Short reviews of new and recent books on Native Americans
Steve Brock (brock@ucsub.Colorado.EDU)
1 May 1995 18:38:29 GMT
Here are several short reviews of new and recent books by, and
about, Native Americans. All are written by Steve Brock:
GHOST SINGER by Anna Lee Walters. University of New Mexico Press,
1720 Lomas Blvd. N.E., Albuquerque, NM 87131-1591, (505) 277-2346,
(505) 277-9270 FAX. 248 pp., $17.95 paper. 0-8263-1545-3
This is the novel the Smithsonian Institution doesn't want you to
read. Walters has written a thrilling and complex story (now out
in a paperback edition) about Navajo ghosts, the bodies they once
inhabited stored in cardboard boxes at the Smithsonian, who haunt
and murder the anthropologists studying them, as well as members of
their own tribe. Grade: A.
SUNDANCE: THE ROBERT SUNDANCE STORY by Robert Sundance with Marc
Gaede. Chaco Press, 5218 Donna Maria Ln., La Canada, CA 91011,
(818) 952-0108, FAX: (818) 952-7267. Illustrated, afterword. 300
pp., $12.95 paper. 0-9616019-8-1
Robert Sundance (Rupert Sibley McLaughlan), born on the Standing
Rock Sioux Reservation, roamed all over the West, was arrested over
500 times, and spent most of his adult life in an alcoholic daze.
In 1975, however, he sued the city and county of Los Angeles and
won his case, bringing wide-ranging reforms to the way street
alcoholics were treated. Sundance's memoir vividly documents his
relentless bid to be heard. Grade: B.
DREAMKEEPERS: A SPIRIT-JOURNEY INTO ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA by Harvey
Arden. HarperPerennial, a division of HarperCollins Publishers,
Inc., 10 E. 53rd St., N.Y., NY 10022-5299, (800) 242-7737, (800)
822-4090 FAX. Illustrated, maps. 219 pp., $14.00 paper. 0-06-
Arden, a writer for National Geographic magazine, toured the
Australian outback and recorded recollections, contemplations, and
speculations of Aboriginal holymen, tribal healers, and lawmen, who
constantly directed him to "get his own Dreamtime," i.e., do not
co-opt their religion. Overly sentimental in places, "Dreamtime"
is better used as a travel guide than a spiritual primer. Grade:
B-. Also by Arden: "Wisdomkeepers" (1991).
OCEAN POWER: POEMS FROM THE DESERT by Ofelia Zepeda. University of
Arizona Press, 1230 N. Park, #102, Tucson, AZ 85719, (800) 426-
3797, (602) 882-3065 in Arizona, (602) 621-8899 FAX. The Universi-
ty of Arizona Press online catalogue and order form may be accessed
from the Internet by telneting to INFO.CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU. Login as
INFO. From the Main Menu choose 5 (On-line Information Services),
3 (University of Arizona Information), 1 (Campus Services), and 4
(University of Arizona Press). Afterword. 91 pp., $19.95 cloth
(0-8165-1517-4), $9.95 paper (0-8165-1541-7).
Zepeda, an associate professor of linguistics at the University of
Arizona, reflects on her life as a Tohono O'odham woman: stirring
clouds with a harvesting stick, growing hair so long it can be worn
as a dress (to be used as a pillow when laid to rest), possessing
a body in rhythm with oceans and moons. Not so somber is her
frolicsome version of "Under the Sea," ("It's so much better, down
where it's wetter"). Many of the poems are printed in both English
and O'odham, and one is entirely in O'odham. Intensely personal,
remarkably accessible. Grade: A-. "Ocean Power" is volume 32 in
the "Sun Tracks" American Indian Literary Series.
INDIANS, FRANCISCANS, AND SPANISH COLONIZATION: THE IMPACT OF THE
MISSION SYSTEM ON CALIFORNIA INDIANS by Robert H. Jackson and
Edward Castillo. University of New Mexico Press, 1720 Lomas Blvd.
N.E., Albuquerque, NM 87131-1591, (505) 277-2346, (505) 277-9270
FAX. Illustrated, index, bibliography, notes, three appendices.
214 pp., $32.50 cloth. 0-8263-1570-4
When Spanish colonists erected 21 missions along the coast of
California, they persuaded (and on several occasions, forced) the
members of many California Indian tribes to provide labor, as well
as being ripe for conversion to Catholicism. Jackson and Castillo
document attempts to modify the social and religious lives of the
tribes, and tribal efforts to maintain a separate identity. Grade:
MESSENGERS OF THE WIND: NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN TELL THEIR LIFE
STORIES, edited by Jane Katz. Ballantine Books, 201 E. 50th St.,
N.Y., NY 10022, (800) 726-0600, FAX: (212) 572-8700. Illustrated,
index, selected bibliography, notes, map. 331 pp., $23.00 cloth.
Katz introduces twenty-five Native American women who relate, in
their own words, what life means to them, what has shaped it so
far, and what the future seems to hold for them and their loved
ones. Divided into themes such as "Mending the Tears, Weaving the
Strands" and "Look Little Ones, All the Places are Holy," these
inspirational narratives contain a common vision: preservation of
culture and language are mandatory for tribes to continue to exist.
Highly recommended as a supplemental text for undergraduate classes
in Women's Studies. Grade: A.
NATIVE AMERICAN LIVES: PERFORMERS, edited by Liz Sonneborn. Facts
on File, Inc., 460 Park Avenue South, N.Y., NY 10016, (800) 322-
8755, FAX: (212) 213-4578. Illustrated, index, selected annotated
bibliography. 128 pp., $17.95 cloth. 0-8160-3045-6. For ages 10
>From Emily Pauline Johnson and Iron Eyes Cody to Graham Greene and
John Trudell, Sonneborn profiles eight of the most famous American
Indian performers: musicians, actors, a humorist (Will Rogers), and
a ballerina (Maria Tallchief). Included are a short history of
each performer's birthplace, a biography, and a discussion of their
body of work. Noticeably missing from the volume are Floyd Crow
Westerman and Carlos Nakai. Grade: B. Also in the "Native
American Lives" series: Spiritual Leaders; Scholars, Writers, and
Professionals; Political Leaders and Peacemakers; Artists and
Craftspeople; and Athletes.
THE PHOTOGRAPH AND THE AMERICAN INDIAN by Alfred L. Bush and Lee
Clark Mitchell. Princeton University Press, 41 William Street,
Princeton, NJ 08540, (800) 777-4726, FAX: (609) 258-1335.
Illustrated (more than 300 black-and-white and color photographs),
bibliography, biographies of photographers. 360 pp., $79.50 cloth.
By the mid-1800s, the had camera became another instrument for
exploiting American Indians. In 1985, a conference and exhibition
at Princeton looked back at the changing agendas of Indians,
photographers, and Indian photographers, and this catalog documents
the 150-year-history, with many famous stereotypes set alongside
recent photomontages. The result is a visually rich, wide-ranging,
and at times disturbing record, essential for photographers,
scholars of American Indians, and fine arts libraries. Grade: A.
THE CIRCLE IS SACRED: A MEDICINE BOOK FOR WOMEN by Scout Cloud Lee,
Ed.D. Council Oaks Books, 1350 E. 15th St., Tulsa, OK 74120, (800)
247-8850, (918) 583-4995 FAX. Illustrated. 272 pp., 17.95 paper.
This is the type of book that makes Indians cringe. Scout Cloud
Lee advertises herself as a "recreation therapist" and a "pioneer
in the field of experiential learning technologies." It says
nowhere that she has one drop of Indian blood, yet her new book of
women's rituals and ceremonies incorporates many sacred Native
American ceremonies, some even using eagle feathers. I'm all in
favor of gender-based consciousness-raising, but not at the expense
of another culture, and especially not at a ranch in Oklahoma
that's a "sacred ceremonial playground." Grade: D-.
CHIEF: THE LIFE HISTORY OF EUGENE DELORME, IMPRISONED SANTEE SIOUX,
edited by Inez Cardozo-Freeman. University of Nebraska Press 901
N. 17th St., Lincoln, NE 68588-0520, (800) 755-1105, (402) 472-6214
FAX. The University of Nebraska Press online catalog is available
on the Internet by telneting to CRCVMS.UNL.EDU, username INFO,
choosing UNIVERSITY PRESS, and ONLINE CATALOG. Illustrated,
chronology, selected bibliography. 250 pp., $26.00 cloth. 0-8032-
Delorme, who collaborated with Cardozo-Freeman in writing "The
Joint," is now the subject of her new biography, which relates
Delorme's youth in Aberdeen, Washington as part of a "dissolving
family," spending most of his fifty-five years in reformatories,
detention centers, and penitentiaries, and now residing in a
psychiatric hospital, suffering from alcoholism and depression.
Delorme has experienced several lifetimes of adversity, and his
story should be required reading by Indian healthcare administra-
tors and practitioners. Grade: B.
THE AMERICAN WEST by Dee Brown. Charles Scribner's Sons, 866 Third
Ave., N.Y., NY 10022, (800) 223-2336, (800) 445-6991 FAX.
Illustrated, index, bibliography, maps, selected chronology. 460
pp., $25.00 cloth. 0-02-517421-5
The publicity material says this is the "best single-volume history
of the Old West," but it forgot to insert one word: it's the best-
promoted single-volume history of the Old West. Brown, unfortu-
nately, sits on his laurels and plunders his other works for
material on the Native Americans, settlers, and ranchers and
cowboys who battled over who got to live where. The book, with its
solid collection of archival photographs, is well-written and
readable. Most of us, however, have read it before. Grade: C+.
LANGUAGE OF THE ROBE: AMERICAN INDIAN TRADE BLANKETS by Robert W.
Kapoun with Charles J. Lohrmann. Gibbs Smith, Publisher, P.O. Box
667, Layton, UT 84041, (801) 544-9800, FAX: (801) 544-5582.
Illustrated (more than 300 black-and-white and color photographs),
bibliography, notes. 191 pp., $34.95 cloth. 0-87905-468-9
>From clothing staple to currency used in negotiating business deals
to gift of deep friendship to collectible work of art, the trade
blanket has become popular once again. Kapoun traces the history
of trade blankets, robes, and other articles of clothing produced
by Capps, Oregon City, Buell, Racine, and Pendleton prior to World
War II. With numerous color plates, and a section on modern
collecting (don't miss those designed by Hopi weaver Ramona
Sakiestewa), this book is a beauty. Grade: A-.
WORDS OF POWER: VOICES FROM INDIAN AMERICA, edited by Norbert S.
Hill, Jr. (Oneida). Fulcrum Publishing, 350 Indiana St., Suite
350, Golden, CO 80401, (800) 992-2908, (303) 279-7111 FAX. Index of
speakers, list of sources. 68 pp., $9.95 cloth. 1-55591-189-7
Native Americans from the past and present voice their thoughts on
subjects such as educating children, preserving natural resources,
traditional values, friendship, and leadership. Inspirational and
insightful, "Words of Power" is an appropriate gift for any
occasion. Grade: B. Hill is the executive director of the
American Indian Science and Engineering Society at the University
of Colorado at Boulder.
COLUMBIA RIVER BASKETRY: GIFT OF THE ANCESTORS, GIFT OF THE EARTH
by Mary Dodds Schlick. University of Washington Press, P.O. Box
50096, Seattle, WA 98145-5096, (800) 441-4115, (206) 543-3932 FAX.
Illustrated (191 total, 56 in color), index, list of sources,
glossary, notes, map. 248 pp., $60.00 cloth (0-295-97249-1),
$35.00 paper (0-295-97289-0).
Schlick provides information on the wide variety of textiles made
by mid-Columbia River Indians (from Richland to Vancouver,
Washington) and their ancestors, as well as their cultural
significance. Included are many archival photographs and close-up
examples, accumulated from the author's relationship with tribes
that has lasted for over 40 years. The book won an award for best
book of 1994 from the Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association.
THIS PATH WE TRAVEL: CELEBRATIONS OF CONTEMPORARY NATIVE AMERICAN
CREATIVITY. Fulcrum Publishing, 350 Indiana St., Suite 350,
Golden, CO 80401, (800) 992-2908, (303) 279-7111 FAX, in associa-
tion with the National Museum of the American Indian. Illustrated
(60 total, 40 in color), appendix, notes, lists of exhibitions.
128 pp., $24.95 cloth (1-55591-205-2), $18.95 paper (1-55591-208-
Published in conjunction with one of the three current exhibitions
of the National Museum of the American Indian, "This Path We
Travel" profiles fifteen artists and their works, most of it in
their own words. Also included are several essays on the project.
Though the actual exhibit, a collaborative effort created specifi-
cally for the museum, is confusing and unfocused, the book does
well in describing the perspective of each artist. Grade: B. The
exhibition runs through July, 1995.
HAIDA MONUMENTAL ART: VILLAGES OF THE QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS, by
George F. MacDonald. University of Washington Press, P.O. Box
50096, Seattle, WA 98145-5096, (800) 441-4115, (206) 543-3932 FAX.
Illustrated (296 total, 18 in color), selected bibliography, notes,
maps. 248 pp., $29.95 cloth. 0-295-97362-5
This paperback edition of the 1983 original which was published by
the University of British Columbia, presents MacDonald's thirty-
year exploration of Haida villages. The book is divided into two
parts: an introduction to Haida culture and dwellings, and an
inspection of over twenty individual villages. Especially
interesting is the author's photography and mapping of Haida
structures and carved sculptures, popularly-known as "totem poles,"
most of which are still in place. Grade: A.
NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN ANTHROPOLOGY: ESSAYS ON SOCIETY AND CULTURE,
edited by Raymond J. DeMallie and Alfonso Ortiz. University of New
Mexico Press, 1720 Lomas Blvd. N.E., Albuquerque, NM 87131-1591,
(505) 277-2346, (505) 277-9270 FAX. Illustrated, index, referenc-
es. 442 pp., $32.95 cloth. 0-8263-2614-0
The fifteen essays on kinship, social organization, and culture
history in this new text provide current interpretations while
combining structural and historical approaches. The volume is
dedicated to anthropologist Fred Eggen (1906-1991), and all of the
contributors are former students. Highly recommended as a textbook
in introductory classes on American Indian Anthropology.