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Abraham Lincoln

Eastman, Charles A. From the Deep Woods to Civilization: Chapters in the Autobiography of An Indian. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977.

Eastman's autobiography is the story of the "civilizing" of a "pagan," in the author's own words. Eastman tries to bring together the best of the Indian's and white man's world, and it is a difficult task he has set for himself. He declares that

I stand before my own people still as an advocate of civilization. Why? First, because there is no chance for our former simple life any more; and second, because I realize that the white man's religion is not responsible for his mistakes (195).

The primary element of "civilization" which Eastman expounds is Christianity, but it seems as if he might argue that Indians should "civilize" themselves even if it were not for the values the Christian religion offers, for one of the major points made by Eastman is that the old way of life for the Indians is over forever:

The North American Indian was the highest type of pagan and uncivilized man. He possessed not only a superb physique but a remarkable mind. But the Indian no longer exists as a natural and free man. Those remnants which now dwell upon the reservations present only a sort of tableau --- a fictitious copy of the past (v).

However correct Eastman (his Sioux name was Ohiyesa) might be with respect to the obsolete nature of the Indian way of life, he clearly runs into a number of serious difficulties in advocating the white man's Christianity-based way of life for Indians in the modern world.

For example, he argues that Christianity represents a higher sense of values and a more developed spiritual reality than the Indian way of life, but he acknowledges at the same time that the white man has failed in living up to those Christian principles.

As Eastman writes, "I confess I have wondered much that Christianity is not practiced by the...

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Abraham Lincoln. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:42, May 21, 2019, from