Warren 19th century author attempts to describe American Indian past

Warren, RI native author Annie Cole Cady (1850-1911) published her expansive work about the Indigenous inhabitants of the American continent in 1893 when she was living in Germantown, PA, and Philadelphia, PA, in the 1880s and early 1890s. Illustrated by her husband, Henry N. Cady, also a Warren native, the publication was an attempt to provide a sympathetic look at the original inhabitants of the continent before the invasion by Spain, France and England. Click here for a 20-minute video presentation by Jessica Rogers-Cerrato at the June 24th annual meeting of the Warren Preservation Society.

The book includes the bold subtitle “...Also the Story of Its Invasion by Spain, France, and England.” While this word choice and focus may appear progressive, and perhaps were in the 19th century, Annie Cole Cady was still subject to the biases of her time which fetishized and othered Native Americans. 

Robin Goodfellow is a character in the book who narrates the ethnographic story to two children and their travel companions as they all journey through the different regions of each continent, from the age of the dinosaurs to the indigenous settlements and advanced cities of the Americas at the time of European invasion. By choosing to narrate the text in this way, calling it a “unique” history, and by placing early indigenous cultures on a timeline with dinosaurs, Cole Cady mythologizes the real history of these indigenous groups.

The illustrations are highly detailed and attempt to resist the negative stereotypes prevalent in many representations of indigenous culture at the time.