"That the People Might Live"
Loss and Renewal in Native American Elegy
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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Title Page, Copyright
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I fi rst 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. I most particularly thank ...
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This book attempts to provide the fi rst 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. My initial response was that ...
1Oral Performances (i)
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...“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 fi fteenth century” [1992, 31]), suggest it may well have been in place a hundred ...
2Oral Performances (ii)
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I think he did more good by his death then he could have done by his life.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 ...
3Authors and Writers
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I stood upon the ashes of my home, where my own wigwam had sent up its fi res to the Great Spirit; where I summoned the spirits of the braves who had fallen in their vain attempt to protect their homes from the grasping in-vaders. And, as I snuffed up the smell of their blood from the earth, I swore The Indians are remarkable for the reverence they entertain for the sepul-...
4Elegy in the “Native AmericanRenaissance” and After
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Practical social power, not aesthetic originality or genius, is the category of understanding in Native art, [so that] for a Native community the beauty of expressive oral culture is synonymous with its practical social power.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 ...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2012
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth