Paper Medicine Man (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
During the last third of the nineteenth century, the United States Army conducted a series of campaigns in the West against various Indian tribes which led to the destruction of the traditional way of life of those Indians. Simultaneously, American anthropologists—an increasingly professional and sophisticated community during these years—attempted to observe and record the culture of the Indians before it disappeared permanently. Unlike many of the soldiers, the anthropologists recognized the diversity of native life-styles and the distinctions between tribes. The scientists were also much more sympathetic to efforts to protect the rights of the Indians.
Joseph C. Porter has written a scholarly biography of a man who straddled the world of the soldier and the world of the scientist. John Gregory Bourke spent his life in the army. He fought Apache and Sioux. Yet by his death he was renowned as a sympathetic chronicler of the Apache and a strong advocate of Indian rights. His compassion and support for Native Americans brought him into conflict with racist superiors who disdained the Indians and greedy civilians who wished to exploit the lucrative possibilities offered by Indian land and reservation contracts. Ultimately, these clashes seriously damaged his army career.
The son of Irish immigrants, Bourke was born in Philadelphia in 1846. He enlisted in the Union Army in 1862, serving until the summer of 1865. A few months later, he was...
(The entire section is 1525 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Booklist. LXXXII, April 15, 1986, p. 1180.
Choice. XXIV, November, 1986, p. 542.
Kirkus Reviews. LIV, March 1, 1986, p. 376.
Washington Post Book World. XVI, June 1, 1986, p. 9.
West Coast Review of Books. XII, No. 3, 1986, p. 40.
(The entire section is 28 words.)