Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2003 - 7/31/2003

Funding Totals

$5,000.00 (approved)
$5,000.00 (awarded)

The War in Words: Reading the U.S.-Dakota Conflict through the Captivity Literature

FAIN: FT-51732-03

Kathryn Zabelle Stodola
University of Arkansas, Little Rock (Little Rock, AR 72204-1000)

My monograph examines twenty-four key captivity narratives by whites, metis, and full bloods about the 1862 U.S.-Dakota Conflict. Literary critics have paid very little attention to the narratives of this war, which one historian calls 'the other Civil War.' The significance of my chosen accounts is their cultural inclusiveness and their aesthetic value. Together, they show competing views of this complex war and the variety of generic forms the captivity narrative encompasses.

Media Coverage

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Wendy Lucas Castro
Publication: Southwest Journal of Cultures
Date: 1/1/2009
Abstract: The War in Words: Reading the Dakota Conflict through the Captivity Literature By Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, May 2009. Cloth: ISBN 978-0-8032-1370-8, 2009, $60. 398 pages. Review by Wendy Lucas Castro, University of Central Arkansas In The War in Words, Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola uses twenty-four captivity narratives in what she describes as “part literary history, part textual analysis, part historiography, and part cultural contextualization” (1) to examine the Dakota War of 1862. Not only does she utilize these narratives to discuss a single war, an innovative approach which could easily be used to study other Euro-Indian wars; Derounian-Stodola also draws on Anglo, German, and Indian (including mixed-blood) narratives who were either eyewitnesses or participants. These narratives are supplemented with biographical and archival evidence, including unpublished letters and coverage of the war in local newspapers to supplement detai

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Colette A. Hyman
Publication: Western Historical Quarterly Vol 61 No.4 (2010): 506
Date: 10/1/2010
Abstract: The War in Words addresses the opening salvos of the U.S. government’s three-decades-long war against the Native peoples of the Northern Plains that would end with the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. Her focus, however, is on the diverse constructions of the 1862 U.S. Dakota War generated by Dakota and European American participants and observers. Collectively, these accounts explain why this war remains a source of unresolved tension between and among white Minnesotans and Dakota peoples. Derounian-Stodola situates her work within the “hot scholarly field” of captivity narrative studies (p.50), but the greater value of this monograph for historians lies in the careful explication the author provides of the complex inter-relations and conflicts that existed between and among whites, Natives, and mixed bloods at the moment when the growing white settler and military presence overwhelmed indigenous people’s ability to survive in their homelands. Dakota perspectives on white settlers, t

Book review (Review)
Author(s): S. K. Bernardin
Publication: Choice Vol. 27 No.6 (February 2010)
Date: 2/1/2010
Abstract: Book review

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Holly Boomer
Publication: The Annals of Iowa Vol. 69 (Spring 2010): 224-25
Date: 4/1/2010
Abstract: What is most interesting about Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola’s book The War in Words is the analysis of events, identity, and perspec-tives and, maybe most important, the contrast in memory between Na-tives and non-Natives. This book, focusing on the 1862 Dakota Conflict, creates a dialogue of analysis about captivity and confinement narra-tives that were predominantly claimed by Euro-Americans to narrate their treatment at the hands of Indians. Little known is that this particu-lar genre was used by Indians as well to narrate their treatment at the hands of non-Natives. The two main sections of the book allow for per-spectives from non-Natives and Natives in an attempt to give voice to those missing from historical discourse and to show “individual ide-ologies and identities within the two groupings” (5). Derounian-Stodola contends that the contentious perspectives about the 1862 Dakota Conflict have generated numerous narratives that “found their way into print.” She uses her boo

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Theresa Gregor
Publication: American Indian Culture and Research Journal Vol. 34 No. 4 (2010): 141-44
Date: 10/1/2010
Abstract: The American Indian captivity narrative occupies a contested space in Native/American literature. On the one hand, many American Literature scholars believe that the production of the captivity narrative marked the beginning of a new original ?American? literary tradition. The so-called ?birth? of the American colonial captivity narrative with the publication of Mary White Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682) features the harrowing experiences of a white captive held hostage by ?savage? Wampanoag captors. The genre eventually evolved to encompass a wide range of diverse narrative styles of fiction and auto/biography, including the slave narrative and the sentimental novel of seduction. In each of these distinct, yet related forms the captivity plot resolves with the ransom, rescue, escape, or transculturation of the captive. Research in the field by Betty Donahue, Scott Lyons, Yael Ben-zvi, and Stephen Brandon takes into consideration the counter-captivity narratives

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Erin Griffin
Publication: Studies in American Indian Literatures 21.4 (Winter 2009): 90-93
Date: 10/1/2009
Abstract: The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 is a topic that has been greatly contested and analyzed through the years and continues to garner attention as new perspectives enter the debate. Kathryn Zabelle Derounian- Stodola, professor of English at the University of Arkansas, explores this topic through an analysis of captivity narratives in The War in Words: Reading the Dakota Conflict through the Captivity Literature. Derounian-Stodola’s interest in the subject was fostered by her part-time residence in the northern Minnesota lake country, by family in St. Paul, and through prior work with captivity narratives in The Indian Captivity Narrative, 1550–1590, coauthored with James A. Levernier (1993), and Women’s Indian Captivity Narratives (1998). Providing background in her methodology, the history of the war, and an analysis of twenty-four captivity narratives of both Book Reviews 91 Euroamericans and Native Americans, Derounian-Stodola offers another view of the events of 1862. The main argument th

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Linda M. Clemmons
Publication: South Dakota History Vol. 40 No. 2 (Summer 2010): 197-98
Date: 6/1/2010
Abstract: In The War in Words: Reading the Dakota Conflict through the Captivity Literature, Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola analyzes twentyfour captivity narratives— both published and unpublished— from the Dakota War of 1862. She uses these narratives to address issues of “ethnicity, identity, war, memory, and narrative” (p. 2). The 1862 war lasted only six weeks and is generally overshadowed by the country’s Civil War. Despite its short duration, the war was, and still is, highly controversial, with both Dakotas and European Americans telling radically different stories about the conflict. Derounian-Stodola uses captivity narratives to explore this divisive war from multiple perspectives. The resulting text offers an invaluable contribution to those interested in Dakota, American Indian, and Minnesota history, as well as information about captivity narratives in general. The first several chapters of the book provide a brief introduction to Dakota captivity narratives and the events of the

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Diane Wilson
Publication: Minnesota History (Spring 2010): 197-98
Date: 4/1/2010
Abstract: Book review

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Randi Lynn Tanglen
Publication: Western American Literature 45.2 (Summer 2010): 214-17
Date: 6/1/2010
Abstract: Book review

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Lucy Maddox
Publication: American Literature Vol. 82 No. 3 (2010): 239-41
Date: 9/1/2010
Abstract: Book review

Book review (Review)
Author(s): Katrin Fischer
Publication: Amerikastudien (American Studies: A Quarterly) Vol. 55 No. 3 (Winter 2010): 532-55
Date: 12/1/2010
Abstract: Quotation from the review, "“The War in Words is an alluringly complex study, stimulating in many ways. A work of magisterial scholarship, it also comes across as a work of love. Due to Derounian-Stodola’s characteristically clear prose, it is extremely readable and eye-opening. . . .”

Associated Products

The War in Words: Reading the Dakota Conflict through the Captivity Literature (Book)
Title: The War in Words: Reading the Dakota Conflict through the Captivity Literature
Author: Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola
Abstract: The War in Words is the first book to study the captivity and confinement narratives generated by a single American war while also tracing the development and variety of the captivity narrative genre. The book examines the complex 1862 US-Dakota War (also called the Dakota Conflict) by focussing on 24 of the dozens of narratives that European Americana and Native Americans wrote about it. This six-week war was the deadliest confrontation between whites and Dakotas in Minnesota's history. Conducted at the same time as the Civil War, it is sometimes called Minnesota's Civil War because it was--and continues to be--so divisive. The Dakota War aroused impassioned prose from participants and commentators as they disputed causes, events, identity, ethnicity, memory, and the all-important matter of the war's legacy. Though the study targets one region, its ramifications reach far beyond Minnesota in its attention to war and memory. An ethnography of representative Dakota War narratives and an analysis of the war's historiography, The War in Words includes new archival information, historical data, and textual criticism.
Year: 2009
Primary URL:,674034.aspx
Primary URL Description: Publisher's website for book
Access Model: Open access
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780803213708