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“Who We Was”: Creating Witnesses in Joseph Bruchac’s Hidden Roots


Through the exploration of Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac’s Hidden Roots (2004), a young adult historical novel, the article examines the intersection of racial and disability ideologies in the eugenics movement in 1930s America. It discusses the text in light of critical disability theory, Native American literature, children’s literature, and rhetorical analysis, concluding that the novel illustrates the intersection of oppressive ideologies, and by doing so creates more critical readers and the potential for activism. Readers can become witnesses to the testimony of historical trauma, and this has the potential for questioning, reacting to, and reflecting upon readers’ relations to these histories as well as today’s residual ideologies.