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166 Western American Literature The Editor’s Essay Review The past decade has seen a remarkable emergence of the American Indians. The founding in 1961 of The National Indian Youth Council and more recently the American Indian Historical Society with its quarterly journal, The Indian Historian, are only two of the many encouraging signs that an Indian renaissance is in the making. For centuries countless knowledgeable students have written about various tribes of Indians, but with no very noticeable resultant general understanding among non-Indians of the richness, vitality, and diversity of Indian culture. Students of western American literature, it seems to me, must place an under­ standing and appreciation of the Indians in the forefront of their concerns; for life in the West, out of which the literature emerges, has been pervaded by the Indians—as Oliver LaFarge, Frank Waters, Frederick Manfred, Jack Schaefer, and Mari Sandoz—to name a few—have demonstrated in their writings. Two of the most impressive books about Indians I have ever read are at once penetrating cultural history and hard-hitting social criticism. No one can read these manifestoes and ever return to his old complacency about Indians. Custer Died For Your Sins. By Vine Deloria, Jr. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1969. 279 pages, $5.95.) The New Indians. By Stan Steiner. (New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1968. xii + 348 pages, map, illus., appendices, biblio., and index, $2.45.) Deloria, who is three-eighths Sioux, brings an interesting background and experience to the writing of his book: four years of study in a divinity school beyond his bachelor’s degree followed by a law degree. He has been Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians and has studied the problems of "Indians Today, the Real and the Unreal” about as thoroughly as anyone. He is relentless in his chapter on American treaties with the Indians and wittily and bitingly satiric in his chapters revealing the ineptitude of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the presumption and condescension of the churches in their missionary activities among the Indians. Likely the most surprising chapter to most readers is “Indian Humor” since it is generally supposed that Indians have no humor. In the chapter, “The Red and The Black,” Deloria analyzes the main differences between the struggles of Indians and Negroes for social realization; and in the remaining four chapters he assesses the urgency of current Indian problems because of the growing awareness of the young. He suggests organiza­ tion and procedures for the young Indian movement, and he serves notice on government agencies, anthropologists, and the churches as to what they may— and may not— do to Indians. At times in reading the book I felt Deloria Reviews 167 was excessively harsh in his denunciations of White America—I no longer think so. Steiner, I presume, is not Indian, but his book proves that he can portray with understanding and sympathy the debasement of tribal culture among the Indians that is the result of centuries of outrageous governmental policies. Steiner is thorough and meticulous in describing with full documentation the current Indian movement among its young people: as “. . . an entire generation beginning a journey between two worlds.” The appendices, with names, address, history, and current data about the Indian movement, make the book especially useful. The preservation of Indian myths and legends continues to be one of the most notable areas of literary scholarship. The Way to Rainy Mountain. By N. Scott Momaday. (Albuquerque: Uni­ versity of New Mexico Press, 1969. 89 pages, illus., $4.95.) Sweet Medicine. By Peter J. Powell. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969. Volume I, xxxvii -f 428; Volume II, xi + 503 pages, illus., maps, biblio., index, boxed, $25.00.) Momaday, a Kiowa Indian, is a well-known poet, author of the Pulitzer Prize novel, House Made of Dawn, and a professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. In The Way to Rainy Mountain he is recounting—in three voices—the legendary journey of the Kiowas some three hundred years ago from the headwaters of the Yellowstone across the northern plains and then south to Oklahoma. On the way the Kiowas acquired their...


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