The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 126
12t6 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
"biographies" and the university presses that have published them. Comanche
Indian Henry Mihesuah's life story in First to Fight, published by a university
press, stands out as different on several counts.
First, Devon Mihesuah recorded Henry's biography, but what makes her
unique from the ethnographers critiqued by Deloria and Cook-Lynn is her rela-
tionship to her "informant" as well as her own background. Henry is Devon's
father-in-law of several years and she is Choctaw. While these might not appear
significant, they are when one understands this discipline's troubled past.
American Indian critiques of anthropologists are aimed mainly at non-Indian
intellectuals whose work has been more exploitive. These are the anthropolo-
gists who travel to reservations, gather information, and return to their ivory
towers, whereby they receive tenure for their work; their informants receive
nothing in return. As an American Indian historian, Devon is attentive to this
Henry's life is rather ordinary when one considers biographies of Indians who
remain popular among a non-Indian audience, including Black Elk, Geronimo,
or even textbook histories of Henry's ancestors, Comanches from the 185os who
raided Texas ranchers for food after they refused to relocate to reservations.
Stereotypes of the savage or the noble savage persist, because non-Indian read-
ers prefer stories about medicine men or the Indians' "plight," not about con-
temporary Indians who are more assimilated than not.
To be an Indian in today's world is what Henry's biography conveys. In five
chapters, he defines events that shaped his life, beginning with his name.
Explaining that Comanches were willing to protect the tribe at any cost, he then
explains that Mihesuah means "first to fight." His father, a well-to-do sharecrop-
per in Oklahoma, embodied the name's meaning. Henry recalls his father pro-
tecting their poorer black and white neighbors from starvation by feeding them.
Henry also lived out events that led to various types of confrontation: he married
a white woman, he served in the military, he refused to be a victim, he relocated
from Oklahoma to California under a new government policy, and he survived a
tragic accident. While Henry's life and memories might seem ordinary to some,
his story is unique, because it eradicates Indian stereotypes perpetuated by the
scholarly works that Deloria and Cook-Lynn critique. To understand American
Indians, one must first understand what it means to be an Indian from an Indian
perspective. Henry's story does just this.
University of New Mexico ELIZABETH ARCHULETA
Texas Natural History: A Century of Change. By David J. Schmidly. (Lubbock: Texas
Tech University Press, 2oo2. Pp. ix+576. Forewords, preface, acknowledg-
ments, afterwords, appendix, index. ISBN 0-89672-469-7. $39.95, cloth.)
In October 1905 the Biological Survey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
issued North American Fauna No. 5: Biological Survey of Texas by Vernon Bailey.
From 1889 to 1905 a team of scientists, led by Bailey, had surveyed the fauna of
Texas with an emphasis on lizards, snakes, and mammals. David Schmidly, a
Here’s what’s next.
Show all pages in this issue.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/144/ocr/: accessed September 25, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.