A Cherokee Woman's America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, by Karen L. Kilcup

By Karen L. Kilcup

This first scholarly variation of the writings of a different local American lady information a unprecedented lifestyles in a mixture of genres together with oral heritage, ethnography, and western experience sketches. Narcissa Owen was once of combined Cherokee and Scots-Irish descent and the daughter of a pace-setter of the outdated Settlers (those Cherokees who moved west ahead of their next pressured elimination by way of the U.S. govt, the infamous path of Tears).

The Memoirs show a desirable and complicated 19th-century woman—an artist, tune instructor, storyteller, accomplice slave proprietor, Washington socialite, spouse of a white railroad government, widow, and mom of the 1st local American U.S. Senator, Robert L. Owen, Jr. Her writings interpret the historical past of the tribe and describe the cultural upheaval of the Cherokees relocating west. They additionally provide a glimpse into antebellum, Civil warfare, and Reconstruction American life.  

This version presents a wealth of heritage info together with a biographical preface, chronology of Owen's existence, family tree, and textual footnotes. furthermore, an introductory essay locations the Memoirs within the context of Owen's predecessors and contemporaries, together with Cherokee cultural and literary culture, the bigger Indian historical/literary context, and women's writing of the past due nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Extra resources for A Cherokee Woman's America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907

Sample text

On the one hand, she cites Jefferson as a champion of the Cherokees, and near the end of her narrative she points with admiration to the parades that included Presidents Cleveland, Harrison, and McKinley (as well as the Confederate war hero Fitzhugh Lee, the nephew 16 Contexts, Contemporaries, and Narcissa Owen’s Political Aesthetics of Robert E. Lee). On the other hand, she prefaces and counterbalances this admiration with an accounting—both literal and figurative—of the damages incurred by these betrayals.

Owen, a Cherokee 82 years old. It is a perfect likeness of Jefferson, and it will surprise any artist to be told that it was the work of an old Indian woman’” (134). Correcting not only the error about her age, Owen icily asserts:27 “The facts are the Indians of Indian Territory are civilized, educated Christian people. I myself, the “Cherokee 82 years old,” was born October 3, 1831, and my painting was not done in a tepee, but on Pennsylvania Avenue, in the Corcoran Building, opposite the Treasury, at Washington city” (134).

As Weaver reminds us, “Natives tend to see themselves in terms of ‘self in society’”; that is, the self is part of a larger “we” (39). 41 Offering in part a kind of testimony, Winnemucca’s communitist narrative as a whole is, as Senier affirms, dynamic and participatory. 42 For example, her descriptions of family relations nearly vibrate with affirmation of her people’s “civilized” status and accusation of whites’ very different (and, she implies, inferior) values (see Walker 139–41): “We are taught to love everybody.

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