E. Pauline Johnson: Poetry Background

E. Pauline Johnson: Poetry Background

Emily Pauline Johnson was a Canadian writer of the nineteenth century. Born during 1861, Johnson was raised on Six Nations Reserve, which was a Native American reservation. She died during 1913 due to complications from breast cancer. Her connection to the reservation was through her father who was a Mohawk chief. He was married to an English wife, which was Johnson's mother.

She was fortunate enough to study both Mohawk oral history and legend as well as English literature while growing up. As a result, this blended cultural heritage served as a considerable source of inspiration for her poetry. This allowed her to possess a cultured perspective on the power of storytelling within two vastly different lifestyles.

Her love of Mohawk culture intensified after her father's death in 1884. From this moment, she decided to become a published poet and take on the Mohawk name "Tekahionwake." Her decision proved to be quite successful. For seventeen years, Johnson performed poetry reading tours across Canada, which received international attention. She made sure to demonstrate her mixed ethnic background during these performances, which dazzled her audiences.

During her writing career, she wrote three collections of poetry and three collections of fiction. Her first poetry collection is titled The White Wampum (1895).

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