Simon Pokagon, the son of tribal patriarch Leopold Pokagon, was a talented writer, advocate for the Pokagon Potawatomi community, and tireless self-promoter.
In 1899, shorty after his death, Pokagon's novel Ogimawkwe Mitigwaki (Queen of the Woods)—only the second ever published by an American Indian—appeared. It was intended to be a testimonial to the traditions, stability, and continuity of the Potawatomi in a rapidly changing world. Read today, Queen of the Woods is evidence of the author's desire to mark the cultural, political, and social landscapes with a memorial to the past and a monument to a future that included the Pokagon Potawatomi as distinct and honored people.
This new edition offers a reprint of the original 1899 novel with the author's introduction to the language and culture of his people. In addition, new accompanying materials add context through a cultural biography, literary historical analysis, and linguistic considerations of the unusual text.
“More than a century after its initial publication, Queen of the Woods has finally received the attention it deserves. Masterfully analyzed and edited here, Simon Pokagon’s unique, bilingual, cross-cultural text can now be read and discussed by a broad audience of students and admirers. We can now appreciate both his unique moment in history and his remarkable achievement as never before. “
––Frederick E. Hoxie, Swanlund Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign
“Simon Pokagon’s Queen of the Woods is a treasure of Indigenous intellectual and literary history, so kudos to the editors for giving it new life. As the insightful accompanying essays here make clear, Pokagon was a quirky figure whose work needs careful contextualization, but his work also comes across in these intriguing, imaginative, and insightful pages as a significant contribution to a heritage of writing with which we are only now becoming familiar.”
––Robert Allen Warrior, author of Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions