covered here and the vast geography from which their writers have come prompted this image, but my travel itinerary over the time I wrote these chapters and the concomitant opportunities I’ve had to share these ideas in far-flung places has probably done at least as much to make me think of the particular ways that ideas become...

  10. Appendix: The 1881 Constitution of the Osage Nation
    (pp. 189-198)
    James Bigheart
  11. Notes
    (pp. 199-214)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-232)
  13. Index
    (pp. 233-244)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-245)