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Buffalo Nation Cover

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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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Burst of Breath

Indigenous Ritual Wind Instruments in Lowland South America

Jonathan David Hill

The first in-depth, comparative, and interdisciplinary study of indigenous Amazonian musical cultures, Burst of Breath showcases new research on the dynamic range of ritual power and social significance of various wind instruments—including flutes, trumpets, clarinets, and whistles—played in sacred rituals and ceremonies in Lowland South America.

The editors provide a detailed overview of the historical significance, scientific classification, shamanic and cosmological associations, and changing social meanings of ritual wind instruments within Amazonian cultures. These essays present a wide perspective that goes beyond better-documented areas such as the Upper Xingu and northwest Amazon. Some of the authors explore the ways ritual wind instruments are used to introduce natural sounds into social contexts and to cross boundaries between verbal and nonverbal communication. Others look at how ritual wind instruments and their music enter into local definitions and negotiations of relations between men, women, kin, insiders, and outsiders.

Closely considering these instruments in their many roles and contexts—in curing and purification, negotiating relations, connecting mythic ancestors and humans today—this volume reveals the power and complexity of the music at the heart of collective rituals across lowland South America.

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Call for Change

The Medicine Way of American Indian History, Ethos, and Reality

Donald L. Fixico

For too many years, the academic discipline of history has ignored American Indians or lacked the kind of open-minded thinking necessary to truly understand them. Most historians remain oriented toward the American experience at the expense of the Native experience. As a result, both the status and the quality of Native American history have suffered and remain marginalized within the discipline. In this impassioned work, noted historian Donald L. Fixico challenges academic historians—and everyone else—to change this way of thinking. Fixico argues that the current discipline and practice of American Indian history are insensitive to and inconsistent with Native people’s traditions, understandings, and ways of thinking about their own history. In Call for Change, Fixico suggests how the discipline of history can improve by reconsidering its approach to Native peoples.

He offers the “Medicine Way” as a paradigm to see both history and the current world through a Native lens. This new approach paves the way for historians to better understand Native peoples and their communities through the eyes and experiences of Indians, thus reflecting an insightful indigenous historical ethos and reality.

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The Canadian Sioux, Second Edition

James H. Howard

The Canadian Sioux are descendants of Santees, Yanktonais, and Tetons from the United States who sought refuge in Canada during the 1860s and 1870s. Living today on eight reserves in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, they are the least studied of all the Sioux groups. This book, originally published in 1984 by James H. Howard, helps fill that gap in the literature and remains relevant even in the twenty-first century.

 

Based on Howard’s fieldwork in the 1970s and supplemented by written sources, The Canadian Sioux, Second Edition descriptively reconstructs their traditional culture, many aspects of which are still practiced or remembered by Canadian Sioux although long forgotten by their relatives in the United States. Rich in detail, it presents an abundance of information on topics such as tribal divisions, documented history and traditional history, warfare, economy, social life, philosophy and religion, and ceremonialism. Nearly half the book is devoted to Canadian Sioux religion and describes such ceremonies as the Vision Quest, the Medicine Feast, the Medicine Dance, the Sun Dance, warrior society dances, and the Ghost Dance.

 

This second edition includes previously unpublished images, many of them photographed by Howard, and some of his original drawings.

 

 

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Captive Histories

English, French, and Native Narratives of the 1704 Deerfield Raid

edited by Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney

This volume draws together an unusually rich body of original sources that tell the story of the 1704 French and Indian attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts, from different vantage points. Texts range from one of the most famous early American captivity narratives, John Williams’s The Redeemed Captive, to the records of French soldiers and clerics, to little-known Abenaki and Mohawk stories of the raid that emerged out of their communities’ oral traditions. Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney provide a general introduction, extensive annotations, and headnotes to each text. Although the oft-reprinted Redeemed Captive stands at the core of this collection, it is juxtaposed to less familiar accounts of captivity composed by other Deerfield residents: Quentin Stockwell, Daniel Belding, Joseph Petty, Joseph Kellogg, and the teenaged Stephen Williams. Presented in their original form, before clerical editors revised and embellished their content to highlight religious themes, these stories challenge long-standing assumptions about classic Puritan captivity narratives. The inclusion of three Abenaki and Mohawk narratives of the Deerfield raid is equally noteworthy, offering a rare opportunity not only to compare captors’ and captives’ accounts of the same experiences, but to do so with reference to different Native oral traditions. Similarly, the memoirs of French military officers and an excerpt from the Jesuit Relations illuminate the motivations behind the attack and offer fresh insights into the complexities of French-Indian alliances. Taken together, the stories collected in this volume, framed by the editors’ introduction and the assessments of two Native scholars, Taiaiake Alfred and Marge Bruchac, allow readers to reconstruct the history of the Deerfield raid from multiple points of view and, in so doing, to explore the interplay of culture and memory that shapes our understanding of the past.

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Captured in the Middle

Tradition and Experience in Contemporary Native American Writing

by Sidner Larson

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Centering Anishinaabeg Studies

Understanding the World through Stories

Jill Doerfler

For the Anishinaabeg people, who span a vast geographic region from the Great Lakes to the Plains and beyond, stories are vessels of knowledge. They are bagijiganan, offerings of the possibilities within Anishinaabeg life. Existing along a broad narrative spectrum, from aadizookaanag (traditional or sacred narratives) to dibaajimowinan (histories and news)—as well as everything in between—storytelling is one of the central practices and methods of individual and community existence. Stories create and understand, survive and endure, revitalize and persist. They honor the past, recognize the present, and provide visions of the future. In remembering, (re)making, and (re)writing stories, Anishinaabeg storytellers have forged a well-traveled path of agency, resistance, and resurgence. Respecting this tradition, this groundbreaking anthology features twenty-four contributors who utilize creative and critical approaches to propose that this people’s stories carry dynamic answers to questions posed within Anishinaabeg communities, nations, and the world at large. Examining a range of stories and storytellers across time and space, each contributor explores how narratives form a cultural, political, and historical foundation for Anishinaabeg Studies. Written by Anishinaabeg and non-Anishinaabeg scholars, storytellers, and activists, these essays draw upon the power of cultural expression to illustrate active and ongoing senses of Anishinaabeg life. They are new and dynamic bagijiganan, revealing a viable and sustainable center for Anishinaabeg Studies, what it has been, what it is, what it can be.

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Cherokee Sister

The Collected Writings of Catharine Brown, 1818-1823

Theresa Strouth Gaul

Catharine Brown (1800–1823) became Brainerd Mission School’s first Cherokee convert to Christianity, a missionary teacher, and the first Native American woman whose own writings saw extensive publication in her lifetime. After her death from tuberculosis at age twenty-three, the missionary organization that had educated and later employed Brown commissioned a posthumous biography, Memoir of Catharine Brown, which  enjoyed widespread contemporary popularity and praise.

In the following decade, her writings, along with those of other educated Cherokees, became highly politicized and were used in debates about the removal of the Cherokees and other tribes to Indian Territory. Although she was once viewed by literary critics as a docile and dominated victim of missionaries who represented the tragic fate of Indians who abandoned their identities, Brown is now being reconsidered as a figure of enduring Cherokee revitalization, survival, adaptability, and leadership.
In Cherokee Sister Theresa Strouth Gaul collects all of Brown’s writings, consisting of letters and a diary, some appearing in print for the first time, as well as Brown’s biography and a drama and poems about her. This edition of Brown’s collected works and related materials firmly establishes her place in early nineteenth-century culture and her influence on American perceptions of Native Americans.

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