Published on December 21, 2012 by Carol
Author: William Apess
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Editor: Barry O’Connell
O’Connell, a professor of English at Amherst Collegesince there’s also UMass Amherst , has performed a real service in compiling and editing the complete works of Apess. A member of the Pequot tribe of Massachusetts, Apess became, in 1829, one of the first Native Americans to write and publish an autobiography. Further, he did so with only six years of formal education. A Son of the Forest tells the story of Apess’s early life (he was scarcely 30 when he wrote it) and of his conversion to Christianity in 1818. Eleven years later, he was ordained a Methodist minister. O’Connell notes as especially remarkable that Apess, unlike many of his contemporaries and their white tutors (who saw Christianity as a way to speed the Native Americans’s cultural assimilation), used his Christianity to better assert his Indianness. Nowhere is this more evident than in his “Eulogy on King Philip” and “The Indians: The Ten Lost Tribes,” which are at once impassioned pleas on behalf of Native Americans and fierce denunciations of white colonialization. O’Connell provides an extensive and invaluable introduction and footnotes to aid the reader in the recovery of this important Native American figure.