Chief Thunderwater : An Unexpected Indian in Unexpected Places

University of Oklahoma PressSKU: 9780806167312

Author:
F. Gerald Reid
Grade Levels:
University
Nation:
Haudenosaunee, Iroquois, Six Nations
Book Type:
Hardcover
Pages:
200
Publisher:
University of Oklahoma Press
Copyright Data:
2020

Price:
Sale price$47.95

Description

Chief Thunderwater : An Unexpected Indian in Unexpected Places is by Gerald F. Reid, the author of Kahnawà:ke: Factionalism, Traditionalism, and Nationalism in a Mohawk Community. In Chief Thunderwater, on June 11, 1950, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published an obituary under the bold headline “Chief Thunderwater, Famous in Cleveland 50 Years, Dies.” And there, it seems, the consensus on Thunderwater ends. Was he, as many say, a con artist and an imposter posing as an Indian who lead a political movement that was a cruel hoax? Or was he a Native activist who worked tirelessly and successfully to promote Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, sovereignty in Canada? The truth about this enigmatic figure, so long obscured by vying historical narratives, emerges clearly in Gerald F. Reid’s biography, Chief Thunderwater—the first full portrait of a central character in twentieth-century Iroquois history. Searching out Thunderwater’s true identity, Reid documents Thunderwater's life from his birth in 1865, as Oghema Niagara, through his turns as a performer of Indian identity and, alternately, as a dedicated advocate of Indian rights. After nearly a decade as an entertainer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Thunderwater became progressively more engaged in Haudenosaunee political affairs—first in New York and then in Quebec and Ontario. As Reid shows, Thunderwater’s advocacy for Haudenosaunee sovereignty sparked alarm within Canada’s Department of Indian Affairs, which moved forcefully to discredit Thunderwater and dismantle his movement. Self-promoter, political activist, entrepreneur: Reid’s critical study reveals Thunderwater in all his contradictions and complexity—a complicated man whose story expands our understanding of Native life in the early modern era, and whose movement represents a key moment in the development of modern Haudenosaunee nationalism.

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