Does a White Man’s Retelling of a Native Person’s Stories affect their accuracy?

Last year, I took a religious studies course called Spiritual Autobiographies with Jim Thrall. (Jim is incredible, and so was this class for multiple reasons.) One of the autobiographies we read for class was Black Elk Speaks by John Niehardt. The way this book was structured as well as its contents was really neat. I never knew how much of an emotional impact the increased interactions with white “Americans” had on Native Americans until I read this book. After reading this book, however, I found out that there were things left out of the book and others were edited to make them easier to understand for Neihardt’s readers. Do you think there are problems with this? If not, what would be the best (most ethical, most effective) way for people who are unfamiliar with Native American cultures to learn about them? Should we even try to learn the details of a culture that isn’t our own, especially one that has been ignored and forgotten and then appropriated by white America?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *