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Area and Ethnic Studies > Native American and Indigenous Studies

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The Blind Man and the Loon Cover

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The Blind Man and the Loon

The Story of a Tale

Craig Mishler

The story of the Blind Man and the Loon is a living Native folktale about a blind man who is betrayed by his mother or wife but whose vision is magically restored by a kind loon. Variations of this tale are told by Native storytellers all across Alaska, arctic Canada, Greenland, the Northwest Coast, and even into the Great Basin and the Great Plains. As the story has traveled through cultures and ecosystems over many centuries, individual storytellers have added cultural and local ecological details to the tale, creating countless variations.

In The Blind Man and the Loon: The Story of a Tale, folklorist Craig Mishler goes back to 1827, tracing the story’s emergence across Greenland and North America in manuscripts, books, and in the visual arts and other media such as film, music, and dance theater. Examining and comparing the story’s variants and permutations across cultures in detail, Mishler brings the individual storyteller into his analysis of how the tale changed over time, considering how storytellers and the oral tradition function within various societies. Two maps unequivocally demonstrate the routes the story has traveled. The result is a masterful compilation and analysis of Native oral traditions that sheds light on how folktales spread and are adapted by widely diverse cultures.

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Boarding School Blues

Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences

Clifford E. Trafzer

Like the figures in the ancient oral literature of Native Americans, children who lived through the American Indian boarding school experience became heroes, bravely facing a monster not of their own making. Sometimes the monster swallowed them up. More often, though, the children fought the monster and grew stronger. This volume draws on the full breadth of this experience in showing how American Indian boarding schools provided both positive and negative influences for Native American children. The boarding schools became an integral part of American history, a shared history that resulted in Indians “turning the power” by using their school experiences to grow in wisdom and benefit their people.

The first volume of essays ever to focus on the American Indian boarding school experience, and written by some of the foremost experts and most promising young scholars of the subject, Boarding School Blues ranges widely in scope, addressing issues such as sports, runaways, punishment, physical plants, and Christianity. With comparative studies of the various schools, regions, tribes, and aboriginal peoples of the Americas and Australia, the book reveals both the light and the dark aspects of the boarding school experience and illuminates the vast gray area in between.

Born in the Blood Cover

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Born in the Blood

On Native American Translation

Edited and with an introduction by Brian Swann

Since Europeans first encountered Native Americans, problems relating to language and text translation have been an issue. Translators needed to create the tools for translation, such as dictionaries, still a difficult undertaking today. Although the fact that many Native languages do not share even the same structures or classes of words as European languages has always made translation difficult, translating cultural values and perceptions into the idiom of another culture renders the process even more difficult. In Born in the Blood, noted translator and writer Brian Swann gathers some of the foremost scholars in the field of Native American translation to address the many and varied problems and concerns surrounding the process of translating Native American languages and texts. The essays in this collection address such important questions as, what should be translated? how should it be translated? who should do translation? and even, should the translation of Native literature be done at all? This volume also includes translations of songs and stories.

Bradford's Indian Book Cover

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Bradford's Indian Book

Being the True Roote & Rise of American Letters as Revealed by the Native Text Embedded in <i>Of Plimoth Plantation</i>

Betty Booth Donohue

William Bradford, a leader among the Pilgrims, carefully recorded the voyage of the Mayflower and the daily life of Plymouth Colony in a work--part journal, part history-- he titled Of Plimoth Plantation. This remarkable document is the authoritative chronicle of the Pilgrims' experiences as well as a powerful testament to the cultural and literary exchange that existed between the newly arrived Europeans and the Native Americans who were their neighbors and friends.

In Bradford's Indian Book, Betty Booth Donohue examines Of Plimoth Plantation with reference to the ways Bradford incorporated Native American philosophy and culture into his writing. By highlighting this largely unrecognized influence in a founding American literary document, Donohue sheds important light on the Native contribution to the new national literature.

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Bringing Indians to the Book

Albert Furtwangler

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Broken Treaties

United States and Canadian Relations with the Lakotas and the Plains Cree, 1868-1885

Jill St. Germain

Broken Treaties is a comparative assessment of Indian treaty negotiation and implementation focusing on the first decade following the United States–Lakota Treaty of 1868 and Treaty Six between Canada and the Plains Cree (1876). Jill St. Germain argues that the “broken treaties” label imposed by nineteenth-century observers and perpetuated in the historical literature has obscured the implementation experience of both Native and non-Native participants and distorted our understanding of the relationships between them. As a result, historians have ignored the role of the Treaty of 1868 as the instrument through which the United States and the Lakotas mediated the cultural divide separating them in the period between 1868 and 1875. In discounting the treaty historians have also failed to appreciate the broader context of U.S. politics, which undermined a treaty solution to the Black Hills crisis in 1876. In Canada, on the other hand, the “broken treaties” tradition has obscured the distinctly different understanding of Treaty Six held by Canada and the Plains Cree. The inability of either party to appreciate the other’s position fostered the damaging misunderstanding that culminated in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. In the first critical assessment of the implementation of these treaties, Broken Treaties restores Indian treaties to a central position in the investigation of Native–non-Native relations in the United States and Canada.

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Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden

Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians

Gilbert L. Wilson

Buffalo Bird Woman, a Hidatsa Indian born about 1839, was an expert gardener. Following centuries-old methods, she and the women of her family raised huge crops of corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers on the rich bottomlands of the Missouri River in what is now North Dakota. When she was young, her fields were near Like-a-fishhook, the earth-lodge village that the Hidatsa shared with the Mandan and Arikara. When she grew older, the families of the three tribes moved to individual allotments on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. In Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden, first published in 1917, anthropologist Gilbert L. Wilson transcribed the words of this remarkable woman, whose advice today's gardeners can still follow. She describes a year of activities, from preparing and planting the fields through cultivating, harvesting, and storing foods. She gives recipes for cooking typical Hidatsa dishes. And she tells of the stories, songs, and ceremonies that were essential to a bountiful harvest. A new introduction by anthropologist and ethnobotanist Jeffery R. Hanson describes the Hidatsa people's ecologically sound methods of gardening and Wilson's work with this traditional gardener.

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Buffalo Nation

American Indian Efforts to Restore the Bison

Ken Zontek

The gruesome story of the devastation of buffalo herds in the late nineteenth century has become uncomfortably familiar. A less familiar story, but a hopeful one for the future, is Ken Zontek’s account of Native peoples’ efforts to repopulate the Plains with a healthy, viable bison population. Interspersing scientific hypothesis with Native oral traditions and interviews, Buffalo Nation provides a brief history of bison and human interaction from the Paleolithic era to present preservation efforts.
 
Zontek’s history of bison restoration efforts is also a history of North American Native peoples’ pursuit of political and cultural autonomy, revealing how Native peoples’ ability to help the bison has fluctuated with their overall struggle. Beginning in the 1870s, Native North Americans established captive bison breeding programs despite the Wounded Knee Massacre and a massive onslaught on Native cultural and religious practices. These preservation efforts were so successful that a significant percentage of bison today carry the bloodlines of these original Native-sponsored herds. At the end of the twentieth century, more than fifty tribes banded together to form the Intertribal Bison Cooperative. This group has made significant progress in restoring bison herds in the United States, while Canadian First Nations work with national parks and other government entities to select and manage free-ranging herds.
 
Buffalo Nation offers insights into the ways that the Native North American effort to restore the buffalo nation inspires discourse in cultural perseverance, environmentalism, politics, regionalism, spirituality, and the very essence of human-animal interaction.

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Building a Nation

Chickasaw Museums and the Construction of History and Heritage

Joshua M. Gorman

The Chickasaw Nation, an American Indian nation headquartered in southeastern Oklahoma, entered into a period of substantial growth in the late 1980s. Following its successful reorganization and expansion, which was enabled by federal policies for tribal self-determination, the Nation pursued gaming and other industries to affect economic growth. From 1987 to 2009 the Nation’s budget increased exponentially as tribal investments produced increasingly large revenues for a growing Chickasaw population. Coincident to this growth, the Chickasaw Nation began acquiring and creating museums and heritage properties to interpret their own history, heritage, and culture through diverse exhibitionary representations. By 2009, the Chickasaw Nation directed representation of itself at five museum and heritage properties throughout its historic boundaries.

Josh Gorman examines the history of these sites and argues that the Chickasaw Nation is using museums and heritage sites as places to define itself as a coherent and legitimate contemporary Indian nation. In doing so, they are necessarily engaging with the shifting historiographical paradigms as well as changing articulations of how museums function and what they represent. The roles of the Chickasaw Nation’s museums and heritage sites in defining and creating discursive representations of sovereignty are examined within their historicized local contexts. The work describes the museum exhibitions’ dialogue with the historiography of the Chickasaw Nation, the literature of new museum studies, and the indigenous exhibitionary grammars emerging from indigenous museums throughout the United States and the world. 

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Buried in Shades of Night

Contested Voices, Indian Captivity, and the Legacy of King Philip's War

Billy J. Stratton, Foreword by Frances Washburn, Afterword by George E. Tinker

The captivity narrative of Mary Rowlandson, The Soveraignty and Goodness of God, published in 1682, is often considered the first “best seller” to be published in North America. Since then, it has long been read as a first-person account of the trials of Indian captivity. After an attack on the Puritan town of Lancaster, Massachusetts, in February 1676, Rowlandson was held prisoner for more than eleven weeks before eventually being ransomed. The account of her experiences, published six years later, soon took its place as an exemplar of the captivity narrative genre and a popular focal point of scholarly attention in the three hundred years since.

In this groundbreaking new book, Billy J. Stratton offers a critical examination of the narrative of Mary Rowlandson. Although it has long been thought that the book’s preface was written by the influential Puritan minister Increase Mather, Stratton’s research suggests that Mather was also deeply involved in the production of the narrative itself, which bears strong traces of a literary form that was already well established in Europe. As Stratton notes, the portrayal of Indian people as animalistic “savages” and of Rowlandson’s solace in Biblical exegesis served as a convenient alibi for the colonial aspirations of the Puritan leadership.

Stratton calls into question much that has been accepted as fact by scholars and historians over the last century, and re-centers the focus on the marginalized perspective of Native American people, including those whose land had been occupied by the Puritan settlers. In doing so, Stratton demands a careful reconsideration of the role that the captivity narrative—which was instrumental in shaping conceptions of “frontier warfare”—has played in the development of both American literary history and national identity.

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