Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Last Algonquin

The New York Times praised The Last Algonquin as a "beautiful and affecting story - a quest, a mythic adventure and journey." You might not be surprised that it has a sad flavor, what else would you expect from the autobiography of somebody who, while still a boy, found himself the last of his people, and after trying to live amongst whites, realizes that it cannot be done. And so Joe Two Trees lives out the rest of his life as an Indian, alone for many years, finally, as an old man, geting the chance to tell his story to a young boy scout. Theodore Kazimiroff, the son of that boy scout, managed to remember the story and many insights that go with it. The
Chattanooga Times called Kazimiroff's book a "deeply moving chapter in the saga of the American Indian."

One reason that I chose to write about The Last Algonquin in the second entry of this blog is that it is a good read, even for people who don't consider Native American Studies to be their hobby. But even more importantly, I have chosen it in order to clarify my subject material and the title of the blog.

Right after the table of contents, Kazimiroff addresses the issue of spelling. He notes that his own personal choice of "Algonkian" would be closest to the pronounciation that his father used, making it probably our best guess of the way Indians once pronounced it. However, as often happens with words from oral cultures, there are other possible spellings. "Algonquin" is probably the most common, and, as such, it was the spelling that Kazimiroff was persuaded to use in the title of the book.

So I've chosen "Algonkian" as the spelling of a word which denotes the largest Native North American language group, a group that is made up of many tribes or nations, including (and I will only include a few here) Ojibways, Menominees, Pequots, Narrangansetts, Massachusetts, Delawares, Potawatomies, and even Cheyennes. That's right, western Indians as well as those from the eastern seaboard and the Great Lakes area spoke Algonkian dialects.

Now you're starting to get an idea of what the Algonkian Church History website might be about.

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