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The Printed Word:
Native American Responses
to the
Culture of Incorporation

Despite their status as America's unincorporated, Native Americans used a typically American means of voicing their displeasure, the printed word. Writers like Zitkala Sa, Ah-nen-la-de-ni, and Chief Joseph used publication in popular journals like Harper's and Century to expose the victimization of Native Americans by the systemized incorporation of their peoples. Native Americans used their writing as a means to explain their experience as victims at the hands of the agents and agencies of incorporation, and at institutions such as the Boarding Schools where they were denied their names, their languages, and any chance to maintain family ties.

These Native American writers also used their publications to rewrite American history from the perspective of the conquered Native American. As we will see Native American contributions to American history such as Ohiyesa's[Charles Eastman] biographies of famous "Indian" chiefs and warriors told different stories and added many different dimensions to a story of Native America that was for the most part dominated by white presses who described Native Americans as sub human.

A Note On the Sources

As their use of English suggests the majority of the writers included in this anthology grew up in both the world of the Native American and the culture of incorporation. Some like Zitkala Sa[Gertrude Bonnin], whose father was white man that she never knew and whose mother was a full blooded Sioux, signified the depth to which these cultures were intermingled at this time. As victims of cultural imperialism Native Americans of this era were threatened with the loss of their culture, their language, and their history. In fact many Native Americans returned to the reservations doubly unincorporated as their English education had rid them of all vestiges of their culture and they returned home "strangers."

As the section on Native Traditions and Religion signifies Native American writers wrote with the hope of preserving their Native culture, but more than that these Native Americans used their self-expression as a means to reveal the humanity of Native Americans and the inherent value of their way of life.

The purpose of this anthology is to allow Native Americans from this period to speak for themselves and to paint a portrait of the Native American experience in the age of incorporation. Including sections on Indian Childhood, The Boarding School Experience, American History Retold from the Native American Perspective,Names and Naming,Native Religions and Traditionsand On the Reservation this anthology hopes to expose the experience of the Native American before, during, and after cross-cultural contact. This site also provides links to more information on the authors included and when possible a bibliography. Although Native Americans form the majority of the writers listed when relevant documents written by white writers, such as author of the Dawes Severalty Act Senator Henry Dawes, have also been included for the purposes of context and comparison. Although their opinions about the incorporation of their cultures differed as extensively as their personal and tribal histories, their voices when taken as a whole paint a brutal picture of their people as victims of the system of cultural imperialism known as incorporation. Their voices reveal the forced assimilation of America's first peoples into the culture of mainstream, middle class, white America.


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