In the nineteenth century, Native American writing and oratory extended a long tradition of diplomacy between indigenous people and settler states. As the crisis of forced removal profoundly reshaped Indian country between 1820 and 1860, tribal leaders and intellectuals worked with coauthors, interpreters, and amanuenses to address the impact of American imperialism on Indian nations. These collaborative publication projects operated through institutions of Indian diplomacy, but also intervened in them to contest colonial ideas about empire, the frontier, and nationalism. In this book, Frank Kelderman traces this literary history in the heart of the continent, from the Great Lakes to the Upper Missouri River Valley. Because their writings often were edited and published by colonial institutions, many early Native American writers have long been misread, discredited, or simply ignored. Authorized Agents demonstrates why their works should not be dismissed as simply extending the discourses of government agencies or religious organizations. Through analyses of a range of texts, including oratory, newspapers, autobiographies, petitions, and government papers, Kelderman offers an interdisciplinary method for examining how Native authors claimed a place in public discourse, and how the conventions of Indian diplomacy shaped their texts.
“Frank Kelderman finds indigenous agency in ‘unexpected places,’ to use Phil Deloria’s term, even as he reveals the ways in which the newly formed United States’ political and publication systems increasingly narrowed the routes through which indigenous people could act and speak, as authorized and authorial agents, on behalf of communal bodies. Authorized Agents suggests that the fetishization of the singular, romanticized ‘Indian chief’ in American literature and culture becomes so imbricated in diplomatic structures, in the era of removal, that some Native leaders’ rhetoric came to reflect the masculinist, fatalist discourse of savagery and vanishing, even as those leaders were advocating for tribal sovereignty and critiquing colonialism. An unsettling, provocative analysis of diplomacy, literature, and the insidious patterns of colonial structures.” — Lisa Brooks, author of Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War
Frank Kelderman is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisville.
Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elkês experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.
This complete edition features a new introduction by¾historian Philip J. Deloria and annotations of Black Elkês story by renowned Lakota scholar Raymond J. DeMallie. Three essays by John G. Neihardt provide background on this landmark work along with pieces by Vine Deloria Jr., Raymond J. DeMallie, Alexis Petri, and Lori Utecht. Maps, original illustrations by Standing Bear, and a set of appendixes rounds out the edition.