Dancing Ghosts: Native American and Christian Syncretism in Mary Austin's Work

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University of Nevada Press, 1998 - Literary Criticism - 211 pages
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How did an Illinois Methodist homesteader in the West come to create one of the most significant cosmological syntheses in American literature? Hoyer draws on his own rich knowledge of biblical religion and Native American cultures to explore Mary Austin's creation of the "mythology of the American continent" she so valued.

Austin lived in and wrote about the parts of California and Nevada that were home to the Northern Paiute, Shoshone, Interior Chumash, and Yokut peoples. Hoyer makes new and provocative connections between Austin and spiritual figures like Wovoka, the prophet of the Ghost Dance religion, and writers like Zitkala-Sa and Mourning Dove, providing an especially fine reading of Cogowea.

Hoyer's personal narratives intertwine beautifully with his analysis and reveal clearly how his exploration of Austin and the Indian mythology is not simply about the past but has contemporary and ongoing significance as well.

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Contents

Prophets of a New West Wovoka and Mary Austin
1
To Bring the World into Divine Focus Syncretic Prophecy
19
Weaving the Story Northern Paiute Myth and The Basket Woman
49
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About the author (1998)

Hoyer is an independent scholar. He teaches for Saint Mary's College and is pursuing his research on the Klamath River watershed in northern California.

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