<B>Welcome to an Experimental, Underdeveloped, Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Scholarly Edition of Mourning Dove's <i>Cogewea: The Half-Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle Range</i></B>
[[Why Did Mourning Dove Write a Western?]]
[[Continue on to the Interactive Novel]]
<i>Cogewea</i> is often cited as the first novel published by an Indigenous woman. Mourning Dove (Christine or Christal Quintasket's pen name) began writing her western in 1912 and with the help of her well-meaning but over-bearing editor, Lucullus McWhorter, her novel was finally published in 1927.
She likely wrote this novel to counter the racist representation of Indigenous peoples in the modern western. Indigenous scholar and activist, Joanne DiNova, explains that it is vital to counter racist versions of Indigenous identity because “actual Indigenous people are judged as more or less authentic, more or less real, to the extent that they live up or down to a fictitious representation” (<i>Spiralling Webs of Relation</i> 24). It's not far-fetched to assume Mourning Dove would have agreed wholeheartedly, because in <i>Cogewea</i>, the eponymous main character hurls a popular western that utterly misrepresents indigeneity across the room. Very likely, Cogewea's frustration represents Mourning Dove's frustration as the modern western was designed, in part, to render Indigenous peoples powerless. Through <i>Cogewea</i>, Mourning Dove rewrites the knowledge and thought processes of domination and oppression narrativized via the modern western: in Mourning Dove's western, the ranch is multicultural, multi-racial, and feminist.
Throughout this game-based scholarly edition of <i>Cogewea: the Halfblood</i>, I have included certain conventions of a scholarly edition, including explanatory notes and critical commentary. I have not been able to include emendations, because I do not have the necessary archival material to do so; these materials are forthcoming from the University of Washington.
The game paradigms of this edition involves following, to a large extent, <a href="http://selfloud.net/">Dr. Anastasia Salter's</a> definition of an interactive book as an evolving form that blurs the boundaries between reader, text, author, and editor. The interactivity and interconnectedness of such books dovetails with the Indigenous cultural principal (or master trope) of interconnectivity (<a href=http://www.amazon.ca/Spiraling-Webs-Relation-Movements-Indigenist/dp/0415973384><i>Spiralling Webs of Relation</i></a>, Dinova 13). As well, the use of an open-source tool frees this edition from the private process of scholarly editing with a publisher and allows for greater public access and inclusivity of material.
<b>A note on the text</b>: This edition follows the guidelines for Aboriginal editing practice as explained by Dr. Greg Younging, former managing editor at Theytus Press, an Indigenous publishing house.
[[Theytus Books' House Style]]
When game choices are not involved, the first phrase of the first paragraph links the "pages" of this book.
Thanks and I hope you enjoy this proto-interactive edition.
This experimental edition invites you, the reader, to interact with Mourning Dove's western. Do you want to learn more about a certain aspect of the text or do you want to continue reading? Perhaps you want to learn more about how Mourning Dove revised the western genre? Whatever your choices, this experimental game-based scholarly edition attempts to collapse the boundaries between reader, player, and text in order to create an interactive and inclusive space that respects the cultural integrity of Mourning Dove's work.
<b>Table of Contents</b>
[[Read Chapter VII The "Ladies" and "Squaws" Races]]
<b>Why Mourning Dove Wrote a Western: The Perils of White Print Culture</b>
In the early twentieth century, Indigenous peoples had to conform to the paradigms of white print culture or risk being completely silenced. Even activists and allies, like Lucullus McWhorter, were infected by the belief that Indigneous cultures were vanishing cultures, doomed to die out (and conveniently leave behind their land). Well-meaning white liberal sentimentalists, like McWhorter, wanted to preserve Indigenous cultures, and so they practiced "salvage ethnography," gathering stories from tribal members, while North American mission schools, residential schools, and industrial schools attempted to assimilate Indigenous children.
In opposition to the primarily biographical and salvage ethnographic print culture that hemmed in Indigenous writing, Mourning Dove wrote a Western. While the dime western was the common form of the genre for decades, Owen Wister's <i>The Virginian</i> (1902) had made the western acceptable reading material for the middle classes, which greatly expanded its readership. Mourning Dove wrote a western to reclaim and re-vision its conventions from an oppressive genre that monologically celebrates one kind of identity (white, heterosexual, affluent male) to an inclusive genre that supports and furthers diversity and difference.
Even though the Western was a relatively new genre in the early twentieth century, it was (and is) easily identifiable through a variety of generic markers, such as stock characters (cowboys and Indians), plot lines (captivity), and setting (the frontier). These conventional elements operate together to circulate various discourses that legitimate certain cultural codes and norms, including, perhaps most predominantly, unfettered capitalism and white male triumphalism. In recent years, the popular Western has come under heavy fire for its support of violent capitalist ideologies that further the colonization and exploitation of peoples and land.
Of particular interest to current critical conversations are revisionist, polemical Westerns that attempt to dismantle certain grand imperialist, capitalist narratives that popular Westerns are conventionally accused of supporting. These revisionist Westerns are often located within the contemporary period. Therefore, Mourning Dove’s <i>Cogewea</i> stands out as an early revisionist Western that, as Susan Bernardin states, “reformulate[s] the role assigned to Native Americans” in addition to restructuring and reconstituting the multicultural, racial, and economic relationships between characters without vilifying and denigrating the genre (489).
Bernardin, Susan. "Mixed Messages: Authority and Authorship in Mourning
Dove's Cogewea, the Half-Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle
Range." <i>American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography</i> 67.3 (1995): 487-509.
Lamont, Victoria. “Native American Oral Practice and the Popular Novel; or,
Why Mourning Dove Wrote a Western.” Western American Literature 39.4
(2005): 368-393. Where, in the valley fields and fruits,
Now hums the lively street,
We milled a mob of fighting brutes,
Amid the grim mesquite
"<b>H</b>URRY, Sis!" called Jim, as Cogewea joined him where he was holding the Bay Devil. "Race is on in a few minutes and you want Diamond handled a little 'fore startin.' Ride through the crowd to the track and get him used to the yellin' and shootin' crackers."
He helped the girl to mount, her face showing but slightly, the heart's throb of anticipation. A riding habit of blue corduroy fitted her slender form admiriably. Red, white and blue ribbons fastened her hair, which streaming to the racer's back, lent a picturesque wildness to her figure. Securing the stirrups, she requested Jim to tighten her spur-straps, as they seemed a trifle loose adding:
"We just must win this race from the whites. See! The Webster girls are among the mounted ladies and they have mighty good horses. But if any of them beat me, they will sure have to run for it."
"My spirit-power tells me you're goin' come out first in this here race," replied Jim solemnly, as he gave a final tug at a refractory spur-strap. "Signs are all favorable for winnin'."
Cogewea was assigned place abreast the other riders, her number placing her on the outer circle or flank of the field. Verona, the eldest Webster girl, was a noted rider and her jet mount, known as the "Black Snake", had never lost a race.
[[This was the first match between the two famous riders]]
<html><a href ="http://www.cowboypoetry.com/badger.htm#Passing"> The epigraph is from the cowboy poet, Badger Clark's "The Passing of the Trail"</a></html>
This was the first match between the two famous riders, and as Cogewea fell into line, Verona, who had second place, stared at her contemptuously and spoke in a voice loud enough to be heard by those standing near:
"Why is this <i>squaw</i> permitted to ride? This is a <i>ladies</i> race!"
Her companions were unanimous that it was a gross outrage and that they should protest. Stung by the biting insult, Cogewea retorted:
"Perhaps I am allowed to ride because no '<i>ladies</i>' of the silvery-hue have entered and this race is being tolerated only that the audience may not be disappointed."
Further colloquy was cut short by the stentorian voice of the starter, as he raised his pistol in the air:
"<i>A-l-l rea-d-y!</i>" <b>BANG!</b>
The field was off! and it soon became apparent that the actual contest was to be between the two mighty racers. For the first quarter, the Black led the Bay, by a full length. In the next quarter, the Bay crept ahead until they were running neck in neck. The white rider plied the lash and the gallant Black responding, retrieved, in part, the lost ground. But at the touch of the spur, the Bay Devil forged along side, where, despite the fierce scourging by the white rider, he hung like a Nemesis. Soon he was a half-neck in the lead, when Verona, maddened at the thought of being beaten by a presumtuous "squaw", swung her shot-loaded quirt, evidently designed at disabling Cogewea's bridle arm. But the Indian girl's quick eye enabled her to avoid the heavy swing, and as the next descended, she caught and wrenched the whip from the frenzied rider's hand.
<b>Care to make a wager with the other cowboys?</b>
[[Cogewea wins->Cogewea beats Verona]]
[[Cogewea loses->Cogewea loses and Verona wins]]
<b>Even though Cogewea wins, she is caught in a eurocentric system, in which she must give way to white womanhood. However, Cogewea and Jim will not give up: they fight the judge, exposing his bias.
There is another race to run and more wagers to make, perhaps she will have better luck in [[The "Squaw" Race]]. Wait though, there is trouble brewing. When Cogewea fought off Verona's attack, she accidentally hit Verona's horse and now the white spectators are angry.</b>
"By gad! Sis," he exclaimed. "I'm some glad won this here race. I knowed the Bay Devil would come through if only he had a nervy rider like you; my tiny squaw."
Her eyes sparkled at the compliment for "squaw" had not been intended as an epithetical. She was silent and Jim continued:
"You're sure one gritty little Injun, hittin' back at that there high-toned white gal as you did. The "H-B" boys are all glad! They saw what she done to you first and know who's in fault. But the white fellers a backin' the Webster hoss are breezin' trouble if the judge gives you the prize. They have the dough and that's what talks, but the best rider of the -"
"She struck first and I had a right to defend myself," broke in Cogewea spiritedly. "It made no difference in hitting her horse, for I was ahead anyway. I had my eyes kinda half shut on account of dust and I couldn't see very well."
The Westerner understood and laughed. Reaching the stable, he unsaddled the Bay and giving him over to a care-taker, threw the saddle on White Star.
[[The "Squaw" Race]]
<b>Of course Cogewea beats Verona! Cogewea is the best rider on the Flathead. Let's continue with the story:</b>
Enraged at the brutality of the assault, she struck with all her force, but the blow falling short, landed athwart the Black Snake's head. This slightly checked his speed and the Bay Devil won by nearly a full length.
The "H-B" boys yelled and threw their sombreros in the air as the well matched leaders passed over the chalked-line, the balance of the field thundering in the rear. Diamond, the Bay Devil, circled far before his rider could stop him and when at last she brought him about, he was reeking with perspiration and quivering with exertion and excitement. Jim was there and helped Cogewea to dismount. He blanketed the racer and led him to the stables, the girl walking at his side.
[[Even though Cogewea wins the race, she loses the prize money->Cogewea loses and Verona wins]]"Now Sis," he spoke earnestly, "if you win this here 'squaw' race, I'll buy you a swell present; 'cause I'm goin' double up on bets. I raked home fifty bucks on the Bay Devil, and it'll be a hundred on the Star. He's sure some hummer when unwindin' and the way to get his best is not to whip. Just pull on the reins 'nough to give him his head, then see the White Star do some meteroric shootin'"
"Leave it to me while you may prepare to deliver that present," was the self-confident reply. "I'm going over to the Kootenai's and rent a buckskin dress. I have no Native costume and this garb would be a dead give away; for they may kick on me riding this race."
Then mounting, Cogewea cantered to the Kootenai camp where she had but little difficulty in securing complete tribal dress. Very soon she came from the teepee in full regalia, her face artistically decorated with varied paints. The Indian children saw and giggled among themselves. Remounting, she doubled the bright shawl over her knees, lapping it securely. When she rode back to the track, the "H-B" boys recognized her only by the horse.
Proceeding to the grandstand, Cogewea paid her entrance fee of two and a half dollars. Supposing that the Indian girl did not understand English, the judge turned to his companion with the remark:
"Some swell looker for a Kootenai squaw, eh? Mighty good pickin' for a young feller like you. Wish I wasn't so badly married! I'd sure keep an eye out for her. But the Missus would raise a hurry-cain if she knowed that I rather like some of the squaws around here."
[[The young man's reply was of like sinister import...]] <b>Aboriginal Style Guide</b>
<i>Many thanks to Dr. Greg Younging, who compiled and composed this style guide, which is extensive. The guidelines concerning emendations and formatting have been ommitted in this experimental edition.</i>
The primary purposes of a Theytus Books' House Style and an Aboriginal style guide are to provide guidelines that will assist editors and publishers to:
<li>produce literature reflecting Aboriginal realities as they are perceived by Aboriginal Peoples;</li>
<li>assist writers to write truthfully and insightfully about Aboriginal Peoples, respecting Aboriginal cultural integrity.</li>
<li>Establishing culturally appropriate guidelines (which do not necessarily follow European-based editorial rules and practices).</li>
<li>Developing and employing unique editorial publishing procedures based on Aboriginal practices. Theytus Books' House Style encourages publishers to work in partnership with Aboriginal Peoples and authors to ensure that Aboriginal material is expressed with the highest possible level of cultural authenticity, and in a manner, which maintains Aboriginal cultural integrity.</li>
In accordance with Theytus Books' House Style, as a general rule, when producing materials about Aboriginal Peoples, it is important that writers, editors and publishers bear in mind that contemporary Aboriginal Peoples clearly view themselves according to the following key principles:
<li>they are distinct cultures existing as part of an ongoing continuum through the generations tracing back to their ancient ancestors;</li>
<li>they have not been assimilated into mainstream Canadian society and their national and cultural paradigms have not been fundamentally altered or undermined through colonization.</li>
<li>natural cultural change and/or adaptation of new technology or methodology does not mean that Aboriginal Peoples have acquiesced to mainstream Canadian society, or that Aboriginal cultures have been fundamentally altered or undermined.</li>The young man's reply was of like sinister import, and then he began conversing in lowered tones. The girl's eyes filled with tears as she turned away; brooding over the constantly light spoken words of the "higher" race regarding her people of the incessant insults offered the Indian women by the "gentlemen" whites. She regretted with a pang, the passing of an epoch, when there were no "superiors" to "guide" her simple race to manifestly dearth of the primitive law of respect for womanhood; substituting in its stead the grossest insult and indignity to the weaker, with the most brazen impunity.
Cogewea brought White Star in line with the seven other cayuses, with their Kootenai, or Pend d'Oreille women riders. These last were gaudy with silk hankerchiefs about their heads, bright shawls, and with beaded mocassined feet. Cogewea alone was bareheaded, her raven hair reaching loosely below the saddle cantle.
She was met with glances of hatred for the depised "breed". Some of the Indian men were still hanging to the restless racers, as their wives or sisters made secure their wraps and settle more firmly in the saddles. The audience lined either side of the track; on the one the whites clamoring vociferously, on the other, the Indians sedately silent.
The eight horses moved prancing to the place of starting. Cogewea was assigned position near the centre of the group, where White Star manifested unusual spirit, causing more or less annoyance to the other riders. One of the Kootenai girls turned to her and spoke sharply in good English:
"You have no right to be here! You are half white! This race is for Indians and not for <i>breeds</i>!"
Cogewea made no reply, but she was overwhelmed with the soul-yearning for sympathy. For her class - the maligned outcast half-blood - there seemed no welcome on the face of all God's creation. Denied social standing with either of the parent races, she felt that the world was crying against her.
[[An interpretation of shifting Indigenous identity]]
[[Happy Trails]]<b> Kara Kennedy is a law student at the University of Ottawa and a former Justice Assistant with the Wikwemikong Peacemaker Justice Program. She has worked with Red Alliances Media and on the Wikwemikong Islands Specific Claim. During her undergraduate degree at Trent, she wrote several blog posts analyzing Mourning Dove's <i>Cogewea</i>. In this post, she discusses Cogewea's shifting identities in chapter VII</b>
Identity is a delicate issue for a large number of Indigenous people within North America today, this is largely due to the European dimensions that have been constructed and imposed amongst Indigenous people that measure Indigenous identity. The reasoning behind these constructed dimensions are numerous, however Indigenous societies believe that they were mainly constructed in the hopes of eradication and categorization of North America’s First Peoples.As well, Eurocentric practices pressure Indigenous people to assimilate and integrate within the larger body politic, which is the settler society. This integration will leave the measurable Indigenous indicator, which is blood quantum to such a small amount there will be no more Indigenous factor available.
This standard of being an Indigenous person has become embedded within Indigenous societies so much that judging a person's state of being Indigenous has almost become natural within many Indigenous societies. Today Indigenous people are become more liberated in seeing the violence associated with these imposed dimensions and nuances of being indigenous. Indigenous people today are reclaiming their identities, and calling for action in saying that they should have the right to self-identify and denounce the existing colonial system.
However a century ago, the state of being for Indigenous people was much different. Racism, discrimination, and oppression external to Indigenous communities were widespread. Indigenous people were not allowed to use their voice so the voice dictating them became internalized and mistaken for their own. This form of oppression against oneself and one’s own people is known as internal colonization. This internal colonization is present within the western novel <i>Cogewea, The Half-Blood</i>.
Cogewea was the first novel written by an Indigenous female author, Mourning Dove. In this novel the main character struggles with identity, and this struggle compels her day-to-day life and decisions within the novel.
Cogewea is a woman of mixed-descent, as her mother is a “full-blooded” Okanogan, while her father of European background. Cogewea’s father subsequently leaving his children shortly after her mothers passing in order to seek excavation of gold in Alaska. Her two sisters and traditional Okanogan Grandmother then raise Cogewea. After seeking an education at the Carlisle Indian School, Cogewea then lives and gains employment at her brother-in-law’s ranch, the H-B Ranch. Cogewea, who is an accomplished rider, falls in with the other male workers and gains a suitor in the foreman Jim LaGrinder, another “breed”.
The theme of Cogewea’s identity is strong. During one scene Cogewea decides to test the boundaries of her heritage entering both the “Ladies” and “Squaw’s” divisions at a local rodeo. Although she wins both matches, she is disqualified, because of her race, but not before she protests loudly against the racialized nature of the prizes.
Cogewea gains another suitor, in the apparently wealthy “Easterner” Alfred Densmore. Densmore courts Cogewea believing that she has amassed wealth, and seeks to gain it. The romance of Densmore initiates an internal struggle within Cogewea, as she finds a suitor with who is noble and can provide a home life. However if she pursues the romance she must turn her back on her traditional ways. Despite her Grandmother's warnings of Densmore, Cogewea feels privileged with her European ancestry therefore exempting her from her Grandmothers warnings. Upon Cogewea’s departure she is assaulted and abandoned once Densmore learns she has no wealth. Cogewea is the left to gain from the experience and return to the ranch.
During these experiences, Cogewea learns of internal and external oppression. As she learns that despite her European ancestry, she is not exempt from common experiences of “full-blooded” Indigenous women. The novel <i>Cogewea</i> is a monumental one, as it discusses the issues of identity, which an Indigenous person of mixed heritage might experience. Despite its idealistic ending, <i>Cogewea</i> is empowering as it utilizes an Indigenous mind-frame to tell a story and open a dialogue to Indigenous issues, especially at its time of publishing.<b>If you want to find out if Cogewea wins the "squaw" race, you'll have to wait for the full interactive edition or maybe read the print edition?
Thanks for playing!</b>