Mourning Dove (author)
Mourning Dove, c. 1915
|Arrow Lakes and Okanagan leader|
near Bonners Ferry, Idaho
|Died||8 August 1936|
Medical Lake, Washington
|Cause of death||flu|
|Resting place||Omak Memorial Cemetery, WA|
|Spouse(s)||Hector McLeod (Flathead people) Fred Galler (Wenatchee people)|
|Parents||Joseph Quintasket (father) Lucy Stukin (mother)|
|Known for||Writing books:|
|Nickname(s)||Christine Quintasket (her English name)|
Mourning Dove, or Christine Quintasket (Okanogan and Arrow Lakes), was a Native American author in the United States best known for her 1927 novel Cogewea, the Half-Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle Range and her 1933 work Coyote Stories.
Cogewea was one of the first novels to be written by a Native American woman and to feature a female protagonist. It explores the lives of Cogewea, a mixed-blood heroine whose ranching skills, riding prowess, and bravery are noted and greatly respected by (the primarily mixed-race) cowboys on the ranch on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The eponymous main character hires a greenhorn easterner, Alfred Densmore, who has designs on Cogewea's land (which she had received as head of household in an allotment under the Dawes Act).
She was born Christine Quintasket sometime between 1884 and 1888. Quintasket was a surname her father had taken from his stepfather. She also was given a native name, Hum-Ishu-Ma. Early in her life, Quintasket was forced to give up her language while attending the Sacred Heart School at the Goodwin Mission in Ward, near Kettle Falls, Washington. She forgot the meaning of her native name, but thought it meant Mourning Dove.
But she later said, "the whiteman must have invented the name for it", after realizing that her people did not give women animal or bird names. She also realized that she at first spelled it incorrectly in English, believing it was Morning Dove. After seeing a bird labeled as mourning dove in a museum, she realized the error and changed the spelling to 'Mourning' Dove.
Hum-Ishu-Ma (Mourning Dove), also known as Christine Quintasket, 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 and a Colville woman. Christine spent much time with her maternal Colville grandmother, learning storytelling from her.
Christine's father was Joseph Quintasket, a mixed-race Okanagan. His mother Nicola was Okanagan and his father was Irish. He grew up with his mother and stepfather. While living at the Colville Reservation, Christine Quintasket was enrolled as Sinixt (Lakes), but she identified as Okanogan. The tribes shared related languages and some culture.
Hum-Ishu-Ma learned English in school. After reading The Brand: A Tale of the Flathead Reservation by Theresa Broderick, she was inspired to begin writing. She wanted to refute Broderick's derogatory view of indigenous people. Her command of English made her valued by her fellow natives, and she advised local Native leaders. She also became active in Native politics. She helped the Okanogan tribe to gain money that was owed them. 
Cogewea, the Half-Blood
Mourning Dove's 1927 novel explores a theme common in early Native American fiction: the plight of the mixedblood (or "breed"), who lives in both white and Indian cultures. Typically mixed-race Native Americans had Indian mothers and white fathers. Many such unions originated between fur traders or trappers and native women. Later other explorers also married Native American women. There were strong alliances created between tribes and traders in the marriage of their daughters to Europeans.
Cogewea has sisters Julia (older) and Mary. After their Okanogan mother dies, their white father leaves them to join the Alaskan gold rush, joining tens of thousands of men migrating there. Their maternal grandmother Stemteemä raises the girls as Okanogan. After Julia marries a white man, she takes in her younger sisters at his ranch, which is located within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation. (Many whites purchased properties within reservations in the West.)
Cogewea is soon courted by Alfred Densmore, a white suitor from the East Coast (United States), and James LaGrinder, the ranch foreman, who is mixed race. (Her sisters had opposing views of these men: Julia approves of Densmore but Mary is suspicious of him.) Cogewea and Jim reach a happy ending.
Mourning Dove collaborated on this work with her editor Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, a white man who studied and advocated for Native Americans.
Mourning Dove was a new author, and she felt that McWhorter as editor greatly changed her book. In one of her letters to him, she wrote that he had added elements 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".
Mourning Dove agreed to the changes, later writing 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."
This novel is one of the earliest written by a Native American woman and published in the United States. Mourning Dove's work was one of the earliest novels by a Native American to feature a female protagonist. A scholarly edition of Cogewea was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1981 and has yet to be out of print.
It followed Wynema, a Child of the Forest (1891) by Sophia Alice Callahan (Creek, also known as Muscogee). The latter work was rediscovered in the late 20th century and published in 1997 in a scholarly edition.
In 1933, Mourning Dove published Coyote Stories, a collection of legends told to her by her grandmother and other tribal elders.
The foreword by Chief Standing Bear in this book includes these words: "These legends are of America, as are its mountains, rivers, and forests, and as are its people. They belong!"
Mourning Dove learned storytelling from her maternal grandmother, and from Teequalt, an elder who lived with her family when the girl 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 inspiring her to begin writing. She was moved to counter what she thought was a derogatory representation of indigenous culture in Broderick's novel.
- In Spanish as: Cuentos Indios del Coyote, Paloma Triste (Mourning Dove)
- Shorter (17 stories) English version as: Mourning Dove's Stories[note 2] (117 pages) (1991)
- Hum-ishu-ma (Mourning Dove – not a direct translation), as provided by Mourning Dove herself in her introduction to Cogewea: "The whiteman must have invented the name for it as Mourning Dove because the translation to Indian is not word for word at all." Okanogan women names refer to water, not birds or animals.
- The 17 stories are:
- "Rivals last stand"
- "Legend of Omak lake"
- "Lynx and wife"
- "Lynx the hunter"
- "One who follows"
- "How disease came to the people"
- "Coyote the medicine man"
- "Coyote's daughter"
- "Coyote and fox"
- "Blind dog monster"
- "Coyote is punished"
- "Wooing grizzly bear"
- "Coyote and whale monster"
- "North wind monster"
- "Coyote brings the salmon"
- "Salmon and rattlesnake"
- John Brent Musgrave. "Mourning Dove: Chronicler and Champion of the Okanagan People". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Arloa. "Mourning Dove, (Christal Quintasket)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Carol Miller. "Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket)". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Ryals, Mitch (5 September 2017). "Powerful Spirit: A Colville novelist and public intellectual relished her role as a bridge between cultures" (Annual Manual). The Inlander. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
- See Dexter Fisher's introduction to the University of Nebraska edition of Cogewea, p. viii.
- Nisbet, Jack and Claire (7 August 2010). "Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) (ca. 1884-1936)". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
One day between 1884 and 1888, according to family lore, a woman of Lakes and Colville ancestry named Lucy Stukin (d. 1902) was canoeing across the Kootenai River in north Idaho when she went into labor.
- ABC Book World. "Dove, Mourning". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Lucullus Virgil McWhorter. "The Discards". Gutenberg Project. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Mourning Dove, Coyote Stories, University of Nebraska Press, 1990, p10
- Brown, Alanna K. "Mourning Dove," in Andrew Wiget'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.
- Lutz, Hartmut, ed. Interview with Jeannette Armstrong. Contemporary Challenges: Conversations with Canadian Native Authors. Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1991. 13
- Bataille, Gretchen M., Native American Women: a Biographical Dictionary, pp. 178–179.
- Bloom, Harold, Native American Women Writers, pp. 69–82.
- Buck, Claire, The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature, p. 838.
- Witales, Janet, et al., Native North American Literary Companion.
- Arnold, Laurie, "More than Mourning Dove: Christine Quintasket – Activist, Leader, Public Intellectual," Montana: The Magazine of Western History.
- "Mourning Dove", HistoryLink, biography and several photographs of the writer
- "Mourning Dove", Native American Author's Project, Internet Public Library
- Bibliography of scholarship on Mourning Dove
- "Empowering Indigenous Women through Literature and Publishing", Cogewea blog, includes history of publication and photo
- Biography online.
- Therese Broderick, The Brand: Tale of the Flathead Reservation, (Seattle: Alice Harriman Company, 1909), novel available free online