Monologue and Dialogue in Native American Autobiography
Because of the relation between critical paradigms and the literary canon—some texts being more visible and more interesting to certain procedures than to others—I have proposed the importance of a historicist emphasis for American literature as far more likely than any formalist turn for the purpose of noting the contribution of indigenous, Native American literature to American literature (as well as to see what it might mean to value Native productions in their own right). The sort of historicism I am interested in is one that allows for human agency, not teleologically destined to some foregone conclusion but as it engages in struggle to reconcile a maximum degree of individual freedom with a maximum degree of social justice. This struggle takes place in the material world—in society—and it takes place in the cultural world—in literature. To think of the human agent in this way requires that one theorize a different sort of self than the Western "bourgeois ego." In this project, as in so very many others, Fredric Jameson offers help, if only in passing. Jameson has said,
I always insist on a . . . possibility beyond the old bourgeois ego and the [postmodern] schizophrenic subject of our organization society today: a collective subject, decentered but not schizophrenic. (in Stephanson 45)
Jameson goes on to say that this subject "emerges in certain forms of storytelling that can be found in third-world literature . . . ," but neither here nor in a more extended consideration of this matter (I will examine it in the next chapter) does Jameson indicate whether this problematic category, third world literature, might also encompass the literature of Native Americans—in which, I want to claim here, this "collective self" has at least its nearest, as well as one of its most powerful models.
Autobiography is the type of literary discourse to which we have regularly looked for models of the self, and Native American autobiography, in both its individually written (autobiographies by Indians) and its compositely produced (Indian autobiographies) forms, offers what I would call dialogic models of the self. In Native American autobiography the self most typically is not constituted by the achievement of a distinctive, special voice that separates it from others, but, rather, by the achievement of a particular placement in relation to the many voices without which it could not exist. As the textual representation of a situated encounter between two persons (or three, if we include the frequent presence of an interpreter or translator) and two cultures, Indian autobiographies are quite literally dialogic. In autobiographies by Indians where only the autobiographical subject writes, there is not the dialogue of specific persons, although cultural cross-talk persists; as an Indian and a writer, a Lakota (for example) and a Christian (or a self-conscious artist in the Western sense), even the apparently monologous Native autobiographer is likely to show his or her biculturalism.
For any person who identifies himself or herself as an Indian, the writing of autobiography, whether done alone or in conjunction with a non-Indian person, generates a textual self
that is in greater or lesser degree inevitably dialogic. But this textual self derives from a prior actual or biographical self, and this, too, in its historical formation, is collectively rather than individualistically constituted. I mean to say only that Native American autobiographies, so far as their subjects have been formed in relation to tribal-traditional cultures (the assumption one makes in calling these texts Native American autobiographies in the first place) provide illustrations of the social constitution of the individual in variants that have not much been present in the West since perhaps the sixteenth century. While cases will differ, traditionally, Native American selves are better accounted for, in Mauss's classic terms, by personnalité or role theories rather than by moi theories of inwardness and individualism (although the situation is considerably more complex than Mauss allowed). Native American autobiographies, then, are the textual result of specific dialogues (between persons, between cultures, between persons and cultures) which claim to represent an Indian subject who, him- or herself, is the human result of specific dialogical or collective sociocultural practices. They are particularly interesting, it will be my claim, as providing images of a collective self and a collective society.
For all of this, it is the case, as I shall try to show, that some Native American autobiographies work in such a way as to suppress the dialogic or collective constitution of both Native self and autobiographical text. It is the aim of these autobiographies to attain to—in my view, to submit to—one or another monologic model of the self and the text as given by the dominant Euramerican culture at a particular moment in time, to accommodate themselves to a reigning authoritative discourse. But I have already invoked a number of theoretical contexts that it may be useful to speak of further before proceeding.
To introduce the terms "monologue" and "dialogue" is, of course, to invoke two important developments in literary and social scientific theory. I refer to recent interest in the Russian theorist, Mikhail Bakhtin, and to the effort to define what has been called a dialogical anthropology.
So much has been written on Bakhtin of late that any attempt to summarize his thought is bound to be both incomplete and partial. Incomplete, because what is generally to be understood by reference to "Bakhtin," is very far from settled. To be sure, "Freud" and "Marx" mean different things to different people, as well; but there seems to be in Bakhtin, more than in these other major thinkers (and it is by no means universally agreed that comparison of Bakhtin to major thinkers is justified), an openness or ambiguity of a particularly pronounced kind. This openness, if we choose to call it that, may be functional, a practical illustration of what had been theoretically proposed, a textual gesture on the part of Bakhtin himself in the direction of dialogism. Or perhaps it is not "openness" but, instead, flawed thinking and ambiguity to the point of confusion that makes it so hard to specify the particulars of Bakhtin's thought; not rhetoric but logic is at issue. For these reasons, any attempt at an approximately neutral "summary" automatically becomes partial, a choice not between nuances but real differences; there is indeed, as the title of Allon White's essay conveys, a ". . . Struggle Over Bakhtin."
For Bakhtin, human language is, as he calls it, heteroglossic and polyvocal, the speech of each individual enabled and circumscribed not so much by language as a system (hence Bakhtin's difference from Saussurian structural linguistics and its fascination with langue ), as by the actual speech of other indi-
viduals. Speech is social and meaning is open and in flux, inevitably a dialogue among speakers, not the property or in the power of any single speaker. "[A]ll there is to know about the world is not exhausted by a particular discourse about it . . ." (1984, 45), Bakhtin notes in a typical statement; or, "Nothing is absolutely dead: every meaning will have its homecoming festival" (in A. White, 219). In writing, it is what Bakhtin calls the novel which most fully testifies to its own (inevitable) incompleteness, to its ongoing indebtedness to the discourse of others; the novel, for Bakhtin, is the prime literary instance of dialogized speech. Still, some forms of written discourse, and some forms of social practice, do seek to impose a single voice as alone authoritative, thus subordinating or entirely suppressing other voices. What Bakhtin calls the epic is the literary genre preeminently marked by the monologic tendency, while the totalitarianism of the Stalinism under which Bakhtin lived provides the sociopolitical model of monologism. Bakhtin seems to be committed to dialogue on empirical grounds inasmuch as the term "dialogic" claims to name the way speech and social life "really" are. But Bakhtin seems also to be committed to dialogue on moral and esthetic grounds; he approves of and is pleased by that which he finds di-, hetero-, poly-, and so on.
What is at issue here for criticism is the meaning of this preference both in language and in political practice. Semantically, it is not clear whether Bakhtinian dialogic envisions a strong form of pluralism in which all possible significations have at least some legitimate claim in any determination of meaningfulness, or, rather, a kind of infinite, unbounded free play of signifiers in regard to which decidable meanings simply do not exist. In the same way, Bakhtin's dislike of what he calls
monologue may or may not leave room for some forms of relatively stable or normative assertion. We do not yet know whether such statements as those I quoted above—and, to repeat, there are innumerable such statements in Bakhtin's writing—intend a radically ironic (a deconstructive, postmodern) refusal of any form of grounded meaning however relativized, or, instead, an insistence that no single language act has the capacity to encompass the entire range of humanly possible meaning—as no single mode of political organization can give full latitude to human potential. In this latter regard, the issue is particularly complicated. This is to say that, while we do know from Bakhtin that something called the "novel" is supposed to provide the best illustration of relativized, dialogic discourse, we do not quite know whether the nearest thing he gives us to a sociopolitical equivalent of the "novel," Rabelaisian "carnival," represents an actual model for social organization or only an escape from too-rigid social organization.
In more or less similar fashion, we find the same questions arising when we consider the implications of the various principles, definitions, and proposals for a dialogical anthropology, some of them developing more or less independently of the Bakhtinian milieu. Here, it is the refusal of the hegemony of Western social science as monologically authorized to represent, interpret, or explain (in the languages of the West, in books by single authors, who have written alone in their offices or studies, etc.) that is of foremost concern. In every case there is a dissatisfaction with that set of oppositions—us and them, center and margin, hot cultures and cold, science and superstition, and so on—which always, in practice, leads to a privileging of the former term over the latter. This dissatisfaction focuses most specifically on what George Marcus
and Dick Cushman have termed "ethnographic realism," the mode of writing which, in their view, has expressed the absorption and explanation of them by us, their marginality centralized in the metropolitan terminologies that we, scientifically, provide, and so forth. Dissatisfaction with "ethnographic realism" has expressed itself variously. Marcus and Michael Fischer, for example, as I noted earlier, have turned to a naive and untheorized faith in "innovation" in the interest, it would seem, of a "defamiliarization" that quite unhistorically is taken as likely to produce "better" ethnographies than those in the "realistic" mode. But most generally, the dissatisfaction I allude to has involved a retreat from at least the most blatantly imperial forms of (the phrase is James Clifford's) "ethnographic authority," or (the phrase here is Dennis Tedlock's) "analogical anthropology."
As Tedlock presents it, analogical anthropology "involves the replacement of one discourse with another" (1983, 324), "their" voice either disappearing entirely or appearing only in what amounts to a full translation by the anthropologist. Dialogical anthropology, however, "would be a talking across, or alternately, which is something we all do in the field if we are not purely natural scientists." Moving from an empirical argument (dialogue represents how it really is) to an essentially ethical or esthetic argument, Tedlock goes on to assert that "There is no reason this dialogue must stop when we leave the field." Thus the essay in which these sentences appear begins with an account of its first presentation as a talk, consistent with Tedlock's belief that "the circumstances of
anthropological discourse . . . should be kept in open discussion rather than being hidden away in footnotes, appendixes, and unpublished manuscripts" (1983, 321). Tedlock's argument here is carried forward not logically but rhetorically by means of the opposition between the adjective "open" and the verb particle "hidden." My point is not to criticize Tedlock; I generally agree with him, and he has put the case as eloquently as—and in rather a less mystified and "millenial" fashion than—anyone. Rather, I want to reaffirm my remark in the Introduction that there is no way logically to demonstrate that the use of appendixes and footnotes, for example, is necessarily imperialistic or functions always and everywhere in the service of domination. Those of us who wish to speak in favor of dialogue will have to take a dialectical and specifically historical approach to the subject.
The different ways in which "circumstances" and cross-talk may be conveyed are explored in the work of dialogical anthropology where the intention—to say what by now should be apparent—is to find ways to let the Other speak for him- or herself, to open one's text to difference, to defer to the authority of alterity, at least to the fullest extent that this is possible. How to do this is by no means clear. Marcus and Fischer vaguely invite a formal eclecticism—so long as it strikes the "reader" (for whose taste in these matters they are ready to speak with quite monologic authority) as "sophisticated." As P. Steven Sangren has shown, this "sophistication," with its tendency to privilege either "the experience of fieldwork [or] the problematics of ethnographic rhetoric," in actual practice may well border "on self-congratulatory, narcissistic decadence," (423) or, at best, produce something like Kevin Dwyer's somber recognition that a certain kind of ethnographic search for the Other works best when it acknowledges
that what it can most securely discover is the Self. But this is not to say that a commitment to dialogue in the interest of a dialectical anthropology (as in the title of Stanley Diamond's excellent journal) cannot be more fully aware of textual problematics than has hitherto been the case, more modest and/or self-conscious about its inevitably totalizing categories, and so hope to produce ethnographic accounts that may well advance our sense of truth and knowledge, however relativized these may be.
It turns out, thus, to be the case that dialogical anthropology broadly conceived, in quite the same way as Bakhtinian dialogic, may desire forms of fuller and more authentic, more relativistically scientific (the conception here need not be taken as oxymoronic) representations of others—or, to the contrary, it may desire a refusal of representation altogether. It is difficult to imagine what this refusal would mean in actual practice, although Stephen Tyler's call for poetic evocation in anthropology as the next step beyond explanation and even interpretation may give us some idea. Tyler's program to move anthropology from the production of "documents[s] of the occult" to "occult document[s]" (in the phrase he takes from Robert Duncan) envisions a postmodern anthropology that would abandon all "scientific" claims to epistemological status as "truth" in favor of moments of insight or "knowing." Tyler himself, however, seems aware that an "evocative" ethnography is easier to imagine/desire than to produce. In any event, to read dialogical anthropology this way is the
same as to read Bakhtin in poststructuralist fashion; both readings, in their different ways, lead to what I see as an essentially religious criticism.
Now Indian autobiographies are, as I have said, the products of historically specifiable dialogues between two persons from different cultures, and autobiographies by Indians are written by one person alone who has had significant experience of two different cultures (the self-identification as a Native person and the writing themselves testifying to this fact). Although Indian autobiographies are quite literally dialogic productions, nonetheless a number of these texts have tended toward monologism: there is an attempt in them to permit only a single voice to sound. In practice that voice has been not so much the voice of the individual Indian subject or even the individual white editor, that is, not so much a personal voice, as—in the Foucauldian sense—the voice of a dominant order or discipline (at the very least a dominant period style that defines which texts are candidates for being taken seriously). I shall take this up in more detail below.
And, curiously enough, when we consider a range of autobiographies by Indians, we discover that although they are literally monologues, written by one speaker alone, some among them have sought to achieve a high degree of dialogism—to acknowledge and dramatize, as I indicated earlier, the bicultural nature of their textual formation and also the collective formation of their particular sense of self. But—to speak generally for only a moment more—this commitment to dialogue in autobiographies by Indians is no more universally present in them than a commitment to monologue is universally present in Indian autobiographies. Indeed, as I shall try to show, even the determined Indian monologist usually finds it difficult or impossible to hide all traces of other voices.
Dominant in the Pilgrim century, revived in the mideighteenth century during the Great Awakening, and residually operative even in our own time, a major American discourse is the discourse of what I shall call salvationism . A dialect of aggressive Protestantism, salvationism is the discursive equivalent of a glass trained on Heaven through which all this world must be seen. The category of concern here—of "knowledge/power" in Foucault's term—is religion . In the second quarter of the nineteenth century, this discourse is secularized; in relation to Indians, the will of God becomes translated into the law of nature, an evolutionary law that insists upon the accession of "savagery" to "civilization." The category of concern now is (natural) history . In the twentieth century, Indians become not so much candidates for salvation or for historical documentation as subjects for anthropological study. The category of concern is (social) science . Just as the subjects of salvationist autobiography were those whose life stories were offered as illustrating God's plan and power; just as the subjects of savagist autobiography were those whose life stories were offered as illustrating the historical progress of civilization; so, too, were the subjects of social scientific autobiography those whose life stories were offered as representative of their cultures. In the past twenty years or so, the Native American autobiographies—autobiographies by Indians rather than Indian autobiographies—that have been most noticed have presented themselves in relation to the category (not of religion, history, or science, but) of the esthetic, as art, adopting presen-
tational techniques that derive more or less from types of literary modernism.
I propose to examine in some detail two Indian autobiographies, J. B. Patterson's Life of Black Hawk (1833) and L. V. McWhorter's Yellow Wolf: His Own Story (1940), and two autobiographies by Indians, William Apes's A Son of the Forest (1829), and Leslie Marmon Silko's Storyteller (1981) for their relation to dialogism. My sense of the matter is that this relation has social as well as cultural consequences, some of which I will try to indicate.
Born in 1798 of a mixed blood father and a Pequot mother, William Apes suffered through a particularly brutal childhood. He learned Christian doctrine along with his letters from white foster parents—with whom, for all their kindnesses, he did not dwell long. In his early teens he enlisted as a soldier and participated, on the American side, in the attempted invasion of Canada during the War of 1812, a war in which Tecumseh and Black Hawk fought for the British. After leaving military service, Apes worked at a variety of
trades and was eventually attracted to the teachings of evangelical Methodists. He obtained first an "exhorter's" and then, with great difficulty, a preacher's license. It is with this latter achievement that Apes concludes his autobiography, filling thereby, a familiar Western autobiographical pattern, the discovery of identity in vocation. Apes's Son of the Forest is a tale of trial and test, the story of the bark that has safely crossed the stormy sea—at least, that is, so far as this life is concerned. Safe haven for Apes is nowhere short of heaven—where, as he says in the final paragraphs of his narrative, he hopes to meet his readers.
So far as we know, Apes wrote his story alone (he seems to have published the first edition at his own cost, as well), and it is possible that careful analysis comparing Apes's text to a great many others contemporary with it might discover certain stylistic gestures of the sort we frequently assume to imply the unique individual himself. It is possible: but my own readings of Apes and of some—not a very great many—other texts of the period do not reveal such gestures. Rather, the voice that sounds everywhere in Apes's text seems to mirror very closely a voice to be heard commonly in the early nineteenth century, the voice of what I have called salvationism. Such a voice on these shores typically expresses what Sacvan Bercovitch has called the "sacral view of America" (1977, 17), effecting a "leap from secular into sacred history"—a "leap," as I should say, that denies secular history altogether. For if events in time are only variants of Biblical originals, if all human actions can be understood only in relation to God's will, as the salvationist view would have it, then we live not history but myth—the monomyth, in Joseph Campbell's term, a monomyth which in William Apes's autobiography is expressed in relentless monologue.
Apes is proud to acknowledge his Indian ancestry—although he is much opposed, here, to the term "Indian;" for him, "The proper term which ought to be applied to our nation, to distinguish it from the rest of the human family, is that of 'Natives ' "(1829, 21) But even his understanding of what it means to be a "Native" is filtered through Christian perspective. The "natives of this country," Apes explains, "are the only people under heaven who have a just title to the name, inasmuch as we are the only people who retain the original complexion of our father Adam" (1829, 21). His pride in his ancestry, in this instance—as in another I shall mention—thus derives from no indigenous, Pequot sense of these matters—although, to be sure, its Christian reference may not be entirely orthodox either. Alluding to his Pequot forebears, Apes earlier had noted his grandmother's relation to "the royal family" (1829, 8). He quickly announces, however, that "I do not make this statement in order to boast of my origin, or to appear great in the estimation of others" for "in fact of myself, I am nothing but a worm of the earth . . ." (1829, 8). Once again Apes proclaims a sense of self, if we may call it that, deriving entirely from Christian culture.
The voice that Apes achieves in his autobiography echoes that of his Puritan predecessor Daniel Gookin, the biographer of the Native converts Joseph, Black James, the well-documented Hiacoomes, and other "praying Indians" of Massachusetts in the Pilgrim century; or, in the eighteenth century, Cotton Mather and Samson Occom among others. Nor is it a
very different voice from that of Apes's contemporary, Catherine Brown, a "Christian Indian of the Cherokee nation," as her biographer, Rufus Anderson of the American Board of Missions refers to her. Anderson's biography of Brown, which was already in its third edition the year Apes's autobiography appeared, includes many of her letters as well as numerous
entries from her journals. If we seek to compare these two Christian Indians, we must note that the one writer is Pequot and the other Cherokee; the one male, the other female; one had neither safety nor security from his family relations, whereas the other was the devoted and obedient daughter of loving parents—the list of differences could easily be lengthened. And yet both speak with a similar voice, defining themselves exclusively in relation to salvationist discourse: if there is a Cherokee dimension to Brown's text and to her sense of herself (for all of Anderson's editing) or a Pequot dimension to Apes's, these are not apparent to me. In Apes's case, indeed, there is the implication that when the Native lost his land, he lost his voice as well.
It is not only the voices of Pequot and Cherokee relatives and friends—voices that, one may assume, must have played some part in the subjective formation of William Apes and Catherine Brown—which are suppressed in these texts, for we also hear virtually nothing of the secular, Anglo world of their time. Indeed, inasmuch as Apes's autobiography is con-
I feel much indebted to you, but more particularly to that God who sent you here to instruct the poor ignorant Indians in the way that leads to everlasting life. Oh, my dear friends, may the Lord ever bless you, and make you the instrument of doing great good where he has called you.
You may pass through many trials; but remember beloved brother and sister, all our trials here will only make us richer there, when we arrive at our home. A few more days, and then I hope our weary souls will be at rest in our Saviour's kingdom, where we shall enjoy His blessed presence forever. (Brown, 55–56)
structed in terms of its author's progress to full permission to speak the language of salvationism, we may see it as documenting a struggle for monologism. It is Apes's wish to be the licensed speaker of a dominant voice that desires no supplementation by other voices. Just as the Puritans recorded no Indian song or story, regarding these, for the most part, as animal noise or the sounds of Satan, just as Anderson could blandly conclude that the Cherokee "had no literature" ("Not a book existed in the language. The fountains of knowledge were unopened. The mind made no progress" ), so, too, could William Apes see no reason to register the various idiolects he encountered in his extensive travels—the speech of artisans and soldiers, drunkards and tradesmen, and the like. Representation of the speech of others comes predominantly in indirect discourse, in which Apes, writing in retrospect from attainment to the position of mouthpiece of the Lord, translates fully and speaks for all others with no attempt to convey the sound of any voice other than the only
voice that came to count for him. Free indirect style, as James Clifford has noted, "suppresses direct quotation in favor of a controlling discourse always more-or-less that of the author," an author, it is necessary to add, himself formed by a specific "controlling discourse" (1983, 137).
Contemporary with Apes's book is the earliest Indian autobiography, J. B. Patterson's Life of Black Hawk (1833), a text which I shall not be able to align easily with strict monologue or an openness to the dialogic. Here a dialectical approach becomes particularly important. Who Black Hawk was, that is to say, is not a question that can be answered by some estimate as to whether we do or do not get the "authentic" or "real" historical person. "Black Hawk" is—must be—only the subject who emerges from this text, a collective subject that includes the subjectivity of John Patterson (he, of course, is nowhere mentioned or referred to in the text) foremost among other participants in the making of this Indian self. That there are other representations of Black Hawk, as I shall remark later, is something that can only complicate our sense of the matter; ultimately, we hear not so much Black Hawk's voice as Black Hawk's voices. (And for all that, we do not have transcripts of the sessions between Black Hawk and the mixed-blood translator, Antoine LeClair, or drafts of Patterson's manuscript.)
In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Christian salvationism as a dominant discourse in relation to the Indian was increasingly superseded by the language of what Roy Harvey Pearce, as we have seen, broadly defined as the discourse of savagism. To review this matter briefly here, savagism derived from a theory of universal history which substituted the secular category of scientific law for the Christian will of God. A vague and self-justifying form of social Darwinism, this domi-
nant ideology (from perhaps 1830 or so until as recently as 1934) claimed as a necessity of nature the accession of Indian savagery to white civilization. As Pearce carefully demonstrated some thirty-five years ago, "the history of American civilization . . . [was] conceived of as three-dimensional, progressing from past to present, from east to west, from lower to higher" (1967, 49) and that "history" took the fate of the Indian as its major illustrative instance. In actual practice, of course, indigenous people submitted not to the superior values of civilization but to its superior numbers and technology: still, the history of white America's push westward in the nineteenth century was with few and brief exceptions a history of Euramerican triumph and Native American defeat.
The proposition that Indians could not as Indians survive found, so far as I can tell, no argument. Disagreement set in, however, in the attitude to be taken in the face of this "fact." Many westerners, some Christians, and all those who thought of Native people as wild beasts, varmints, or minions of the Devil could only rejoice at the thought of their being tamed or terminated by their rational superiors. Others—easterners, often some Christians, and any of broadly romantic bent—thought of Indians as savages, to be sure, but noble savages whose passing, however inevitable, was yet to be lamented.
In May of 1830, at the urging of President Andrew Jackson, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act into law. This provided for the removal of all Indians on lands east of the Mississippi to its west bank (or wherever) at the discretion of Congress. With this encouragement, white settlers encroached upon the traditional territory of the Sank-and-Fox, leading, in 1832, to the so-called Black Hawk War, a fifteen-week affair in which large numbers of Illinois militia (the young Abraham Lincoln among them), together with detachments
of federal troops, decimated and demoralized Black Hawk's band of resisters sufficiently to induce the old Chief's surrender. After months of imprisonment, Black Hawk was taken to meet President Jackson himself, and then on tour through the east. Finally, after another brief detention, he was returned to his people on the Rock River. It was at this time, according to Antoine LeClair, government interpreter for the Sank-and-Fox, and translator for Black Hawk and Patterson, that Black Hawk requested his life story be written.
Just as William Apes assimilated the heteroglossia of craftsmen and merchants, Natives and whites, common soldiers and officers, pious and profane into the single strict monologue of salvationism, so, too, did J. B. Patterson, a youthful Illinois newspaperman pressed into service as Black Hawk's editor, assimilate the many languages of militiamen and regular army officers, of settlers, traders, bureaucrats, "progressive" Indians and conservatives into a single perspective and practice. The perspective is that of savagism and the practice is that of nineteenth-century American historiography (so far as syntax and diction or "style" are concerned, and, as well, standards for citation, documentation, and the like). There is no more variety in the speech of the many actors in Black Hawk's narrative, as Patterson has Black Hawk report it, than there was in William Apes's presentation. And, indeed, Patterson's Black Hawk, like Apes himself, usually represents the speech of others indirectly, assimilating what they actually may have said to that common period diction that is given as his own.
And yet, it would be mistaken to call the Life of Black Hawk a fully achieved monologic text. Very differently from what we seem to find in William Apes, there are gestures in Patterson's book that noticeably validate a certain alterity or differ-
ence, a relinquishment of full translation that yields, if not quite an Other voice yet still an Other viewpoint. For one thing, the very choice of the autobiographical form with its insistence that, however he may speak, it is nonetheless the Indian himself (the Indian as Indian, that is to say, not the "civilized" or Christianized Indian) who does speak—that no one else is required to speak for him—acknowledges a possibility that simply had not been permitted before. Formally, too, in point of structure, we may note both a presence and an absence at the opening of Black Hawk's story that hold Western biographical convention in abeyance and allow what Native equivalents may have existed a certain play.
I am thinking here of David Brumble's important observation that while the experiences of childhood are a virtual requirement for Western autobiography, such experiences are largely irrelevant to Native American personal narrative in the various forms tribal people generally and particularly developed to speak of what they as individuals had done. Patterson's Black Hawk begins by stating the year (1767) and place ("at the Sac Village, on the Rock river") of his birth, but, instead of offering details of his childhood and youth, he shifts immediately to a story about a prophecy to his great-grandfather of the coming of a white man. This story continues with accounts of dreams and special powers until it is linked specifically to the history of Sank-and-Fox encounters with the French and the British. This opening is worth comparing to that of William Apes's story, in which Apes begins with his birth, turns back to the origins of his grandfather and father, and then details (briefly, to be sure) the horrendous circumstances of his childhood, up through his sixth year when he is finally sent to school "for six successive winters" (1829, 16), at which point the first chapter concludes. Learn-
ing to read and to write and being exposed to Christian doctrine are the noteworthy events of Apes's early years. For Black Hawk, however, "Few, if any, events of note transpired within my recollection, until about my fifteenth year" when he "distinguished [him]self by wounding an enemy," thus to be "placed in the ranks of the Braves!" (46).
Of course, we do not know whether Black Hawk actually did begin his story with what Patterson offers as the first chapter; all the accounts we have of the composition of Indian autobiographies agree that Native narrators tell personal history in ways that are not closely conformable to Western notions of appropriate beginnings. Still, to begin with visions, dreams, prophecy, and the granting of special powers seems consistent with what we know of Native American narrative modes, while to speak of the "realistic" details of one's childhood is the mark of Western narrative influence. Patterson throughout Black Hawk's story includes references to dreams, gestures that may indeed point to a certain deference to the Native view of what is important to personal narrative—although I must continue to insist that we simply do not know how much these inclusions represent what Black Hawk "really" said. Patterson, like all editors of Indian autobiography even to the present moment, followed
what Brumble refers to as the Chronological Imperative, organizing the narrative, that is, in linear, temporal sequence: still, at least we can imagine that Corn Woman, dreams, and prophecies are as much involved in Black Hawk's sense of himself as the "experiences" of childhood.
From beginnings we may move to endings and consider what Patterson's structuring of the story, its terminus ad quem, might imply. I have elsewhere explained more fully why I take the structure of Indian autobiographies to be, finally, the responsibility of the Euramerican editor rather than of the Native American subject. I have also suggested that from the point of view of the dominant culture (which is, indeed, here criticized but never seriously called into question), Black Hawk's life story may be read as a comedy, the (sad) story of civilization's inevitable progress and its triumph over savagery. From the Indian point of view this story is, to be sure, what we would call a tragedy—but even recognition of and sympathy for the Indian point of view can do no more than to make the story sad to sympathetic whites who, despite their sadness, cannot share the Indian point of view without a virtual abandonment of their own. Black Hawk's final concilia-
tory words to the whites come too late; the offer of Indian friendship is irrelevant to a power that does what it likes, whether the Indians accommodate or no. And thus Patterson's Black Hawk is a text that fits comfortably enough within the monologue of savagism for all that it pushes against the limits of that discourse; although it permits the Indian subject to speak in his "own" voice, it substantially translates that voice.
Lucullus Virgil McWhorter met the Nez Percé warrior Yellow Wolf in 1907, midway through the period when the United States looked to solve its Indian problem through the process of Americanization. With the "close" of the "frontier" in 1890, it was as if the Indian had dropped out of history; from that point on, for the Native to survive could only mean, as one Commissioner of Indian Affairs put it, that the American Indian would have to become the Indian American. Abandoned by history and soon, apparently, to lose his distinctive culture, the Indian became the privileged subject of science, of a new, professional, academically based anthropology. Ethnographic "salvage" became the order of the day, an urgent effort to preserve as artifact and text what could not—as these anti-evolutionist anthropologists seemed to agree with their evolutionist fellow citizens—be preserved as living lifeway.
McWhorter did not publish Yellow Wolf's story, however, until 1940, by which time a new federal policy toward the Indian had been established. The key legislation in this instance was the Wheeler-Howard or Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, passed at the urging of John Collier, FDR's Commissioner of Indian Affairs. With Wheeler-Howard, the government officially recognized the dignity and worth of Native cultures and committed itself to their preservation,
rather than to their destruction through Americanization. McWhorter's sympathy for the Indians and his bitter doubts about the values of "civilization" are expressed from the first, in the Dedication to Yellow Wolf His Own Story, which reads:
To the shades of patriotic warriors, heroic women, feeble age, and helpless infancy—sacrificed on the gold-weighted altars of Mammon and political chicanery, 1863–77, are these pages most fervently inscribed. (n.p.)
McWhorter centers Yellow Wolf's life story, as Patterson had done with Black Hawk's, on an Indian "war," in this case, the famous flight of the Nez Percés in 1877. McWhorter does not claim, however, that it was Yellow Wolf who asked to tell his story in order to set the record straight, acknowledging that it was he who proposed the formal project of an autobiographical collaboration. In this, McWhorter's practice is rather like that of his contemporaries, the early anthropological editors of Indian autobiography, among them Paul Radin and Truman Michelson, who pressed possible informants for their life stories. Unlike the anthropologists, however, McWhorter was more interested in history than in personality-and-culture; and, unlike them in this as well, McWhorter—as the Dedication quoted above indicates—pretended to no purely objective, "scientific" stance.
In 1877, the Nez Percés had been ordered to exchange the million or so acres they held in what is now eastern Oregon for a twelve-hundred-acre reservation in Idaho. Although Young Joseph, their principal peace chief, sought to comply, a series of events led him along with Looking Glass and other traditional Nez Percé leaders to resolve on an escape to Can-
ada. The flight of the Nez Percés took four months and covered thirteen hundred miles, ending a mere thirty miles short of the Canadian border where Joseph surrendered to Colonel Nelson Miles. Yellow Wolf, twenty-one years old in 1877 and an active participant in the entire campaign, did not come in with Joseph but slipped off, managing to cross into Canada with Chief White Bird and his band.
McWhorter casts Yellow Wolf's story as an autobiography but from the outset he makes apparent his understanding that Yellow Wolf's own story cannot be his alone, that it cannot, I mean to say, come into being as a purely private enterprise. For one thing, there is the presence and voice of McWhorter himself to consider, the whole question of the kind and degree of participation of the editor of an Indian autobiography. J. B. Patterson, for example, did not attempt to dramatize his own place in the production of Black Hawk's narrative, allowing the autobiographical "I" to mask his participation. Patterson's procedure in this regard became standard practice both for the amateur, historically-minded Indian autobiographers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as for the professional, social-scientifically oriented Indian autobiographers of the early twentieth century, all of whose texts present themselves as what they are not, the monologue of a single speaker. In contrast, almost like the dialogically sophisticated ethnographer of today, McWhorter begins each of his chapters with a headnote indicating the circumstances of the narration to follow, dating and placing the story of the making of the story, and he interrupts Yellow Wolf's monologues within the various chapters, to speak directly in his own voice, now to comment on Yellow Wolf's tone or narrative manner, now to explain that Yellow Wolf is speaking in direct response to a question McWhorter has posed, or in acknowl-
edgment of a request to follow up some earlier matter. In this regard, McWhorter never lets us forget that Yellow Wolf's story results from a dialogue in the field, that it is the cross-talk of two men, representatives of two cultures—and representatives as well of two modes of cultural transmission, the one oral, the other textual.
McWhorter's practice insists upon the fact that what we perceive as written was in actuality spoken, and he regularly notes shifts in tone, pauses, or changes in diction on Yellow Wolf's part, refusing to erase the inevitable gaps and fissures of the actual narrative event to produce the illusion of the unified, seamless textual object. A sense of the actual process of cross-cultural encounter itself, much in the way Dennis Tedlock has urged, has not been erased from the final text. Still, McWhorter's primary concern is not the rhetorical and affective force of Yellow Wolf's narration, nor its status as Otherness and Difference; what is wanted foremost is historical accuracy. For all his sympathy with the Nez Percés, McWhorter writes Yellow Wolf's autobiography not even to dramatize a powerful sense of personal self, but, rather, to record the public truth . McWhorter's manner of approaching this truth is also dialogic, for he will include in the narrative not only his own and Yellow Wolf's voices but a great many other voices, among them the voices of those, like General O. Howard and Colonel Nelson Miles, who were the adversaries and conquerors of the Nez Percés, and whose sympathy
to them and to their cause was by no means uncomplicated or assured. McWhorter's book contains notes and appendices (to individual chapters as well as to the text in its entirety) which quote widely and at length from the published and unpublished testimony of participants in and eyewitnesses to the events in question. There are also citations from official government reports, from the published and unpublished letters and documents of Army officers, and from responses to McWhorter's own specific queries. These texts multiply the languages of Yellow Wolf: His Own Story, each of them serving, as Bakhtin remarked of the many languages of the novel, as ". . . a point of view, a socio-ideological conceptual system of real social groups and their embodied representatives" (1981, 411). Yellow Wolf's story is the story of his time and his world in all its multiplicity, and L. V. McWhorter does not seek to reduce the heteroglossia of that world to a single, univocal language. (Nonetheless, as Brumble has remarked, McWhorter not only followed the Chronological Imperative but explicitly coaxed Yellow Wolf to speak of his childhood: at least McWhorter allows us, right within the text, to recognize that he has done so.)
Of course, McWhorter did not learn to admire and respect novelistic many-languagedness from his great Russian contemporary; he did, however, discover it as a value much prized by the Indians. In a headnote to the second chapter, describing his first interviews with Yellow Wolf, McWhorter recalls how he was
surprised to see Yellow Wolf and interpreter Hart walking up from the river, accompanied by Two Moons, Roaring Eagle, and Chief David Williams, all of the Joseph band. These men came and sat through each day's session, mostly in silence, but there was an occasional short confer-
ence held in their own language. It was not until afterwards that I learned it was customary to have witnesses to what was said. The listeners, should they detect error, intentional or otherwise, in statements, were privileged to make corrections. (34)
This was the custom not, to be sure, for autobiography as such, which did not exist, but for the telling of coup stories, which were always at one and the same time private and public, original and augmentative in both content and form, the New World's equivalent, as one might say, of novelized discourse, or, better, instances of that storytelling which presents the collective self.
Monologue and dialogue, then, may be traced in Native American autobiography from the first examples of autobiography by Indians and Indian autobiographies to the most recent instances of both forms. In every case, as I have tried to suggest, the tendency toward monoglossia or heteroglossia cannot be—as Bakhtin made it easier for us to see—the result of a merely idiosyncratic or purely personal choice. For the single voice on which the monologist settles is never his or hers alone, but is derived from a social hegemony, as the many voices that the dialogist might represent are always the voices of social others. Monologue and dialogue, then, are
The principal story-teller's statements of essential facts have been amalgamated with those of his fellow tribesmen who fought as companions with him. Groups of them, with him as the leader, took the author many times into assemblage. Thus all points of importance have been checked and corroborated or corrected. The helpers have been Limpy, Pine, Bobtail Horse, Sun Bear, Black Horse, Two Feathers, Wolf Chief, Little Sun, Blackbird, Big Beaver, White Moon, While Wolf, Big Crow, Medicine Bull, the younger Little Wolf, and other old men, as well as some old women and a few Sioux, all of whom were with the hostile Indians when Custer came. (ix)
terms that indicate a method and also name an end—just as the Formalists' central concept, ostranenie, "defamiliarization" or making strange, was both technological and teleological at once. To attempt to present many voices in one's text has the result of legitimating those voices; to present one language alone is to send a warning to all other languages to beware.
To bring these reflections nearly to the present, I should like to offer some comments on Leslie Marmon Silko's Storyteller (1981) in relation to the questions of monologue and dialogue I have raised by reference to Bakhtin and to current anthropological theory.
Merely to consider Storyteller among Native American autobiographies might be thought to require some explanation, inasmuch as the book is a collection of stories, poems, and photographs as much as it is a narrative of its author's life. Of course a variety of claims have been made recently for the fictionality of autobiographies in general, the autobiography being recognized not only as the West's foremost genre oriented toward the expression of the self, but, too, its most deeply dialogic genre in which a conversation between historia and poesis, documentation and creation, let us say, is always in progress. And some of these claims might easily be instanced as providing justification for classifying Storyteller as an autobiography.
Indeed, to justify the book's classification as an autobiography in this way would not be mistaken; it would, however, be to treat it exclusively from a Western perspective, and so to fail to acknowledge that traditional Native American literary forms did not—and, in their contemporary manifestations usually do not—seem to be as concerned about keeping fic-
tion and fact or poetry and prose quite so distinct from one another as the West has been.
From the Western point of view, of course, to the extent that Silko's book is permissibly classified as an autobiography, it would seem to announce by its title, Storyteller, the familiar pattern in which one discovers who one is as an individual by discovering what one does socially, the pattern of identity in vocation. This is useful enough as a way to place Silko's text; still, it has been a very long time in the West since the vocational storyteller—different from the speaker of the word of God in this—has had a clear and conventional social role. In Pueblo culture, to be known as
a storyteller is to be known as one who participates in a traditionally sanctioned manner in sustaining the community; for a Native American writer to identify herself as a storyteller today is to express a desire to perform such a function. In the classic terms of Marcel Mauss, person, self, and role are here joined.
Silko dedicates her book "to the storytellers as far back as memory goes and to the telling which continues and through which they all live and we with them." Having called herself a storyteller, she thus places herself in a tradition of tellings, suggesting what will be the case, that the stories to follow, Silko's "own" stories, cannot strictly be her own; nor will we find in them what one typically looks for in post-Rousseauian, Western autobiography—or, as Bakhtin would add, in poetry—a uniquely personal voice. There is no single, distinctive, or authoritative voice in Silko's book nor any striving for such a voice (or style); to the contrary, Silko will take pains to indicate how even her own individual speech is the product of many voices.Storyteller is presented as a strongly polyphonic text, in which the author defines herself—finds her voice, tells her life, illustrates the capacities of her vocation—in relation to the voices of other storytellers Native and non-Native, tale tellers and book writers, and even to the voices of those who serve as the (by-no-means silent) audience for these stories.
It is Silko's biographical voice which commences Storyteller but not by speaking of her birth or the earliest recollections of childhood, as Western autobiography usually dictates. Rather,
she begins by establishing the relation of "hundreds of photographs taken since the 1890s around Laguna" that she finds in "a tall Hopi basket" to "the stories as [she] remembers them" (1): visual stories, speaking pictures, here, as in the familiar Western understanding, will also provide a voice. And Silko's relation to every kind of story becomes the story of her life. (It is interesting to note, however, that there is no developmental or evolutionary dimension to the story of Silko as storyteller: unlike Western autobiographies of artists, that is, she makes no attempt to dramatize stages in the recognition or choice of an artistic vocation; certainly she does not explain the reasons, however retrospectively perceived, that may have led her to do what she does.)
Dennis Tedlock has made the important point that Zuni stories are fashioned in such a way as to include in their telling not just the story itself but a critique of or commentary on those stories, and Silko's autobiographical story will also permit a critical dimension, voices that comment on stories and storytellers—storytellers like her Aunt Susie, in Storyteller, who, when she told stories, had "certain phrases, certain distinctive words/she used in her telling" (7). Both Aunt Susie and Aunt Alice "would tell me stories they had told me before but with changes in details or descriptions. . . . There were even stories about the different versions of stories and how they imagined these different versions came to be" (227). Silko's own "versions" of stories she has heard from Simon Ortiz, the Acoma writer whom Silko acknowledges as the source of her prose tale, "Uncle Tony's Goat," and her verse tale, "Skeleton Fixer," also introduce "certain phrases" and "distinctive words" that make them identifiably her own—yet these and all the other stories are never presented as the final or definitive account: although they are intensely associated with
their different tellers, they remain available for other tellings. "What is realized in the novel," Bakhtin has written "is the process of coming to know one's own language as it is perceived in someone else's language . . ." (1981, 365), and so,
too, to know one's own language as bound up with "someone else's language." Any story Silko herself tells, then, is always bound up with "someone else's language"; it is always a version, and the story as version stands in relation to the story as officially sanctioned myth as the novel stands to the national epic. Silko's stories are consistent with—to return to Bakhtin—attempts to liberate "cultural-semantic and emotional intentions from the hegemony of a single and unitary language," consistent with a "loss of feeling for language as myth, that is, as an absolute form of thought" (1981, 367).
Stories are transmitted by other storytellers, as Silko writes early in Storyteller,
by word of mouth
an entire history
an entire vision of the world
which depended upon memory
and retelling by subsequent generations.
. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .
. . .the oral tradition depends upon each person
listening and remembering a portion. (6–7)
But the awareness of and respect for the oral tradition, here, is not a kind of sentimental privileging of the old ways. Indeed, this first reference to the importance of cultural transmission by oral means comes in a lovely memorial to Aunt Susie who, Silko writes,
From the time that I can remember her
. . . worked on her kitchen table
with her books and papers spread over the oil cloth.
She wrote beautiful long hand script
but her eyesight was not good
and so she wrote very slowly.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .
She had come to believe very much in books. (4)
It is Aunt Susie, the believer in books and in writing, who was of "the last generation here at Laguna,/that passed an entire culture by word of mouth." Silko's own writing can be seen as a kind of frontier on which two modes of cultural transmission meet when it is explicitly compared to oral telling by a neighbor. Finding Silko's "Laguna Coyote" poem in a library book, Nora remarks,
"We all enjoyed it so much,
but I was telling the children
the way my grandpa used to tell it
To this critical voice, Silko responds,
"Yes, that's the trouble with writing . . .
You can't go on and on the way we do
when we tell stories around here.
People who aren't used to it get tired." (110)
This awareness of the audience is entirely typical for a Native storyteller who cannot go forward with a tale without the audience's response. As Silko writes,
The Laguna people
always begin their stories
that means "long ago."
And the ones who are listening
say "aaaa-eh" [.] (38)
These are the stories, of course, of the oral tradition. Silko invokes the feel of "long ago" both in the verse format she frequently uses and in the prose pieces, although perhaps only those sections of the book set in verse attempt to evoke something of the actual feel of an oral telling.
It is interesting to note that there are two pieces in the book that echo the title, one in prose, the other set in loose verse. The first, "Storyteller," is an intense and powerful short story that takes place in Alaska. The storyteller of the title is the protagonist's grandfather, a rather less benign figure, it seems to me, than the old storytellers of Silko's biographical experience; nonetheless, the stories he tells are of the traditional "mythic" type. The second, "Storytelling," is a kind of mini-anthology of (I think) five short tales of women and their (quite historical, if fictional) sexual adventures. The "humma-hah" (in effect) of the first section goes,
You should understand
the way it was
because it is the same
even now. (94)
The final section has its unnamed speaker conclude,
after he heard the story
and moved back in with his mother.
It was my fault and
I don't blame him either.
I could have told
better than I did. (98)
In both these pieces ("Storyteller" and "Storytelling") we find a very different sense of verbal art from that expressed in the West in something like Auden's lines in the poem on the death of Yeats, where he writes that "poetry makes nothing happen." In deadly serious prose and in witty verse, Silko dramatizes her belief, in common with all Native people, that stories—both the mythic-traditional tales passed down among the people and the day-to-day narrations of events—do make things happen. The two pieces refer to very different kinds of stories which, in their capacity to produce material effects, are nonetheless the same.
Among other identifiable voices in Silko's texts are her own epistolary voice (to call it that) in letters she has written to Lawson F. Inada and James A. Wright, or the voices of Coyote and Buffalo, as well as of traditional figures like Whirlwind Man, Arrowboy, Spider Woman, and Yellow Woman—some of whom appear in modern day incarnations. In stories or letters or poems, in monologues or dialogues, the diction may vary—now more colloquial and/or regional, now more formal—or the tone—lyrical, humorous, meditative—yet always the effort is to make us hear the various languages that constitute Silko's world and so her sense of human agency, or her self . If we would say with
Bakhtin that "The primary stylistic project of the novel as a genre is to create images of languages" (1981, 366), or, with the retreat from an imperializing realistic mode in ethnography, say with Kevin Dwyer that anthropology "is a wager that destroys the notion of an isolated and independent self" (273), then Storyteller is a clear instance of novelized, of dialogic discourse.
The texts I have examined thus far have been presented in such a way as might seem to suggest a definite historical shift from monologism to dialogism in the writing of Native American autobiography, as if William Apes had operated according to a fashion now superceded by the mode of Leslie Silko; as if J. B. Patterson's construction of the Life of Black Hawk had been rendered obsolete by the procedures of L. V. McWhorter in Yellow Wolf . This is not so: the autobiographies of N. Scott Momaday, on the one hand, and Joseph Brant's collaboration with Jim Whitewolf, or Thomas Mails' work with Frank Fools Crow, on the other, stand to indicate that monologism or the desire for same is alive and well in contemporary Native American autobiography, whether in Indian autobiography or autobiography by Indians.
What is worth remarking, however, is how extremely difficult it seems to be to write as an Indian (even as an Indian minister of Christ, or a self-conscious modernist Indian artist) without some measure of polyphony entering one's text. For all that the Indian author of an autobiography may wish to privilege a single perspective and a single stylistic practice, it usually turns out that there are, nonetheless, traces of other voices, even, it may be, other voices of the author herself, if not actually in the text then in the margins. To the extent that
this is true (I offer some illustration of why I think it may be true in just a moment), it seems tempting to attribute it to the historical formation of the Native American as subject, to her collective sense of self, and to the persistence within the European-derived autobiographical form of traditional Native American narrative forms—which, as I have tried to indicate in the discussion of Storyteller, also tend to the collective, mixed, or heteroglossic.
But just as it seems difficult for the Native person to appropriate the authority of one voice alone, so, too, is it difficult for the non-Native editor of an Indian autobiography to write for (even, sometimes, with) his subject without being pulled toward a dominant, univocal discursive manner. For all that non-Native editors may sympathize with and be open to Native voices, the necessity of accommodating their texts to the conventions that determine what the dominant culture can take seriously as history or social science in the realm of truth, exerts considerable pressure against the sound of any substantial difference. This tendency is very likely also attributable to the historical formation of the Euramerican as subject, but as well, to the formation of disciplines in the cultures of the West. In what follows, I offer examples of the persistence of (some degree of) dialogism in ostensibly monologic autobiographies by Indians, with some further reference to the resistances to (degrees of) dialogism in Indian autobiographies.
Let us begin with William Apes whose autobiography, I have claimed, is militant in its attempt to subsume all voices to the single voice of Christian salvationism. Four years after the publication of A Son of the Forest (1829; hereinafter abbreviated ASOF ), Apes, now "a preacher of the gospel" (20) who refers to himself as "The Missionary," published the Experiences of Five Christian Indians of the Pequod Tribe (1833;
(abbreviated as "Experience"). This is an anthology of biography and autobiography made up of brief life histories of Hannah Caleb, Sally George, and Anne Wampy written "By the Missionary," as well as a self-written account by Apes's wife, Mary ("Experience of the Missionary's Consort, Written by Herself"). It begins with the "Experience of the Missionary," that is, of Apes himself. This curious volume also has appended to it an eight-page text—a pamphlet, or sermon, as it were—called "An Indian's Looking Glass for the White Man."
Apes's "Experience" does not make reference to the earlier autobiography, promising, instead, a third autobiographical volume "should the Lord spare my life, a book of 300 pages, 18 mo. in size; and there, the reader will find particulars respecting my life" (4). In most respects, to be sure, this second autobiography simply duplicates, in condensed fashion, Apes's first—although there are some minor variations of detail. For example, Apes now gives his birthday as the "30th day of January," 1798, instead of the thirty-first as in ASOF (4), or places an incident in his fourteenth year (14) that had formerly been assigned to his fifteenth (ASOF, 43); he remembered getting only a cold potato for dinner in ASOF (10), whereas he now recalls that potato for breakfast ("Experience," 4); and so forth. More substantially, it might be noted that whereas in 1829, he found the term Indian a misnomer if not an outright slur, in 1833 he uses it without comment, and uses it regularly in referring to himself (e.g., "Experience," 1, 7–9) as the "self-taught Indian youth," the "little Indian boy," or the "poor little Indian boy." (And then there is the appended "Looking Glass," in whose title the term appears, with no irony, as well.)
Apes's very first paragraph, however, refers to Indians with
reference to the title of his earlier book. He invokes the plight of
those poor children of the forest, who have had taken from them their once delightful plains, and homes of their peaceful habitations; their fathers and mothers torn from their dwellings and they left to mourn, and drop a tear, and die, over the ruins of their ancient sires. ("Experience," n.p.)
This has occurred, writes Apes, as the result of "deception and power, assisted with the fiery waters of the earth—Rum." We have here rather stronger language than what Apes formerly allowed himself, and he uses it as part of an indictment of the whites' virulent race prejudice against Native people. Contrary to what he experienced as a child, Apes notes, white children have "not a nation to hiss at" them only for the color of their skin ("Experience," 5). In reference to the tribulations of his early life, Apes says,
Had my skin been white with the same abilities and the same parentage, there could not have been found a place good enough for me. But such is the case with depraved nature, that their judgment for fancy only sets upon the eye, skin, nose, lips, cheeks, chin or teeth, and sometimes the forehead and hair; without any further examination the mind is made up and the price set. ("Experience," 8)
"Now, if my face had been white," he writes a page later, "it would have been a town talk [that he was not taken to church of a sabbath]. But as it was an Indian face, no matter whether it was dirty or poor, or whether I had clothing or not" (9–10). This sort of criticism is repeated several times more (e.g., 17, 19). And this gives the clue, perhaps, to why Apes's book concludes the way it does, with the "Indian's Looking Glass."
For the central concern of that text is race prejudice. Or, put another way, the "Looking Glass" prominently adds the voice of social justice to the voice of salvationism, integrating the two. Let me quote Apes's extraordinary opening to this text at some length, for it is little known, I think, and deserves more attention than it has received. Apes begins,
Having a desire to place a few things before my fellow creatures who are travelling with me to the grave, and to that God who is the maker and preserver both of the white man and the Indian, whose abilities are the same, and who are to be judged by one God, who will show no favor to outward appearances, but will judge righteousness. Now I ask if degradation will not be heaped long enough upon the Indians? And if so, can there not be a compromise; is it right to hold and promote prejudices? If not, why not put them all away? I mean here amongst those who are civilized. (54)
Acknowledging "that this is a confused world and I am not seeking for office" (55), Apes puns upon the folly of"the black inconsistency" of race prejudice "which is ten times blacker than any skin that you will find in the Universe" (55). "If black or red skins, or any other skin of color," he continues,
is disgraceful to God, it appears that he has disgraced himself a great deal—for he has made fifteen colored people to one white, and placed them here upon this earth. (55)
The argument builds in intensity, and the diction and syntax, as well as the punctuation, come dangerously close to sliding away from "good" style: "What then is the matter now," Apes asks, "is not religion the same now under a colored skin as it ever was? If so I would ask why is not a man of color respected . . . [?] Jesus Christ and his Apostles never
looked at the outward appearances" (57). Apes goes on in this vein, marching directly up to the dreaded question of inter-marriage and criticizing "the disgraceful act in the statute law" of Massachusetts levying a fifty pound fine upon "any Clergyman or Justice of the Peace that dare [sic ] to encourage the laws of God and nature by a legitimate union in holy wedlock between the Indians and whites" (59). The irony that was absent or invisible formerly in Apes here is pointedly and consistently aimed: "But . . . I am not looking for a wife, having one of the finest cast" (59). "By what you read, you may learn how deep your principles are. I should say they were skin deep" (60). At last, he concludes,
Do not get tired, ye noble-hearted—only think how many poor Indians want their wounds done up daily; the Lord will reward you, and pray you stop not till this tree of distinction shall be levelled to the earth, and the mantle of prejudice torn from every American heart—then shall peace pervade the Union. (60)
Perhaps it is not too much to suggest that Apes, here, looks forward to the concerns and discourse of the pre-Civil War period—for this passage sounds like what is rhetorically more common in 1853 than in 1833; surely it is not too much to suggest that it looks back to Apes's "Experience" where the poor little Indian boy" was both literally (Apes suffered a great deal of brutality as a child) and figuratively in much want of having his "wounds done up daily." And this strong emphasis on Native American suffering as a result of Euramerican race prejudice appears to be very different from the emphasis of Apes's first autobiography.
But, then, it may not be so very different, on another look. For, although the language here is certainly less guarded and more willing to allow anger at injustice to sound, a return to
A Son of the Forest reveals more than one might first have noticed of at least a version of just this sort of thing. The first paragraph of ASOF , for example, did describe the betrayal of King Philip and the Pequods, referring to acts of "injustice" to an "oppressed nation." In 1829 it was not first Rum, but, rather, "having their daughters claimed by the conquerors (ASOF , 8) that Apes singled out as productive of a "more intense and heart corroding affliction" imposed upon his dispossessed people. Criticism of the whites for the introduction of "ardent spirits" (ASOF , 14) among the Indians does not, in fact, occur until several pages later, nor is that criticism ever developed into the full-blown critique of racism to be found in Apes's writing of 1833. Apes's conversion and his exhortation of white and red to a Christian life is so much in the forefront of ASOF that his social criticism may tend to go unnoticed. Yet—and this is my point—it is definitely there: and it cm be seen with great clarity the moment one rereads ASOF through the glass of Apes's subsequent autobiography as given in the Experience .
Or for that matter, rereads it through any of his succeeding work: his Indian Nullification of the Unconstitutional Laws of Massachusetts Relative to the Marshpee Tribe: or the Pretended Riot Explained (1835), a text which details what has to be called his political engagement on behalf of the Mashpees (for which Apes served time in prison); and his Eulogy on King Philip , the text of a sermon preached in 1836. In this latter text, Apes calls Philip "the greatest man that was ever in America; and so it will stand, until he is proved to the contrary, to the everlasting disgrace of the pilgrims' [sic ] fathers." (55–56) Apes's again and again attacks racism as the affliction equivalently (if differently) suffered by all people of color. Apes goes so far as to say,
Let the children of the pilgrims blush, while the son of the forest drops a tear, and groans over the fate of his murdered and departed fathers. He would say to the sons of the pilgrims, (as Job said about his birth day,) let the day be dark, the 22nd of December, 1622; let it be forgotten in your celebration, in your speeches, and by the burying of the Rock that your fathers first put their foot upon. . . . We say, therefore, let every man of color wrap himself in mourning, for the 22nd of December and the 4th of July are days of mourning and not of joy. (1836, 20)
These strong words, first spoken in Boston, to the descendants of the Pilgrims, saw print and even a second edition, in 1837—after which, rather mysteriously, Apes seems to disappear from public record; no date or place is known for his death. While I would still claim that the voice of salvationism is, indeed, the dominant voice of Apes's fullest and best known (for all that, it is little known) autobiography, it should be clear that reading it back through Apes's later work reveals that that is not the only voice.
The Native American writer most committed to hegemonic monologue, to the all-encompassing voice of lyric or epic, romantic or modernist art-speech in his writing has always seemed to me N. Scott Momaday. Momaday is not only the best known and most celebrated contemporary Native American writer, recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for fiction (1969), but, for Silko's work to date, the presumptive groundbreaker or forefather. Her Ceremony (1977), it is said (with some justice), is heavily dependent upon his House Made of Dawn (1968); her Storyteller (1981) perhaps no more than a rerun of his The Names (1976). And, so far as Native American autobiography is concerned, there is also Momaday's earlier The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969) to consider. This latter text, it has been claimed, offers three different voices in its tripartite arrangement of its materials into (I take here Alan
Velie's description) "a legend or story, a historical anecdote or observation, and a personal reminiscence" (Velie, 24). Moreover, inasmuch as The Names precedes Storyteller in its use of family photographs, quotation, and—if not poems and stories, at least—stream of consciousness meditations, "poetry" if one would call it that—it would appear that this text as well requires attention from anyone interested in the development of dialogic autobiography and the collective self.
Yet what I find everywhere in Momaday's work is a determination toward what Bakhtin calls "poetry" in its most extreme "epic" sense, to the establishment, that is, of a single authoritative voice, with its own "unique" or "personal" style, sufficiently distinctive to subordinate all other voices, everywhere translating them into the terms congenial to it. Critics may debate whether Momaday's tone in the two autobiographies is more accurately described as elegiac or simply lyrical: what one cannot miss is that whatever the name appropriate to that tone it rarely varies. There is very little in the way of wit or humor, no gossip or scatology, decidedly no self-criticism or criticism by others permitted to sound. But how could there be for a writer who opens The Way to Rainy Mountain by calling his reflections on the end of his people's traditional culture "idle recollections, the mean and ordinary agonies of human history" (1). History, for Momaday is only interesting as the stuff of myth, "agonies," I dare say, uninteresting so long as they remain "mean and ordinary."
Let me quote the third of the three parts of the very first section of The Way to Rainy Mountain by way of illustrating some of the comments above. This is the "personal" section, following upon the "legendary" section which portrays the "coming out" or emergence of the Kiowa, and then the "historical" section (in my view once again "legendary" inasmuch
as Momaday has no historical sense whatever), explaining the origin of the name, "Kiowa." Here, Momaday, speaking, it would seem, in his "own," "personal" voice, says,
I remember coming out upon the northern Great Plains in the late Spring. There were meadows of blue and yellow wildflowers on the slopes, and I could see the still sunlit plain below reaching away out of sight. At first there is no discrimination in the eye, nothing but the land itself, whole and impenetrable. But then smallest things begin to stand Out of the depths—and each of these has perfect being in terms of distance and of silence and of age. Yes, I thought, now I see the earth as it really is; never again will I see things as I saw them yesterday or the day before. (19)
Navajo autobiographies in which the protagonist recalls lonely times in the hills with the flocks often convey some degree of the isolation Momaday notes in this passage; autobiographical texts from the Plains document the aloneness felt at moments by the youth engaged in vision quest. But I have seen no Native American autobiography that ever took such aloneness-with-the-landscape as definitive or instrumental in the shaping of a world view or personal self. For most Native Americans, it could not be this sort of casual—if highly charged—random and unprepared moment alone that could show "the earth as it really is." In any case, the category "as it really is" in itself is more Western than Native American, as is that of "perfect being" (which may, as well, echo Buddhist teaching). For that matter, the notion of the land as "impenetrable" is quite foreign to indigenous conceptions: who could or would imagine penetrating the land-except, as Annette Kolodny has shown, a fairly typical American (not Native American) male. For all of this,
what I want most to point up is the commitment to a tone of high portentousness: everything in Momaday begs for an upper case letter; and every sentence in Momaday, since day-to-day temporal "agonies" are of no interest, is capable of the "Yes" of mythic affirmation.
What is true of Rainy Mountain , is true as well of The Names: there is everywhere the predominance of Momaday's distinctive lyric/epic art-speech. In this regard it is interesting to note that whereas the photographs in Silko's autobiographical text appear without captions (they are identified at the end of Storyteller but there are no markings along the way to tell the reader that they will be identified, let alone to tell the reader just what names Silko herself would give to these pictures), Momaday has seen fit to provide captions for his photos. Here, too, there is the determination to full control; the photos may speak as they will to their viewers, but they may do so only in the presence of Momaday's own cues as to their content or meaning. Here is a passage from The Names, one, I ask the reader to believe, I chose at random: it was in the center of the page to which I simply opened the book in search of an illustrative passage.
Gallup is a rough-edged town of dubious character and many surfaces of rich color. It is a place of high tensions and hard distinctions. I once heard someone say that Gallup is the last frontier town in America; there is a certain truth to that, I believe. On a given day you can see in the streets of Gallup cowboys and Indians, missionaries and miscreants, tradesmen and tourists. Or you can see Billy the Kid or Huckleberry Finn or Ganado Mucho—or someone who is not impossibly all these worthies in one, Everyman realized in some desperate notion of himself. (70)
Momaday writes well, let us grant, or, more exactly, his writing is readily assimilable to a tradition of elaborated prose
celebrated in American literature at least from Whitman, Faulkner, and Thomas Wolfe to its degenerated continuation in Jack Kerouac. This, then, is a friendly and familiar sort of passage for the literary reader—although to say so is to adopt that florid fondness for alliteration (the last paragraph of the Introduction to The Way to Rainy Mountain has given us "a long and legendary way": but examples are too abundant to document) that brings high tensions in tandem with hard distinctions, missionaries with miscreants, and tradesmen with tourists, among other "worthies" (a perfect pairing for "miscreants," the two archaisms balancing and so creating a mild, altogether bookish pleasantry). Whoever it may be who actually populates the town of Gallup, these people are best understood by way of literary and legendary typology, from Everyman to Billy the Kid—or whomever. In any case, no one of them, like Silko's Aunt Susie, gets to speak with his own "certain phrases/ certain distinctive words."
Obviously Momaday is free to choose whatever stylistic manner he pleases. My intent here is simply to establish that his texts seek to fix that manner univocally; his writing offers a single, invariant poetic voice that everywhere commits itself to subsuming and translating all other voices. If this assessment is at all correct, then it should be clear that however much Leslie Marmon Silko may appear to be reproducing Momaday's work with a different content, any reproduction on her part represents a radical revision, for, as I have at-
tempted to show earlier, Silko's autobiographical writing is as firmly oriented toward dialogue and polyphony as Momaday's is toward monologue.
For all of this, not even Momaday can achieve the representation of himself as a Native American without allowing other voices than his own a certain trace. However he may want to translate all speech into Western art-speech, his texts, in much the same way as Silko's, remain possible only in relation to the speech of others. Just as a full reading of William Apes's A Son of the Forest must manage to hear the socially oppositional voice of Apes's "Experience," along with the voice of salvationism, so, too, must a full reading of Momaday's two autobiographies manage to hear other voices—however, in this case, faintly. In The Way to Rainy Mountain , I can at least note specifically the voices of James Mooney and George Catlin, the one representing the perspective of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ethnographic "science," the other of nineteenth-century art.
Here is the first section of the first part ("The Setting Out") of The Way to Rainy Mountain:
You know, everything had to begin, and this is how it was: the Kiowas came one by one into the world through a hollow log. They were many more than now, but not all of them got out. There was a woman whose body was swollen up with child and she got stuck in the log. After that, no one could get through, and that is why the Kiowas are a small tribe in number. They looked all around and saw the world. It made them glad to see so many things. They called themselves Kwuda, "coming out." (17)
Under the heading—it is not the first—"Genesis and Migration," Mooney's Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians offers the following:
According to Kiowa mythology, which has close parallels among other tribes, their first ancestors emerged from a hollow cottonwood log at the bidding of a supernatural progenitor. They came out one at a time until it came to the turn of a pregnant woman, who stuck fast in the hole and thus blocked the way for those behind her so that they were unable to follow, which accounts for the small number of the Kiowa tribe. (152–153)
Mooney's preceding heading, "Tribal Names," had said of the Kiowa, "Ancient names used to designate themselves are Kwu'da and afterward Tepda , both names signifying 'coming out,' perhaps in allusion to their mystic origin" (152). Momaday's second section takes up the matter of naming:
They called themselves Kwuda and later Tepda, both of which mean "coming out." And later still they took the name Gaigwu . . . (18)
going on to describe the hand sign for the Kiowa as "indicated . . . by holding the hand palm up and slightly cupped to the right side of the head and rotating it back and forth from the wrist. " To this we may compare Mooney: "The tribal sign, a quick motion of the hand past the right cheek, they explain as referring to a former custom of cutting the hair on that side on a level with the ear" (152). Momaday's conclusion to this second
segment—" 'Kiowa' is thought to derive from the softened Comanche form of Gaigwu"—is from Mooney's first sentence (of "Tribal Names"), "Kiowa . . . is from the softened Comanche form of the name by which they call themselves, Ga'igwu'." Momaday does not indicate any reference to Mooney here.
Let me document here the single allusion I am aware of to George Catlin's vision and voice. In the second part of The Way to Rainy Mountain , "The Going On," the second section of chapter 15 says:
The artist George Catlin traveled among the Kiowas in 1834. He observes that they are superior to the Comanches and Wichita in appearance. They are tall and straight, relaxed and graceful. They have fine classical features, and in this respect they resemble more closely the tribes of the north than those of the south. (71; author's italics)
For some reason I cannot grasp, Momaday begins a new, a third section to complete this subject. I quote it, necessarily I think, in its entirety:
Catlin's portrait of Kotsatoah is the striking figure of a man, tall and lean, yet powerful and fully developed. He is lithe, and he knows beyond any doubt of his great strength and vigor. He stands perfectly at ease, the long drape of his robe flowing with the lines of his body. His left hand rests upon his shield and holds a bow and arrows. His head is set firmly, and there is a look of bemused and infinite tolerance in his eyes. He is said to have been nearly seven feet tall and able to run down and kill a buffalo on foot. I should like to have seen that man, as Catlin saw him, walking towards me, or away in the distance, perhaps, alone, and against the sky. (72; author's italics)
Now we must hear Catlin in his own voice:
The Kioways are a much finer looking race of men, than either the Camanchees or Pawnees—are tall and erect, with an easy and graceful
gait—with long hair, cultivated oftentimes so as to reach nearly to the ground. They have generally the fine and Roman outline of head, that is so frequently found at the North,—and decidedly distinct from that of the Camanchees and Pawnee Picts. (74)
Kots-a-to-ah, the "smoked shield," Catlin writes,
is another of the extraordinary men of this tribe, near seven feet in stature, and distinguished, not only as one of the greatest warriors, but the swiftest on foot, in the nation. This man, it is said, runs down a buffalo on foot, and slays it with his knife or his lance, as he runs by its side! (75)
What Catlin specifically called Kotsatoah's Roman features become for Momaday his "classical" features—classically Indian? I think not; the classic for Momaday seems more likely to remain strictly Roman. That Kotsatoah has a look of "infinite and bemused tolerance" in his eyes is pure Momaday, not Catlin, as is the placement of Kotsatoah "alone, and against the sky," a reflex gesture of Momaday's romantic mythicism. Was Catlin (as has been suggested of Edward S. Curtis) also a romantic mythicizer? Perhaps; the question is too large for consideration here. But whatever Catlin was or was not, what he saw and described, and how he wrote was different from Momaday's vision and description: and that difference, I am suggesting, functions in Momaday's text, where a voice from nineteenth-century American art, as also a voice from nineteenth-century American "science," continues to be heard, however slightly, however faintly. Still,
Momaday insists upon the last word in his book; just as his first word, this will come in a piece of formal verse.
In The Names Momaday reuses and revises some of the material from The Way to Rainy Mountain (hereinafter abbreviated WRM ), with the effect, as I have noted in the case of Silko, that we may recall its status as no more than a version (for all the trappings of univocal authority). The 'Prologue" to WRM , for example, has as its epigraph a prose paragraph that is identified as a "Kiowa folk tale" (1). That is no doubt correct; but the actual words here are a direct quotation of the first section of the first part of WRM ("You know, everything had to begin."), which, as I have shown, derives from James Mooney's written prose rather than from the oral presentation of any Kiowa storyteller. Momaday moves further from what Mooney or the Kiowa themselves might make of this with his gloss, beginning, "They were stricken, surely, nearly blind in the keep of some primordial darkness . . . ," and concluding, "They could at last say to themselves, 'We are, and our name is Kwuda ' " (1). We are quite far here, "surely," from anything the Kiowa or James Mooney might actually have said to themselves or to anyone else: but this is N. Scott Momaday.
Momaday's commitment to a controlling monologue rests as much as anything upon his notion, as stated in WRM , that
A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things. By means of words can a man deal with the world on equal terms. And the word is sacred . . . (WRM ,42)
Although the Gospel according to John may agree that the "word gives origin," inasmuch as "In the beginning was the
Word," this is hardly what Native American cultures have believed nor is it what Momaday's own practice reveals. Words have power; they may indeed be sacred. But they do not come from "nothing"; "nothing" is yet another category of the West whose Native American equivalents would be hard to specify. Nor is the power of a word purely autonomous ("in and of itself"). What power there is in Momaday's own words, for example, comes from their relation to the words of others—Mooney, Catlin, Euramerican artists, even Momaday's own earlier words, as well as the words of a great many Kiowa people living and dead. What is fascinating to me is the way in which Momaday's autobiographies attempt to assert the independent word and the single voice while yet demonstrating, along with most Native American autobiographies, that words are always interdependent, that other voices always sound.
J. B. Patterson chose the autobiographical form for Black Hawk but this did little to produce for him a voice different from that of savagist historicism generally: the only gesture toward difference comes, as I have already noted, in Patterson's selection and arrangement of the materials that probably derive from Black Hawk himself. This at least suggests an Other perspective, if not actually an Other voice. Still, just as Apes wrote his autobiography twice, so, too, did Patterson write Black Hawk's twice. For there is an 1882 version of the Life , now for the first time called the Autobiography of Black Hawk , and Black Hawk, to be sure, is in places represented as speaking somewhat differently from the way he did in 1833.
Unlike the two autobiographies by William Apes, however, the differences in the two autobiographies of Black Hawk finally yield only sameness. Indeed, we can add more representations of Black Hawk to Patterson's two and still find only the same voice all over again. We can do this because Black Hawk was of interest to Americans for more than fifty years, and his life, in particular those parts of it relating to the Black Hawk "war," came to be represented in a variety of texts. Thus, to the extent that these give us other views and voices of Black Hawk, they might serve, as I have claimed for William Apes's "other" autobiography, to dialogize Patterson's monologic texts. But this does not happen: other representations of Black Hawk's voice largely replicate Patterson's. It might be concluded, therefore, that Patterson must have actually captured the "authentic" voice of Black Hawk. More likely, as I think, is that Patterson, along with his fellow historians, amateur and professional, all quite thoroughly translate Black Hawk's "authentic" voice (whatever we may imagine that to be—and we can only imagine it) into the dominant discourse for dealing with Indians. As Roy Harvey Pearce long ago showed in specific regard to the Indian, as Edward Said more recently showed for the "Oriental," it is precisely the achievement of a hegemonic discourse to produce a kind of blanketing effect, to insist upon the minimalization of difference as a primary condition for coherence and comprehensibility.
Writing in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society in 1927, John H. Hauberg mentions a recent meeting of the Society at which the speaker "exhibited a collection of two hundred volumes, by many authors, every one of which carried stories of Black Hawk and his Indians, and these were but a fraction of the books bearing on this historic subject" (265). It
would, of course, be valuable to examine these two hundred texts (although Hauberg does not provide their titles), along with any others that may have followed, in order to see how Black Hawk is represented as speaking in each. I cannot claim to have done this; indeed I have only examined a mere four books dating from 1834 to 1913 which center on "Black Hawk and his Indians" to consider the sameness or difference in the representation of Black Hawk as speaker. I have studied John A. Wakefield's History of the War Between the United States and the Sac and Fox Nations of Indians . . . (1834), Benjamin Drake's The Life and Adventures of Black Hawk: With Sketches of Keokuk, the Sac and Fox Indians, and the Late Black Hawk War (1838), N. Matson's Memories of Shaubena . . . (1878), and Charles M. Scanlan's Indian Creek Massacre and Captivity of Hall Girls . . . during the Black Hawk War , 1832 (1913). Wakefield, Drake, Matson, and Scanlan all differ in their opinion of the justice of the Indians' resistance to white settlement, as they differ in other regards; for all of that, their representations of Black Hawk's voice turn out to be remarkably similar to Patterson's and to one another.
Of the texts under consideration, the only full-scale biography is that of Benjamin Drake, published in 1838. Wakefield's book appeared only a year after Patterson's and so is very close in time to the events he considers; it is presented specifically as a "history." Matson's attention to Black Hawk occurs in a biography or personal reminiscence of Shaubena, a Pottowatamie chief who refused to join Black Hawk in war against white encroachment. Matson, who is concerned to justify "progress" and "civilization," has great affection and respect for Shaubena, and these color his perception of Black Hawk. And Scanlan is a professional author (Scanlan's Rules of Order, Law of Hotels, etc.) who now turns to the
dramatic and commercial possibilities of captivity and Indian war narratives, these two being the earliest genres of literature developed on these shores, providing an indigenous model, perhaps, of that mix of public and personal reportage most common before the professionalization of history writing in America. All of these are western writers, at least to the extent that their books were published in Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Rock Island, and Chicago.
The first thing to be observed is that, in terms of perspective, each of these writers sets Black Hawk and the war which bears his name firmly in relation to the discourse of savagism, differing, as I have said, only in regard to a sense of satisfaction or sadness that the Indian must disappear. It is that sense which determines which, among minor events or incidents, are included or left out, as it determines the different versions of events that appear. For the most part, so far as my limited investigations reveal, this practice doesn't bear substantively on the reader's understanding—although sometimes it might well. An encounter, for example, between
Black Hawk and General Gaines appears very differently in Benjamin Drake's biography from the account in Patterson's autobiography of Black Hawk. Both of these men were
generally sympathetic to the Indians, so it is no easy matter to say why each gave a different account: were different "facts" presented to each?
In similar fashion, all these authors quote abundantly but treat their published sources in the same way they seem to have treated their oral sources, that is, with a good deal of casualness. For example, Scanlan quotes from Matson, even given page references: but if one looks up the quotations in Matson, one discovers that Scanlan has altered the material as a matter of regular course. Patterson does this to himself, revising, in 1882, where he is ostensibly reprinting. Commitment to verbatim quotation (or an approximation thereto for oral sources) seems not to have been typical of American historiography in general until the 1870s and the influence of German historical method. (It should be noted that Hauberg, quite a responsible author, so far as I can tell, as late as 1927 offers substantial quotation from Black Hawk—material, that is, presented inside quotation marks—without providing references for his sources.)
Next, it is to be observed that each author not only writes in relation to a discursive perspective but in accordance with an established stylistic practice. As each would be taken seriously as historian —reporters and chroniclers of events, compilers or students of the public documentary record—so does he accommodate a standard period diction, editing the speech of others (when quoted directly) in the direction of this standard or submitting the speech of others to a standardized indirect discourse. Thus each speaker in a text presented under the sign of History sounds pretty much the same. By way of
contrast, we may briefly take note of the work of an easterner on a visit to the west, John Treat Irving, Jr., whose text is not offered as public history but as private observation. Irving's Indian Sketches Taken During an Expedition to the Pawnee Tribes (1833) is exactly contemporaneous with Patterson's Life of Black Hawk , and includes, in its reportage, the monologue of a Tennesseean named Wolf, "a tall, gigantic fellow" (perhaps he might be worthy of comparison to his Native contemporary Kotsatoah!). Upon Irving's party encountering some Indians, Wolf is represented as offering the following remarks:
"You see them ar Ingens; well, them is Sacs and Foxes. I know'em, for I fit agin 'em when Black Hawk led 'em on. And now I think on't: it's dreadful aggravating to see how the folks at east'ard are honouring that ar rascal for killing and murdering the whites, while we who fit agin him to prevent it, a'int taken no notice on; its monstrous aggravating. But that a'int nothing to the pint . (50)
And so forth. This would, of course, be no more than an approximation of Wolf's speech, Irving making notes when and as he could. But clearly the attempt is to give the idiosyncratic—regional, personal—dimension of this speaker's talk which is interesting to Irving, and, so, he hopes, to his readers (probably eastern readers, for the most part) back home. There is no need for these informal "sketches" to accommodate Wolf's language (or that of anyone else) to a standard of "good" historical style. By way of contrast, Matson's book offers, to be sure, only his "memories," but to the extent
that these are marshaled for the purpose of defending the ongoing advance of "civilization," one can pretty well understand his desire to edit out the distractions of any speech deviating from the "civilized" norm. In these regards, it would have been interesting to see what J. T. Irving might have done with the speech in English of an Indian—or, had the opportunity somehow arisen, to work with an Indian autobiographical subject and an interpreter.
In any case, non-Native representations of Native people for the historical record, whether these are sympathetic or unsympathetic representations, tend to be pulled in the direction of period perspective and period style. Exceptions to this generalization may well exist but I have not come upon them.
What is true for Patterson and the other speakers for Black Hawk is even true for an Indian autobiographer like L. V. McWhorter. His text, as I have claimed, is strongly dialogic, yet it cannot abandon an unquestioning Western sense of autobiographical form (with McWhorter's insistence on including something of Yellow Wolf's childhood, noted above), as it cannot envision a distinctive manner for Yellow Wolf's speech. I would only add further that the curious contradiction in McWhorter's book between full commitment to a plurality of voices combined with an unexamined commitment to Western forms may be taken as homologous with the contradictions of the Collier Indian Reform program generally. I mean only to point to what continues to have painful effects, the fact that John Collier's promotion and administration of the Wheeler-Howard, Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, legislated the preservation of Native cultures by means of Western parliamentary institutions. Indians, after Wheeler-Howard, might hope to influence the federal government not to interfere with traditional lifeways, but such influence was contingent upon a will-
ingness to present the Indian case in "American" forms. This is not to condemn McWhorter or Collier, both of whom deserve admiration at least for their courage. It is, however, to note again the difficulty of achieving a genuine dialogism, textual or institutional, from the outside, on the part of one trained in Western discourse and committed to it in however revisionist or radical a fashion.
It remains now to suggest what all of this may mean for our understanding of language and of social organization.
Native American autobiographies, I have claimed, are interesting both for the model of the self and the model of the text they propose, the first of these more nearly collective, the second more nearly dialogic than what has been typical of Euramerican autobiography. Collective selves and dialogic texts imply particular kinds of semantic and social theories. Let me review these as I see them in relation to Native American autobiography and the canon of American literature.
In regard to the understanding of language and the nature of communication, a commitment to dialogism, on the one hand, may be seen as a recognition of the necessity of an infinite semantic openness, where the inescapable possibility of yet some further voice is crucial inasmuch as that voice always must alter or ambiguate any relatively stable meaning one might claim to understand. Attempts to stabilize meaning, in this view, always smack of a tendency to totalitarianism, with a (typical although mistaken) identification of textual authority (based on epistemological totalization) and sociopolitical authority.
On the other hand, commitment to dialogism may be seen as a type of radical pluralism, a more relativized openness,
concerned to state meanings provisionally in recognition of the legitimate claims of otherness and difference. Norms, here, are decidedly established but these are not seen as denying—the denial enforced by legitimated violence—the proposal of alternatives.
My own reading suggests that most of those committed to deconstructive, postmodern, or, as I should say with Fredric Jameson, schizophrenic models of polyphony do, in fact, simply project their view of textuality on to the social. Thus James Clifford—who is more careful about this sort of thing than many—refers to Bakhtin as envisioning "a carnivalesque arena of diversity," and "a utopian textual space" (1983, 135; my emphasis). Although spaces are not places—utopia, is, after all, ou topos, no place—this textual utopia is as close as we get to a postmodernist, dialogical model for worldly politics. It is, as a model, a category of pure abstraction, an image out of time as well as place, one oblivious to material conditions of historical possibility: and diversity as the limitless freeplay of social praxis is not easy to institute.
Here is the moment to see whether we can at least tentatively define some form of democratic and egalitarian principle of community that would be the social equivalent of a dialogic pluralism as distinct from an infinite openness. In this regard, it should be noted that traditional Native American examples of communal organization need further study; although I am not ready to suggest that the Pueblo, in its current forms, or the Plains camp circle (let us say) as once it was, will directly contribute models for a harmonious world-community to come, those like myself who are interested in the literary forms developed by Indians will need to pay more attention to Indian social forms as well.
I will suggest as a social alternative to dialogism as quotid-
ian carnival and polymorphous diversity, what Paul Rabinow has called cosmopolitanism . "Let us define cosmopolitanism," Rabinow writes,
as an ethos of macro-interdependencies, with an acute consciousness (often forced upon people) of the inescapabilities and particularities of places, characters, historical trajectories, and fates. (258)
What is necessary, here, is to avoid "reify[ing] local identities or construct[ing] universal ones"; this, as Rabinow notes, requires a rather delicate "balancing act," one that has not thus far met with conspicuous success anywhere in the world. Local identities socially can, of course, seem very attractive; currently, to reify one's Blackness, Jewishness. ltalianness, or, to be sure, Indianness (among other locally available identifications) has seemed to some a hedge against an unprecedented explosion of diversity and complication. The temptation to construct universal identities seems less a threat just now, although, as I have noted earlier, the attempt to assert Western male values as Human does certainly persist.
Cosmopolitanism, then, is the projection of heterodoxy not to the level of the universal, but, rather, to the level of the "inter-national." I shall take this matter up from a literary
point of view in the next chapter. Here, I want to comment briefly on the major objection I know to heterodoxy as authorizing a social rather than merely a textual order as this is stated by Steven Sangren.
Sangren makes the point that heterodoxy best makes sense as an adversary to orthodoxy; and, indeed, I have taken the term in exactly this way in proposing a principle for the canon. Heterodoxies, according to Sangren, are order-questioning ideologies rather than order-affirming ideologies (which is what orthodoxies are). Thus, he claims, heterodoxies are
socially less robust . . . because they cannot legitimate any conceivable cultural or social order. They make social (as opposed to textual or philosophical) sense only in opposition. (410)
I think this is unduly narrow. If one takes the heterodox not as an absolute commitment to difference unending but, instead—as I have several times noted—to difference within a normative context, then it may yet be that heterodoxy can be a social, not only a textual, principle, one authorizing a cosmopolitan world order. For all the apparent irony of proposing that the highly place-oriented and more or less homogenous cultures of Native Americans might help teach us how to be cosmopolitans, that is exactly what I mean to say. But here let me take the example of Storyteller .
Storyteller, I have claimed, is open to a wide range of voices. What keeps it from entering the poststructuralist, postmodernist, or schizophrenic heteroglossic domain is its commitment to the equivalent of a normative voice. For all the polyvocal openness of Silko's work, there is always the unabashed sense of the value of Pueblo tradition as a reference point. Now, unlike the Judeo-Christian tradition, Native
American tradition has not been exclusivist; thus "Pueblo tradition" is more nearly a norm than an orthodoxy. (I leave it to others to work out further the correlations between oral tradition and norm, textual tradition and orthodoxy.) This may be modified, updated, playfully construed: but it serves as a focal point that cannot be ignored; whatever one understands from any speaker is to be understood in reference to that . Here—to open an issue I shall not be able to pursue—we find dialogic as dialectic (not, it seems, the case in Bakhtin); meaning as the interaction of any voiced value whatever with the continuing—if modified and modifiable—voice of the Pueblo storyteller (who, with whatever modifications, carries forward a version of the traditional point of view). Some parallel sense of the situated normative value of a vital tribal (social, collective, communitarian) tradition will likely be present in any Native American autobiography that acknowledges its doubly dialogic determination. (And, as I have tried to show, even the insistently monologic examples of the genre still show traces of other voices, other stories, that at least complicate any desired identification with a single discursive voice.)
If my account of Storyteller's semantics, or theory of meaning—and, by extension, the semantics of other Native American autobiographies and all dialogically oriented texts—is at all accurate, then it would follow that its political unconscious is more easily conformable to Rabinow's cosmopolitanism, as I have glossed it, than to a utopianized carnival. Thus I would align a commitment to dialogism with that reading of Bakhtin and of dialogical anthropology that insists upon human and cultural diversity as the way things "really" are, an empirical commitment, and as well to the way things ought to be, an ethical and political commitment. Textual and social produc-
tion and reproduction are not identical, to be sure; but they may on occasion materialize according to the same principles.
For all that one may desire a future cosmopolitan community of diverse values, it is still necessary to work toward it from the local communities that actually exist in the present, with their distinctly local values. To be sure, one must not reify these values, but one must not ignore them either. It seems to me that the way to the cosmopolitan in social terms is through the local, from thence to the national—where heterodoxy is acknowledged as legitimate within the political boundaries of nation-states—and after, to some concretely imaginable cooperation on an international scale leading to the cosmopolitan community, heterodoxy legitimated globally. To be sure, this is to offer a conceptual paradigm—an image, a vision—not a political program; and to imagine the cosmopolitan polyvocal polity in this way is also utopian—but perhaps only in the sense that it does not as yet exist. To imagine it may also be to make a contribution to its existence.