The Works of Charles A. Eastman
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Although his background made him unwelcome in some parts of white society and his education made him uneasy in Native American cultures, he worked for his people throughout his life as a doctor, as a representative in Washington, D. His first published book, Indian Boyhood , written for children, tells the stories and traditions of the Sioux nation.
Red Hunters and the Animal People , Old Indian Days , and Wigwam Evenings , written with the help of his wife, Elaine Goodale Eastman, continue in this vein, but his later work, including The Soul of the Indian , The Indian Today , and his autobiography, From the Deep Woods to Civilization , attempts to interpret Native American culture for white society, describing the problems of assimilation.
Indian Child Life. The Bhagavad-Gita. A Tale of Two Cities. The Pilgrim's Progress. More books by Charles A. Eastman view all. Indian Boyhood.
Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains. Old Indian Days. Indian Child Life. The Indian Today.
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Red Hunters and the Animal People. Readers reviews. Write Review. Please login or sign up below in order to leave a review. Be the first to review this book. Books added this week view all. We frequently met and camped with the Hudson Bay half-breeds in their summer hunt of the buffalo, and we were on terms of friendship with the Assiniboines and the Crees, but in frequent collision with the Blackfeet, the Gros Ventres, and the Crows. However, there were times of truce when all met in peace for a great midsummer festival and exchange of gifts.
The Sioux roamed over an area nearly a thousand miles in extent. In the summer we gathered together in large numbers, but towards fall we would divide into small groups or bands and scatter for the trapping and the winter hunt. Most of us hugged the wooded river bottoms; some depended entirely upon the buffalo for food, while others, and among these my immediate kindred, hunted all kinds of game, and trapped and fished as well. Thus I was trained thoroughly for an all-round out-door life and for all natural emergencies.
I was a good rider and a good shot with the bow and arrow, alert and alive to everything that came within my ken. I had never known nor ever expected to know any life but this.
In the winter and summer of , we drifted toward the southern part of what is now Manitoba. In this wild, rolling country I rapidly matured, and laid, as I supposed, the foundations of my life career, never dreaming of anything beyond this manful and honest, unhampered existence.
My horse and my dog were my closest companions. I regarded them as brothers, and if there was a hereafter, I expected to meet them there. With them I went out daily into the wilderness to seek inspiration and store up strength for coming manhood.
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My teachers dreamed no more than I of any change in my prospects. I had now taken part in all our tribal activities except that of war, and was nearly old enough to be initiated into the ritual of the war-path. The world was full of natural rivalry; I was eager for the day. I had attained the age of fifteen years and was about to enter into and realize a man's life, as we Indians understood it, when the change came.
One fine September morning as I returned from the daily hunt, there seemed to be an unusual stir and excitement as I approached our camp. My faithful grandmother was on the watch and met me to break the news. It was a day of miracle in the deep Canadian wilderness, before the Canadian Pacific had been even dreamed of, while the Indian and the buffalo still held sway over the vast plains of Manitoba east of the Rocky Mountains. It was, perhaps, because he was my honored father that I lent my bewildered ear to his eloquent exposition of the so-called civilized life, or the way of the white man.
I could not doubt my own father, so mysteriously come back to us, as it were, from the spirit land; yet there was a voice within saying to me, "A false life! In accordance with my training, I asked few questions, although many arose in my mind. I simply tried silently to fit the new ideas like so many blocks into the pattern of my philosophy, while according to my untutored logic some did not seem to have straight sides or square corners to fit in with the cardinal principles of eternal justice.
My father had been converted by Protestant missionaries, and he gave me a totally new vision of the white man, as a religious man and a kindly.
But when he related how he had set apart every seventh day for religious duties and the worship of God, laying aside every other occupation on that day, I could not forbear exclaiming, "Father! You yourselves know and use some of the wonderful inventions of the white man, such as guns and gunpowder, knives and hatchets, garments of every description, and there are thousands of other things both beautiful and useful.
It is true that they have subdued and taught many peoples, and our own must eventually bow to this law; the sooner we accept their mode of life and follow their teaching, the better it will be for us all. I have thought much on this matter and such is my conclusion. There was a mingling of admiration and indignation in my mind as I listened. My father's two brothers were still far from being convinced; but filial duty and affection overweighed all my prejudices.
I was bound to go back with him as he desired me to do, and my grandmother and her only daughter accompanied us on the perilous journey. The line between Canada and the United States was closely watched at this time by hostile Indians, therefore my father thought it best to make a dash for Devil's Lake, in North Dakota, where he could get assistance if necessary.
He knew Major Forbes, who was in command of the military post and the agency. Our guide we knew to be an unscrupulous man, who could easily betray us for a kettle of whisky or a pony. One of the first things I observed was my father's reading aloud from a book every morning and evening, followed by a very strange song and a prayer. Although all he said was in Indian, I did not understand it fully. He apparently talked aloud to the "Great Mystery," asking for our safe guidance back to his home in the States.
The first reading of this book of which I have any recollection was the twenty-third Psalm, and the first hymn he sang in my presence was to the old tune of Ortonville. It was his Christian faith and devotion which was perhaps the strongest influence toward my change of heart and complete change of my purpose in life.
- Charles Alexander Eastman – Sioux Doctor, Author & Reformer – Legends of America!
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