Dee Brown JOSEPH McLELLAN - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Brown (the author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee) keeps a tight focus in [Creek Mary's Blood], restricting his story to the life and descendants of a single woman, Creek Mary (Akusa Amayi), but tracing them through five generations and across most of the American continent…. Using fictional characters against a carefully researched historical background, he combines the attractions of both genres. The major incidents of his story are true, but by inventing fictional participants he is able to give the events a human dimension lacking in the historic record, which is relatively cold and mostly recorded from the white man's point of view.

Brown's prose style is as much that of the historian as of the novelist—not dazzling, and poetic only in occasional quotes which capture the special rhetoric embedded in the structure of Indian languages, but efficient, informative and readable.

Mary had two husbands who symbolize two ways of dealing with the cultural clash that is the book's subject. The first was an English colonist, John Kingsley, who is related thematically to the effort at accommodation and assimilation among the Cherokees in the Southeast. The second was a Cherokee, The Long Warrior, a leader of the resistance to white encroachment, whose offspring merged into the Cheyenne of the Central Plains, where that resistance was most bitter and prolonged.

Both ways of coping...

(The entire section is 411 words.)