Sophia Alice Callahan
Wynema: A Child of the Forest (1891) is a novel by Muscogee American writer Sophia Alice Callahan. Published when the author was only 23 years old, Wynema: A Child of the Forest is the first novel written by an American Indian woman. Although it gained little, if any, attention upon publication, the novel was rediscovered and reprinted in 1997. Wynema: A Child of the Forest is an essential record of the Massacre at Wounded Knee and the subsequent Lakota Ghost Dance movement, a work of fiction which looks at the suffering of American Indians through the eyes of an assimilated Muscogee woman, a character not unlike Callahan herself.
Wynema is a young Muscogee girl. Raised in Indian Territory, she is educated in English and becomes a teacher at a local mission school. There, she befriends a white coworker, whose brother she eventually marries. In time, the couple gives birth to a child and begins to raise their family. However, following the Massacre at Wounded Knee, and horrified by stories of orphaned Lakota children left to fend for themselves, Wynema and her husband decide to expand their family by adopting a young Lakota girl. Through this family narrative, Callahan examines the assimilation of American Indians into Western culture while providing a critical comparison of Christianity and the Ghost Dance religion. In its description of the events at Wounded Knee, the novel portrays heroic Lakota women risking their lives to save children from the onslaught of American soldiers, a circumstance unreported in the press's presentation of the Massacre. Wynema: A Child of the Forest is an important and vastly unknown novel from the first woman novelist of American Indian heritage.
With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Sophia Alice Callahan's Wynema: A Child of the Forest is a classic of American Indian literature reimagined for modern readers.
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