Two years later, in March 1902, Princess Ye-wa-go-no-nee entertained two thousand spectators in Toronto’s Massey Hall with a lantern show titled “1,000 miles in a canoe in the land of Hiawatha.” In 1905, Craig gained considerable attention for her trek to Labrador. Newspapers describe Craig as the first woman to explore Labrador. (In truth, Craig’s journey may coincide with Mina Hubbard’s own extraordinary expedition; in her journal, Hubbard refers to “Miss Craig,” a pesky journalist for Century Magazine.) Afterwards, Craig returned to the lecture circuit; however, her career then veered in an unexpected direction.
“All life is a vibration,” Craig explained to an audience in Brooklyn: “Through this vibration, […] it is possible to separate the soul from the body, or to live continuously. Therefore, […] it is a crime to die of disease or old age” (“Girl’s Weird Story about Reincarnation”). In this same lecture, she outlined her theories about reincarnation, describing her past life as Meta, the daughter of the chief of a Labrador tribe. The lecturer was an easy target for cheeky reporters but, incredibly, her inquiries into the nature of gravity and the aurora borealis garnered the attention of researchers at the Académies des sciences in Paris. Craig published her findings (First Principles: A Manifesto of the Vortex Theory of Creation, London: Harrison, 1906) in addition to her book of poems, Legends of the North Land (c1910?).
After 1907, Craig disappears from the public record. While a 1905 New York City census situates the journalist in Brooklyn, few details have emerged in regards to her later career. It is highly possible, given Craig’s frequent wanderings, that she might have left the United States, married, or assumed a new identity. Curiously, cataloguers at the British Library attribute a 1907 book, Men of Mars by “Mithra,” to Martha Craig. Is Mithra our writer?
Because of her brief association with Canada, we will include a short snapshot of Craig in our database. The writer’s connection with Canada might be fleeting; however, her unusual career gestures towards broader issues. Unlike Grey Owl, the writer did not conceal her true identity as Martha Craig of County Antrim, but she did use clothing in order to fashion an indigenous persona. In light of ongoing conversations about clothing, identity, and cultural appropriation, what does Princess Ya-wa-go-no-nee reveal about white settler representations of indigenous cultures? And how does Craig’s strange story tie into the larger legacy of colonialism?