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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Ohiyesa (Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman)

Santee Sioux


"The true Indian sets no price upon either his property or his labor. His generosity is limited only by his strength and ability. He regards it as an honor to be selected for difficult or dangerous service and would think it shameful to ask for any reward, saying rather: "Let the person I serve express his thanks according to his own bringing up and his sense of honor. Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new sweet earth, and the Great Silence alone!. What is Silence? It is the Great Mystery! The Holy Silence is His voice!

Whenever, in the course of the daily hunt, the hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful or sublime -- a black thundercloud with the rainbow's arch above the mountain, a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge, a vast prairie tinged with the blood-red of the sunset -- he pauses for an instant in an attitude of worship.

He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, because to him all days are God's days.

The first American mingled with his pride a singular humility. Spiritual arrogance was foreign to his nature and teaching. He never claimed that the power of articulate speech was proof of superiority over the dumb creation; on the other hand, it is to him a perilous gift.

Children must early learn the the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving"


The Books of Charles A. Eastman (Ohiyesa)

Every age, every race, has its leaders and heroes. There were over sixty distinct tribes of Indians on this continent, each of which boasted its notable men. The names and deeds of some of these men will live in American history, yet in the true sense they are unknown, because misunderstood. I should like to present some of the greatest chiefs of modern times in the light of the native character and ideals, believing that the American people will gladly do them tardy justice.

It is matter of history that the Sioux nation, to which I belong, was originally friendly to the Caucasian peoples which it met in succession-first, to the south the Spaniards; then the French, on the Mississippi River and along the Great Lakes; later the English, and finally the Americans. This powerful tribe then roamed over the whole extent of the Mississippi valley, between that river and the Rockies. Their usages and government united the various bands more closely than was the case with many of the neighboring tribes.

During the early part of the nineteenth century, chiefs such as Wabashaw, Redwing, and Little Six among the eastern Sioux, Conquering Bear, Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse, and Hump of the western bands, were the last of the old type. After these, we have a coterie of new leaders, products of the new conditions brought about by close contact with the conquering race.

This distinction must be borne in mind -- that while the early chiefs were spokesmen and leaders in the simplest sense, possessing no real authority, those who headed their tribes during the transition period were more or less rulers and more or less politicians. It is a singular fact that many of the "chiefs", well known as such to the American public, were not chiefs at all according to the accepted usages of their tribesmen. Their prominence was simply the result of an abnormal situation, in which representatives of the United States Government made use of them for a definite purpose. In a few cases, where a chief met with a violent death, some ambitious man has taken advantage of the confusion to thrust himself upon the tribe and, perhaps with outside help, has succeeded in usurping the leadership.


Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains

1. AMERICAN HORSE
2. CRAZY HORSE
3. DULL KNIFE
4. GALL
5. HOLE-IN-THE-DAY
6. CHIEF JOSEPH
7. LITTLE CROW
8. LITTLE WOLF
9. RAIN-IN-THE-FACE
10. RED CLOUD
11. ROMAN NOSE
12. SITTING BULL
13. SPOTTED TAIL
14. TAMAHAY
15. TWO STRIKE


Indian Boyhood

Old Indian Days

Soul of the Indian




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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.

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