'Thank Heaven, I Am an Indian': Persona, Authenticity, and Hybridity in the Writing of Kah-Ge-Ga-Gah-Bowh Alias 'George Copway'

Date
2020
Authors
Bombardier, Brandon
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Abstract

In this thesis I examine Ojibwe autobiographer George Copway as an 'urban Indian' navigating his place in the anglophone, white majority populace of the mid-nineteenth century United States. This approach considers metropolitan pressures as historical contexts for his self- representation, rather than examining them as proof of some sort of ethno-cultural duplicity. My intention is not to champion emigration from tribal lands, it is only to argue that moving away from tribal land does not, indeed cannot, constitute a betrayal of some authentic ideal that was denied to Native peoples by settler culture. This paper proposes that Copway's socio-ethnic hybridity as Christian Anglophone writer and Ojibwe tribesman are inextricable components of a nuanced Indian identity, allowing him to exist in and simultaneously navigate both spheres.

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Keywords
hybridity, identity, narrative persona, Native American autobiography, Native American Christianity, Urban Indian
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Department
English