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Yakama Rising

Indigenous Cultural Revitalization, Activism, and Healing

Michelle M. Jacob

Publication Year: 2013

The Yakama Nation of present-day Washington State has responded to more than a century of historical trauma with a resurgence of grassroots activism and cultural revitalization. This path-breaking ethnography shifts the conversation from one of victimhood to one of ongoing resistance and resilience as a means of healing the soul wounds of settler colonialism. Yakama Rising: Indigenous Cultural Revitalization, Activism, and Healing argues that Indigenous communities themselves have the answers to the persistent social problems they face. This book contributes to discourses of Indigenous social change by articulating a Yakama decolonizing praxis that advances the premise that grassroots activism and cultural revitalization are powerful examples of decolonization.

Michelle M. Jacob employs ethnographic case studies to demonstrate the tension between reclaiming traditional cultural practices and adapting to change. Through interviewees’ narratives, she carefully tacks back and forth between the atrocities of colonization and the remarkable actions of individuals committed to sustaining Yakama heritage. Focusing on three domains of Indigenous revitalization—dance, language, and foods—Jacob carefully elucidates the philosophy underlying and unifying each domain while also illustrating the importance of these practices for Indigenous self-determination, healing, and survival.

In the impassioned voice of a member of the Yakama Nation, Jacob presents a volume that is at once intimate and specific to her home community and that also advances theories of Indigenous decolonization, feminism, and cultural revitalization. Jacob’s theoretical and methodological contributions make this work valuable to a range of students, academics, tribal community members, and professionals, and an essential read for anyone interested in the ways that grassroots activism can transform individual lives, communities, and society.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-11

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pp. xi-xii

Many people provided encouragement, insight, and assistance to make this book possible. I am inspired by my family, who never hesitate to be generous or thoughtful. Loving thanks to Dad, Mom, Uncle Jim, Roger, Gina, Garret, Hunter, Faith, Justin, Alicia, Quintic, Hazen, Blaise, and...

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Introduction: Embodying Contradictions and Resisting Settler-Colonial Violence

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pp. 3-17

The woman follows the grandmother’s gaze and smiles immediately. The children are dancing! On the stage are girls and boys dressed in their traditional regalia. They are so beautiful in their colorful outfits. She sees their advisor in the corner of the stage, announcing the next dance that...

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1. Teach Them in a Good Way: Critical Pedagogy of the Wapato Indian Club

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pp. 18-46

The schoolchildren smile, giggle, and chat excitedly, filling the concrete locker rooms with a loud, happy murmur. They open their suitcases and begin dressing in their regalia, most students careful not to muss their hair, which family members or friends had carefully braided earlier in the...

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2. I Don’t Want Our Language to Die: Indigenous Language Revitalization, Survivance, and the Stakes of Building a Moral Community

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pp. 47-78

We sit around a table at the university cafeteria, enjoying our lunch together. Then, all of a sudden, the elder announces that she would like to have dancers at the honor dinner tomorrow night. Word quickly spreads across the lunchroom. Soon a practice session is organized, and several...

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3. Think of the Seven Generations: Xwayamamí Ishích

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pp. 79-103

It is a beautiful late-summer day with clear blue skies and warm, bright sunshine. The sun’s rays are so warm and comfortable, it seems almost as if the sun is smiling down upon us. Today we will learn how to care for food as a gift from the Creator, and in doing so, we will understand how...

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4. Take Care of Your Past: Building a Theory of Yakama Decolonizing Praxis

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pp. 104-119

The children stand still and quiet; they halt their usual squirming and chatter, demonstrating their focused discipline of stillness, attentiveness, and patience. They know what is expected of them, a result of the many hours of instruction they have received from elders and adults. The children’s...

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5. The Renaissance Is Now: Next Steps for Healing and Social Change

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pp. 120-127

This book has focused on cultural revitalization efforts particular to the Yakama Reservation community. However, lessons learned through these case studies can be helpful for other peoples who are interested in developing indigenous-centered educational models that bring about healing...


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pp. 129-143


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pp. 131-135


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pp. 137-139

About the Author

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pp. 140-153

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599219
E-ISBN-10: 0816599211
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530496
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530491

Page Count: 144
Illustrations: 6 photos, 4 illustrations
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 855895659
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Yakama Rising

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Yakama Indians -- Social conditions.
  • Yakama Indians -- Politics and government.
  • Yakama Indians -- Ethnic identity.
  • Postcolonialism -- Washington (State) -- Yakama Indian Reservation.
  • Social change -- Washington (State) -- Yakama Indian Reservation.
  • Yakama Indian Reservation (Wash.) -- History.
  • Yakama Indian Reservation (Wash.) -- Race relations.
  • Yakama Indian Reservation (Wash.) -- Politics and government.
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