Nineteenth-Century Native American Autobiography Problems Of Authorship - Essay

Problems Of Authorship

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

Donald Jackson (essay date 1955)

SOURCE: An introduction to Black Hawk, edited by Donald Jackson, University of Illinois Press, 1964, pp. 1-40.

[In the following excerpt, originally written in 1955, Jackson examines the complex issue of the authenticity of Black Hawk's memoirs.]

Since the first appearance of the autobiography [Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Hawk] in 1833, its accuracy, authenticity, and style have been both praised and damned. The fault that critics find with it is usually expressed in one or more of these comments: Black Hawk didn't dictate it; the facts are garbled; no Indian would talk that way; no Indian...

(The entire section is 10651 words.)