Critical Commentary

“My Home in Idaho”: Literary Merit and Inclusion in this Anthology

John (Wap-Tose-Note) Ramsey’s, “My Home in Idaho” presents a blatantly factual representation of the memories Ramsey had of his home after being at the Carlisle Indian School for two years. The memoir presents very factual information of his mountainous home in Idaho like what the Nez Perce Indians do, who they are and where they live. At no point in the text does Ramsey state any opinions or emotional reactions to his home so we, as the audience, have no true indication as to whether or not he liked living there or if he missed living there. It is almost as if the text was written as an assignment for the students to write works for the Carlisle Indian School’s magazine “The Indian Craftsman”, as the text sounds force with lots of facts and little emotional opinion. Regardless of why or how Ramsey’s text was written, his memoir is beneficial to the literary canon and this anthology as it promotes the Carlisle Indian School by showing how they advance the assimilation and education of Indian youth.

As John Ramsey represents a model student of the school and is very well liked by the schools administration, his work seems to have been unquestionably added to the schools first magazine issue “The Indian Craftsman” in 1909. His text, “My Home in Idaho” is the presented in the schools first presentation of student works in the magazines “Legends, Stories and Customs” section by “Carlisle Students”. Based on this information, I have reason to believe that if during this time the school was asked to select students texts for a canonical literary anthology, they would have chosen this work by John Ramsey.

His text shows his ability to read and write proficiently and it reflects a positive relationship between in Nez Perce tride of Idaho and the white people in their surrounding community. Through the factual language of Ramsey’s memoir, the reader potentially has a positive perception of the relationship between Indians and the white community based on Ramsey’s text. His text also promotes a good reflection of the benefits of “Americanization” of Indian youth as Ramsey reflects his tribes assimilation with white customs like Christianity and shared trades in Idaho. The piece is beneficial for the anthology as an assimilation work and for Indian-white relations propaganda. In the text, Ramsey notes all the way in which the Nez Perce of Idaho and the white people have similar customs and positive relations. For example, he mentions how his home his built in the same vicinity as the white people and their homes are made of the same material. This description seems as though the Nez Perce and white community essentially live in the same neighborhoods and work the same jobs.


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