Remarkable for their eloquence and depth of feeling, these 82 speeches encompass 5 centuries of Indian encounters with nonindigenous peoples. Speakers include Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, Tecumseh, Seattle, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and many lesser-known leaders, whose compelling words are graced by forceful metaphors and vivid imagery.
Sixty-four speeches by Native American leaders dating from 1540 to as recently as 1991 provide a strong picture of Native/ white relations over many years. They range in length from less than a single page to as many as 16 pages. According to Blaisdell's note, a few of the speeches were transcribed from memories (which are unusually sharp in an oral culture) and some were translated as they were spoken by "mutually approved" translators. In a few cases, when authenticity had clearly degraded over the years, Blaisdell selected the earliest extant and hopefully the most accurate version. He also drew on numerous published collections but leaned as much as possible on original sources. An introductory note puts each speech in context. In the first line of the first speech, given in 1540 by Acuera (Timucua), we hear, "Others of your accursed race have, in years past, poisoned our peaceful shores." That jarring opener sets the tone for the large majority of the speeches. One can hardly blame the Indian leaders for lashing out because a powerful group with a very different set of values was pushing them about without regard for their culture or even their existence. While most of the speeches were addressed to white audiences, some were presented to their own tribal groups. The speakers proved themselves eloquent and ever more capable of shaping a message their hearers were likely to pay attention to. Representative speakers: Powhatan Wahunsonacock (1609), Swerise (Oneida) (1679), Pontiac (Ottawa) (1763), Captain Pipe, Hopocan (Delaware) (1781), Unnamed Women and Red Jacket (Seneca) 1791, Big Elk, Ongpatonga (Omaha) (1811), Wabashaw (Sioux) (1815), Osceola (Seminole) (1834), Red Cloud(Oglala Sioux) (1866, and 1870), Blackfoot (Crow) (1873), Sitting Bull, Tatanka Yotanka (Hunkpapa Sioux) (1875, 1878, 1882, 1883), and Russell Means (Oglala Sioux) (1973, 1977). This is an excellent choice for libraries that serve Native Americans or the increasing number interested in the history and culture of the First Americans. Acquire for use by teachers who incorporate documents into their studies. The price suggests that it be purchased as a handy reference for almost all libraries. KLIATT Codes: SARecommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Dover, 218p, 21cm, 00-024041, $2.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Edna M. Boardman; Retired Lib. Media Spec., Minot, ND, May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)