Indian Captive Essay - Critical Context

Lois Lenski

Critical Context

Indian Captive drew many favorable comments from educators, anthropologists, and other authorities, who praised the research reflected in both the writing and the illustrations. As a consequence, the book was named a Newbery Medal Honor Book in 1942. Although Lenski altered some of the facts in her fictional re-creation of Jemison’s capture and adoption by the Senecas, she “succeeded in reflecting the spirit of Indian life.” The excitement and romance of Jemison’s story are downplayed, so that the tale becomes a reminder of a culture that has nearly been lost. It is remarkable that Lenski wrote her book before the popular resurgence of interest in Native American history and that her sympathies are with the Senecas.

The editors suggest that Indian Captive is suitable for readers between the ages of ten and fifteen. Many modern children, however, are more sophisticated than those of the 1940’s, and they would probably find both the level of vocabulary and the censored story rather simplistic. Therefore, a lower age group may be recommended as a suitable audience for Lenski’s biography.