Thursday, March 24, 2016

Booknotes: The Life of Ten Bears

New Arrival:
The Life of Ten Bears: Comanche Historical Narratives collected by Francis Joseph Attocknie, edited by Thomas W. Kavanagh (Univ of Neb Pr, 2016).

Attocknie is the great-great-grandson of Ten Bears and this book is his collection of 19th-century Comanche oral histories passed down about Ten Bears and his family to their descendants. The first chapter, titled "The Life of Ten Bears" is presented in narrative timeline fashion and was compiled from several sources. "Other narratives in this collection reference lesser-known family members. These narratives are about the historical episodes that Attocknie’s family thought were worth remembering and add a unique perspective on Comanche society and tradition as experienced through several generations of his family."

Author of books on Comanche ethnography and history, Kavanagh is well suited to the project and his introduction "adds context to the personal narratives by discussing the process of transmission. These narratives serve multiple purposes for Comanche families and communities. Some autobiographical accounts, “recounting” brave deeds and war honors, function as validation of status claims, while others illustrate the giving of names; still others recall humorous situations, song-ridicules, slapstick, and tragedies." Notes are sparse but Kavanagh also adds a helpful lexicon appendix, a small bibliography and an index. One would imagine this collection will become a very useful resource for scholars.

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