Native American Verbal Art
Texts and Contexts
He examines in depth Henry Timberlake’s 1765 translation of a Cherokee war song that was probably the first printed English rendering of a Native American "poem." He discusses early-nineteenth-century textualizers and translators who saw in Native American verbal art a literature manqué that they could transform into a fully realized literature, with particular attention to the work of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an Indian agent and pioneer field collector who developed this approach to its fullest. He discusses the "scientific" textualizers of the late nineteenth century who viewed Native American discourse as a data source for historical, ethnographic, and linguistic information, and he examines the work of Natalie Curtis, whose field research among the Hopis helped to launch a wave of interest in Native Americans and their verbal art that continues to the present.
In addition, Clements addresses theoretical issues in the textualization, translation, and anthologizing of American Indian oral expression. In many cases the past records of Native American expression represent all we have left of an entire verbal heritage; in most cases they are all that we have of a particular heritage at a particular point in history. Covering a broad range of materials and their historical contexts, Native American Verbal Art identifies the agendas that have informed these records and helps the reader to determine what remains useful in them. It will be a welcome addition to the fields of Native American studies and folklore.