Charles Eastman: Bridging the Gap Between Cultures Essay

Charles Eastman: Bridging the Gap Between Cultures Essay

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Charles Eastman made great strides to bridge the gap between the Native Americans and the white man. Born a Santee Sioux, Eastman excelled in his assimilated life, thereby gaining the respect of the white man, which he used to assist the Native American. He was able to give a voice to the culture and its people, which was quickly being silenced by a Eurocentric government. Eastman exemplified the abilities of the Native American through his accomplishments as an author, lecturer, physician, and activist. His capacity to live between two diverse cultures furthered his unprecedented endeavors.
Charles Alexander Eastman was born Ohiyesa, a Santee Sioux. He is believed to have been born near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, on February 19, 1858. His paternal grandmother, Uncheedah, was responsible for his upbringing after his mother’s death due to complications during childbirth. Uncheedah presented him with tradition Sioux teachings. Following the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, Ohiyesa and other Santee Sioux were exiled to Manitoba. In Eastman’s Indian Boyhood, he fondly recalls these times of living freely and peacefully by saying, “What boy would not be an Indian for a while when he thinks of the freest life in the world?”
Ohiyesa’s father, Jacob “Many Lightnings” Eastman was instrumental in his assimilation into the white man’s culture, beginning with his education. Unlike many other Native American children in boarding schools, Charles learned to read and write in his native language. This progressive program of learning was often criticized because of the fear felt among American settlers after the Great Sioux Uprising. The settlers, as well as the government agencies, sought only acculturation of the Indians into the w...


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...dian Quarterly 25, no. 4 (2001): 609-613.
Eastman, Charles A, From the Deep Woods to Civilization, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1977 [1916]) 195.

Eastman, Charles A. Indian Boyhood (New York: Dover Publications, (1971 [1902]), 3.

Lopenzia, Drew. “’Good Indian’: Charles Eastman and the Warrior as Civil Servant,” American Indian Quarterly 27, no. ¾, Special Issue (2003): 729, 739.

Murphy, Nora. “Starting Children on the Path to the Past: American Indians in Children’s Historical Fiction,” Minnesota History 57, no. 6 (2001): 284,286.

Patterson, Michelle Wick. “’Real’ Indian Songs: The Society of American Indians and the Use of Native American Culture as a Means of Reform,” American Indian Quarterly 26, no. 1 (2002): 54-55.

Stensland, Anna Lee. “Indian Boyhood by Charles A. Eastman’” The English Journal 66, no. 3 (1977): 59.

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