Canadian history, Native peoples history, Criticism
Disparity and division in religion, technology and ideology have characterized relations between English-Canadian and Indian cultures through-out Canada's history. From the earliest declaration of white territorial ownership to the current debate on aboriginal rights, red man and white man have… had opposing principles and perspectives. The most common 'solutions' imposed on these conflicts by white men have relegated the Indian to the fringes of white society and consciousness. This survey of English-Canadian literature is the first comprehensive examination of a tradition in which white writers turn to the Indian and his culture for standards and models by which they can measure their own values and goals; for patterns of cultural destruction, transformation, and survival; and for sources of native heroes and indigenous myths. Leslie Monkman examines images of the Indian as they appear in works raning from Robert Rogers' Ponteach, or The Savages of America (1766) to Robertson Davies' 'Pontiac and the Green Man' (1977), demonstrating how English-Canadian writers have illuminated their own world through reference to Indian culture. The Indian has been seen as an antagonist, as a superior alternative, as a member of a vanishing and lamented race, and as a hero and the source of the new myths. Although white/Indian tension often lies in apparently irreconcilable opposites, Monkman finds in the literature surveyed complementary images reflecting a common humanity.This is an important contribution to a hitherto unexplored area of Canadian literature in English which should give rise to further elaboration of this major theme.