The Western Captive and Other Indian Stories
  • Publication Date: August 10, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781554811205 / 1554811201
  • 300 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Western Captive and Other Indian Stories

  • Publication Date: August 10, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781554811205 / 1554811201
  • 300 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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This edition recovers Elizabeth Oakes Smith’s successful 1842 novel The Western Captive; or, The Times of Tecumseh and includes many of Oakes Smith’s other writings about Native Americans, including short stories, legends, and autobiographical and biographical sketches. The Western Captive portrays the Shawnee leader as an American hero and the white heroine’s spiritual soulmate; in contrast to the later popular legend of Tecumseh’s rejected marriage proposal to a white woman, Margaret, the “captive” of the title, returns Tecumseh’s love and embraces life apart from white society.

These texts are accompanied by selections from Oakes Smith’s Woman and Her Needs and her unpublished autobiography, from contemporary captivity narratives and biographies of William Henry Harrison depicting the Shawnee, and from writings by her colleagues Jane Johnston Schoolcraft and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.


“Caroline M. Woidat’s edition of Elizabeth Oakes Smith’s writings about Native–white relations in nineteenth-century North America is most welcome. The Western Captive gives scholars detailed chronological, cultural, and geographical backgrounds to enrich their analyses, and enters into conversation with the stories of other transculturated women…. This book will be valuable for classroom use because its rich selection of supporting primary material allows readers to see these texts within their cultural and literary contexts.” — Nicole Tonkovich, University of California, San Diego

“This is an impressive scholarly edition, not only of Elizabeth Oakes Smith’s life and work, but also of the work of her most important contemporaries. Clearly, there is no other major text of American literature to compare directly with The Western Captive, the heartbreaking narrative of the heroic Tecumseh and equally brave Margaret, whom he rescued as a young girl. In addition to Oakes Smith’s feminist writing, appendices offer texts by her contemporaries, political campaign biographies in which the Indians figure, and, perhaps most interestingly, material on the relationship between Oakes Smith and Henry and Jane Schoolcraft, who wrote about intermarriage between ‘educated’ Indians and ‘whites.’” — Florence Howe, co-founder of The Feminist Press and author of A Life in Motion (2011)

A Note on the Text

The Western Captive; or, The Times of Tecumseh

“Indian Traits: The Story of Niskagah” (1840)
“Machinito: The Evil Spirit; from the Legends of Iaogu” (1845)
“Beloved of the Evening Star” (1847)
From “The Sagamore of Saco: A Legend of Maine” (1848)
“Kinneho: A Legend of Moosehead Lake” (1851)

Appendix A: Elizabeth Oakes Smith’s Writings on Her Life and Women’s Rights

  1. From A Human Life: Being the Autobiography of Elizabeth Oakes Smith (c. 1885)
  2. From Woman and Her Needs (1851)

Appendix B: Tecumseh, Captivity Narratives, and Indian-White Romance

  1. From John Dunn Hunter, Memoirs of a Captivity among the Indians of North America (1823)
  2. From James E. Seaver [and Mary Jemison], A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison (1824)
  3. From John Tanner and Edwin James, A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner (1830)
  4. From R. S. Dills, History of Greene County, Together with Historic Notes on the Northwest, and the State of Ohio (1881)

Appendix C: Stories of Harrison and the Shawnee in Campaign Biographies

  1. From James Hall, A Memoir of the Public Services of William Henry Harrison, of Ohio (1836)
  2. From Samuel Jones Burr, The Life and Times of William Henry Harrison (1840)

Appendix D: Oakes Smith and the Schoolcrafts

  1. Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, “Moowis, The Indian Coquette. A Chippewa Legend” (1827)
  2. Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Letter to Jane L. [Johnston] Schoolcraft (1842)
  3. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft [with Elizabeth Oakes Smith], from “Nursery and Cradle Songs of the Forest” (1845)
  4. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, “Idea of an American Literature based on Indian Mythology” (1845)
  5. Elizabeth Oakes Smith, “Mrs. Henry R. Schoolcraft” (1874)

Works Cited and Recommended Reading

Caroline M. Woidat is Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York, Geneseo.