Friday, April 30, 2010

Black Elk: The Controversy Continues

Michael Steltenkamp's second book recently received a bad review in the American Library Association's Choice Magazine.

Nicholas Black Elk: Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic was panned by Colgate University's C.T. Vecsey as having much of the same content as his earlier book Black Elk. Furthermore, Vecsey questions Steltenkamp's objectivity, while appearing to side with authors like the poet, John Neihardt, who strike me as being quite subjective.

(In addition to being a Roman Catholic priest, Seltenkamp also has a PhD in anthropology.)

Vecsey criticized Steltenkamp for basing all of his research on his interaction with Lucy Looks Twice. I have to question this. As I see it, Steltenkamp carefully read Neihardt's book and was right to ask why the poet glossed over the last 40-50 years of Nicholas Black Elk's life.

If the review of Steltenkamp's current book was online I'd give you a link to it. However, I can give you a link to a site that looks at Black Elk in a way that is closer to how I tend to look at him. I especially encourage you to scroll down to the botton of the link and read the section under the heading


The person responsible for that site is Sam Wellman. Black Elk is one of his "Heroes of History," and I'm somewhat amused that the heroes he tends to focus on are "explorers," and "missionaries." These, as you may know, are two of the most-bashed occupations amongst historians.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Roger Williams and the Naragansetts

The American Indian Studies Program at Cal State University has done us the service of creating "Indians of North America - The Native American Experience." Their collection of historical images features a few that are relevant to Algonkian Church History.

The Naragansett name has come up in my previous posts because some of the genetic makeup of the Stockbridge and especially the Brothertown Indians comes from the Naragansett Nation.

Here is Cal Tech's description of the above engraving (property of the Library of Congress):

London-born Roger Williams (c.1603-1683) was an American Puritan leader and founder of Rhode Island. Banished from Massachusetts in 1636 for his separatist ideas, he set out with a few followers and went to Rhode Island. There he befriended the Narragansett Indians and bought land from them to settle on, naming the town Providence. Williams firmly believed in treating the Indians justly and humanely; he encouraged his fellow colonists to pay the Indians fairly for their land. In 1643, he published a dictionary of the Algonquian language, an endeavor which helped further friendly relations between the settlers and the Narragansetts. Providence
became a safe haven for many people, among them Quakers, Baptists, and Jews, who fled the religious persecution of the New England settlements.