Life of Mary Jemison: Deh-He-Wä-Mis, 1856
The social construction of Indian women and the interconnectedness between culture and various stereotypes has been a source of conflict that has resulted in wars; some fought physically at the battlefield while many others fought with rhetoric in books, speeches, reports, and petitions (Seaver 2011). For decades, there has been a violent collision between spirituality and culture which intimately connects with the position that women hold in the society. The account of Mary Jemison’s life substantially reinforces the stereotype of Indian savagery.
Mary narrates the attacks of Suvullian Army at Canandaigua Lake and the advances the army had towards her community. Moreover, she vividly recalls the nights she spent in gloomy forebodings and the threats she received from her master to scalp and butcher her (Seaver 2011). When she is finally sold as a slave to Shawnees, she treks through a town where she encounters some heads, legs, arms, and other body fragments chopped from bodies of white people who had just been burned in an ambush. Additionally, there were burned bodies hanging on poles.
Mary Jemison was adopted and incorporated during a Seneca's ritual, an Indian practice seeking to replace a lost sibling or spouse (Seaver 2011). The ritual conducted decoded the social issues that underlined the archetypal pattern of capture which ultimately regenerated and became a means of violence. Consequently, the myth of regeneration through violence evolved into the restructuring metaphor of the Indian experience. As portrayed in Mary’s narrative, the aspect of captivity by Indians constituted a unique archetypal inter-cultural clash. Therefore, the Indian captivity accounts encapsulated the fundamental essence of frontier myth which incorporated cultural preoccupations, symbols, and savagery.
Seaver, J. E. (2011). A narrative of the life of Mrs. Mary Jemison. Lexington, KY: Createspace.
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