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Call for Change

The Medicine Way of American Indian History, Ethos, and Reality

Donald L. Fixico

Publication Year: 2013

For too many years, the academic discipline of history has ignored American Indians or lacked the kind of open-minded thinking necessary to truly understand them. Most historians remain oriented toward the American experience at the expense of the Native experience. As a result, both the status and the quality of Native American history have suffered and remain marginalized within the discipline. In this impassioned work, noted historian Donald L. Fixico challenges academic historians—and everyone else—to change this way of thinking. Fixico argues that the current discipline and practice of American Indian history are insensitive to and inconsistent with Native people’s traditions, understandings, and ways of thinking about their own history. In Call for Change, Fixico suggests how the discipline of history can improve by reconsidering its approach to Native peoples.

He offers the “Medicine Way” as a paradigm to see both history and the current world through a Native lens. This new approach paves the way for historians to better understand Native peoples and their communities through the eyes and experiences of Indians, thus reflecting an insightful indigenous historical ethos and reality.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-8

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii-9

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pp. ix-xvi

The time for a call for change in American Indian history is now. For too many years the academic discipline has ignored the ethos and reality among Indian people or lacked the open-mindedness to understand these forces. Many years of thinking about the subject are...


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pp. xvii-xx

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1. The Complexity of American Indian History

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pp. 1-16

As it began to get dark on April 12, 1991, three Indians stood on a street corner in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. There was no doubt that they looked Indian. Two of them had long black hair. As people walked by, they stared at the Indians. One lit a cigarette and offered a smoke to the other two, but they shook their heads to decline. The...

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2. Native Ethos of “Seeing” and a Natural Democracy

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pp. 17-40

Standing high on Harney Peak in the Black Hills, Black Elk, Holyman of the Oglala Sioux, talked about “seeing.” Holding his wrinkled brown hands out to the sky, he recalled:
Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood...

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3. The First Dimension of Indian-White Relations

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pp. 41-64

During the spring of 1984 the Sapulpa Herald newspaper reported that a young Euchee Indian with Down syndrome died while trying to visit his mother. He lived near Kellyville, Oklahoma, and his mother lived not too far from him:
The body of a 28-year-old man was found in woods west of Sapulpa Friday afternoon by two men surveying a piece of property...

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4. The Second Dimension of Interacting Indian-White Relations

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pp. 65-84

More than two hundred years ago two brothers stood at a place near what is presently Battle Ground, Indiana. Along the Wabash River, lined by towering oaks, maples, tulip trees, hackberries, sycamores, and elms, they discussed their troubled fate. Their decision became their stand against the encroaching white settlers. The younger brother...

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5. The Third Dimension of Physical and Metaphysical Reality

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pp. 85-108

My Brothers! The white people got some of our chiefs to sign a paper to give our lands to them but our chiefs did not do as we told them to do; they done wrong; we must do right. The agent tells us we must go away from the lands we live on—our homes, and the graves of our Fathers, and go over the big river [the...

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6. A Cross-Cultural Bridge of Understanding

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pp. 109-128

Many days later, the Twins heard a voice from the ground. It was from the little man with the red head. “Do not scorn me because I am so small,” he said. “I can and want to help you. Put your hands down on the ground and spit into them four times. Now close your fists, saving the spit until you come to the Big...

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7. Oral Tradition and Language

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pp. 129-148

Originally from the Southeast, the Muscogee Creeks tell a creation story of the people coming out of or emerging from Mother Earth (Ekv nv). According to the story, the Muscogee Creeks were within the earth or underground in the dark and cold. They wandered blindly, hearing only their own voices. They were lost and confused because...

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8. Power of Earth and Woman

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pp. 149-172

Among the Lakota people, the prophecy of the White Buffalo Calf Woman is told. Ages before the coming of the white man, the Lakota tell a story of prophecy when their people suffered from starvation due to the cold of winter. For months, this suffering lasted until the camp’s elders summoned two warriors...

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9. Coming Full Circle

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pp. 173-184

Like the seasons changing in cycles every year and the rotational change from day to night, the Circle of Life includes all things, according to traditional Indian belief. The past is a part of the present such that in Indian awareness, history represents a continuum without a beginning or an end. One young Indian person said: ...


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pp. 185-206


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pp. 207-232


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pp. 233-240

E-ISBN-13: 9780803246249
E-ISBN-10: 0803246242
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803243569

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 10 diagrams
Publication Year: 2013