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"That the People Might Live"

Loss and Renewal in Native American Elegy

by Arnold Krupat

Publication Year: 2012

The word "elegy" comes from the Ancient Greek elogos, meaning a mournful poem or song, in particular, a song of grief in response to loss. Because mourning and memorialization are so deeply embedded in the human condition, all human societies have developed means for lamenting the dead, and, in "That the People Might Live" Arnold Krupat surveys the traditions of Native American elegiac expression over several centuries.

Krupat covers a variety of oral performances of loss and renewal, including the Condolence Rites of the Iroquois and the memorial ceremony of the Tlingit people known as koo'eex, examining as well a number of Ghost Dance songs, which have been reinterpreted in culturally specific ways by many different tribal nations. Krupat treats elegiac "farewell" speeches of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in considerable detail, and comments on retrospective autobiographies by Black Hawk and Black Elk.

Among contemporary Native writers, he looks at elegiac work by Linda Hogan, N. Scott Momaday, Gerald Vizenor, Sherman Alexie, Maurice Kenny, and Ralph Salisbury, among others. Despite differences of language and culture, he finds that death and loss are consistently felt by Native peoples both personally and socially: someone who had contributed to the People's well-being was now gone. Native American elegiac expression offered mourners consolation so that they might overcome their grief and renew their will to sustain communal life.

Published by: Cornell University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

I first offer thanks to my colleagues and friends Nina Baym, Bella Brodzki, Harald Gaski, Patricia Penn Hilden, Michael Hittman, Virginia Kennedy, Scott Lyons, David Murray, Duane Niatum, Ralph Salisbury, Brian Swann, Jace Weaver, and Shamoon Zamir for many different sorts of help and support over a long period of time. ...

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pp. 1-18

This book attempts to provide the first broad treatment of Native American elegiac expression over a range of time and across the space of the contiguous United States and Alaska. The project arose from a request from Professor Karen Weisman, editor of the Oxford Handbook of the Elegy, to submit an essay on Native American elegy. ...

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1. Oral Performances (i)

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pp. 19-59

“The League of the Iroquois, or Confederation of Five Iroquois Tribes,” William Fenton writes, “had already been formed by the year 1570 A.D.” (1944, 80; see also Hewitt 1977, 163). But Fenton elsewhere, and others (e.g., Daniel Richter: the League was “established sometime late in the fifteenth century” [1992, 31]), ...

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2. Oral Performances (ii)

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pp. 60-107

Indian people have been saying good-bye for more than three hundred years. As David Murray notes, John Eliot’s Dying Speeches of Several Indians (1685)—from which I’ve taken the quotation above—inaugurates a long textual history in which “Indians . . . are most useful dying”(35) or, as in the speeches I will consider, ...

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3. Authors and Writers

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pp. 108-133

In the previous chapter I examined the August 1832 surrender speech attributed to Black Hawk by Samuel Drake in which Black Hawk apparently acknowledged that his “plans” to “save” his nation were “stopped”: “He can do no more. He is near his end. His sun is setting, and he will rise no more. ...

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4. Elegy in the “Native American Renaissance” and After

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pp. 134-170

N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain appeared in 1969, the same year that his novel House Made of Dawn (1968) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.1 In part an autobiography, The Way to Rainy Mountain has also been called a “prose poem,” an “epic,” and the record of a “pilgrimage.” ...

Appendix: Best Texts of the Speeches Considered in Chapter 2

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pp. 171-182


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pp. 183-212

Works Cited

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pp. 213-232


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pp. 233-242

E-ISBN-13: 9780801465857
E-ISBN-10: 0801465850
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801451386
Print-ISBN-10: 0801451388

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 814705805
MUSE Marc Record: Download for "That the People Might Live"