Indian Man

Indian Man : Life of Oliver La Farge

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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 147.32 x 208.28 x 25.4mm | 498.95g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1port.
  • 0253140005
  • 9780253140005

Review Text

An engaging biography of tire ethnographer-novelist who became a pioneer activist for Indian rights. Harvard-educated scion of New England gentlefolk, La Farge discovered Indians as lyrical, unspoiled primitives and his 1930 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Laughing Boy, reflected the diffuse pity of the white patrician observing vanishing relics - it was lovely and saturated with "the presumption of racial extinction." In later years he attempted (never with complete success) to curb his "thoroughly romantic and sentimental" attitude toward Indian culture and concentrate on the grim realities. The reality in the mid-'20's was bitter indeed (La Farge was to call 1923 the "nadir" of the Indian) with official government policies directed toward keeping a "death-bed watch" for a "dying culture and a dying race." For 30 years the pillar of the Association for American Indian Affairs. La Farge was one of the small band who reversed the government's zealous racial imperialism and checked the drive to eradicate native religion and handicrafts during the Roosevelt reform. In sorrow and anger he watched the Eisenhower Administration mount a new campaign to pillage Indian lands a personal letter to the President was, predictably, lost in the bureaucratic mire In a more strident age of Red Power La Farge's activism will seem tempered and naively idealistic - the letter to Eisenhower betrays a remarkable innocence of power politics. Ironically, La Farge himself understood that much of his dedication came from a Yankee commitment to "the white man's burden" which he defined as a mission to "undo. . . the harm that he himself has done." McNickle's sensitive study of the quietly troubled lifelong ambivalences between the urban New Englander and the Southwestern rustic, the romantic and the scientist, has charm and dignity throughout. (Kirkus Reviews)show more