The re-presented Indian: Pauline Johnson's "Strong Race Opinion" and other forgotten discourses
AuthorMarshall, Christine Lowella
Literature, Canadian (English).
Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies.
AdvisorTemple, Judy Nolte
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe daughter of a Mohawk chief and an English immigrant, Pauline Johnson had an unusual childhood which exposed her to Shakespeare and Byron, as well as to her Mohawk grandfather's ancient stories. Her writing reflected her parents' optimism and belief that her dual heritage was the beginning of a new world in which native values and abilities would be integrated as important contributions to Canadian society as a whole. For nearly seventeen years Johnson toured Canada, the United States, and England, reciting her own poetry and adding her own humorous observations. Aware that her special draw to her audiences was her native heritage, Johnson assumed the stage persona of "The Mohawk Princess," and wore a buckskin dress, moccasins, a bearclaw necklace, and other accouterments as she recited angry poems protesting white treatment of native peoples. In the second half of her performance, however, she changed into an evening gown, thereby subverting her audience's expectation of the stereotyped identity, "Indian." Although her performances succeeded in disrupting, for an evening, the dominant colonial discourse, she was ultimately co-opted as a sentimental trope and today is often dismissed as a serious writer. However, such dismissal overlooks the fact that Pauline Johnson was the first and only native writer to make her living from her writing. During the four years between her retirement from the recital platform and her death in 1913, she produced more than 80 short stories that appeared in national magazines. This dissertation examines examples of the colonial discourse of her contemporaries and Johnson's response to such discourse for clues to her current near-exclusion from the Native American literary canon.
Degree ProgramGraduate College