Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
This book -- a major literary work by one of the more widely read early Native American authors, and an ethnographic "source" of some interest -- is now again available thanks to the University of Nebraska Press's efforts to reprint Native American classics. It comes with a very useful introduction by A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff, which establishes both historical and aesthetic contexts for Ohiyesa's stories. Ruoff provides information on the family backgrounds, the education, and the lives of both Mr. and Mrs. Eastman, gives an independent (and corrective) sketch of the 1862 Sioux uprising that forms the historical background of a number of stories in the volume, goes through a brief thematic analysis of the texts that simultaneously indicates their value as ethnographic sources (a value clearly claimed by the volume's title and its grouping the stories under the two typifying titles of "The Warrior" and "The Woman"), and she at least raises the problem of the literary strategies and conventions employed by their authors. Ruoff also points out the bi-authorial origin of these narratives, or even, if one includes the original tellers, their multi-authorial origins: from the oral storyteller to Ohiyesa, who put the stories down in an unsystematic and unprofessional way, to his wife, who was an educator, a public relations writer, and a published author in an entirely "white" tradition even before she met Ohiyesa, and who is responsible for the final shape of the texts.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1992