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Corbett Mack

The Life of a Northern Paiute

Michael Hittman

Publication Year: 2013

Corbett Mack (1892–1974), was a Northern Paiute of mixed ancestry, caught between Native American and white worlds. A generation before, his tribe had brought forth the prophet Wovoka, whose Ghost Dance swept the Indian world in the 1890s. Mack’s world was a harsh and bitter place after the last Native American uprisings had been brutally crushed; a life of servitude to white farmers and addiction to opium. Hittman uses Mack’s own words to retell his story, an uncompromising account of a traumatized life that typified his generation, yet nonetheless made meaningful through the perseverance of Paiute cultural traditions. 

Published by: University of Nevada Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xvi

A book as long in the making as this requires many acknowledgments. Fieldwork in Yerington was originally funded by National Science Foundation grants: the Field Training Program in Anthropology, (Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, 1965) and a Grant Supporting Doctoral Dissertation Work (GS-2007) in 1969. ...

Note on Orthography

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pp. xvii-xviii

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pp. 1-22

Corbett Mack: The Life of a Northern Paiute is an as-told-by (rather than -to) life history or "Indian autobiography" of Corbett Mack (1892-1974), my primary Northern Paiute informant. A "contradiction in terms," as Arnold Krupat has recently defined this genre, ...

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1. Birth and Family (1892)

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pp. 23-42

'Cause I'm stolen, you see ... a nomogwet 'half-breed'. And you know why my mom's doin' that? 'Cause them Indian women, they like to have their own money; so they make them taivo pay for that [Le., sex]. Yes, sir! 'Cause Big Mack, he don't make enough. So my mom, she do that. ...

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2. Boyhood (1892-1905)

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pp. 43-64

My grandma, she's the one tell me that: how old man [Dan] Simpson and "Hike" [George] Fulstone make that early [first] settlement in Desert Creek [Smith Valley]. Say my grandfather, Poogooga'yoo, and Chief Joaquin, they wanna kill 'em. (Joaquin, that's Hazel Quinn's togho'o [maternal grandfather]; ...

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3. Boarding School (1905-10)

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pp. 65-80

And I don't see why they don't let me go to school sooner! 'Cause them old-timers, you know, they got funny idea .... Won't let us go to school to learn to read and to write ... to get to know somethin' better that way. ...

Image Plates

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pp. 101-104

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4. Work and Girls (1912-23)

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pp. 81-108

'Cause that's around about two year after I first get outta Stewart, you know ... Yes, sir! 'Cause you know how a kid is: just wanna ride around the mountain all the time, chase them mustang . . . fool around that way. So [from 1910 to 1912], I never did go to work yet. No, sir! But [then] the Old Man, he give me hell: ...

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5. Italians, Potatoes, Homemade Wine

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pp. 109-128

'Cause there's no Aytayay in this country them early days ago, you know, just taivo, that's all. Yes, sir! And all kind, too: D^tsaman [Dutchmen] .... And so, after a while, them Aytayay, they also start comin' over here to America. ...

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6. Chinese Opium (1896-1931)

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pp. 129-172

'Cause even though I'm drinkin', I know I [also] start in to smokin' that moohoo'oo right after I'm back from Stewart. Yes, sir! But not heavy, you know. Just to try that out. And you see who start me out? Henry Quinn! My cousin-brother. Lives with us ... his father's Suunuuma 'a—related to my grandma. ...

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7. Some Real Old-Timers (1896-1940)

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pp. 173-206

Drinkin' that all the time, you know .... 'Cause I know I'm doin' that pretty near twenty-five years, partner. Yes, sir! Three time every day .... One glass with every meal. And I can buy that pint, half-gallon, gallon from my boss every night, too—depend on what I got left over .... 'Cause them Aytayay, you know, they don't pay too much ...

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8. Retirement Years (1954-74)

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pp. 207-238

'Cause that first time, we're drunk in Wellington and miss work the next mornin'; so Macarini, he bawl us out. Yes, sir! Don't say, "Better sleep it off. Work when you feel good." No, sir! 'Cause you see why? My boss don't talk good to a person! ...

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pp. 239-242

"Too strong, partner! Gonna make my shirt smell to stink! Then maybe my blanket's gonna smell ste 'yoo, too .... Why I don't like to put that kind on my arm .... And too greasy, too. 'Cause I know I used to try that kind a real long time ago—time my knee went outta joint." ...

Appendix A: Local Newspaper Accounts of Opiates in Smith and Mason Valleys, Nevada (1896–1931)

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pp. 243-252

Appendix B: Report of Narcotic Situation among the Indians of the Walker River Jurisdiction (1931)

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pp. 253-256

Appendix C: Narcotics in Smith and Mason Valleys (1929)

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pp. 257-258


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pp. 259-370


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pp. 371-384


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pp. 385-390

E-ISBN-13: 9780874179163
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874179156

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 5 photographs, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2013