Charles Alexander Eastman (Sioux) (1858-1939)
Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr.
Classroom Issues and Strategies
Students need to know what the Ghost Dance movement was, its importance
to the Indians, and reasons why U.S. officials viewed it as something that
had to be suppressed. James Mooney's The Ghost-Dance Religion and Wounded
Knee is a good starting point. They also are curious about the status
of an assimilated Indian like Eastman. Supply background on these issues.
It is also helpful to deal with Eastman's work in the same manner as you
would an autobiographical narrative written by any other author of the
Major Themes, Historical Perspectives, and Personal Issues
Discuss cultural ignorance, social discontinuity, national goals versus
cultural integrity, cultural assimilation, the narrator as an "in-between"
person, the creation of national symbols (Wounded Knee as symbol in the
Sioux Nation and for American Indians in general in this century).
Significant Form, Style, or Artistic Conventions
Attention can be focused profitably on the form of the autobiographical
narrative, touching on such matters as narrative control, style, self-revelation,
Comparisons, Contrasts, Connections
Compare the autobiographical works of other Indians, such as Gertrude
Bonnin, John Joseph
Mathews, and Thomas
Whitecloud, as well as any other autobiographical works, especially
by writers who belong to other racial or cultural minorities. Compare "The
Great Mystery" and Bonnin's "Why I Am a Pagan."
The list of primary and secondary works in the headnote is comprehensive.