Changing Is Not Vanishing

Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930

Edited by Robert Dale Parker
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    Changing Is Not Vanishing
    Book Description:

    Until now, the study of American Indian literature has tended to concentrate on contemporary writing. Although the field has grown rapidly, early works-especially poetry-remain mostly unknown and inaccessible.Changing Is Not Vanishingsimultaneously reinvents the early history of American Indian literature and the history of American poetry by presenting a vast but forgotten archive of American Indian poems. Through extensive archival research in small-circulation newspapers and magazines, manuscripts, pamphlets, rare books, and scrapbooks, Robert Dale Parker has uncovered the work of more than 140 early Indian poets who wrote before 1930.

    Changing Is Not Vanishingincludes poems by 82 writers and provides a full bibliography of all the poets Parker has identified-most of them unknown even to specialists in Indian literature. In a wide range of approaches and styles, the poems in this collection address such topics as colonialism and the federal government, land, politics, nature, love, war, Christianity, and racism. With a richly informative introduction and extensive annotation,Changing Is Not Vanishingopens the door to a trove of fascinating, powerful poems that will be required reading for all scholars and readers of American poetry and American Indian literature.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0006-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xvi)
  3. The Garden of the Mind: An Introduction to Early American Indian Poetry
    (pp. 1-44)

    In 1854, a young Cherokee at the Cherokee nation’s Female Seminary wrote a poem to introduce a newspaper of student writings in Cherokee (written in the Cherokee writing system recently invented by Sequoyah) and in English, signing herself as “Corrinne.” Corrinne’s invitation to what she calls “the garden of the mind” can also introduce this book:...

  4. POEMS
    • Eleazar
      (pp. 47-50)

      Eleazar was a senior at Harvard College in 1678. As there is no record of him graduating, he may have died before he could graduate. The influential Boston minister Cotton Mather published Eleazar’s only surviving poem in Mather’s most famous book,Magnalia Christi Americana(1702). After a short biography of Thomas Thacher, a Puritan minister known for his medical knowledge and skill in languages, Mather introduced Eleazar’s poem in the following words: “And because the Nation and Quality of theAuthor, will make the Composure to become a Curiosity, I will here, for anEpitaph, insert an Elegy, which was...

    • Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (Ojibwe)
      (pp. 50-64)
      Jane Johnston Schoolcraft

      Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (her English name) or Bamewawagezhikaquay (her Ojibwe name), Woman of the Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky, was born in Sault Ste. Marie in what is now the state of Michigan. Schoolcraft’s mother, Ozhaguscodaywayquay or Susan Johnston, was a prominent leader and trader and the daughter of Waubojeeg, a war chief famed for leadership in war and civil life as well as for eloquence in story and song. Schoolcraft’s father, John Johnston, came from a prominent Scotch-Irish family in the north of Ireland. He left for the United States and Canada in 1790 and set...

    • William Walker, Jr. (Wyandot)
      (pp. 64-66)
      William Walker Jr.

      William Walker, Jr., was born in what is now southeastern Michigan. His mother came from an influential Wyandot family, and his father, a white who was captured and adopted as a child, first by Delawares and then by Wyandots, became a federal sub-agent for the Ohio Indians. Walker went to a mission school in Ohio and then to Kenyon College (Connelley,Life13). He studied Greek, Latin, and French and, besides Wyandot and English, spoke Delaware, Shawnee, Miami, and Potawatomi. In 1826, angry at the pressure on Wyandots to give up their lands in Ohio and move west, he wrote...

    • Israel Folsom (Choctaw)
      (pp. 66-67)
      Israel Folsom

      Israel Folsom was born in the Choctaw Nation in what is now Mississippi. In 1822, he was a student at the Cornwall School in Connecticut (“Foreign Mission School”; Morse 265, 272, 276–78), described in this volume in a poem by his schoolmate, Adin C. Gibbs. Folsom’s brother-in-law was Choctaw diplomat and Chief Peter Pitchlynn, whose poems are included in this volume. Folsom’s one known poem recalls the pain of forced removal from his homeland. A Presbyterian minister, he also wrote accounts of Choctaw traditions and history and served several times as a Choctaw delegate to Washington, D.C. In 1864...

    • An Indian (Jesse Bushyhead?) (Cherokee)
      (pp. 68-69)

      Preceded by the introductory note from H. F. Buckner reproduced below, this poem was published in theIndian Advocatein 1848, when Buckner was a Baptist missionary in Kentucky preparing to move to the Creek Nation. He worked as a missionary in the Creek Nation from 1849 until his death in 1882. The poem was signed simply “An Indian,” and Buckner believed it was written by Jesse Bushyhead (1804–1844). A Baptist minister from Tennessee, Bushyhead attended mission schools and a seminary. Though he staunchly opposed removal, he led a contingent of a thousand Cherokees on the Trail of Tears...

    • John Rollin Ridge / Yellow Bird (Cherokee)
      (pp. 69-118)
      John Rollin Ridge / Yellow Bird

      John Rollin Ridge, whose Cherokee name was Chees-quat-a-law-ny and who often published as Yellow Bird, the English translation of his Cherokee name, was born to a distinguished family in the Cherokee Nation in Georgia. His father John Ridge and grandfather Major Ridge, prosperous farmers and slaveholders, were influential leaders caught in the dispute over how to respond to pressure from the United States to give up Cherokee lands and move west. Though they opposed removal, they finally decided, together with John Ridge’s cousins Stand Watie and Elias Boudinot (Buck Watie), editor of the first American Indian newspaper, theCherokee Phoenix,...

    • Te-con-ees-kee (Cherokee)
      (pp. 118-121)

      Nothing is known about Te-con-ees-kee beyond what appears in his two poems published in theCherokee Advocate.From “Though far from thee Georgia in exile I roam,” it appears that he came from Georgia, fought with the federal government—perhaps against the Creeks in 1814 at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend—and later left his home as part of the forced removal of Cherokees to the west. At least several Cherokees named Te-con-ees-kee (in various spellings) appear briefly in records within the right time frame, but without substantial information about them and without providing a way of differentiating among various...

    • Si-tu-a-kee, Jr. (Cherokee)
      (pp. 122-122)
      Si-tu-a-kee, Jr.

      At its publication, this poem was attributed to Si-tu-a-kee, Jr., perhaps the same Situakee (or Situwakee) who later fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, and perhaps related to the Cherokee chief and judge Situakee who led a large contingent of Cherokees on the Trail of Tears in 1838 and 1839 (Starr 103, G. Foreman 311)....

    • William Penn Boudinot (Cherokee)
      (pp. 123-125)
      William Penn Boudinot

      Born in the Eastern Cherokee Nation, William Penn Boudinot (the last syllable is pronounced like the wordknot) came from a legendary Cherokee family. His father was Elias Boudinot, who edited theCherokee Phoenix, the first American Indian newspaper. His brother was the well known politician and editor Elias Cornelius Boudinot. Stand Watie, the famous Cherokee Confederate general, was their father’s brother, and Chief John Ridge was their father’s cousin, so that William Penn Boudinot was also related to Ridge’s son John Rollin Ridge, whose poetry appears in this volume. After Elias Boudinot and John Ridge were assassinated in 1839...

    • Tso-le-oh-woh (Cherokee)
      (pp. 125-129)

      While nothing is known about the writer of these two poems, they are themselves extraordinary testimony. (The spelling of the poet’s name varies. “A Red Man’s Thoughts” is signed Tsoo-le-oh-wah, and “What an Indian Thought When He Saw the Comet” is signed Tso-le-oh-woh.)...

    • C. H. Campbell (Cherokee)
      (pp. 129-130)
      C. H. Campbell

      In the 1 August 1855 issue ofThe Wreath of Cherokee Rose Buds, the student newspaper of the Cherokee Female Seminary, an article recounted the celebration of the fourth anniversary of the opening of the Cherokee Female Seminary and the Cherokee Male Seminary on 7 May. The article included the following coy paragraph introducing these lines: “There was also a poem by Mr. C. H. Campbell, with which we would be very glad to please our readers, but it is not in our possession. However, we have taken the liberty to purloin a few lines from a copy that we...

    • Former Student of the Cherokee Male Seminary (Cherokee)
      (pp. 130-131)

      The poet of “The Rose of Cherokee” signed the poem only as “A former student of the Male Sem.”...

    • Joshua Ross (Cherokee)
      (pp. 131-135)
      Joshua Ross

      Born in the Cherokee Nation in Alabama, Joshua Ross was a nephew of Chief John Ross and a grandson of Assistant Chief George Lowry. After the Cherokees were forced from their lands, he attended schools in Indian Territory and Arkansas and then graduated from the Cherokee Male Seminary in 1855 and from Emory and Henry College in Virginia in 1860. He taught at the Cherokee Female Seminary and the Cherokee Male Seminary. Admired for his wide learning, he clerked in a store, eventually opened his own store at Muskogee in the Muskogee (Creek) Nation, and served as a member of...

    • Peter Perkins Pitchlynn (Choctaw)
      (pp. 135-137)
      Peter Perkins Pitchlynn

      Peter Pitchlynn was born into a prosperous slaveholding family in the Choctaw Nation in what is now Mississippi. He attended four or five schools, though none of them for long, beginning with mission schools in Tennessee, then the Choctaw Academy in Kentucky and the University of Nashville in Tennessee. Renowned Choctaw leader and district Chief David Folsom and his brother Israel Folsom, who has a poem in this volume, were Pitchlynn’s relatives as well as brothers of his first wife. Pitchlynn was centrally involved in Choctaw politics in many ways over many years, often blending his own interests with the...

    • John Gunter Lipe (Cherokee)
      (pp. 137-138)
      John Gunter Lipe

      John Gunter Lipe fought with the Confederate Army under the famous Cherokee Brigadier General Stand Watie and was killed in action in 1862. In February 1861, months before the Civil War began, he wrote this poem in the autograph album of Victoria Hicks, who later married his older brother. (Starr 144, 571)...

    • Anonymous Cherokee (Cherokee)
      (pp. 138-139)

      This poem from theCherokee Advocatewas signed “Cherokee.” It seems reasonable to trust theAdvocate’s attribution of the poem to a Cherokee writer....

    • David J. Brown (Cherokee)
      (pp. 140-140)
      David J. Brown

      David J. (Cookee) Brown graduated from the Cherokee Male Seminary in 1878 and the next year was shot and killed in Muskogee, Indian Territory....

    • James Harris Guy (Chickasaw)
      (pp. 141-146)
      James Harris Guy

      James Harris Guy, from Boggy Depot, Indian Territory, was a nephew of Cyrus Harris, the first elected governor of the Chickasaw Nation, who served as governor for five terms. Guy was also a brother of William Malcolm Guy, who held many offices in the Chickasaw Nation, including governor from 1886-1888. A deputy U.S. marshal and a sergeant in the Chickasaw Indian Police, James Guy was shot and killed while trying to arrest a gang of outlaws. At the time of his death, he had agreed to publish a book of legends and poems, but no poems (or legends) written by...

    • John Lynch Adair (Cherokee)
      (pp. 147-149)
      John Lynch Adair

      Born in the Cherokee Nation in Georgia, Adair was forcibly removed west in 1839. His sister died during the removal. Raised by wealthy slave-owning relatives after his parents died, he took a strong interest in studying the classics, especially Latin. Adair fought as a captain in the Confederate Army and after the war served in many offices for the Cherokee Nation, including national auditor, clerk of the Cherokee Senate, executive councilor under Chief Louis Downing, delegate to Washington, member of the board of education, assistant executive secretary under Chief Dennis Bushyhead, secretary under Chief Joel B. Mayes, and editor of...

    • John Palmer (Chemakum, Skokomish)
      (pp. 149-152)
      John Palmer

      John Foster Palmer, probably the same John Palmer who wrote this poem, was born in Fort Townsend in what is now the state of Washington. A Chemakum, he moved to San Francisco in 1859 with a family that took him in after his father died, and then he traveled to the Amur River in Russian Manchuria, where he spent several years. Returning to the United States, he worked at the Makah Reservation and then in 1868 moved to the Skokomish Reservation, where he served as a government interpreter for eight years. He spoke Twana (Skokomish), Nisqually, Clallam, Chinook jargon, Russian,...

    • Joseph Lynch Martin (Cherokee)
      (pp. 152-154)
      Joseph Lynch Martin

      Joseph Lynch Martin, son of the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation, was born in the Cherokee Nation in Georgia. He went to school at Cherokee mission schools and in St. Louis. In 1839, he survived forced removal to Indian Territory. There he built a huge, lavish plantation called Green Briar near the present Strang, Oklahoma. He owned over a hundred slaves and fought as a cavalry officer in the Confederate Army under the famous Cherokee Brigadier General Stand Watie. Martin married five times and also had many children by his slaves. (“Obituary”; Little-field and...

    • Wenonah (Cherokee)
      (pp. 154-155)

      Wenonah, though possibly a pseudonym, is a common name for Indian women. The one poem attributed to her indicates that this particular Wenonah was a talented poet. She signed her poem “Oowala, I.T., Nov. 14, 1886.” Oowala was in the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory (I.T.), now Oklahoma....

    • Hors de Combat (Cherokee)
      (pp. 155-156)

      An unidentified Cherokee published this poem under the pen name “Hors de Combat,” a French expression that translates literally as “out of the fight,” meaning wounded, sick, or captured soldiers who can no longer fight....

    • Alexander Posey (Creek [Muskogee])
      (pp. 156-176)
      Alexander Posey

      Alex Posey was born and raised in the Creek Nation and rarely traveled beyond it, but he was the most widely recognized American Indian literary writer of his day. Posey’s mother came from the prominent Harjo family. Like Posey’s father, they were active in local Creek politics, with Posey’s mother’s father, Pahosa Harjo Phillips, serving in both the House of Warriors (like the U.S. House of Representatives) and the House of Kings (like the U.S. Senate) when Posey was a teenager. Posey grew up speaking Creek until age fourteen, when his father required him to speak English. After that, he...

    • William Abbott Thompson (Cherokee)
      (pp. 176-177)
      William Abbott Thompson

      Will A. Thompson was a teacher and worked for newspapers in the Cherokee Nation. In 1888 he was business manager of the briefly livedTelephone, and from 1891 to 1893 he edited theIndian Sentinel.His only surviving poem takes a playful rather than a conventionally literary approach and holds its value as a humorous, revealingly misogynist and cynical portrait of one person’s perspective on late nineteenth-century Indian Territory. At the bottom of the poem he notes its place of composition as Tahlequah, capital of the Cherokee Nation. (Littlefield and Parins,Biobibliography,Supplement292)...

    • Rufus Buck (Yuchi)
      (pp. 177-179)
      Rufus Buck

      During his teens, Rufus Buck of Okmulgee in the Creek Nation in Indian Territory attended Wealaka Mission boarding school for Indians, until the school expelled him for meanness. Driven partly by resentment against the whites who were encroaching on Indian Territory, Buck led a brutal gang on a rampage of murder, robbery, and rape in 1895. The following year, he and his followers were convicted and sentenced to hang by the famous “Hanging Judge Parker.” After Buck died, a picture of his mother was found in his cell. On the back of the picture, in surprisingly eloquent language possibly influenced...

    • James Roane Gregory (Euchee [Yuchi], Muskogee [Creek])
      (pp. 179-186)
      James Roane Gregory

      Gregory grew up in Wagoner County, Indian Territory, attended the Tullahassee Mission school, and spent most of his adult life near Inola. Early in the Civil War, his father was killed by pro-Confederate bushwhackers. Gregory enlisted in the Union Army and was wounded while fighting with the “loyal Creeks,” Muskogees who sided with the Union and were led by Opothleyahola. After the war, he studied law, practiced in the Creek courts, served several terms as an elected judge, and served as Superintendent of Creek Schools. Gregory caused a stir in 1891 when he had himself declared a legal citizen of...

    • Kingfisher (Cherokee)
      (pp. 186-187)
    • J. C. Duncan (Cherokee)
      (pp. 188-190)
      J. C. Duncan

      J. C. Duncan lived in the Sequoyah District of the Cherokee Nation. Though the little-known Duncan seems not to have been a practiced poet, and though his only known poem has survived in print so faint it cannot all be deciphered, his poem carries considerable political interest. In the transcription below, illegible words are filled out with the letter x, and uncertain words are indicated with bracketed question marks. The poem also has typographical errors. It is possible that the transcription below includes mistakes as well as uncertainties....

    • Richard C. Adams (Delaware [Lenape])
      (pp. 190-198)
      Richard C. Adams

      Richard Calmit (sometimes spelled Calmet) Adams was born in Kansas and grew up at Russell Creek in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). His father was a Baptist minister and a founder of the Delaware Baptist Church who was active in Delaware tribal matters, and his father’s two brothers were chiefs. Unable to afford law school, Adams taught himself the law by reading. He represented the Delaware Nation in Washington, D.C., from 1897 to 1921 and published five books about Delaware history and culture. A founder of the Brotherhood of the North American Indians, he was an active campaigner for Indian rights...

    • Too-qua-stee / De Witt Clinton Duncan (Cherokee)
      (pp. 198-216)
      Too-qua-stee / De Witt Clinton Duncan

      Born in the Cherokee Nation in Georgia, Duncan published his poetry and many of his other writings under his Cherokee name, Too-qua-stee. He survived forced removal to Indian Territory in 1839. After attending mission and Cherokee schools, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with honors from Dartmouth College in 1861, but the Civil War deterred him from returning to Indian Territory. He taught school in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and then in 1866 he settled in Iowa where he continued to teach and work as a school principal while practicing law and serving in local political offices. Eventually, he...

    • Olivia Ward Bush-Banks (Montaukett)
      (pp. 216-222)
      Olivia Ward Bush-Banks

      Born in Sag Harbor, New York, in eastern Long Island, Bush-Banks and both her parents were Montaukett (Montauk) and African American. She identified strongly with both sides of her ancestry and was active in Montauk and African American communities and organizations. The selections below include African American-focused poems, for to exclude them would distort her work and life and distort the histories of the many people who are both African American and American Indian. Moreover, her poems about race relations often reverberate for both African Americans and American Indians. After her mother died and her father remarried, Olivia Ward was...

    • Adin C. Gibbs (Delaware [Lenape])
      (pp. 223-223)
      Adin C. Gibbs

      A Munsee Delaware, Adin C. Gibbs was born in Pennsylvania, where he worked as a clothier until 1818, when he left for the Cornwall Foreign Mission School in Connecticut. Gibbs’s classmates at the Cornwall School came from many countries and included John Ridge (father of John Rollin Ridge, whose poetry appears in this volume) and Israel Folsom (whose poetry also appears in this volume). Gibbs’s poem about the Cornwall School is his only known poem. He was a well-liked student and a powerful public speaker. After completing school in 1822, he worked among the Choctaw in Mississippi as a missionary...

    • Corrinne (Cherokee)
      (pp. 224-225)

      Corrinne was the pen name of a student at the Cherokee Female Seminary....

    • Lily Lee (Cherokee)
      (pp. 225-226)
      Lily Lee

      Lily Lee was the pen name of a student at the Cherokee Female Seminary. Perhaps her poem puts a playful twist on an event at the seminary or on some other event in the Cherokee Nation....

    • N. (Cherokee)
      (pp. 226-227)

      N. was the pen name of a student at the Cherokee Male Seminary....

    • Emma Lowrey Williams (Cherokee)
      (pp. 227-228)
      Emma Lowrey Williams

      Emma Lowrey Williams graduated from the Cherokee Female Seminary in 1856 and then taught at Green Leaf School, a Cherokee public school. (Starr 228)...

    • Elsie Fuller (Omaha)
      (pp. 228-229)
      Elsie Fuller

      Born in Nebraska, Elsie Fuller was a student at Hampton Institute from 1885 to 1888.

      (Littlefield and Parins,Biobibliography241)...

    • Samuel Sixkiller (Cherokee)
      (pp. 229-232)
      Samuel Sixkiller

      Samuel Rasmus Sixkiller was born in the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory. His great-grandfather Redbird Sixkiller was elected to the Executive Council of the Cherokee Nation (Starr 299) and elected Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation. His grandfather Samuel Sixkiller, High Sheriff of the Cherokee Nation and Captain of the United States Indian Police, was famously murdered while on duty in 1886. Sixkiller was class poet for the class of 1895 at the Carlisle Indian School. After graduating that year, he lived in Indian Territory (later Oklahoma), working as a bookkeeper for theMuskogee PhoenixLater...

    • Melinda Metoxen (Oneida)
      (pp. 232-234)
      Melinda Metoxen

      Melinda Metoxen, from Wisconsin, graduated from Carlisle Indian School in 1902 and then worked at the Wisconsin Oneida School as a seamstress (Littlefield and Parins,Biobibliography269). In this poem, Metoxen takes on the voice of a visitor to Carlisle from Iceland....

    • J. William Ettawageshik (Ottawa)
      (pp. 234-235)
      J. William Ettawageshik

      As a student at the Carlisle Indian School, William Ettawageshik worked in the print shop. After graduating in 1911, he worked in northern Michigan as a newspaper editor and printer. (Littlefield and Parins,Biobibliography,Supplement209)...

    • Anonymous Carlisle student
      (pp. 235-236)

      In an article titled “A Carlisle Poet Discovered,” theCarlisle Arrowintroduces this poem with the following words: “Room Eight boasts of having a poet in its class, the fact being revealed by the final tests given last week. In response to the request to write a composition on ‘My Industrial Work,’ the following poem was given.” The poem by the anonymous poet from Room Eight gives a picture of life for a Carlisle student. By the end, the poem sounds less proud than the school administrators who chose to publish it may have realized....

    • Lillian Simons (Mashpee)
      (pp. 236-237)
      Lillian Simons

      In this, her only known poem, Simons writes playful and sometimes surprisingly frank riddles about her classmates at the Carlisle Indian School. Perhaps one of the riddles describes her....

    • Maude Cooke (Mohawk) and Agnes Hatch (Chippewa)
      (pp. 237-238)
      Maude Cooke and Agnes Hatch

      Maude Cooke was from New York, and Agnes Hatch was from Michigan. Their poem shows part of what the Carlisle Indian School expected from female students. (Littlefield and Parins,Biobibliography,Supplement194, 226)...

    • Francis L. Verigan (Tlingit)
      (pp. 238-241)
      Francis L. Verigan

      Frank Verigan was born and raised on Puget Sound and attended boarding schools in Washington state (perhaps Cushman Indian School) and Oregon (probably Chemawa Indian School), followed by a year of public school in Tacoma. He then “went home,” as he later described it, to “my people in Alaska.” There he felt not Indian enough “to be an Indian, and not enough white . . . to be a paleface. So I drifted away from my people and roamed at will, laying my hand to any occupation that offered food and shelter for the time being, figuring also to earn...

    • Tyler Young (Arapaho)
      (pp. 241-242)
      Tyler Young

      Tyler Young, Bacone College class of 1923, was from Oklahoma. In a 1922 essay in a Baptist magazine, he eloquently decried traditional Indian life and appealed for new Indian leadership and increased assimilation into the surrounding American culture. While his poem and essay were signed Tyler Young, his gravestone (pictured online) says Tyler Youngbull. (Young; Littlefield and Parins,Biobibliography313)...

    • Mabel Washbourne Anderson (Cherokee)
      (pp. 242-251)
      Mabel Washbourne Anderson

      A granddaughter of the controversial Cherokee leader John Ridge and niece of Ridge’s son John Rollin Ridge, whose poetry also appears in this volume, Anderson was an 1883 graduate of the Cherokee Female Seminary, one of the schools in her poem “Nowita, the Sweet Singer.” She taught in public schools, including Cherokee schools in Vinita, Indian Territory. A frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines, she also published a biography of her distant cousin Stand Watie, the famous Cherokee Confederate brigadier general.

      A Romantic Tradition of Spavinaw, Indian Territory

      Spavinaw is the most beautiful stream in the Cherokee Nation. Nourished by...

    • Henry B. Sarcoxie (Delaware [Lenape])
      (pp. 251-251)
      Henry B. Sarcoxie

      Henry B. Sarcoxie attended Bacone Indian University in Indian Territory in the early 1890s. His friend and classmate Alex Posey wrote that they “used to scribble doggerel verses to each other during study hours.” Sarcoxie suffered from tuberculosis and traveled west for his health. The two poems included here come from his four “Rhymes Written at Las Vegas.” (Littlefield,Alex Posey58–59, 285)...

    • Evalyn Callahan Shaw (Creek [Muskogee])
      (pp. 252-252)
      Evalyn Callahan Shaw

      Evalyn (sometimes listed as Eva, Evelyn, or Jane Evylin) Callahan Shaw lived in Wagoner, Indian Territory. She probably grew up in Sulphur Springs, Texas, though with strong ties to Indian Territory, where her father owned a large ranch. Samuel Benton Callahan, her father, was a leading figure in Creek politics. An advocate for states’ rights who owned many slaves and yet opposed slavery, he was a captain in the Confederacy and represented the Creek and Seminole Nations in the Confederate Congress. Later, he worked as a newspaper editor and served as Clerk of the House of Kings in the Creek...

    • Laura Minnie Cornelius (Oneida)
      (pp. 253-257)
      Laura Minnie Cornelius

      Laura Minnie Cornelius (later Laura Minnie Cornelius Kellogg) was born and raised on the Oneida Reservation in Wisconsin and studied law and other topics at Barnard College, Cornell University, the New York School of Philanthropy, Stanford University, and the University of Wisconsin (without completing a degree). Fluent in Oneida and Mohawk, she was a founding member of the Society of American Indians in 1911, although she eventually separated from the SAI. At the time she published “A Tribute to the Future of My Race,” her only known surviving poem, she was an instructor at the Sherman Institute, a boarding school...

    • Hen-toh / Bertrand N. O. Walker (Wyandot)
      (pp. 257-280)
      Hen-toh / Bertrand N. O. Walker

      Bertrand N. O. Walker published his poems under his Wyandot name, Hen-toh (sometimes spelled Hen-to or Hento). In 1843 his parents were removed from Ohio to Kansas, where he was born. He came from a distinguished Wyandot family and was related to William Walker, who has poems in this volume. In 1874 Bertrand Walker joined the Wyandots who were removed to the Quapaw Agency in northeastern Indian Territory. He attended the Friends’ Mission School in Wyandotte, Indian Territory, followed briefly by public school in nearby Seneca, Missouri and then by four years of study with someone he described as “an...

    • Joseph M. La Hay (Cherokee)
      (pp. 280-281)
      Joseph M. La Hay

      A prominent Cherokee politician and attorney, Joseph M. La Hay was born in the Choctaw Nation but attended Cherokee schools. He served in many political offices, including mayor of Claremore, senator in the Cherokee legislature, delegate to Washington, and Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1896. In 1905, the year of this poem, he was an influential member of the Sequoyah Convention, which prepared a plan for the proposed state of Sequoyah. But federal officials chose to combine Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory into one new state, Oklahoma, which modeled its...

    • William D. Hodjkiss (Dakota)
      (pp. 281-283)
      William D. Hodjkiss

      Immediately below William D. Hodjkiss’s “Song of the Storm-Swept Plain” appeared the following note: “Mr. Wm. D. Hodjkiss, a genuine Dakota of the Cheyenne River Agency, for many years a clerk at Cheyenne and Arapahoe and Quapaw Agencies, is the author of the above poem. It is based upon the fate that this winter befell a South Dakota Shepherd attending his flock in one of the terrific storms that so frequently sweep over that country unheralded.” In 1897, the annual report of the federal Quapaw agent referred to Hodjkiss as “a very bright, intelligent Sioux Indian employed at this agency”...

    • Arthur Caswell Parker (Seneca)
      (pp. 283-284)
      Arthur Caswell Parker

      Arthur C. Parker was a leading anthropologist, historian, museum administrator, and political organizer. He was born and raised on the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York state. As his father’s mother and his own mother were not Seneca, and Seneca are matrilineal, he was not officially Seneca, though he was raised in Seneca culture as well as in the culture of the English-speaking world. His grandfather was an influential Seneca leader who played a key role in his upbringing, and his grandfather’s brother was the famous Ely Parker, the engineer who served in the Civil War with General U.S. Grant, rose...

    • Irene Campbell Beaulieu (Sioux)
      (pp. 284-286)
      Irene Campbell Beaulieu

      Irene Campbell Beaulieu lived in Pawhuska, Oklahoma and coeditedTributes to a Vanishing Race(1916), which included “Poor Lo.” She is listed on the 1934 roll of the Lower Sioux Indian Community of Minnesota. With its rough rhythms and its list of dispossessions and abuses, her poem shows how even an unpracticed writer might seek out poetry as a way to express blunt historical and political anger. Beaulieu signed the poem Wenotah, apparently her pen name....

    • Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai)
      (pp. 286-294)
      Carlos Montezuma

      A physician, Carlos Montezuma is famous for his unusual life story and for his political activism on behalf of Indians, but he is not previously known as a poet. Most of his poems, including all his published poems, are part of his political activism.

      Montezuma’s name was originally Wassaja. In 1871, he was captured by Pimas who sold him to an Italian photographer named Carlos Gentile. Gentile renamed him Carlos Montezuma, took him to Chicago and New York, and eventually gave him to the care of a Baptist minister in Illinois. The precocious Montezuma then graduated from the University of...

    • William J. Kershaw (Menominee)
      (pp. 294-295)
      William J. Kershaw

      William J. Kershaw taught himself law and passed the bar at the age of 20. He attended St. Lawrence College and St. Francis Seminary. A prominent Milwaukee attorney, he was a First Vice-President of the Society of American Indians. His mother was Menominee, and he was formally adopted by the Menominee tribe in 1912. A Democrat, he ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 1916 and was appointed an Assistant Attorney General of Wisconsin in 1933. Though published fourteen years apart, both of Kershaw’s poems included here address the land as a mother. According toAmerican Indian Magazine, published by the Society...

    • Thomas Dewey Slinker (Choctaw)
      (pp. 296-297)
      Thomas Dewey Slinker

      Thomas Dewey Slinker was born in the Choctaw Nation. The editor’s note introducing his only surviving poem says that it “has been received from Thomas D. Slinker, Company D, 28th Infantry, a Carlisle boy now serving in France with the American Expeditionary Forces,” the forces that fought in World War I....

    • James E. Waters / Wild Pigeon (Montaukett, Matinnecock)
      (pp. 297-300)
      James E. Waters / Wild Pigeon

      A controversial figure who worked for the Post Office in Manhattan, James E. Waters was elected to the Montauk (Montaukett) Tribal Council in 1914. In a disputed election, he was chosen as chief in 1919. He led efforts to write a constitution, organize annual meetings, and prepare a tribal roll, working to include Montauketts who lived away from the traditional Montaukett lands at the eastern tip of Long Island. He lobbied strenuously for the recovery of Montaukett lands, recruiting the Dakota physician and writer Charles Eastman to represent the Montauketts in Washington, D.C. He also supported the Society of American...

    • Wanda Short
      (pp. 301-302)
      Wanda Short

      While the editor has found no information about Wanda Short, the publication of “On Straight to Freedom” in Carlos Montezuma’s journal, together with the poem’s first-person references to Indian people, indicate that Short likely was Indian....

    • Sunhair
      (pp. 302-304)

      Sunhair published several poems in the Minnesota Chippewa journalTomahawk.It is possible that Sunhair was white. While a manuscript poem by Sunhair inThe Papers of Carlos Montezumaimplies that Sunhair was white (“My presence, it seemed as I entered in / Was one more trespass—the white man’s sin”; reel 9), those lines may refer to a mixed-race heritage, for Sunhair’s other poems speak of being Indian in the first person. It is also possible that one or the other perspective is a poetic effort to see from the perspective of other people’s eyes. Given the multiple poems...

    • Our Contributor (Anishinaabe?)
      (pp. 304-305)

      This anonymous poem, presumably by an Anishinaabe, appeared in theTomahawk, a Minnesota Chippewa (Anishinaabe) newspaper from the White Earth Reservation, under the headline “Tries Her Hand at Poetry. Our contributor tries her hand at rhyme this time.” The poem dramatizes the sense of excitement and controversy that sometimes surrounded the Society of American Indians....

    • Leta V. Meyers Smart (Omaha)
      (pp. 305-310)
      Leta V. Meyers Smart

      Born in Missouri, Leta V. Meyers (sometimes spelled Myers) Smart was a student at Hampton Institute in Virginia, an historically African American school that concentrated, for almost fifty years, on educating American Indians as well as African Americans. In 1915, Meyers (who took the name Smart after marriage) began teaching at Zuni Boarding School in New Mexico, under the Office of Indian Affairs, which she criticizes in her poems. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., and in California, where she was active in Indian political organizations, including work as one of the organizers of the Los Angeles branch of the...

    • Wa Wa Chaw (Payomkowishum, Luiseño)
      (pp. 310-320)
      Wa Wa Chaw

      Wa Wa Chaw is a mysterious and mostly unknown story. The main source of information about her life,Spirit Woman: The Diaries and Paintings of Bonita Wa Wa Calachaw Nuñez(1980), edited by Stan Steiner, does not provide her story in a clear or fulsome way. Most of its few details cannot be corroborated. According to Steiner, Wa Wa Chaw was born in 1888 in southern California. She was probably Payomkowishum, born at Valley Center in the Rincon band of Luiseño Indians. The Payomkowishum or Luiseño are the Indians whom Spanish colonizers forced to work for the San Luis Rey...

    • Ruth Margaret Muskrat (Cherokee)
      (pp. 320-330)
      Ruth Margaret Muskrat

      Ruth Margaret Muskrat is remembered for her work as a leader in Indian education and as an activist for Indian rights. Until now her poetry has been forgotten, but before she graduated from college in 1925, she devoted herself to writing poetry. Then, just as she was coming into her own as a poet, apparently under the growing influence of a Modernism that no longer required rhyme and meter, she stopped writing poetry and concentrated on her work as an educator and activist. When she married in 1928, she took the name Ruth Muskrat Bronson.

      Born and raised in the...

    • Broken Wing Bird
      (pp. 330-331)

      Given Broken Wing Bird’s name and publishing in Indian magazines, it seems likely that he or she was Indian, though the name could be an affectation by a non-Indian....

    • Blue Feather
      (pp. 331-332)
      Blue Feather

      This poem appeared in Carlos Montezuma’s journalWassaja, attributed to Princess Blue Feather. The term “princess” fits a common stereotype of American Indian women, beginning with the Pocahontas story. Indeed, more than one person has taken the title and name “Princess Blue Feather.” The poem’s appearance inWassajaindicates that the Princess Blue Feather who wrote this poem was Indian and not a pretend Indian taking on an Indian-sounding name. She may be the same “Princess Blue Feather, Aztec of Mexico,” who in 1934 self-published a booklet calledIndian Mother’s Lullaby, with a photo of her in an eastern woodlands...

    • Mrs. Minot Carter (Dakota)
      (pp. 332-333)
      Mrs. Minot Carter

      Mrs. Minot Carter lived in Los Molinos, California when an acquaintance sent two of her poems to theIndian Leaderfor publication. The acquaintance described her as proudly Indian and 44 years old, and as an avid gardener with twelve children....

    • Alfred C. Gillis (Winnemem Wintu)
      (pp. 333-340)
      Alfred C. Gillis

      Alfred C. Gillis worked with the Indian Board of Co-operation, a California Indian rights organization. Their journal, theCalifornia Indian Herald, published his poems and referred to Gillis as “highly educated” and as singing traditional Indian songs. (“Members of Indian Board”; “Mewuk Indian Tribe”; “Mr. Collett’s Reply”)...

    • Arsenius Chaleco (Yuma)
      (pp. 341-342)
      Arsenius Chaleco

      Arsenius Chaleco was born in Arizona and worked as a stock tender (U.S. Census). Someone who wrote so skillful and powerful a poem as “The Indian Requiem” probably wrote other poems as well, but the editor of this volume has not found more poems by Chaleco. A 1928 California Indian Census lists Chaleco at the Yuma Agency (“California Indians”). Beneath the poem’s original publication inIndian Teepeeappears the following note from William Tomkins, a non-Indian adopted by Sioux who in 1926 would publish a book about Indian sign language and pictographs: “In my humble opinion it [Chaleco’s poem] ranks...

    • Lynn Riggs (Cherokee)
      (pp. 342-355)
      Lynn Riggs

      Lynn Riggs (sometimes R. Lynn, Rolla Lynn, or Rollie Lynn Riggs) is known mostly as a playwright, but he was also devoted to writing poetry. He was born in Indian Territory, in the present Oklahoma. Growing up, he played guitar and sang and was a skilled horseman. After graduating from high school in 1917, Riggs worked a variety of jobs from cowpuncher to proofreader for theWall Street Journalto extra in cowboy movies, and he traveled widely, including to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. In 1920, he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma to study music and drama,...

    • D’Arcy McNickle [D’Arcy Dahlberg] (Confederated Salish, Kootenai)
      (pp. 356-365)
      D’Arcy McNickle

      D’Arcy McNickle is widely acclaimed as a fiction writer, political activist, government official, anthropologist, and historian. But early in his life he was also an accomplished poet.

      McNickle was born on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. His mother’s parents—including his grandfather Isidore, the topic of one of his poems—were Canadian Métis (Cree, Anishinaabe, and French) who fled to Montana in 1885 after joining the Métis rebellion in Canada. McNickle was enrolled in the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in 1905. He attended the mission school on the Flathead reservation before federal officials took him away from his mother...

    • Ben D. Locke (Choctaw)
      (pp. 365-368)
      Ben D. Locke

      Captain Ben Davis Locke was part of a prominent family in the Choctaw Nation. He served as private secretary to his brother, Victor M. Locke, Jr., who was Principal Chief from 1910 to 1917. His mother-in-law, Alice Brown Davis, was Chief of the Oklahoma Seminoles from 1922 to 1935. At the age of nineteen, Ben Locke became a deputy United States Marshal. He then joined the Oklahoma National Guard and led a mostly Indian battalion that backed up the Army during the fighting on the Mexican border in 1916–1917. During World War I he commanded a mostly Indian unit...

    • Molly Spotted Elk (Molly Alice Nelson) (Penobscot)
      (pp. 368-374)
      Molly Spotted Elk

      Molly Alice Nelson, who took the performance name Molly Spotted Elk, grew up on the Penobscot Reservation in Old Town on Indian Island in Maine. She went to school on the reservation and then to junior high and high school on the mainland. Her father served as the Penobscot representative in the Maine State Legislature in 1921–1922 and as governor of the Penobscot Nation in 1939–1940. A talented dancer and a devoted reader and writer, Nelson interrupted her studies to earn money for school by dancing for traveling vaudeville acts. Then, sponsored by University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Frank...

    • Winnie Lewis Gravitt (Choctaw)
      (pp. 374-375)
      Winnie Lewis Gravitt

      Gravitt worked as a public librarian in McAlester, Oklahoma. She attended the University of California at Berkeley and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. In addition to the poem included here, from April through July of 1935 Gravitt published poems in a short-lived journal, theTushkahomman, published by (among others) her brother Grady Lewis. (Gravitt 326; “Dr. Anna Lewis, Choctaw Historian”)...

    • Sunshine Rider / Atalie Unkalunt (Cherokee)
      (pp. 375-376)
      Sunshine Rider / Atalie Unkalunt

      Sunshine Rider was one version of the stage name of a New York City concert singer and Indian arts activist whose legal name was variously reported in press accounts as Eva, Iva, and Ida Rider and who usually went by the name Princess Atalie Unkalunt or Princess Atalie Unkalunt Rider. She was born in Indian Territory, and her father, Thomas L. Rider, served in the Oklahoma legislature. Rider studied at the Northeast Conservatory of Music in Boston. During World War I, she sang with the YMCA to entertain the troops and won a British citation for valor under fire. In...

    • Mary Cornelia Hartshorne (Choctaw)
      (pp. 376-382)
      Mary Cornelia Hartshorne

      Mary Cornelia Hartshorne published poems inThe American Indianand eventually joined the magazine as Contributing Editor of its “Poetry Page.”American Indianoften featured young Indian women on its cover and profiled them in the magazine. Hartshorne appeared on the cover for July 1928, and the profile of her notes that she was “descended from two of the most influential families of the Choctaw tribe, the Fulsoms and the McCurtains” and that Choctaw District Chief Cornelius McCurtain was her grandfather. “She declares, however, that she isnota ‘princess,’ and that the title was unknown among the Choctaw Indians”...

    • Julia Carter Welch (Chickasaw)
      (pp. 382-385)
      Julia Carter Welch

      Julia Carter Welch published a number of yet unfound poems in local newspapers in Richmond, Virginia and in church magazines as well as poems inAmerican Indian, the source for the poems included here. Her father, Charles David Carter, served in many offices for the Chickasaw Nation and then, after Oklahoma became a state, in the U.S. Congress for twenty years, including as Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. Her husband was Gus Welch, a famous Carlisle quarterback and track athlete, a teammate and friend of Jim Thorpe who worked as a coach and athletic director at many schools,...

    • Gust-ah-yah-she (Menominee)
      (pp. 385-387)

      The “Indian’s Plea” was written by a Menominee friend—Gust-ah-yah-she. The Menominee reservation is one of the most beautiful in the country. The Wolf River runs through the reserve, and is unsurpassed for the wildness and beauty of its scenery. Every few miles there is a lovely water-fall, and a movement is on foot to dam up certain of the falls and use the water power. There has been a difference about it—the majority of the Indians do not want this beautiful country of theirs destroyed, and that was the reason for the writing of this poem. It expresses...

    • Stella LeFlore Carter (Chickasaw)
      (pp. 387-387)
      Stella LeFlore Carter

      Stella LeFlore Carter’s father, Charles David Carter, served many years as a representative in the U.S. Congress. Her sister, Julia Carter Welch, also has poems in this volume....

    • Elise Seaton (Cherokee, Chickasaw)
      (pp. 388-390)
      Elise Seaton

      Born in Oklahoma, Elise Seaton and her sister Elisebeth were dancers who studied dance and drama in New York City before returning to Bartlesville, Oklahoma. They danced in vaudeville and traveled widely as extras for a magician. Because they looked alike, the magician could hide one sister and then seem to make her magically reappear when the other sister came on stage from another direction. The sisters ran a dancing school in Bartlesville. (“Introducing”; Wallis 206)...

  6. Notable False Attributions
    (pp. 391-396)

    This appendix lists items identified as poems by American Indians that are not actually poems by American Indians. In their invaluable biobibliography (1981, 1985, and online at the American Native Press Archive) Daniel F. Littlefield and James W. Parins choose to list songs as poems, a legitimate choice, though not a choice adopted for this volume, because this volume serves a more poetry-specific purpose. In this list of notable false attributions, songs are not included when the word “song” appears in the title, for the appearance of “song” in the title already explains why such items are not always included...

  7. Bibliography of Poems by American Indians to 1930
    (pp. 397-416)
  8. Textual Notes
    (pp. 417-424)
  9. Works Cited
    (pp. 425-432)
  10. Index
    (pp. 433-436)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 437-438)