Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In the brief biographical sketches of American Indian Women, Marion E. Gridley presents her readers with absorbing details of the personal histories of several Native American women, as well as informative background information on the various cultural mores and values that helped to shape the lives of her subjects. The book covers a three-hundred-year period and treats its eighteen major subjects chronolog-ically, beginning at the seventeenth century with Queen Wetamoo, the daughter-in-law of Chief Massasoit, and concluding with Elaine Abraham Ramos, a Tlingit nurse who distinguished herself as the vice president of Sheldon Jackson College in Alaska. Each of the eighteen chapters is generally devoted to the treatment of one major person. Frequently, however, as a type of addendum, Gridley will tag chapters with a brief discussion of the achievements of an additional woman whose experiences parallel those of the subject under discussion.

Drawing upon the information available to her, Gridley describes each character’s childhood, education, and contribution to her tribe or country. In many instances, these women struggled to overcome enormous obstacles of race, class, gender, and culture in order to realize personal success on the basis of their own talent and hard work rather than on the basis of other factors, such as the sentiment evoked by their Native American heritage.

The book includes eight pages of black-and-white photographs, a bibliography, an index, and a preface. In the preface, Gridley explains her reasons for writing the book and provides numerous political, military, and religious contexts in which men have honored or deferred to the greater knowledge or wisdom of women. As she concludes the preface, the author lists other remarkable women who deserve recognition for their accomplishments but who, for lack of space, had to be omitted.