New York and London: Wiley & Putnam, 1845. First Edition in book form. Thick 8vo. vi, , 6-512 pp., with some illustrations in the text (foxing throughout). Original publisher's brown cloth, rebacked with portions of the original spine laid down, binding extremities worn (SEE IMAGES). Inscription of Howard Bryan in pen on first blank. Good. Item #4081
A SWEEPING ETHNOLOGICAL RECORD OF THE HISTORIES, CULTURES, ORATURES, AND WORLD-VIEWS OF NUMEROUS INDIGENOUS AMERICAN TRIBES, COMPILED BY ONE OF THE FIRST EUROPEAN AMERICANS TO RECOGNIZE AND VALUE OF NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE AS EXPRESSED IN ORAL TRADITION.
Critics have been divided in their assessment of Schoolcraft's contribution to the preservation of Native American lore. Nonetheless, throughout his career he sought to document Ojibwa songs in the original languages, while providing literal line-by-line translations into English. In many instances (as here) he added versifications which turned the often brief, austere originals into the kind of elaborate, rhyming compositions that nineteenth-century readers recognized as "poetry." If Schoolcraft's "versions" were indeed illegitimate, they do contextualize the expectations of most readers in the Victorian era; it cannot be argued that without Schoolcraft's efforts, many of the songs he recorded would have surely perished.
To place the book in context: it was published in the same year that term "Manifest Destiny" was coined by John L. O'Sullivan (July, 1845). This imperialist, nationalist declaration became a clarion call for the dehumanization, subjugation, and conquest of Native Americans -- all of which Schoolcraft vigorously opposed.
THE TITLE: "The word Oneota, used as a symbol for the Red Race, refers to a huge boulder around which the Oneida Indians met in council and from which their name, the People of the Stone, derives. The Oneota series present ten different departments, -- some or all of them represented in each number, -- incidents and observations in the Indian territories; Indian tales; manners, customs, and opinions; biographical sketches of Indians; their traditions as to their origin and history; their languages; ethnology; picture writing; their antiquities; their songs, music, poetry. Some of the articles were continued through successive numbers. Eight issues of this miscellany, as initially announced, were later bound together and issued as a single volume [i.e. THE PRESENT EDITION], but the editorial attitude became progressively that of a magazine. Contributors were sought. Material by various individuals other than the editor was included. It was promised that the series would be extended if sufficient interest was shown. Although most of the items were written by Schoolcraft, the compilation is first of all a product of his editorial interest and labor, exactly as the Sault Ste. Marie manuscript series, with continuous pagination, was. This first serial, Oneóta, therefore, appears to have been a phase of his early conviction and years of effort in the direction of an American ethnological periodical." (SOURCE: Osborn & Osborn, pp. 445-446).
¶ The serial publication of "Oneóta" appeared in 1844-1845 in eight numbers of 64 pages each, with brown paper covers bearing the title: "Oneóta, or The red race of America." (Osborn & Osborn incorrectly stated that the first edition in book form was issued in under the same title as the parts).
The parts issue and the first book edition are scarce on the market: a combined total of just three copies have appeared at auction in over a century:
2016: Bonhams (buried in a group lot);
1972: Montreal Book Auctions;
1920: American Art Association (bound from the parts, but without title-page - John H. Cavender copy).
NB: All other entries in Rare Book Hub are of later editions; these appeared under various titles, including: "The Red Race of America," "The Indian in his Wigwam," "The American Indians," and "Western Scenes and Reminiscences."
¶ REFERENCES: Sabin 77867. Howes S-188. Chase E. and Stellanoval Osborn, "Bibliography of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft" in: Schoolcraft - Longfellow - Hiawatha (1942), p. 637. John Finley Freeman, "Pirated Editions of Schoolcraft's 'Oneóta'" (in: PBSA vol. 53, no. 3). Field, Indian bibliography, no. 1376. Field Sale, lot 2070, realizing $200 in 1875 (!).