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Bitter Water Cover

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Bitter Water

Diné Oral Histories of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute

Malcolm D. Benally

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.

The Book of Want Cover

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The Book of Want

a novel

A Novel by Daniel A. Olivas

When Moses descended Mount Sinai carrying the Ten Commandments, he never could have foreseen how one family in Los Angeles in the early twenty-first century would struggle to live by them.

Conchita, a voluptuous, headstrong single woman of a certain age, sees nothing wrong with enjoying the company of handsome—and usually much younger—men . . . that is, until she encounters a widower with unusual gifts and begins to think about what she really wants out of life.

Julieta, Conchita’s younger sister, walks a more traditional path, but she and her husband each harbor secrets that could change their marriage and their lives forever. Their twin sons, both in college, struggle to find fulfillment. Mateo refuses to let anyone stand in the way of his happiness, while Rolando grapples with his sexuality and the family’s expectations. And from time to time, Belén, the family’s late matriarch, pays a visit to advise, scold, or cajole her hapless descendants.

A delightful family tapestry woven with the threads of all those whose lives are touched by Conchita, The Book of Want is an enchanting blend of social and magical realism that tells a charming story about what it means to be fully human.

The Borders of Inequality Cover

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The Borders of Inequality

Where Wealth and Poverty Collide

By Íñigo Moré; Translated by Lyn Dominguez

Recently U.S. media, policymakers, and commentators of all stripes have been preoccupied with the nation’s border with Mexico. Airwaves, websites, and blogs are filled with concerns over border issues: illegal immigrants, drug wars, narcotics trafficking, and “securing the border.” While this is a valid conversation, it’s rarely contrasted with the other U.S. border, with Canada— still the longest unguarded border on Earth.

In this fascinating book, originally published in Spain to much acclaim, researcher Íñigo Moré looks at the bigger picture. With a professionally trained eye, he examines the world’s “top twenty most unequal borders.” What he finds is that many of these border situations share similar characteristics. There is always illegal immigration from the poor country to the wealthy one. There is always trafficking in illegal substances. And the unequal neighbors usually regard each other with suspicion or even open hostility.

After surveying the “top twenty,” Moré explores in depth the cases of three borders: between Germany and Poland, Spain and Morocco, and the United States and Mexico. The core problem, he concludes, is not drugs or immigration or self-protection. Rather, the problem is inequality itself. Unequal borders result, he writes, from a skewed interaction among markets, people, and states. Using these findings, Moré builds a useful new framework for analyzing border dynamics from a quantitative view based on economic inequality.

The Borders of Inequality illustrates how longstanding “multidirectional misunderstandings” can exacerbate cross-border problems—and consequent public opinion. Perpetuating these misunderstandings can inflame and complicate the situation, but purposeful efforts to reduce inequality can produce promising results.

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Bring Down the Little Birds

By Carmen Giménez Smith

How does a contemporary woman with a career as a poet, professor, and editor experience motherhood with one small child, another soon to be born, and her own mother suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor and Alzheimer’s? The dichotomy between life as a mother and life as an artist and professional is a major theme in modern literature because often the two seem irreconcilable. In Bring Down the Little Birds, Carmen Giménez Smith faces this seeming irreconcilability head-on, offering a powerful and necessary lyric memoir to shed light on the difficulties—and joys—of being a mother juggling work, art, raising children, pregnancy, and being a daughter to an ailing mother, and, perhaps most important, offering a rigorous and intensely imaginative contemplation on the concept of motherhood as such.

Writing in fragmented yet coherent sections, the author shares with us her interior monologue, affording the reader a uniquely honest, insightful, and deeply personal glimpse into a woman’s first and second journeys into motherhood. Giménez Smith begins Bring Down the Little Birds by detailing the relationship with her own mother, from whom her own concept of motherhood originated, a conception the author continually reevaluates and questions over the course of the book.

Combining fragments of thought, daydreams, entries from notebooks both real and imaginary, and real-life experiences, Giménez Smith interrogates everything involved in becoming and being a mother for both the first and second time, from wondering what her children will one day know about her own “secret life” to meditations on the physical effects of pregnancy as well as the myths, the nostalgia, and the glorification of motherhood.

While Giménez Smith incorporates universal experiences of motherhood that other authors have detailed throughout literature, what separates her book from these many others is that her reflections are captured in a style that establishes an intimacy and immediacy between author and reader through which we come to know the secret life of a mother and are made to question our own conception of what motherhood really means.

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Broken Souths

Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization

Michael Dowdy

Broken Souths offers the first in-depth study of the diverse field of contemporary Latina/o poetry. Its innovative angle of approach puts Latina/o and Latin American poets into sustained conversation in original and rewarding ways. In addition, author Michael Dowdy presents ecocritical readings that foreground the environmental dimensions of current Latina/o poetics.
 
Dowdy argues that a transnational Latina/o imaginary has emerged in response to neoliberalism—the free-market philosophy that underpins what many in the northern hemisphere refer to as “globalization.” His work examines how poets represent the places that have been “broken” by globalization’s political, economic, and environmental upheavals. Broken Souths locates the roots of the new imaginary in 1968, when the Mexican student movement crested and the Chicano and Nuyorican movements emerged in the United States. It theorizes that Latina/o poetics negotiates tensions between the late 1960s’ oppositional, collective identities and the present day’s radical individualisms and discourses of assimilation, including the “post-colonial,” “post-national,” and “post-revolutionary.” Dowdy is particularly interested in how Latina/o poetics reframes debates in cultural studies and critical geography on the relation between place, space, and nature.
 
Broken Souths features discussions of Latina/o writers such as Victor Hernández Cruz, Martín Espada, Juan Felipe Herrera, Guillermo Verdecchia, Marcos McPeek Villatoro, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jack Agüeros, Marjorie Agosín, Valerie Martínez, and Ariel Dorfman, alongside discussions of influential Latin American writers, including Roberto Bolaño, Ernesto Cardenal, David Huerta, José Emilio Pacheco, and Raúl Zurita.

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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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Butterfly Moon

Short Stories

Anita Endrezze

Anita Endrezze has deep memories. Her father was a Yaqui Indian. Her mother traced her heritage to Slovenia, Germany, Romania, and Italy. And her stories seem to bubble up from this ancestral cauldron. Butterfly Moon is a collection of short stories based on folk tales from around the world. But its stories are set in the contemporary, everyday world. Or are they?

Endrezze tells these stories in a distinctive and poetic voice. Fantasy often intrudes into reality. Alternate “realities” and shifting perspectives lead us to question our own perceptions. Endrezze is especially interested in how humans hide feelings or repress thoughts by developing shadow selves. In “Raven’s Moon,” she introduces the shadow concept with a Black Moon, the “unseen reflection of the known.” (Of course the story is about a witch couple who seem very much in love.) The title character in “The Wife Who Lived on Wind” is an ogress who lives in a world somewhat similar to our own, but only somewhat. “The Vampire and the Moth Woman” reveals shape-shifters living among us. 

Not surprisingly, Trickster appears in these tales. As in Native American stories, Trickster might be a fox or a coyote or a raven or a human—or something in between. “White Butterflies” and “Where the Bones Are” both deal with devastating diseases that swept through Yaqui country in the 1530s. Underneath their surfaces are old Yaqui folktales that feature the greatest Trickster of all: Death (and his little brother Fate).

Enjoyably disturbing, these stories linger—deep in our memory.

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Calexico

True Lives of the Borderlands

Peter Laufer

These days everyone has something to say (or declaim!) about the U.S.–Mexico border. Whether it’s immigration, resource management, educational policy, or drugs, the borderlands are either the epicenter or the emblem of a current crisis facing the nation. At a time when the region has been co-opted for every possible rhetorical use, what endures is a resilient and vibrant local culture that resists easy characterization. For an honest picture of life on the border, what remains is to listen to voices that are too often drowned out: the people who actually live and work there, who make their homes and livings amid a confluence of cultures and loyalties. For many of these people, the border is less a hyphenated place than a meeting place, a merging. This aspect of the border is epitomized in the names of two cities that straddle the line: Calexico and Mexicali.

A “sleepy crossroads that exists at a global flashpoint,” Calexico serves as the reference point for veteran journalist Peter Laufer’s chronicle of day-to-day life on the border. This wide-ranging, interview-driven book finds Laufer and travel companion/photographer on a weeklong road trip through the Imperial Valley and other border locales, engaging in earnest and revealing conversations with the people they meet along the way. Laufer talks to secretaries and politicians, restaurateurs and salsa dancers, poets and real estate agents about the issues that matter to them the most.

What draws them to border towns? How do they feel about border security and the fences that may someday run through their backyards? Is “English-only” a realistic policy? Why have some towns flourished and others declined? What does it mean to be Mexican or American in such a place? Waitress Bonnie Peterson banters with customers in Spanish and English. Mayor Lewis Pacheco laments the role that globalization has played in his city’s labor market. Some of their anecdotes are humorous, others grim. Moreover, not everyone agrees. But this very diversity is part of the fabric of the borderlands, and these stories demand to be heard.

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Capture These Indians for the Lord

Indians, Methodists, and Oklahomans, 1844-1939

Tash Smith

In 1844, on the heels of the final wave of the forced removal of thousands of Indians from the southern United States to what is now Oklahoma, the Southern Methodist Church created a separate organization known as the Indian Mission Conference to oversee its missionary efforts among the Native communities of Indian Territory. Initially, the Church conducted missions as part of the era’s push toward assimilation. But what the primarily white missionaries quickly encountered was a population who exerted more autonomy than they expected and who used Christianity to protect their culture, both of which frustrated those eager to bring Indian Territory into what they felt was mainstream American society.

In Capture These Indians for the Lord, Tash Smith traces the trajectory of the Southern Methodist Church in Oklahoma when it was at the frontlines of the relentless push toward western expansion. Although many Native people accepted the missionaries’ religious practices, Smith shows how individuals found ways to reconcile the Methodist force with their traditional cultural practices. When the white population of Indian Territory increased and Native sovereignty came under siege during the allotment era of the 1890s, white communities marginalized Indians within the Church and exploited elements of mission work for their own benefit.

Later, with white indifference toward Indian missions peaking in the early twentieth century, Smith explains that as the remnants of the Methodist power weakened, Indian membership regained control and used the Church to regenerate their culture. Throughout, Smith explores the complex relationships between white and Indian community members and how these phenomena shaped Methodist churches in the twentieth century.

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Cell Traffic

New and Selected Poems

By Heid E. Erdrich

Cell Traffic presents new poems and uncollected prose poetry along with selected work from award-winning poet Heid Erdrich's three previous poetry collections. Erdrich's new work reflects her continuing concerns with the tensions between science and tradition, between spirit and body. She finds surprising common ground while exploring indigenous experience in multifaceted ways: personal, familial, biological, and cultural. The title, Cell Traffic, suggests motion and Erdrich considers multiple movements-cellular transfer, the traffic of DNA through body parts and bones, "migration" through procreation, and the larger "movements" of indigenousness and ancestral inheritance.
 
Erdrich's wry sensibility, sly wit, and keenly insightful mind have earned her a loyal following. Her point of view is always slightly off center, and this lends a particular freshness to her poetry. The debunking and debating of the science of origins is one of Erdrich's focal subjects. In this collection, she turns her observational eye to the search for a genetic mother of humanity, forensic anthropology's quest for the oldest known bones, and online offers of genetic testing. But her interests are not limited to science. She freely admits popular culture into her purview as well, referencing sci-fi television series and Internet pop-up ads.

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