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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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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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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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California through Native Eyes

Reclaiming History

William J. Bauer, Jr.

Most California histories begin with the arrival of the Spanish missionaries in the late eighteenth century and conveniently skip to the Gold Rush of 1849. Noticeably absent from these stories are the perspectives and experiences of the people who lived on the land long before European settlers arrived. Historian William Bauer seeks to correct that oversight through an innovative approach that tells California history strictly through Native perspectives. Using oral histories of Concow, Pomo, and Paiute workers, taken as part of a New Deal federal works project, Bauer reveals how Native peoples have experienced and interpreted the history of the land we now call California. Combining these oral histories with creation myths and other oral traditions, he demonstrates the importance of sacred landscapes and animals and other nonhuman actors to the formation of place and identity. He also examines tribal stories of ancestors who prophesized the coming of white settlers and uses their recollections of the California Indian Wars to push back against popular narratives that seek to downplay Native resistance. The result both challenges the "California story" and also enriches it with new voices and important points of view, serving as a model for understanding Native historical perspectives in other regions.

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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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