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Stories of re-invented identity mark all eras of American history. Yet, in the mid-nineteenth century, few can match the two lives tracked so expertly by Angela Pulley Hudson. Warner McCary began as a slave in Natchez, Mississippi. Lucile Celesta Stanton’s family converted to the new Mormon religion in its formative years. How these two individuals met, married and then became famous Indian performers in the eastern United States and Canada provides an engrossing narrative. Hudson has done impressive research that moves up and down the Mississippi River, out west to Utah, and into seemingly all the historic newspapers and public records of the time. Most importantly, Hudson shows the larger context for these incredible lives. The understanding of “Indianness” in pre-Civil War America provides the evocative core of her tale. Massive removals of Indian people from east of the Mississippi River fueled the popular assumption that all Indians would eventually disappear. This popular misconception enhanced the appeal of “real native” performers on eastern stages such as the gifted presumably Choctaw musician, Okah Tubbee and his impressively articulate Delaware—or sometimes Mohawk—wife, Laah Ceil Manatoi Elaah Tubbee Their names changed many times as did their personal stories. In fact, Lucy Stanton compiled and helped edit three different editions of her husband's “autobiography.” These books increased his notoriety as did newspaper accounts of their performances and then in 1852 his sensational trial in Toronto for bigamy. Did Laah Ceil encourage her now famous husband to take a second wife? Earlier when they both lived among the Mormons, Okah Tubbee began attracting his own religious followers and advocated something akin to polygamy. The couple also practiced “Indian medicine” that augmented their income from performing. Eventually Okah Tubbee became a prominent Mason and Laah Ceil continued her practice as an Indian doctor. Some Southerners recalled the “mulatto musician” Warner McCary and made fun of Northerners accepting a former slave as a Choctaw chief. Yet, nearly no one questioned Lucy Stanton’s Indian identity. After 1856, the name Okah Tubbee and all of his other aliases disappear from the historical record, but Laah Ceil and Lucy Stanton remain easily traced from Toronto, Canada to Buffalo, New York and, after giving up her Indian identity, out to Mormon Utah. Laah Ceil’s activities in Buffalo are especially surprising and show the investigative skills of a truly talented historian. Angela Pulley Hudson has produced a wonderfully written examination of two astounding lives. This book is fascinating reading.
Cutting-edge forensics reveals new information about 2,000-year old murder victims buried in the bogs of northern Europe.