The Greatest Native American Intellectual You’ve Never Heard Of
The Short Life and Long Legacy of the 19th-Century Reformer William Apess
On April 1, 1839, a New York City medical examiner performed an autopsy on a man at a boardinghouse in a working-class neighborhood of lower Manhattan. He had performed scores of such examinations each month, but this one was especially significant though he did not recognize the person: 41-year-old William Apess had written more than any Native American writer before the 20th century, and had attained fame and notoriety in his short life for championing native peoples’ rights.
Still largely forgotten except by those who work in Native American studies, …