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The Shoshoneans

The People of the Basin-Plateau, Expanded Edition.

Edward Dorn

Publication Year: 2013

First published almost fifty years ago and long out of print, The Shoshoneans is a classic American travelogue about the Great Basin and Plateau region and the people who inhabit it, never before—or since—documented in such striking and memorable fashion. Neither a book of journalism nor a work of poetry, this powerful collaboration represents the wild wandering of a white poet and black photographer in Civil Rights era (also Vietnam War era) America through a part of the indigenous West that had resisted prior incursions. The expanded edition offers a wealth of supplemental material, much of it archival, which includes poetry, correspondence, the lecture “The Poet, the People, the Spirit,” and the essay “Ed Dorn in Santa Fe.”

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Series: Recencies: Research and Recovery in Twentieth-Century American Poetics

Title Page, Frontispiece, About the Series, Acknowledgments, Copyright

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pp. i-2


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pp. 3-4

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Simon J. Ortiz

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pp. 5-8

I hadn't read The Shoshoneans for many years, and I was totally overjoyed when I found myself being asked to write a commentary that would be an introduction to a new publication of The Shoshoneans, a powerful and beautifully expressive book by the late Edward Dorn with photographs by Leroy Lucas, originally published in 1966. Vividly remembering the book, I...

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pp. 9-15

I begin where it was the highest pitched for me, at Duck Valley, on the Nevada-Idaho border. One hot July afternoon we stopped at Mountain City for a sandwich. It was a particularly western restaurant, varnished pine, fixed in the style of "mountain-outwest"—what the stereotype dictates but which is not really so common. For all that notorious...

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pp. 16-18

The location of the Basin-Plateau area of the western United States is well known only to a few gamblers, professional criminals, movie stars, divorcees, and, of course, the people who live there. Lay your right hand palm down, fingers spread, on a map of the West scaled approximately one inch to fifty miles, your little finger on Salt Lake City...

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pp. 19-23

In 1888, a young Paiute medicine man named Wovoka (The Cutter) received a revelation from the Great Spirit. Dead ancestors would soon come back to earth, buffalo would run again, white invaders would be destroyed. It was a Messianic movement. There were new dances and songs for the new religion. A new coming. The Ghost Dance spread...

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pp. 24-27

A culture is worth no more than the most articulate, or persistent, man in it—no matter how much hay is grown. The question as to whether an Indian society should perpetuate its ancient ways or acculturate and hence progress as rapidly as possible seems to me wholly pointless both for the Indian and the national convenience (which can...

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pp. 28-44

Now we move at night out across the neo-wild West. Out of the stone-faced belligerence of Salt Lake City across the Salt toward the Bonneville Flats, over the territory of the wretched Gosiute, flee from the tightly gloved fist the people, the Negro people, tell us hangs over them in the well-planned city of the Saints, and we decide to drive all...

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pp. 45-53

And now, "back east." An important cultural direction for a white American. The westerner looks on the eastern United States with a derisive suspicion. At the same time he expects it to save him from what he fears: the dark, unAmerican forces of the outer world. Pop-sociology tells him his "history" is in the East—the arrival of those...

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pp. 54-62

To Lovelock. Northeast. This time the Humboldt Sink is out the left window. And beyond, southeast of Route 40, scattered over the land are Danger Areas, a red pocking on the map. Bombing and gunnery ranges. Finally, one would come to the vastest pustule of all, the Las Vegas Bombing and Gunnery Range, an odd-shaped exclusion of land approximately forty thousand square...

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pp. 63-72

Of all North America the plateau of the Basin-Plateau is the brightest extremity—high and cold in winter, high and cool in summer; it has not suffered the ripening touch of serious history. The air sparkles with a dazzling grain; the place is crystal. The Southwest is dry. The Basin-Plateau is superbly dry—it dwells on itself, isolated between the...

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pp. 73-79

The drive to Pocatello from Owyhee took the best part of an afternoon. The road north from Duck Valley is an unmercifully pounding stretch of hard gravel for fifty miles or more. Most of that distance is through one vast ranch and the only stop is the general ranch store. The car needed some oil but I bought gas too, in those stretches it becomes...

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pp. 80-89

Whenever any non-Indian citizen presumes to speak to or about Indians, there is in his mouth a rather heavy inheritance of qualifying history: past, recent and—particularly—present. Of course it is all one intersection, practical and theoretical. If a sensitive and informed man finds himself a part of the dual subject of "contact" (and that is what...

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“Poverty, Community, and Power”

Clyde Warrior

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pp. 89-94

In the midst of American society in nearly every state there exist cohesive groups of tribal people which are referred to as American Indians. These presently number over 500,000.
Within the last ten years the federal government has felt that to improve their lot, to insure "progress," American Indians should be moved to areas where American progress was a living Thing—twenty-four hours...


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pp. 95-96

Appendix Historical and Archival Materials, Introduced and Annotated

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pp. 97-165

E-ISBN-13: 9780826353825
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826353818

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Recencies: Research and Recovery in Twentieth-Century American Poetics