In his study of captivity narratives, Kyhl Lyndgaard argues that these accounts have influenced land-use policy and environmental attitudes at the same time that they reveal the complex relationship between ethnicity, landscape, and authorship. In connecting these themes, Lyndgaard offers readers an alternative environmental literature, one that is dependent on an understanding of nature as home rather than as a place of temporary retreat. He examines three captivity narratives written in the 1820s and 1830s - A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, The Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner, and Life of Black Hawk -all of which engage with the Jacksonian policy of Indian removal and resist tropes of the so-called Vanishing Indian. As Lyndgaard shows, the authors and the editors with whom they collaborated often saw their stories as a plea for environmental and social justice. At the same time, audiences have embraced them for their vision of a more inclusive and less exploitative American society than was proffered by the rhetoric of Manifest Destiny. Their legacy is that while environmental and social justice has been slow in fulfilment, their continued popularity testifies to the fact that the struggle for justice has never been ceded.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Taking off the Moccasin Flower and Putting on the Lady's Slipper: Indian Removal and the Natural Environment in the Nineteenth Century
Chapter 1: Redemption Deferred: American Captivity Narratives as Environmental Literature
Chapter 2: The Great Slide: Mary Jemison's Ruptured Narrative
Chapter 3: Scientific and Sympathetic Collaboration: Edwin James and John Tanner
Chapter 4: All Along the Watch Tower: Life of Black Hawk as a Counter Captivity Narrative
Chapter 5: Communitist Narratives of Exile and Restoration
Kyhl D. Lyndgaard is Director of First Year Seminar and Writing Centers at St. John's University, Collegeville, MN, USA.