Cover

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Table of Contents

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p. i

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ii-v

Contents

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pp. vi-vii

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Every Picture Tells a Story

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pp. 1-6

History records that Ishi, a.k.a. the Last Yahi, the Stone Age Ishi Between Two Worlds, was captured by northern Californians in 1911 and dutifully turned over to anthropologists. He spent the rest of his life in a museum...

Part I. States of Amnesia

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Lost in Translation

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pp. 9-12

I work at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, and although I speak here as an independent critic and curator, I draw on that experience to look at why Indians, and Indian issues, are so often overlooked...

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On Romanticism

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pp. 13-27

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle is a beautifully illustrated children’s book by Susan Jeffers. This publication spent more than nineteen weeks on the best-seller lists and was chosen by members...

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After the Gold Rush

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pp. 28-36

People say life is about all kinds of things, but don’t listen to them. Life is mostly about taking names and keeping score. And halfway through the first decade of the twenty-first century, here’s what my scorecard...

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Land of a Thousand Dances

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pp. 37-42

As a people, there can be little doubt that Indians care too much about the movies. It’s embarrassing sometimes, well, actually a lot of the time. We follow casting, production, shooting schedules of each new Hollywood feature about...

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The Big Movie

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pp. 43-52

About five years ago I realized that I had no memories of seeing Indians at the movies or on television while I was growing up. Even now I recall nothing of the thousands of hours of...

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The Ground beneath Our Feet

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pp. 53-63

All histories have a history, and one is incomplete without the other. History promises to explain why things are and how they came to be this way, and it teases us by suggesting that if only we possessed the secret knowledge, the hidden insight...

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Homeland Insecurity

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pp. 64-66

I spent the summer of 2005 visiting two art markets and thinking about two T-shirts. The art markets were in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Venice, Italy. Like a running commentary on both, the T-shirts were everywhere. One shows Winchestered Apache warriors...

Part II. Everything We Make Is Art

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Americans without Tears

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pp. 69-78

I have this theory about Indians. I don’t really think about it very much, because it is so much a part of my worldview that I take it completely for granted, like breathing. Over the past two decades, this theory informs nearly...

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Delta 150

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pp. 79-87

Welcome. My name is Paul Chaat Smith, I’m Comanche, I live in Washington, D.C., and I am associate curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Gerald McMaster (Plains Cree and member of the...

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Luna Remembers

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pp. 88-102

James Luna is a visionary, a truth teller, a romantic, and a hanging judge. For these reasons, I wish he lived someplace other than up in the clouds on a mountain located on the extreme western edge of North America. Or at least that his mountain looked...

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Standoff in Lethbridge

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pp. 103-112

About seventy-five million years ago much of North America was underwater. The water that covered everything from Texas to the Arctic was called the Bearpaw Sea. Not then, of course—that’s the name that scientists gave...

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Struck by Lightning

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pp. 113-122

The thing is, Baco Ohama didn’t even know there was a Miyoshi, Japan. The word—miyoshi—came to her, she claims, in a dream. And from the word and the dream came the vision, and the vision was of hundreds and hundreds of fuzzy...

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Meaning of Life

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pp. 123-137

They were anxious and bored, for all the right reasons. Nothing was happening anywhere, and most days it seemed likely that nothing ever would. Indian kids of North America— angst-ridden, their moods swinging in a heartbeat from...

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States of Amnesia

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pp. 138-142

Anyone who doubts the Creator has a killer sense of humor obviously hasn’t spent much time in Oklahoma. Welcome to the Sooner State, America’s national park of the absurd. You can ditch that Foucault guidebook...

Part III. Jukebox Spiritualism

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A Place Called Irony

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pp. 145-150

It is hard to say when we first met, because I cannot remember not knowing him, or feeling his presence. It’s sort of like asking when do you first remember meeting your older sister. But if you want a starting point, maybe it...

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Life during Peacetime

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pp. 151-157

Things weren’t supposed to end up like this. Failure, yes, we were ready for a thousand kinds of defeat. We even looked forward to it in dark, private moments, believing it would offer opportunities for...

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Last Gang in Town

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pp. 158-162

I used to live in Cleveland. My family moved there in the mid- 1970s. I had enrolled in Antioch College, a few hours south and west in Yellow Springs. Antioch is famous for requiring its students to work, not just...

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From Lake Geneva to the Finland Station

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pp. 163-171

If you are Indian and live in the city you basically are screwed. This is because a large flashing neon asterisk floats above your head, which turns into a question mark, before again becoming an asterisk. You are in the wrong place and you know...

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Ghost in the Machine

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pp. 172-180

They called my great-uncle Cavayo “Name Giver.” He was the one who decided what to call the marvelous toys and dazzling inventions modern times brought to the Comanche in the last half of the nineteenth...

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Afterword: End of the Line

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pp. 181-188

This book, as you’ve figured out, is a collection of essays. The oldest was written in 1992, at the end of the first Bush administration; the newest (this one) is being written in the final months of the third. My obsessions haven’t changed...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 189-190

I thank the University of Minnesota Press and especially Jason Weidemann for finding a book in these discordant essays. I admit to ambivalent feelings about Minnesota: I always seemed to be there during the absurd winters, perplexed by...

Publication History

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pp. 191-199