Tendoy Critical Context - Essay

David L. Crowder

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Historical studies that attempt to correct misapprehensions, round out incomplete pictures, or dislodge stereotypical views of people and events ought to be accorded a respectable place in the literature on Native Americans. Tendoy is such a work. It is a valuable book for young adult readers and budding historians because it contradicts the view that Native American greatness is based solely on the ability to make war and promote the warrior ethos. Tendoy presents a different perspective on what made some Native Americans great by examining a leader whose life was not a series of romantic tales but who the author believes performed important and humane service by promoting peaceful relations.

Tendoy itself is unique in that it synthesizes many scattered historical tid-bits about a less well known tribal leader into what has come to be regarded as a standard biography. It made use of both oral and written sources at a time when the value of oral history projects was beginning to be more widely recognized.

Crowder’s Tendoy serves as a significant tool for students who know little about the Lemhi, the region of southern Idaho, their greatest chief, or even longevity in leadership (Tendoy held the chieftainship for forty-four years). Tendoy also provides a springboard for further research on those Native Americans and whites who tried to “ameliorate Indian-white relations by means short of war.”