Mourning Dove (author)
near Bonners Ferry, Idaho
|Died||8 August 1936
Medical Lake, Washington
|Native name||Hum-isha-ma (Mourning Dove - not a direct translation)|
|Nickname(s)||Christal Quintasket (her English name)|
|Cause of death||flu|
|Resting place||Omak Memorial Cemetery, WA|
Hector McLeod (Flathead people)Fred Galler (Wenatchee people)
Joseph Quintasket (father)Lucy Stukin (mother)
Mourning Dove or Christal Quintasket was a Native American author and best known for her 1927 novel Cogewea the Half-Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle Range, which tells the story of Cogewea, a mixed-blood ranch woman on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The novel is one of the first written by a Native American woman and one of few early Native American works with a female central character. She is also known for Coyote Stories (1933), Native American Folklore, a term coined by her.
The name she grew up with was Christal Quintasket. Quintasket was a name her father had taken from his stepfather. She also had a native name, Hum-isha-ma. Early in her life, when she was forced to give up her language at the Sacred Heart School at the Goodwin Mission in Ward, near Kettle Falls, Washington, she also lost the meaning of her native name.
Mourning Dove was what she thought Hum-isha-ma meant. But she later said that, “the whiteman must have invented the name for it,” after realizing that her people did not name women with animal or bird names. She also came to realized that she had spelled the translation wrong. She had spelled it Morning Dove, but after seeing a mourning dove in a museum, realized the error and changed it to Mourning Dove.
She was born "in the Moon of Leaves" (April), 1888 in a canoe on the Kootenai River near Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Her mother, Lucy Stukin, was of Sinixt (Lakes) and Colville (Skoyelpi) ancestry. Lucy was the daughter of Sinixt Chief Seewhelken. Her father was Joseph Quintasket, a member of the Okanagan people. He had a Nicola Okanagan mother and an Irish father. Her tribal enrollment on the Colville Reservation was Sinixt (Lakes), although she referred to herself as Okanogan.
Mourning Dove learned English in school, and after reading The Brand: A Tale of the Flathead Reservation by Theresa Broderick, was motivated to begin writing. Her command of English made her valued by her fellow natives and she advised local Native leaders. She also became active in Native politics, for instance getting money paid that was owed to her tribe.
Cogewea, the Half-Blood
Mourning Dove's novel treats a theme common in early Native American fiction: the plight of the mixedblood (or "breed"), caught between white and Indian cultures. Cogewea and her sisters Julia and Mary lost their Okanogan mother to death and their white father to the Alaskan gold rush and were raised by their Indian grandmother Stemteemä, but have since moved onto the Flathead Indian Reservation ranch owned by Julia's white husband, where she must fend between white, east-coast suitor Alfred Densmore (who has Julia's approval but also Mary's suspicions) and the half-blooded ranch foreman, James LaGrinder. However, Mourning Dove does not make this story a tragic-mixedblood tale, but allows Cogewea and Jim a happy ending. The novel is important not only as an early Native American woman's novel and for its happy ending, but also for because of the contributions of Mourning Dove's collaborator and editor Lucullus Virgil McWhorter.
Feelings toward her editor
She could have had negative feelings toward McWhorter, because his editing had greatly changed her book, and he had made additions that made her feel the book was no longer hers: "I have just got through going over the book Cogewea, and am surprised at the changes that you made. I think they are fine, and you made a tasty dressing like a cook would do with a fine meal. I sure was interested in the book, and hubby read it over and also all the rest of the family neglected their housework till they read it cover to cover. I felt like it was some one else's book and not mine at all. In fact the finishing touches are put there by you, and I have never seen it".
However, she didn't seem to disapprove of his changes, saying to him: "My book of Cogewea would never have been anything but the cheap foolscap paper that it was written on if you had not helped me get it in shape. I can never repay you back."
Mourning Dove learned storytelling from her maternal grandmother, and from Teequalt, a grandmotherly lady who lived with her family when she was young. She was also influenced by pulp-fiction novels, which her adopted brother Jimmy Ryan let her read. She cited the novel The Brand: A Tale of the Flathead Reservation by Therese Broderick as influencing her to begin writing.
- John Brent Musgrave. "Mourning Dove: Chronicler and Champion of the Okanagan People". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Carol Miller. "Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket)". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Arloa. "Mourning Dove, (Christal Quintasket)". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- It was long thought to be the first, but Sophia Alice Callahan (Creek) had published Wynema, a Child of the Forest in 1891
- see Dexter Fisher's introduction to the U Nebraska edition of Cogewea, p. viii.
- ABC Book World. "Dove, Mourning". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Lucullus Virgil McWhorter. "The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Discards". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Mourning Dove, Coyote Stories, University of Nebraska Press, 1990, p10
- Brown, Alanna K. Mourning Dove in Wiget, Andrew's Dictionary of Native American Literature, 1994, ISBN 0-8153-1560-0, p145
- Marshall, Maureen E. Wenatchee's Dark Past. Wenatchee, Wash: The Wenatchee World, 2008.
- Article on Mourning Dove Page at HistoryLink, has biography and several portraits of Mourning Dove.
- Mourning Dove entry at the Native American Author's Project
- Bibliography of scholarship on Mourning Dove
- Page talking about Mourning Dove, her book and how it got published. Has photo of her.
- Another online biography with another portrait.
- Biography online.
- Online copy of The Brand by Therese Broderick, a book which inspired Mourning Dove to write.