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Bear Island

The War at Sugar Point

Gerald Vizenor Vizenor

Drawing on the traditional ways of Anishinaabe storytelling, acclaimed poet Gerald Vizenor illuminates the 1898 battle at Sugar Point in Minnesota in this epic poem. Fought between the Pillagers of the Leech Lake Reservation (one of the original five clans of the Anishinaabe tribe) and U.S. soldiers, the battle marked a turning point in relations between the government and Native Americans. Although out-numbered by more than three to one, the Pillager fighters won convincingly.

Weaving together strands of myth, memory, legend, and history, Bear Island lyrically conveys a historical event that has been forgotten not only by the majority culture but also by some Anishinaabe people—bringing back to light a key moment in Minnesota’s history with clarity of vision and emotional resonance.

Gerald Vizenor is professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Reservation. His previous books include The People Named the Chippewa and Griever, for which he won an American Book Award.

Jace Weaver is professor and director of the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia.

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The Bearer of This Letter

Language Ideologies, Literacy Practices, and the F

Mindy J. Morgan

The Bearer of This Letter illuminates the enduring effects of colonialism by examining the decades-long tension between written words and spoken words in a reservation community. Drawing on archival sources and her own extensive work in the community, Mindy J. Morgan investigates how historical understandings of literacy practices challenge current Indigenous language revitalization efforts on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana.
 
Created in 1887, Fort Belknap is home to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine peoples. The history of these two peoples over the past century is a common one among Indigenous groups, with religious and federal authorities aggressively promoting the use of English at the expense of the local Indigenous languages. Morgan suggests that such efforts at the assimilation of Indigenous peoples had a far-reaching and not fully appreciated consequence. Through a close reading of federal, local, and missionary records at Fort Belknap, Morgan demonstrates how the government used documents as a means of restructuring political and social life as well as regulating access to resources during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a result, the residents of Fort Belknap began to use written English as a means of negotiating with the government and when arguing for structural change during the early reservation period while maintaining distinct arenas for Indigenous language use. These linguistic practices have significantly shaped the community’s perceptions of the utility of writing and continue to play a central role in contemporary language programs that increasingly rely on standardized orthographies for Indigenous language programs.

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Becoming Two-Spirit

Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in Indian Country

Brian Joseph Gilley

The Two-Spirit man occupies a singular place in Native American culture, balancing the male and the female spirit even as he tries to blend gay and Native identity. The accompanying ambiguities of gender and culture come into vivid relief in the powerful and poignant Becoming Two-Spirit, the first book to take an in-depth look at contemporary American Indian gender diversity. Drawing on a wealth of observations from interviews, oral histories, and meetings and ceremonies, Brian Joseph Gilley provides an intimate view of how Two-Spirit men in Colorado and Oklahoma struggle to redefine themselves and their communities.

The Two-Spirit men who appear in Gilley’s book speak frankly of homophobia within their communities, a persistent prejudice that is largely misunderstood or misrepresented by outsiders. Gilley gives detailed accounts of the ways in which these men modify gay and Native identity as a means of dealing with their alienation from tribal communities and families. With these compromises, he suggests, they construct an identity that challenges their alienation while at the same time situating themselves within contemporary notions of American Indian identity. He also shows how their creativity is reflected in the communities they build with one another, the development of their own social practices, and a national network of individuals linked in their search for self and social acceptance.

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Being Cowlitz

How One Tribe Renewed and Sustained Its Identity

by Christine Dupres

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Beloved Child

A Dakota Way of Life

by Diane Wilson

“Far greater even than the loss of land, or the relentless coercion to surrender cultural traditions, the deaths of over six hundred children by the spring of 1864 were an unbearable tragedy. Nearly one hundred and fifty years after the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862, Dakota people are still struggling with the effects of this unimaginable loss.” Among the Dakota, the Beloved Child ceremony marked the special, tender affection that parents felt toward a child whose life had been threatened. In this moving book, author Diane Wilson explores the work of several modern Dakota people who are continuing to raise beloved children: Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan, an artist and poet; Clifford Canku, a spiritual leader and language teacher; Alameda Rocha, a boarding school survivor; Harley and Sue Eagle, Canadian activists; and Delores Brunelle, an Ojibwe counselor. each of these humble but powerful people teaches children to believe in the “genius and brilliance” of Dakota culture as a way of surviving historical trauma. Crucial to true healing, Wilson has learned, is a willingness to begin with yourself. Each of these people works to transform the effects of genocide, restoring a way of life that regards our beloved children as wakan, sacred.

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Beneath These Red Cliffs

An Ethnohistory of the Utah Paiutes

Ronald L. Holt

Ronald Holt recounts the survival of a people against all odds. A compound of rapid white settlement of the most productive Southern Paiute homelands, especially their farmlands near tributaries of the Colorado River; conversion by and labor for the Mormon settlers; and government neglect placed the Utah Paiutes in a state of dependency that ironically culminated in the 1957 termination of their status as federally recognized Indians. That recognition and attendant services were not restored until 1980, in an act that revived the Paiutes’ identity, self-government, land ownership, and sense of possibility. 

With a foreword by Lora Tom, chair of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah.

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Beyond Conquest

Native Peoples and the Struggle for History in New England

Amy E. Den Ouden

By focusing on the complex cultural and political facets of Native resistance to encroachment on reservation lands during the eighteenth century in southern New England, Beyond Conquest reconceptualizes indigenous histories and debates over Native land rights.
 
As Amy E. Den Ouden demonstrates, Mohegans, Pequots, and Niantics living on reservations in New London County, Connecticut—where the largest indigenous population in the colony resided—were under siege by colonists who employed various means to expropriate reserved lands. Natives were also subjected to the policies of a colonial government that sought to strictly control them and that undermined Native land rights by depicting reservation populations as culturally and politically illegitimate. Although colonial tactics of rule sometimes incited internal disputes among Native women and men, reservation communities and their leaders engaged in subtle and sometimes overt acts of resistance to dispossession, thus demonstrating the power of historical consciousness, cultural connections to land, and ties to local kin. The Mohegans, for example, boldly challenged colonial authority and its land encroachment policies in 1736 by holding a “great dance,” during which they publicly affirmed the leadership of Mahomet and, with the support of their Pequot and Niantic allies, articulated their intent to continue their legal case against the colony.
 
Beyond Conquest demonstrates how the current Euroamerican scrutiny and denial of local Indian identities is a practice with a long history in southern New England, one linked to colonial notions of cultural—and ultimately “racial”—illegitimacy that emerged in the context of eighteenth-century disputes regarding Native land rights.

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Beyond Pontiac's Shadow

Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763

Keith R. Widder

On June 2, 1763, the Ojibwe captured Michigan’s Fort Michilimackinac from the British. Ojibwe warriors from villages on Mackinac Island and along the Cheboygan River had surprised the unsuspecting garrison while playing a game of baggatiway. On the heels of the capture, Odawa from nearby L’Arbre Croche arrived to rescue British prisoners, setting into motion a complicated series of negotiations among Ojibwe, Odawa, and Menominee and other Indians from Wisconsin. Because nearly all Native people in the Michilimackinac borderland had allied themselves with the British before the attack, they refused to join the Michilimackinac Ojibwe in their effort to oust the British from the upper country; the turmoil effectively halted the fur trade. Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow examines the circumstances leading up to the attack and the course of events in the aftermath that resulted in the regarrisoning of the fort and the restoration of the fur trade. At the heart of this discussion is an analysis of French-Canadian and Indian communities at the Straits of Mackinac and throughout the pays d’en haut. An accessible guide to this important period in Michigan, American, and Canadian history, Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow sheds invaluable light on a political and cultural crisis.

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Beyond the Alamo

Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821-1861

Raúl A. Ramos

Ramos explores the factors that helped shape the ethnic identity of the Tejano population, including cross-cultural contacts between Bexare?os, indigenous groups, and Anglo-Americans, as they negotiated the contingencies and pressures on the frontier of competing empires. Initial peace gave way to violence as tensions between Anglo-American immigrants and the Mexican government made cultural brokerage impossible, leading to Texas's secession from Mexico and subsequent annexation by the United States. Ramos demonstrates that Bexare?os turned to their experience on the frontier to forge a new ethnic identity within dominant American culture. The nineteenth-century story of the Tejano people, who went from political dominance in 1821 to political minority in 1861, is a story of declension, but it is also a story of resurgence in the face of changing conditions and oppressive circumstances.

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