Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Margaret Crary’s Susette La Flesche: Voice of the Omaha Indians is an account of a young Omaha girl’s transition from tribal life into a life of celebrity in the white world as she embarked on the difficult course of working for basic justice for her people. The biography opens with the fifteen-year-old La Flesche on her way by train to New York City to a finishing school for young ladies. Through arrangements made by her mission school teacher, the Elizabeth Institute had offered to educate the young Omaha girl. La Flesche’s years at the Elizabeth Institute marked her entry into the white world.

During the account of the journey to the institute, the reader is taken back in time and, in short chapters, is given a vivid account of La Flesche’s young tribal life as a daughter of Chief Iron Eye. Beginning with her formal induction as a member of the tribe at four years of age, her life is presented in a combination of factual narrative and fictional scenes. Fifteen black-and-white photographs, from the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society and the Smithsonian Institution National Anthropological Archives’ Bureau of Ethnology Collection, show La Flesche, her family, and her residences. The photographs add a sense of authenticity to the narrative.

After completing her education at the Elizabeth Institute, La Flesche returned home with a much-changed vision of her former world. The routines of tribal life were no...

(The entire section is 474 words.)