Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

K. Tsianina Lomawaima

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pp. ix-xii

In his haunting, searingly beautiful memoir of early twentieth-century student life at St. Peter Claver’s Indian Residential School—known to its captive boys as “Spanish”—Ojibwa educator and language scholar Basil Johnston wrote of shame, laughter, desolation, rebellion, camaraderie, and, eventually, escape. He concluded by quoting his friend Dominic: “We toughed it out, didn’t we? They couldn’t break us down, could they?” 1 When I interviewed my dad, Curtis Thorpe Carr (Creek) and about fifty other alumni of the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, their...

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xxii

I Am Where I Come From: Native American Undergraduates and Graduates Tell Their Life Stories presents the personal narratives of Native American students who have studied at Dartmouth College, which is located in Hanover, New Hampshire. Between 2009 and 2015, the editors invited approximately thirty of these students to write about growing up in their home communities; their experiences attending college in New Hampshire; and, where relevant, their life after graduation. We asked them to focus in particular on the challenges and rewards of attending Dartmouth...

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Introduction: Coming Home

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pp. 1-16

At some point during every Native American literature course I teach at Dartmouth College, I ask students to read Blackfeet author Stephen Graham Jones’s extraordinary collection of short stories, Bleed Into Me (2005), which opens with the arresting epigraph above. Jones identifies it with the phrase “Overheard in group,” suggesting that the speaker here is engaging in a moment of therapeutic catharsis. For most traditional Dartmouth students, it can be difficult to appreciate Jones’s metaphor of US education as a forceful internalization of imperial histories, or to grasp...

PART I. Broken: Racial Mixture and Cultural Hybridity

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1. Seeking to Be Whole

Shannon Joyce Prince

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pp. 19-35

A particular memory from my teenage years stands out as one experience that shaped how I thought about race, racism, and responsibility. Ironically, it’s a memory of the extremes a white woman took to make my family feel welcome in a predominantly white space. We were at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, a centuries-old resort staffed by many black employees, where my family and our friends are usually the only nonwhite patrons. A docent was explaining some of the resort’s history to us, and she pointed to a lithograph of the resort back...

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2. Bringing Back a Piece of the Sky

Blythe George

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pp. 36-51

A moment spent in Indian country will show you that everyone is related to somebody “important.” Growing up, I had always heard the name Spott along with allusions to tribal grandeur, but, quite honestly, looking at me wouldn’t make you think I was one of those people. My Gramma Clair was dark, and the darkness of her skin, her hair, and her beautiful almond eyes was what struck me most as a child. I am on the other side of the spectrum phenotypically, a carbon copy of my half-Yurok mom, and both of us take after “Red,” my full-blooded Irish Grampa. Mom has...

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3. Chahta hattak sia , “I Am a Choctaw Man”

Preston Wells

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pp. 52-66

I am the son of a pecan-farmer cowboy and a mother who has a heart for the people. I am the grandson of preaching evangelists who found life in speaking in tongues and helping others. I am a descendent of Texas Rangers who defended the Republic. I come from Mississippi Choctaws who found a new home in Indian Territory. My identity is split in two: these sides have been fighting for centuries and have continued to battle inside of me. On one side stands a courageous group of immigrants trying to defend a land they stole from the native dwellers; on the other is a...

PART II. An Indian Education: Leaving and Finding Home at Dartmouth College

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4. Nihalgai Bahane’, A Fourth-World Story

Jerry Watchman

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pp. 69-84

My given name is Jeremiah Watchman. Most know me as Jerry, and I am a runner. When I was quite young I learned to introduce myself in Diné Bizaad (the Navajo language) in much the same way my ancestors, the Ni’hookaa Diyan Diné (Holy Earth People), have over the course of boundless generations. Indeed, since our arrival in this world—Nihalgai (the Glittering World)—and long before our words, our knowledge, and our life ways were exposed to Western peoples and ideas. I feel I grew up very much on the periphery of the Diné, geographically and socially as...

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5. Bracelets Upon My Soul

Ma’Ko’Quah Jones

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pp. 85-99

The remnants of my past are visible on my forearms, the physical representations of deep emotional pain. At age nineteen, after years of suffering on the inside, I began to inflict violence on my physical body as a way to control my unseen internal pain. In short, I became a cutter. I wasn’t trying to kill myself; it was just about the pain. For a time I sought other ways to hurt myself. I remember moving my arms along the serrated edge of a knife, which I thought would make a larger wound than the razors I usually used. Later in life, I read about the psychology of the...

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6. My Journey to Healing

Kalina Newmark

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pp. 100-114

With each passing year, I have come to a greater understanding of the obligations I carry for my Dené people. I am a member of the Dené First Nation, specifically from the Sahtu region. My band is the Tulita Dené located in Tulita, formerly known as Fort Norman, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, where nearly all families are related. Although we call our land Denendeh, meaning “the Land of the People,” many of us, including myself, no longer live on or near our homelands. However, with traditional stories like the above that are passed on from generation...

PART III. Full Circle: Returning and Remaking Home

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7. Little Woman from Lame Deer

Cinnamon Spear

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pp. 117-136

Growing up on the reservation means your first thought every day is “I can’t wait to leave here and never come back.” We see people on TV in nice houses with green lawns going on vacation. The only escapes we know are a week or two shacked up at our snag’s place across the rez. We walk from town to town along rural Montana highways in the deathly heat of summer or the frigid winter cold. Cars pass us with duct-taped bumpers, others with no hoods. We laugh when we see those brave suckers in sunglasses driving a truck with no...

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8. Village Girl

AlexAnna Salmon

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pp. 137-150

We lost my father on February 27, 2008. I was five thousand miles away at school when I got the life-changing phone call from my family in Igiugig, Alaska: “We think Dad has been in a plane crash.” At that moment, my world stopped turning. I fell to my knees in sheer desperation, praying my heart out for three hours, when he was confirmed dead. In shock, I packed my bag and embarked on the longest journey home. I did not stay home long to deal with the aftermath: I knew my dad wanted more than anything for me to graduate from Dartmouth College, so I returned...

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9. Future Ancestor

Hilary Abe

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pp. 151-171

My name is Hilary. I am Hiraacá, Nueta, and Sahnish—a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. I am Mexican-American. I am Japanese-American. I am a living confluence, the point where many rivers of history culminate in my flesh.

My first name is often a curiosity to people. When I was a young child, my mom asked if I would prefer to go by my middle name instead of the name Hilary, since I was born a male. I must have been about six years old and I likely came home from school with tears on my face. My...

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10. An Unpredictable Journey

John Around Him

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pp. 172-188

One night our job was to guard a factory. White concrete walls with guard towers surrounded the building, which manufactured parts for Iraqi military vehicles. The factory, a tall, steel-frame metal structure, stood partially demolished, with its walls blackened from air bombings early in the Iraq War. The rest of the compound was littered with vehicle parts. Our mission was to provide security and prevent looting. Whatever civil order existed in Iraq before the invasion had now vanished. Locals, looking to sell just about anything to feed their families, commonly took to...

PART IV. Continuing Education: NADs Reflect on Their Journeys

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11. I Walk in Beauty

Davina Ruth Begaye Two Bears

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pp. 191-218

Sleet pelted down from a steel-gray sky. It was a cold Thanksgiving Day in Winslow, Arizona, on November 28, 1968. Anita looked out her window from her bed at the Indian Hospital. The naked branches of the trees rattled in the wind, but Anita was happy. She thought again about the birth of her first child, and curled protectively around her newborn daughter. At the first sight of baby in the delivery room, Anita had cried, “Oh, look at my shiny baby!”

The name “Shiny” has stuck with me, but my real name is Davina. Like my mother twenty-six years ago, I face the ultimate...

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12. The Good Ol’ Days When Times Were Bad

N. Bruce Duthu

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pp. 219-242

It was 1965 and I was six when Hurricane Betsy struck the Louisiana coast and all communities south of New Orleans were evacuated. We lived in Dulac, a small town seventy miles southwest of New Orleans, about as coastal a community as you can find in this part of Louisiana. It hugs the bayou and is virtually surrounded by small lakes and wetlands, flooding easily—and Betsy was no ordinary storm. People spoke in somber, almost reverential tones about this hurricane. Everybody said it was the kind of storm that changes lives forever....

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13. Why Didn’t You Teach Me?

Bob Bennett

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pp. 243-272

Success in the white world has always been easy for me. My accomplishments never surprised me because they were enjoyable and relatively effortless. My grandmother, however, was usually more than surprised— perhaps even astounded. “And you’re Indian!” she would often exclaim to express the joy, happiness, and amazement she felt for me. I did well in a white school, played varsity football, baseball, and basketball, went out with wasicu (white) friends, dated wasicu women, attended an Ivy League school, and now make a living as a professional baseball player. I was doing...

Notes

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pp. 273-276

About the Editors and Author of the Foreword

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pp. 277-279