A Cherokee Woman’s America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907

owenlg795hBThis first scholarly edition of the writings of a unique Native American woman details an extraordinary life in a combination of genres including oral history, ethnography, and western adventure sketches. Narcissa Owen was of mixed Cherokee and Scots-Irish descent and the daughter of a leader of the Old Settlers (those Cherokees who moved west prior to their forced removal by the U.S. government, in the notorious Trail of Tears).

The Memoirs reveal a fascinating and complex nineteenth-century woman–an artist, music teacher, storyteller, Confederate slave owner, Washington socialite, wife of a white railroad executive, widow, and mother of the first Native American U.S. Senator, Robert L. Owen, Jr. Her writings offer a glimpse into antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction American life.  This edition provides a wealth of background information including a biographical preface, chronology of Owen’s life, genealogy, and textual footnotes. An introductory essay places the Memoirs in the context of Owen’s predecessors and contemporaries, including Cherokee cultural and literary tradition, the larger Native American historical/literary context, and women’s writing of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Praise for A Cherokee Woman’s America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907:

A Cherokee Woman’s America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907 is an impressive contribution to the scholarship on Cherokee women because it makes an imaginative memoir accessible to the general public and also because of the extensive interpretive introductory essay. . . . Readers will find much to admire in [this] well-researched and engaging [volume].”

–Carolyn Ross Johnson, The Journal of Southern History

“In her introductory essay, Kilcup skillfully makes the case for Owens’s usefulness and comparability to her better-known literary peers, such as Sarah Winnemucca.”

Studies in American Indian Literatures

“Karen Kilcup’s edited version of Narcissa Owen’s Memoirs is an important contribution to Native American women’s literature and history.”

American Nineteenth-Century History (UK)

Narcissa Owen as child. Courtesy Betty Groth.
Narcissa Owen as infant. Photo courtesy Betty Groth from the collection of Ora Eddleman Reed.

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