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Area and Ethnic Studies > Native American and Indigenous Studies

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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

Christine Dupres

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Being Together in Place

Indigenous Coexistence in a More Than Human World

Soren C. Larsen

Being Together in Place explores the landscapes that convene Native and non-Native people into sustained and difficult negotiations over their radically different interests and concerns. Grounded in three sites—the Cheslatta-Carrier traditional territory in British Columbia; the Wakarusa Wetlands in northeastern Kansas; and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in Aotearoa/New Zealand—this book highlights the challenging, tentative, and provisional work of coexistence around such contested spaces as wetlands, treaty grounds, fishing spots, recreation areas, cemeteries, heritage trails, and traditional village sites. At these sites, activists learn how to articulate and defend their intrinsic and life-supportive ways of being, particularly to those who are intent on damaging or destroying these places. 

Using ethnographic research and a geographic perspective, Soren C. Larsen and Jay T. Johnson show how the communities in these regions challenge the power relations that structure the ongoing (post)colonial encounter in liberal democratic settler-states. Emerging from their conversations with activists was a distinctive sense that the places for which they cared had agency, a “call” that pulled them into dialogue, relationships, and action with human and nonhuman others. This being-together-in-place, they find, speaks in a powerful way to the vitalities of coexistence: where humans and nonhumans are working to decolonize their relationships; where reciprocal guardianship is being stitched back together in new and unanticipated ways; and where a new kind of “place thinking” is emerging on the borders of colonial power.

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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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Bending Their Way Onward

Creek Indian Removal in Documents

Christopher D. Haveman

Between 1827 and 1837 approximately twenty-three thousand Creek Indians were transported across the Mississippi River, exiting their homeland under extreme duress and complex pressures. During the physically and emotionally exhausting journey, hundreds of Creeks died, dozens were born, and almost no one escaped without emotional scars caused by leaving the land of their ancestors.

Bending Their Way Onward is an extensive collection of letters and journals describing the travels of the Creeks as they moved from Alabama to present-day Oklahoma. This volume includes documents related to the “voluntary” emigrations that took place beginning in 1827 as well as the official conductor journals and other materials documenting the forced removals of 1836 and the coerced relocations of 1836 and 1837.

This volume also provides a comprehensive list of muster rolls from the voluntary emigrations that show the names of Creek families and the number of slaves who moved west. The rolls include many prominent Indian countrymen (such as white men married to Creek women) and Creeks of mixed parentage. Additional biographical data for these Creek families is included whenever possible. Bending Their Way Onward is the most exhaustive collection to date of previously unpublished documents related to this pivotal historical event.

 

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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 Indigeneity

Coca Growing and the Emergence of a New Middle Class in Bolivia

Alessandra Pellegrini Calderón

In Bolivia, the discourse on indigenous peoples intensified in the last few decades, culminating in the election of Evo Morales as president in 2005. Indigenous people are portrayed by the Morales government as modest, communitarian, humble, poor, anticapitalist, and economically marginalized. In his 2006 inaugural speech, Morales famously described indigenous people as “the moral reserve of humanity.” His rhetoric has reached all levels of society—most notably the new political constitution of 2009. This constitution initiated a new regime of considerable ethnic character by defining thirty-six indigenous nations and languages.

Beyond Indigeneity offers new analysis into indigenous identity and social mobility that changes the discourse in Latin American social anthropology. Author Alessandra Pellegrini Calderón points out that Morales’s presidency has led to heightened publicity of coca issues and an intensification of indigeneity discourse, echoing a global trend of increased recognition of indigenous peoples’ claims. The “living well” attitude (vivir bien) enshrined in the new political constitution is generally represented as an indigenous way of life, one based on harmony and reciprocity, in sharp contrast to the capitalist logic of “living better” that is based on accumulation and expansion.

In this ethnography, Pellegrini explores the positioning of coca growers in Bolivia and their reluctance to embrace the politics of indigeneity by rejecting the “indigenous peoples’ slot,” even while they emerge as a new middle class. By staying in a space between ethnic categories and also between social classes, the coca growers break with the traditional model of social mobility in Latin America and create new forms of political positioning that challenge the dominant culturalist framework about indigeneity and peasants.

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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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