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American Pentimento Cover

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American Pentimento

The Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches

Patricia Seed

Americans like to see themselves as far removed from their European ancestors’ corrupt morals, imperial arrogance, and exploitation of native resources. Yet, as Patricia Seed argues in American Pentimento, this is far from the truth. The modern regulations and pervading attitudes that control native rights in the Americas may appear unrelated to colonial rule, but traces of the colonizers’ cultural, religious, and economic agendas nonetheless remain. Seed likens this situation to a pentimento-a painting in which traces of older compositions or alterations become visible over time-and shows how the exploitation begun centuries ago continues today.

In her analysis, Seed examines how European countries, primarily England, Spain, and Portugal, differed in their colonization of the Americas. She details how the English appropriated land, while the Spanish and Portuguese attempted to eliminate "barbarous" religious behavior and used indigenous labor to take mineral resources. Ultimately, each approach denied native people distinct aspects of their heritage. Seed argues that their differing effects persist, with natives in former English colonies fighting for land rights, while those in former Spanish and Portuguese colonies fight for human dignity. Seed also demonstrates how these antiquated cultural and legal vocabularies are embedded in our languages, popular cultures, and legal systems, and how they are responsible for current representations and treatment of Native Americans. We cannot, she asserts, simply attribute the exploitation of natives’ resources to distant, avaricious colonists but must accept the more disturbing conclusion that it stemmed from convictions that are still endemic in our culture.

Wide-ranging and essential to future discussions of the legacies of colonialism, American Pentimento presents a radical new approach to history, one which uses paradigms from anthropology and literary criticism to emphasize language as the basis of law and culture.

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The Americas That Might Have Been

Native American Social Systems through Time

Written by Julian Granberry

This work answers the hypothetical question: What would the Americas be like today—politically, economically, culturally—if Columbus and the Europeans had never found them, and how would American peoples interact with the world's other societies? It assumes that Columbus did not embark from Spain in 1492 and that no Europeans found or settled the New World afterward, leaving the peoples of the two American continents free to follow the natural course of their Native lives.

The Americas That Might Have Been is a professional but layman-accessible, fact-based, nonfiction account of the major Native American political states that were thriving in the New World in 1492. Granberry considers a contemporary New World in which the glories of Aztec Mexico, Maya Middle America, and Inca Peru survived intact. He imagines the roles that the Iroquois Confederacy of the American Northeast, the powerful city-states along the Mississippi River in the Midwest and Southeast, the Navajo Nation and the Pueblo culture of the Southwest, the Eskimo Nation in the Far North, and the Ta&iactue;no/Arawak chiefdoms of the Caribbean would play in American and world politics in the 21st Century.

Following a critical examination of the data using empirical archaeology, linguistics, and ethnohistory, Granberry presents a reasoned and compelling discussion of native cultures and the paths they would have logically taken over the past five centuries. He reveals the spectacular futures these brilliant pre-Columbian societies might have had, if not for one epochal meeting that set off a chain of events so overwhelming to them that the course of human history was forever changed.

"Offers the latitude to explain a model of cultural evolution based on kinship categories while speculating about hjow several Indian nations might have developed sans colonialism."—North Dakota Quarterly

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Amskapi Pikuni

The Blackfeet People

A contemporary history of one of the best-known American Indian nations. Written in collaboration with Blackfoot tribal historians and educators, Amskapi Pikuni: The Blackfeet People portrays a strong native nation fighting for two centuries against domination by Anglo invaders. The Blackfeet endured bungling, corrupt, and drunken agents; racist schoolteachers; and a federal Indian Bureau that failed to disburse millions of dollars owed to the tribe. Located on a reservation in Montana cut and cut again to give land to white ranchers, the Blackfeet adapted to complete loss of their staple food, bison—a collapse of what had been a sustainable economy throughout their history. Despite all of these challenges, the nation held to its values and continues to proudly preserve its culture.

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Ancestral Places

Understanding Kanaka Geographies

Katrina-Ann R. Kapāʻanaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira

Ancestral Places explores the deep connections that ancestral Kānaka (Native Hawaiians) enjoyed with their environment. It honors the moʻolelo (historical accounts) of the ancestral places of their kūpuna (ancestors), and reveals how these moʻolelo and their relationships with the ʻāina (land) inform a Kanaka sense of place.

The book elucidates a Kanaka geography and provides contemporary scholars with insights regarding traditional culture—including the ways in which Kānaka utilize cartographic performances to map their ancestral places and retain their moʻolelo, such as reciting creation accounts, utilizing nuances embedded in language, and dancing hula.

A Kanaka by birth, a kumu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (language teacher) by profession, and a geographer by training, Oliveira’s interests intersect at the boundary where words and place-making meet her ancestral land. Thus, Ancestral Places imbues the theoretical with sensual practice. The book’s language moves fluidly between Hawaiian and English, terms are nimbly defined, and the work of the field is embodied: geographic layers are enacted within the text, new understandings created—not just among lexica, but amidst illustrations, charts, terms, and poetry. 

In Ancestral Places, Oliveira reasserts both the validity of ancestral knowledge systems and their impact in modernity. Her discussion of Kanaka geographies encompasses the entire archipelago, offering a new framework in Kanaka epistemology.

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Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms

Interpretations of Mississippian Iconography

Edited by F. Kent Reilly, III, and James F. Garber

A major reconstruction of the rituals, cosmology, ideology, and political structures of the prehistoric native peoples of the Mississippi River Valley and Southeastern United States.

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Anetso, the Cherokee Ball Game

At the Center of Ceremony and Identity

Michael J. Zogry

A precursor to lacrosse, anetso, a centuries-old Cherokee ball game still played today, is a vigorous sport that rewards speed, strength, and agility. It is also the focus of several linked ritual activities. Zogry argues that members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation continue to perform selected aspects of their cultural identity by engaging in anetso. He shows that it is a ceremonial cycle that incorporates a variety of activities which, taken together, complicate standard distinctions of game versus ritual, public display versus private performance, and tradition versus innovation.

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Anguish Of Snails

Native American Folklore in the West

Barre Toelken

After a career working and living with American Indians and studying their traditions, Barre Toelken has written this sweeping study of Native American folklore in the West. Within a framework of performance theory, cultural worldview, and collaborative research, he examines Native American visual arts, dance, oral tradition (story and song), humor, and patterns of thinking and discovery to demonstrate what can be gleaned from Indian traditions by Natives and non-Natives alike. In the process he considers popular distortions of Indian beliefs, demystifies many traditions by showing how they can be comprehended within their cultural contexts, considers why some aspects of Native American life are not meant to be understood by or shared with outsiders, and emphasizes how much can be learned through sensitivity to and awareness of cultural values.

Winner of the 2004 Chicago Folklore Prize, The Anguish of Snails is an essential work for the collection of any serious reader in folklore or Native American studies.

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Anishinaabe Syndicated

A View from the Rez

Jim Northrup

The topics of the day fly fast and furious over Jim Northrup’s moccasin telegraph: The game wardens were playing catch and release with the Anishinaabeg spearers. one Shinnob went back for seconds. He got two tickets. . . . The powwow was great. I’d like to thank all those who worked to make this happen. as a Vietnam vet, I felt honored, but still think we should quit making veterans. . . . Hell just froze over because Fonjalackers got a per capita gambling payment. after almost fifteen years of high-stakes bingo and gambling casinos, we got a check for $1,500 each. . . . Now Mom can get that operation and I can send my kids to Harvard. I can also get that Ferrari I’ve always wanted. I’ll decide on the color after my round-the-world vacation. . . . Between 1989 and 2001, Indian Country saw enormous changes in treaty rights, casino gambling, language renewal, and tribal sovereignty. Jim Northrup, a thoroughly modern traditional Ojibwe man who writes a monthly syndicated newspaper column, the Fond du Lac Follies, witnessed it all. With humor sometimes gentle, sometimes biting, sometimes broad, these excerpts tally the changes, year by year, as he spears walleye, raises a grandson, harvests wild rice and maple sugar, fixes rez cars, attends powwows, and jets across the country and across the ocean to tell stories.

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Anonimo Mexicano

Richley Crapo and Bonnie Glass-Coffin

Anonimo Mexicano is the first publication of the full Nahuatl text and English translation of a rare and important Native history of preconquest Mexico. Written circa 1600 by an anonymous Tlaxcaltecan author, it is an epic account of the settling of central Mexico by Nahua peoples from the northern frontier. They developed a sophisticated culture with powerful city states and an agricultural economy, fought great wars, established dynasties, and recorded their history and legends in painted books. The Mexica became the most powerful of these nations until their conquest by the Spanish with the help of the Tlaxcalteca, who were rivals of the Mexica and whose national origin tale was recorded in Anonimo Mexicano.

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Answering Chief Seattle

Albert Furtwangler

This book traces the origins of one of the most famous speeches in American history and how our responses to it, over more than a century, show the changing tide of Native-white relations.

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