The Rhetoric of Simon Pokagon

Claims of Equality, Appeals for Reconciliation & Inclusion
Center for American Indian Studies Programs
American Indian Studies Seminar Series
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

5:30 - 6:30 pm

TFL

John N. Low, University of Michigan

This essay focuses on tribal leader Simon Pokagon and his novel Queen of the Woods, first published in 1899. In it, I explore the ways in which Pokagon’s writing served as a memorial and monument to Native peoples. Simon Pokagon was a celebrity in Chicago during his lifetime and was a featured speaker at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. His novel Queen of the Woods serves as a rhetorical monument to the persistence and resiliency of the Potawatomi. His literary and speaking efforts coupled with the materiality of his activities –such as selling his earlier work The Red Man’s Greeting, bound in birch bark, and erecting a birch bark tipi on the Midway during the Exposition - reminded both Natives and non-Natives alike that Chicago is built upon Potawatomi lands. The written and spoken words of Simon Pokagon claim a place in the history of the city, as well as assert a desire to be included in the future of that city.

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