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Area and Ethnic Studies > Native American and Indigenous Studies

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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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Beyond the Lettered City

Indigenous Literacies in the Andes

Joanne Rappaport and Tom Cummins

In Beyond the Lettered City, the anthropologist Joanne Rappaport and the art historian Tom Cummins examine the colonial imposition of alphabetic and visual literacy on indigenous groups in the northern Andes. They consider how the Andean peoples received, maintained, and subverted the conventions of Spanish literacy, often combining them with their own traditions. Indigenous Andean communities neither used narrative pictorial representation nor had alphabetic or hieroglyphic literacy before the arrival of the Spaniards. To absorb the conventions of Spanish literacy, they had to engage with European symbolic systems. Doing so altered their worldviews and everyday lives, making alphabetic and visual literacy prime tools of colonial domination. Rappaport and Cummins advocate a broad understanding of literacy, including not only reading and writing, but also interpretations of the spoken word, paintings, wax seals, gestures, and urban design. By analyzing secular and religious notarial manuals and dictionaries, urban architecture, religious images, catechisms and sermons, and the vast corpus of administrative documents produced by the colonial authorities and indigenous scribes, they expand Ángel Rama’s concept of the lettered city to encompass many of those who previously would have been considered the least literate.

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Big Medicine From Six Nations

Ted Williams

Big Medicine from Six Nations is a series of reminiscences and essays by the late Ted Williams, on the themes of "Medicine" (physical/spiritual/psychic healing). Williams intertwines the lore and lifeways of his Tuscarora upbringing, illustrating the dynamic encounter of tradition and innovation at the heart of contemporary Haudenosaunee culture. At the same time, Williams writes with an irreverence, irony, and good humor unmistakably his own.
Colored by Ted's wry and irreverent wit, Big Medicine from Six Nations amply fulfills the promise of its title. It offers a fascinating view, not only of herbal medicine, but of prayers, omens, feasts, vision quests, sweat lodges, spirits, humor, and the sacred teachings of the Great Law of the Great Peace. But readers will find that there is more to this book, about the "spiritual mechanics" of humankind writ large. Readers will discover herein a multiplicity of Big Medicine manifestations, and best of all they will get to know more about Ted Williams, Teller.

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Birch Coulie

The Epic Battle of the Dakota War

John Christgau

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Bison and People on the North American Great Plains

A Deep Environmental History

Geoff Cunfer

The near disappearance of the American bison in the nineteenth century is commonly understood to be the result of over-hunting, capitalist greed, and all but genocidal military policy. This interpretation remains seductive because of its simplicity; there are villains and victims in this familiar cautionary tale of the American frontier. But as this volume of groundbreaking scholarship shows, the story of the bison’s demise is actually quite nuanced.

Bison and People on the North American Great Plains brings together voices from several disciplines to offer new insights on the relationship between humans and animals that approached extinction. The essays here transcend the border between the United States and Canada to provide a continental context. Contributors include historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, and Native American perspectives.

This book explores the deep past and examines the latest knowledge on bison anatomy and physiology, how bison responded to climate change (especially drought), and early bison hunters and pre-contact trade. It also focuses on the era of European contact, in particular the arrival of the horse, and some of the first known instances of over-hunting. By the nineteenth century bison reached a “tipping point” as a result of new tanning practices, an early attempt at protective legislation, and ventures to introducing cattle as a replacement stock. The book concludes with a Lakota perspective featuring new ethnohistorical research.

Bison and People on the North American Great Plains is a major contribution to environmental history, western history, and the growing field of transnational history.

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Bitter Water

Diné Oral Histories of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute

Edited and Translated by Malcolm D. Benally; Foreword by Jennifer Nez Denetdale

Many know that the removal and relocation of Indigenous peoples from traditional lands is a part of the United States’ colonial past, but few know that—in an expansive corner of northeastern Arizona—the saga continues. The 1974 Settlement Act officially divided a reservation established almost a century earlier between the Diné (Navajo) and the Hopi, and legally granted the contested land to the Hopi. To date, the U.S. government has relocated between 12,000 and 14,000 Diné from Hopi Partitioned Lands, and the Diné—both there and elsewhere—continue to live with the legacy of this relocation.

Bitter Water presents the narratives of four Diné women who have resisted removal but who have watched as their communities and lifeways have changed dramatically. The book, based on 25 hours of filmed personal testimony, features the women’s candid discussions of their efforts to carry on a traditional way of life in a contemporary world that includes relocation and partitioned lands; encroaching Western values and culture; and devastating mineral extraction and development in the Black Mesa region of Arizona. Though their accounts are framed by insightful writings by both Benally and Diné historian Jennifer Nez Denetdale, Benally lets the stories of the four women elders speak for themselves.

Scholars, media, and other outsiders have all told their versions of this story, but this is the first book that centers on the stories of women who have lived it—in their own words in Navajo as well as the English translation. The result is a living history of a contested cultural landscape and the unique worldview of women determined to maintain their traditions and lifeways, which are so intimately connected to the land. This book is more than a collection of stories, poetry, and prose. It is a chronicle of resistance as spoken from the hearts of those who have lived it.

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Black Rock

A Zuni Cultural Landscape and the Meaning of Place

To visiting geologists Black Rock, New Mexico, is a basaltic escarpment and an ideal natural laboratory. To hospital workers Black Rock is a picturesque place to earn a living. To the Zuni the mesas, arroyos, and the rock itself are a stage on which the passion of their elders is relived. William A. Dodge ex-plores how a shared sense of place evolves over time and through multi-ple cultures that claim the landscape. Through stories told over many generations, this landscape has given the Zuni an understand-ing of how they came to be in this world. More recently, paleogeographers have studied the rocks and landforms to better understand the world as it once was. Archaeologists have conducted research on ancestral Zuni sites in the vicinity of Black Rock to explore the cultural history of the region. In addition, the Anglo-American employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs came to Black Rock to advance the federal Indian policy of assimilation and brought with them their own sense of place. Black Rock has been an educational complex, an agency town, and an Anglo community. Today it is a health care center, commercial zone, and multiethnic subdivision. By describing the dramatic changes that took place at Black Rock during the twentieth century, Dodge deftly weaves a story of how the cultural landscape of this community reflected changes in government policy and how the Zunis themselves, through the policy of Indian self-determination, eventually gave new meanings to this ancient landscape. William A. Dodge is a cultural historian at Van Citters Historic Preservation LLC in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has worked for over thirty years in southwestern cultural resources and was director of the Zuni Archaeology Program at the Pueblo of Zuni.

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Blackbird's Song

Andrew J. Blackbird and the Odawa People

Theodore J. Karamanski

For much of U.S. history, the story of native people has been written by historians and anthropologists relying on the often biased accounts of European-American observers. Though we have become well acquainted with war chiefs like Pontiac and Crazy Horse, it has been at the expense of better knowing civic-minded intellectuals like Andrew J. Blackbird, who sought in 1887 to give a voice to his people through his landmark book History of the Ottawa and Chippewa People. Blackbird chronicled the numerous ways in which these Great Lakes people fought to retain their land and culture, first with military resistance and later by claiming the tools of citizenship. This stirring account reflects on the lived experience of the Odawa people and the work of one of their greatest advocates.


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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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Blood and Voice

Navajo Women Ceremonial Practitioners

Maureen Trudelle Schwarz

Adulthood in the Navajo world is marked by the onset of menstruation in females and by the deepening of the voice in males. Accordingly, young adults must accept responsibility over the powers manifest in blood and voice: for women, the forces that control reproduction and growth; for men, the powers of protection and restoration of order that come through maintaining Navajo oral tradition.

The maintenance of the latter tradition has long been held to be the function of the Navajo singer, a role usually viewed as male. But despite this longstanding assumption, women can and do fill this role. Drawing on interviews with seventeen Navajo women practitioners and five apprentices, Maureen Trudelle Schwarz explicates women's role as ceremonial practitioners and shows that it is more complex than has previously been thought. She examines gender differences dictated by the Navajo origin story, details how women came to be practitioners, and reveals their experiences and the strategies they use to negotiate being both woman and singer.

Women who choose careers as singers face complex challenges, since some rules prohibit menstruating women from conducting ceremonies and others regarding sexual continence can strain marital relationships. Additionally, oral history places men in charge of all ceremonial matters. Schwarz focuses on how the reproductive life courses of Navajo women influence their apprenticeships and practices to demonstrate how they navigate these issues to preserve time-honored traditions. Through the words of actual practitioners, she shows how each woman brings her own unique life experience to the role. While differing among individuals, these experiences represent a commitment to shared cultural symbols and result in a consensus that sustains social cohesion.

By showing the differences and similarities between the apprenticeship, initiation, and practice of men and women singers, Blood and Voice offers a better understanding of the role of Navajo women in a profession usually viewed as a male activity—and of the symbolic construction of the self in Navajo culture. It also addresses classic questions concerning the sexual division of labor, menstrual taboos, gender stereotypes, and the tension between tradition and change that will enlighten students of other cultures.

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