Critical Commentary

Delos Lone Wolf’s graduation speech appears to represent an ideal “assimilator” of the Western education he received at the school, however a deeper look into the speech in fact also shows a “resistor” voice. He advocates for the refinement of education on the Indians because they are not blessed with “Christianity and civilization” like the white westerners. With education, he believes that Indians have the ability to become developed “mentally, physically and morally”. He uses two main references, things from the “white” culture and nature, to drive this message home to his audience. Reading or listening to the speech by its face value would sound very idyllic to the school administration and its supporters. An assimilator’s narrative was necessary for Delos Lone Wolf to have his graduation speech published. One would not have recognized his conflicted narrative had one not read the survey he completed fourteen years after his speech.  

In his “assimilator” voice, he seems to effortlessly incorporate Christian principles and western references throughout his speech. Christianity came across when he knew three alternative names for the Christian God; “Almighty”, “infinite Being” and the “All Wise One”. He even freely inserts a Bible verse, “no man liveth to himself” (Romans 14:7), like a native English speaker and a true believer. These references are indicators of his very thorough Christian education he must have received, since he only attended the school for four years.   

The Western references in his speech were mostly focused on objects and western opinions of Native Americans. Delos Lone Wolf applauded three great Western thinkers: Newton, Franklin and Fulton for their “noble discoveries”. Research indicate that they all had discoveries that greatly contributed to the Industrial Age. Specific references in the speech such as “telescope” and “animated machines” are further indicators of the wonders of technology which Native Americans lacked all the resources to create or acquire. The telescope is further praised as being the eye into the “wonders of the heavens”, perhaps referring to education being an eye for Indians to examine their world. He spends most of his speech reiterating that Native Americans need refinement and education is the tool that will help his “brothers and sisters” get there.  

Delos Lone Wolf’s hypocrisy is revealed near the end of his speech with his strong diction and white-washed portrayal of history. He says “some so called Christians are helping the Indians to commit suicide by encouraging them to remain on their reservations” is a direct critique of those who did not take the land offer from the Dawes Act and chose to instead remain on the reservations. He follows with “they are forcing the Indians to be idle by holding them in their tribes, and it is idleness which depopulates the Indian land”. This is saying that the tribal ways bring “idleness”, and it is this laziness that depopulated the Native Americans. His direct contradiction of history is noticeable because it was the white settlers that “depopulated” the Indian population with wars and their policies that physically disbanded the tribes.

His conflicted voice is further highlighted when readers re-read his speech and realize he mentions reservations two other times but without the intense choice of words. The first time was near the beginning of the speech where he says that it’s difficult for those on reservations to think “beyond the limits of his horizon” and to aim for higher aspirations without education. The second time is near the middle of the speech where he asks his audience to realize that the Indians on the reservations are “rational and spiritual beings” capable of being taught (like me). After combing those sentiments, it suggest that perhaps Delos Lone Wolf is not demeaning all Indians but rather only those on reservations. He gives evidence that Native Americans have the mental capacity and rationality so that”little is needed” to turn them into contributing members of western civilization. He links educators to a sculptor and his people to a “block of marble” that after some polishing the “true colors” of Indians can be brought forth to light much like a marble. Marble is also an interesting object because it too is a white man’s innovation. These earlier references all lead to the final punch line at the end of the speech, because his critique and sarcasm seems to come across with false retelling of history that reservations were the Indian’s doing instead of the white man’s. His account of reservation life portrays his conflicted voice because he is both praising and rejecting it.  

Not enough information can be found on Delos Lone Wolf’s life to show exactly what happened in the fourteen years between his speech and survey. But whatever it was, it ended with him completely denouncing his assimilationist goals and made him want to return to the Kiowa tribe and lead his people in the “old tribal ways”. From the cultural and historical context, a good estimate could be that his “farming occupation” was in fact forced upon him due to the Allotment Act and not his chosen profession despite the education he received. 

This entry was posted in Delos Lone Wolf, The Conflicted and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *