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.