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From: "Alice Turner" <al@interport.net>
Subject: (urth) Cutthroat Sioux
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 1997 17:52:53 

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]


I discovered that Sioux=Cutthroat on an elementary school website, maybe
not the most reliable place in the world, but considering how disappointing
both the OED and the Britannica are on the subject, I don't know that it's
wrong. I'm inclined to think that it's a fact(oid) that Wolfe ran across
somewhere that amused or charmed him enough to appropriate it in his usual
underhandedly cryptic way.

I guess I'm wrong about Squanto being a Bumppo alias. I have the entire
Leatherstocking saga in an omnibus, but cannot face even browsing it. The
various introductions refer to Hawkeye and Deerslayer and if Squanto were
in there, they would probably mention it.

> Sioux as French for "cutthroat" (er, "cultellarii"?) now =that= is
> very interesting, since it ties in =exactly= with the element of "The
> Tale of the Boy Called Frog" of TBOTNS, wherein the teacher of all
> these animal Kiplingoids is called, not the expected Baloo the Bear
> (hmmm), but the Naked One, "who was also called the Savage, or Squanto"
> (III, ch. 19).  This character is the one who taught Frog to plough the
> fish, leading Frog to plough his twin brother Fish; this name belongs
> to a Native American Indian of the Pawtuxet tribe who is said to have
> taught the pilgrims how to plough the fish.

I just read that again...gee, I wish it went on longer. I've always been a
sucker for Mowgli. Let's see, I count Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus, all
the birth-from-a-god stories, Moses, Japanese fairy tales...and Squanto.
> Interesting that the teacher character in both stories (TS and TBCF)
> is linked to a Native American Indian name.

Would you call Cutthroat a teacher? To me he seems the universal learner.
Who does he teach?
> OTOH, since he looks like his throat has been cut, does this mean
> that we have at long last determined the group that cut him?  (One
> presumes that the "Cutthroat Tribe" got their name for doing unto
> others rather than self-inflicting, no?)

Well, I think that's taking rather a long jump to a shaky conclusion. It
really could be a birthmark, you know, and we'll never know one way or
another. I suppose those who argue that he is not from the Great Sleigh
could use it as proof that all the tribes we meet are (say) part of the big
Algonkian (or Iroquois or Athabascan or whatever) confederation, while he
is a Siouan Winnebago (don't laugh, that's the only Sioux group in
Illinois), who speaks a different language and has different customs---a
native translator thrown off the Sleigh when he is no longer useful. But
that's getting awfully both literal and theoretical at the same time, and I
don't really buy it. (Though it has some exciting parallels to Fifth Head.)


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