Friday, 16 October 2009

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays: George Copway, Kahgegagahbowh

George Copway, Kahgegagahbowh (He Who Stands Forever' 1818-1869

His autobiography 'The Life, History, and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, 1847' is reputed to be the first book written in English by a Native Canadian. An except of this is included in 'An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English' by Daniel David Moses and Terry Goldie.

While the excerpt is several pages in length, it gave me a feeling for Mr. Copway. His passage about his birth in a temporary shelter with evergreen boughs for a roof, is most appealing. For him, having been born out in the midst of nature was more meaningful that if he had been born in a marble palace. He also tells about being raised in a traditional manner, out in the woods with the trees and animals.

"I was taught that it was the gift of the many spirits to be a good hunter and warrior"

He clearly indicted that he loved this traditional life and that he pondered his place within it and the place of his people. He says that he didn't find an answer until the Priests came and taught him about 'God'. They opened up the written word to him.

It is obvious that he was greatly influenced by the Priests and all that they taught him and that it greatly shaped the man he became.

I enjoyed reading this passage, particularly when he was talking of the history of his family. Where they lived on Rice Lake, near Cobourg, Ontario.

Mr. Copway also wrote several other volumes:

The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibwa Nation (1850)
Running Sketches of Men and Places in England, France, Germany, Belgium and Scotland (1851)
edited weekly Copway's American Indian (1851)

Biography of George Copway
A more complete list of George Copways writings

1 comment:

Felicity Grace Terry said...

I love learning about new people and places so this, for me, is a fascinating series you are running. Thanks.