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Artist Database

JOHNSON, Pauline (Takehionwake)

Six Nations Reserve, Ontario, 1861
Vancouver, British Columbia, 1913
Biography synopsis
First Nations poet and performance artist Emily Pauline Johnson was born on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario. Her father, George Henry Martin Johnson (1816-1884), was a Mohawk chief, and her mother, Emily Susanna Howells Johnson (1824-1898), was English. Johnson's Mohawk name, Takehionwake ('double-wampum'), was originally her great grandfather's name. Primarily educated at home by tutors and her mother, she became famous for her poetry and theatre performances, coming to define late-nineteenth century Canadian literature and inspire contemporary performance artists. In the 1880s, Johnson began to perform many of her pieces with the Brant Amateurs theatre group and the Hamilton Dramatic Society, donning Native American costumes to highlight her Mohawk background. Her career as a performance artist, centered around the spoken word, officially launched after her recital at the Toronto Canadian Literature Evening in 1892, when she was thirty. These shows were often described as "exotic" and highly dramatic spectacles in which Johnson would sing and gesture as she performed her poetry and comic skits. Many of Johnson's humorous and controversial skits challenged mainstream politics, organized religion, colonial attitudes and the dominant culture of her time. Johnson emphasized her gender and mixed ethnicity through her stage persona, changing from Native dress to evening gown midway through a performance. In 1894, she traveled to England, where she had already achieved great popularity. After Johnson met with British Columbia First Nations Chiefs in England in 1906, they petitioned King Edward VII on behalf of Canada's First Nations. In 1913, Johnson passed away after succumbing to breast cancer, with which she had been diagnosed four years earlier. Her famous buckskin costume can be found in the Museum of Vancouver. For the purposes of this database, the bibliography will focus mainly on the performance aspect of Johnson's work.
Media used
Performance art
File & Archive locations
Esplanade Archives, Medicine Hat, AB
Royal Ontario Museum
Brant County Museum and Archives, ON
British Columbia Archives
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Glenbow Archives, AB - Main Catalogue
McMaster University, ON - Mills Memorial Library
Simon Fraser University, BC - Special Collections and Rare Books
Trent University Archives, ON
University of British Columbia - Rare Books and Special Collections
White Rock Museum and Archives, BC
City of Vancouver Archives, BC
Canadian Museum of Civilization Archives, QC
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, ON
York University, ON - Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections

Writings about
Aspects of Commonwealth Literature, Volume 3. London, England: University of London, 1993
British Journal of Canadian Studies 12.2 (1997): 298
Montreal Life 9.12 (1 Dec. 1899): 25
"43 Years after Death: Pauline Johnson's Will Published in Vancouver." Globe and Mail 17 Dec. 1956: 15
"A Bystander at the Office Window." Globe and Mail 18 Oct. 1924: 5
"A Canadian-Indian Recital." Pall Mall Gazette 18 Jul. 1906
"A Page of Personals." Globe and Mail 8 Jun. 1895: 9
"An Iroquois Lady Entertainer." Westminster Gazette 19 Aug. 1906
"Association Hall. Friday Even'g, Feb. 19: Recital by Miss E. Pauline Johnson." Globe and Mail 13 Feb. 1892: 15
"Brantford Briefs." Globe and Mail 7 Dec. 1894: 8
"Fine Entertainment." Saginaw Courier-Herald 11 Oct. 1896
"From Wigwam to Concert Platform." Daily Mirror 1906
"Local Briefs." Globe and Mail 10 Oct. 1893: 8
"Miss E. Pauline Johnson and Mr. Owen Smily." Globe and Mail 12 Dec. 1892: 9
"Miss E. Pauline Johnson." Globe and Mail 23 Sept. 1893: 2
"Miss Johnson's Relics for Brantford Museum." Globe and Mail 12 May 1913: 7
"Miss Pauline Johnson's Recital." An Illustrated Weekly for All Interested in the Dominion 21 Jul. 1906
"Music and Drama." Globe and Mail (26 Dec. 1892): 8
"Music and Drama." Globe and Mail (18 Oct. 1893): 8
"Music and Drama." Winnipeg Free Press (Dec. 1897)
"Music and the Drama." Globe and Mail (1 Nov. 1893): 8
"Music and the Drama." Globe and Mail (17 Sept. 1894): 8
"Music and the Drama." Globe and Mail (6 Jun. 1895): 7
"Music and the Drama." Globe and Mail (19 Nov. 1895): 2
"Music and the Drama." Globe and Mail (28 Apr. 1897): 12
"New Vancouver Opera Focuses on Poet Pauline Johnson." Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) (11 Mar. 2008)
"Pauline Johnson Biography." YourDictionary.com: The Last Word in Words 2010
"Pauline Johnson Dead; Famous Indian Poetess." Globe and Mail (8 Mar. 1913): 1, 4
"Pauline Johnson's Birthplace Bequeathed to Indians." Globe and Mail (19 Mar. 1938): 4
"Pauline Johnson, Poet by Her Stage Partner." Globe and Mail (14 Feb. 1948): 19
"Pauline Johnson." Globe and Mail (21 Mar. 1931): 20
"Pauline Johnson." Maclean's 113.36 (9 Mar. 2000): 38
"Personal." Globe and Mail (19 Sept. 1896): 16
"Pow-Wow for Red Indian Poetess: Tributes to Pauline Johnson." The Times (24 Mar. 1961): 11
"Relics of Indian Poet Offered to Brantford: Sister of E. Pauline Johnson Will Make Presentation to Historical Society." Globe and Mail (16 May 1924): 3
"Saturday's 'Pop' Drew Largest Crowd of Series: A Delightful Programme Was Presented by Pauline Johnson, the Indian Reader, and Mr. Walter McRay." Evening Examiner (12 Mar. 1906)
"Suggest a Memorial to Indian Poetess." Globe and Mail (18 Feb. 1919): 7
"The Duke's Regret: Message to Indian Chiefs on Death of Pauline Johnson." Globe and Mail (11 Mar. 1913): 2
"The Perils of Pauline Arts History." Globe & Mail (2 Sept. 1995): C1
"The Stamp Club: Issue to Mark Birth of E. Pauline Johnson." Globe and Mail (25 Feb. 1961): 22
"Yesterday's Concert: 'Tekahionwake'." Morning Post (17 Jul. 1906)
Aigner-Varoz, Erika E. Suiting Herself: E. Pauline Johnson's Constructions of Indian Identity and Self. New Mexico: University of New Mexico, 2001
Atwood, Margaret. Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1995
Bataille, Gretchen. Native American Women : A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Routledge, 2001
Berton, Pierre. Marching As to War: Canada's Turbulent Years 1899-1953. Canada: Anchor Canada, 2001
Boutilier, Alicia & Tobi Bruce. The Artist Herself : Self-portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists / L'artiste elle-même : autoportraits de femmes artistes au Canada. Kingston, ONT.: Agnes Etherinton Art Centre. Hamilton: Art Gallery Hamilton, 2015
Bradley, Jennie. "The Johnson-Smily Combination." Globe and Mail (7 Nov. 1894): 8
Brunton, John. "Social Notes." Globe and Mail (8 Jun. 1963): 17
Carpenter, Cari M. "A Woman Let Alone: E. Pauline Johnson and the Performance of Anger." Seeing Red: Anger, Sentimentality, and American Indians. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 2008
Collett, Anne. "Pauline Johnson - Tekahionwake: Trafficking Woman." Victorian Traffic: Identity, Exchange, Performance. England: Cambridge Scholars, (2008): 143-162
Collett, Anne. "Red and White: Miss E. Pauline Johnson Tekahionwake and the Other Woman." Women's Writing 8.3 (2001): 359-373
Converse, Cathy. Mainstays: Women Who Shaped B.C.. Markham: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2000
Dale, Leigh & Gilbert, Helen eds. Economies of Representation, 1790-2000: Colonialism and Commerce. Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007
Däwes, Birgit. Native North American Theater in a Global Age: Sites of Identity Construction and Transdifference. Heidelberg, Germany: Universitatsverlag, 2007
Enns, Florence Ida. Photographing Pauline Johnson: Publicity Portraits of a Canadian 'Half Blood' Identity. Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta, 2004
Everett-Green, Robert. "Atwood Libretto Gets Sneak Peek Online." Globe & Mail (12 Sept. 2009): R5
Fetherling, George. "The Delicate Art of Biography: Farley Mowat Asked to See the Manuscript of His Bio, While Pauline Johnson Left Few Letters and No Film." Vancouver Sun (2 Nov. 2002): E20
Fiamengo, Janice. The Woman's Page: Journalism and Rhetoric in Early Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008
Forster, Merna. 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2004
Foster, Annie H. The Mohawk Princess: Being Some Account of the Life of Tekahion-Wake (E. Pauline Johnson). Vancouver: Lion's Gate Publishing Company, 1931
Fournel, Kelly. Native Women of Courage. Summertown, Tennessee: 7th Generation, 2007
Francis, Daniel. The Imaginary Indian: The Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1992
Franklin, Stephen. The Heroes: A Saga of Canadian Inspiration. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1967
Gerson, Carol & Veronica Strong- Boag. E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake: Collected poems and selected prose Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002
Gray, Charlotte. Flint & Feather: The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake. Toronto: Harper Flamingo Canada, 2002
Hallowell, Gerald. The Oxford Companion to Canadian History. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2004
Higginson, Catherine. "Shelly Niro, Haudenosaunee Nationalism, and the Continued Contestation of the Bryant Monument." Essays on Canadian Writing 80 (Fall 2003): 141-186
Hoxie, Frederick E. Encyclopedia of North American Indians. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996
Hulan, Shelley. "This Is Not a Biography: Pauline Johnson and the Process of National Identity." University of Western Ontario 2010
Johnston, Sheila. Buckskin & Broadcloth: A Celebration of E. Pauline Johnson Tekahionwake, 1861-1913. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2008
Keller, Betty. Pauline: A Biography of Pauline Johnson. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1981
Keller, Betty. "On Tour With Pauline Johnson." Beaver 66.6 (Dec. 1986):19-25
Landau, Emily. "Double Vision: Poet Pauline Johnson…Canada’s first postmodern celebrity." Walrus (Jul.-Aug. 2012)
Leighton, Mary Elizabeth. "Performing Pauline Johnson: Representations of 'the Indian Poetess' in the Periodical Press, 1892-95." Essays on Canadian Writing 65 (Fall 1998): 141-164
M.O.H. "Colorful Life of Pauline Johnson." Globe and Mail (23 Jan. 1932): 12
MacEwan, Grant. ...And Mighty Women Too: Stories of Notable Western Canadian Women. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie, 1975
Maclean, John. Canadian Savage Folk: The Native Tribes of Canada. Toronto: W. Briggs, 1896
Maddox, Lucy. "Politics, Performance and Indian Identity." American Studies International 40.2 (2002): 7-36
Mair, Charles. "An Appreciation." The Moccasin Maker. Toronto: Briggs, (1913): 9-19
Malinowski, Sharon & Abrams, George H. Notable Native Americans. Gale Research, 1995
Margolis, Rebecca. "Jewish Immigrant Encounters With Canada's Native Peoples: Yiddish Writings on Tekahionwake." Journal of Canadian Studies 43.3 (Autumn 2009): 169-193
McClung, Nellie. The Stream Runs Fast: My Own Story. Toronto: Allen, 1945
McDougall, Anne. Canadian Encyclopedia Online. Historical Foundation, 2009
McKenzie, Ruth. "Fanny Amelia Bayfield (Wright)." Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online Ottawa: Libraries and Archives Canada, 2008
McMaster University. "The Pauline Johnson Archive." McMaster University 1996
McRaye, Walter. Pauline Johnson and Her Friends. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1947
Milz, Sabine. "'Publica(c)tion': E. Pauline Johnson's Publishing Venues and Their Contemporary Significance." Studies in Canadian Literature 29.1 (2004): 127-145
Morgan, Cecilia. "'A Wigwam to Westminster': Performing Mohawk Identity in Imperial Britain, 1890s-1990s." Gender & History 15.2 (Aug. 2003): 319-341
Newman, Peter Charles. Canada - 1892. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1992
Peers, Laura. "'Playing Ourselves': First Nations and Native American Interpreters at Living History Sites." The Public Historian 21.4 (1999): 39-59
Peterson, Nancy M. Walking in Two Worlds: Mixed-Blood Indian Women Seeking Their Path. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Press, 2006
Phillips, Ruth B. "Performing the Native Woman: Primitivism and Mimicry in Early 20th Century Visual Culture." In Lynda Jessup, ed. Anti-modernism and Artistic Experience: Policing the Boundaries of Modernity Toronto: University of Toronto Press, (2000): 26-49
Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation London; New York: Routledge, 1992
Prescott, Taryn. Walking Home Backwards: E. Pauline Johnson as a Victorian 'New Woman' in Her Lifestyle, Writing, and Advocacy. New Yoyk: University of Buffalo, 2009
Quirk, Linda E. E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake): A Descriptive Bibliography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005
Raab, Josef & Butler, Martin eds. Hybrid Americas. London, England: Global Book Marketing, 2008
Scott, Jack. "The Passionate Princess." Maclean's (1 Apr. 1952): 12-13, 54-55, 57
Sexsmith, Pamela. "Johnson's Complexity Makes Her a Mystery Today." Windspeaker 20.9 (Jan. 2003): 27
Sexsmith, Pamela. "Who Was the Real Pauline Johnson?" Windspeaker 20.9 (Jan. 2003): 23
Smith, Hilda L. & Carroll, Berenice A. Women's Political & Social Thought: An Anthology. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2000
Sonneborn, Liz. American Indian Lives: Performers. Facts on File, 1995
Stafford, Jane & Williams, Mark. "Indian Mysteries and Comic Stunts: The Royal Tour and the Theatre of Empire." Journal of Commonwealth Literature 44.2 (2009): 87-105
Stevenson, O.J. A People's Best. Toronto: Musson, 1927
Strong-Boag, Veronica. "'A Red Girl's Reasoning': E. Pauline Johnson Constructs the New Nation." Painting the Maple: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Construction of Canada. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1998
Strong-Boag, Veronica. "No Longer Dull: The Feminist Renewal of Canadian History." Canadian Social Studies 32.2 (Winter 1998): 55-57
Strong-Boag, Veronica & Gerson, Carole. Paddling Her Own Canoe: The Times and Texts of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000
Taunton, Carla. Lori Blondeau: High-Tech Storytelling for Social Change Ottawa: Carleton University, 2006
Van Steen, Marcus. "A Brief Biography." Pauline Johnson: Her Life and Work. Toronto: Musson Books, (1965): 1-43
Watson, Patrick. The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation. Canada: McArthur & Company Publishing Ltd, 2000
Whittaker, Herbert. "Play Adds Glamor to the Career of Pauline Johnson." Globe and Mail (21 Feb. 1975): 19
Whittaker, Herbert. "Theatre: Nuts and Bolts: Fantasy for Sharper Tots." Globe and Mail (21 Mar. 1973): 14
Yates, Elizabeth. "Poet Had Flare for Performance: Book Explores Continuing Appeal of 19th-Century Mohawk Writer Pauline Johnson." Telegram (20 Oct. 2002): B5
York, Lorraine Mary. Literary Celebrity in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007

Writings by
Johnson, Pauline E. Canadian Born. Toronto: George N. Morang, 1903
Johnson, Pauline E. Flint and Feather: The Complete Poems of E. Pauline JohnsonTekahionwake, 1861-1913. Toronto: Musson Books, 1931
Johnson, Pauline E. Legends of Vancouver. Kingston, Ontario: Quarry Press, 1991
Johnson, Pauline E. North American Indian Silver Craft. Vancouver: Subway Books, 2004
Johnson, Pauline E. The White Wampum. London, England: John Lane, 1895
Johnson, Pauline E. "The Lodge of the Law-Makers." Daily Express (14 Aug. 1906): 4

Full text pdfs of exhibition reviews
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) Reynald.  "Le 51e salon de printemps. Morte-saison pour les nôtres."  La Presse (Montreal)  .  p.29.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Art Association Spring Show Opens. Private View Inaugurates Exhibition Containing Over Five Hundred Works."  Gazette (Montreal)  .  p.17.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) René Chicoine.  "Le Salon du Printemps."  L'Ordre (Montreal)  .  p.4.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Spring Exhibition of Art Association Opened on Thursday."  Montreal Star  .  p.17.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Nearly 500 Works at Spring Exhibit. Variety in Show at Galleries of Art Association of Montreal. 1,080 Items Submitted. Judges Reveal Open Minds and 52nd Annual Contains Much to Meet Differing Tastes."  Gazette (Montreal)  .  p.3.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Sculpture and Prints at the Art Gallery."  Montreal Star  .  p.26.   Full-text pdf
Royal Canadian Academy Annual Exhibition.: (Montreal, ) "The Fifty-Sixth Exhibition of the Canadian Academy."  Montreal Star  .  p.13.   Full-text pdf
Royal Canadian Academy Annual Exhibition.: (Montreal, ) "Art Gallery Scene of R.C.A. Exhibition. Paintings and Other Works from Various Canadian Points Total 444. Much Good Portraiture."  Gazette (Montreal)  .  p.19.   Full-text pdf
Royal Canadian Academy Annual Exhibition.: (Montreal, ) H. Poynter Bell.  "The Fifty-Sixth Annual Exhibition of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts."  Royal Architectural Institute of Canada  .  pp.195-198, 202.   Full-text pdf
Royal Canadian Academy Annual Exhibition: (, ) Fred H. Brigden.  "The Fifty-Seventh Annual Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts."  Royal Architectural Institute of Canada  .  13.12: pp.216-223.   Full-text pdf
Royal Canadian Academy Annual Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Royal Canadian Academy Show is Opened at Art Association. Portraiture Represented by Good Examples and Landscapes as Usual Predominate."  Gazette (Montreal)  .  p.12.   Full-text pdf

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