A Stranger in Her Native Land: Alice Fletcher and the American Indians

Overview


Called "Her Majesty" because of her resemblance to Queen Victoria and known as "the measuring woman" among the Indians whose land allotments she administered, Alice Fletcher (1838–1923) commanded respect from both friend and foe. She was the foremost woman anthropologist in the United States in the nineteenth century and instrumental in the adoption of the policy of severalty that dominated Indian affairs in the 1880s. This is the full and intimate story of a woman who, as she grew in understanding of Indian ...
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Overview


Called "Her Majesty" because of her resemblance to Queen Victoria and known as "the measuring woman" among the Indians whose land allotments she administered, Alice Fletcher (1838–1923) commanded respect from both friend and foe. She was the foremost woman anthropologist in the United States in the nineteenth century and instrumental in the adoption of the policy of severalty that dominated Indian affairs in the 1880s. This is the full and intimate story of a woman who, as she grew in understanding of Indian ways, came to recognize that she was the one who was alien, a stranger in her native land.

Joan Mark recreates the long and active life of Alice Fletcher from diaries, correspondence, and other records, placing her achievements for the first time in a feminist perspective. Sustained by a sense of mission, Alice Fletcher challenged her society's definition of what women could be and do.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Written from a feminist viewpoint, this intriguing, scholarly biography recounts the life of Alice Fletcher, a 19th century anthropologist who championed the rights of American Indians. In 1881 at age 43, Fletcher gave up her career as a public lecturer and traveled west to the Dakota Territory where she observed the Sioux. From there she went to Nebraska to live with the Omaha, and then on to Idaho where she camped with the Nez Perce. Among the remarkable woman's political accomplishments was a congressional bill providing for individual land allotments to reservation Indians. Using Fletcher's personal journals and letters, Mark ( Four Anthropologists ) draws intelligent conclusions about Fletcher's character: her need for a family, a home and a cause, all of which she discovered among the Indians. ``Living with my Indian friends I found I was a stranger in my native land,'' Fletcher wrote. ``I learned to hear the echoes of a time when every living thing even the sky had a voice. That voice devoutly heard by the ancient people of America I desired to make audible to others.'' Illustrations not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Mark's empathetic biography rescues from obscurity a woman who was a dynamic influence in 19th-century Indian policy and the organization of the infant science of anthropology. Mark reveals the transformation of Fletcher from Victorian socialite concerned about the ``women question'' into a philanthropic anthropologist dedicated to solution of the ``Indian question.'' At 43 Fletcher virtually invented anthropology as a policy science. The book reveals much about Fletcher's lifelong personal struggle against male-dominated power institutions and her relationship with her companions Jane Gay and Francis LaFlesche--indeed it is as much their biography as hers. Historians--legal, feminist, and anthropological--will find this of interest and value.-- Allen C. Turner, Univ. of Idaho, Moscow
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803281561
  • Publisher: UNP - Nebraska Paperback
  • Publication date: 3/1/1989
  • Series: Women in the West Series
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author


Joan Mark, associate in the history of anthropology; Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University; is the author of Four Anthropologists: An American Science in Its Early Years (1980) and coeditor, with Frederick F. Hoxie, of With the Nez Perces: Alice Fletcher in the Field, 1889–1892, by E. Jane Gay (1981, also a Bison Book).
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