The University of Alabama Press

Contemporary American Indians

Heidi M. Altman

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

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Contemporary American Indians

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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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Catawba Indian Pottery

The Survival of a Folk Tradition

Thomas John Blumer, with a foreword by William L. Harris

A comprehensive study that traces the craft of pottery making among the Catawba Indians of North Carolina from the late 18th century to the present. When Europeans encountered them, the Catawba Indians were living along the river and throughout the valley that carries their name near the present North Carolina-South Carolina border. Archaeologists later collected and identified categories of pottery types belonging to the historic Catawba and extrapolated an association with their protohistoric and prehistoric predecessors. In this volume, Thomas Blumer traces the construction techniques of those documented ceramics to the lineage of their probable present-day master potters or, in other words, he traces the Catawba pottery traditions. By mining data from archives and the oral traditions of contemporary potters, Blumer reconstructs sales circuits regularly traveled by Catawba peddlers and thereby illuminates unresolved questions regarding trade routes in the protohistoric period. In addition, the author details particular techniques of the representative potters factors such as clay selection, tool use, decoration, and firing techniques which influence their styles. In assessing the work, David G. Moore, of Warren Wilson College, states, "This book represents an enormous body of work concerned with a significant topic the persistence of the Catawba Indian pottery tradition. Using his extensive fieldwork and a narrative presentation, the author juxtaposes the evolving ceramic technology with a fascinating discussion of the role of pottery in changing Catawba economy from the 18th and continuing into the 21st century." Thomas John Blumer is a retired ethnohistorian and author of Bibliography of the Catawba. William Harris is a respected leader of the Catawba Indian Nation.

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Cherokee Women In Crisis

Trail of Tears, Civil War, and Allotment, 1838-1907

Written by Carolyn Johnston

Explains how traditional Cherokee women's roles were destabilized, modified, recovered, and in some ways strengthened during three periods of great turmoil.

American Indian women have traditionally played vital roles in social hierarchies at the family, clan, and tribal levels. In the Cherokee Nation, specifically, women and men are considered equal contributors to the culture. With this study, however, we learn that three key historical events in the 19th and early 20th centuries—removal, the Civil War, and allotment of their lands—forced a radical renegotiation of gender roles and relations in Cherokee society.

Carolyn Johnston (who is related to John Ross, principal chief of the Nation) looks at how Cherokee women navigated these crises in ways that allowed them to retain their traditional assumptions, ceremonies, and beliefs and to thereby preserve their culture. In the process, they both lost and retained power. The author sees a poignant irony in the fact that Europeans who encountered Native societies in which women had significant power attempted to transform them into patriarchal ones and that American women struggled for hundreds of years to achieve the kind of equality that Cherokee women had enjoyed for more than a millennium.

Johnston examines the different aspects of Cherokee women's power: authority in the family unit and the community, economic independence, personal autonomy, political clout, and spirituality. Weaving a great-grandmother theme throughout the narrative, she begins with the protest of Cherokee women against removal and concludes with the recovery of the mother town of Kituwah and the elections of Wilma Mankiller and Joyce Dugan as principal chiefs of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokees.

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Chiricahua Apache Enduring Power

Naiche's Puberty Ceremony Paintings

Trudy Griffin-Pierce, foreword by J. Jefferson Reid and Stephanie M. Whittlesey

A gripping story of the cultural resilience of the descendants of Geronimo and Cochise.
 
This book reveals the conflicting meanings of power held by the federal government and the Chiricahua Apaches throughout their history of
interaction. When Geronimo and Naiche, son of Cochise, surrendered in 1886, their wartime exploits came to an end, but their real battle for survival was only beginning. Throughout their captivity in Florida, Alabama, and Oklahoma, Naiche kept alive Chiricahua spiritual power by embodying it in his beautiful hide paintings of the Girl's Puberty Ceremony—a ritual at the very heart of tribal cultural life and spiritual strength.
 
This narrative is a tribute to the Chiricahua people, who survive today, despite military efforts to annihilate them, government efforts to subjugate them, and social efforts to destroy their language and culture. Although federal policy makers brought to bear all the power at their command, they failed to eradicate Chiricahua spirit and identity nor to convince them that their lower status was just part of the natural social order. Naiche, along with many other Chiricahuas, believed in another kind of power. Although not known to have Power of his own in the Apache sense, Naiche's paintings show that he believed in a vital source of spiritual strength. In a very real sense, his paintings were visual prayers for the continuation of the Chiricahua people. Accessible to individuals for many purposes, Power helped the Chiricahuas survive throughout their
history. 
 
In this book, Griffin-Pierce explores Naiche’s artwork through the lens of current anthropological theory on power, hegemony, resistance, and subordination. As she retraces the Chiricahua odyssey during 27 years of incarceration and exile by visiting their internment sites, she reveals how the Power was with them throughout their dark period. As it was when the Chiricahua warriors and their families struggled to stay alive, Power remains the centering focus for contemporary Chiricahua Apaches. Although never allowed to return to their beloved homeland, not only are the Chiricahua Apaches surviving today, they are keeping their traditions alive and their culture strong and vital.
 

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Choctaw Prophecy

A Legacy for the Future

Written by Tom Mould

This intriguing study explores the power and artistry of prophecy among the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, who use predictions about the future to interpret the world around them.

This book challenges the common assumption that American Indian prophecy was an anomaly of the 18th and 19th centuries that resulted from tribes across the continent reacting to the European invasion. Tom Mould's study of the contemporary prophetic traditions of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reveals a much larger system of prophecy that continues today as a vibrant part of the oral tradition.

Mould shows that Choctaw prophecy is more than a prediction of the future; it is a way to unite the past, present, and future in a moral dialogue about how one should live. Choctaw prophecy, he argues, is stable and continuous; it is shared in verbal discourse, inviting negotiation on the individual level; and, because it is a tradition of all the people, it manifests itself through myriad visions with many themes. In homes, casinos, restaurants, laundromats, day care centers, and grocery stores, as well as in ceremonial and political situations, people discuss current events and put them into context with traditional stories that govern the culture. In short, recitation is widely used in everyday life as a way to interpret, validate, challenge, and create the world of the Choctaw speaker.

Choctaw Prophecy stands as a sound model for further study into the prophetic traditions of not only other American Indian tribes but also communities throughout the world. Weaving folklore and oral tradition with ethnography, this book will be useful to academic and public libraries as well as to scholars and students of southern Indians and the modern South.


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Eastern Cherokee Fishing

Written by Heidi M. Altman

Cherokee identity as revealed in fishing methods and materials.
 
In Eastern Cherokee Fishing, life histories, folktales, and reminiscences about fish gathered from interviews with Cherokee and non-Cherokee people provide a clear and personal picture of the changes in the Qualla Boundary (Eastern Band of the) Cherokee in the last 75 years. Coupled with documentary research, these ethnographic histories illuminate changes in the language, culture, and environment (particularly, aquatic resources) since contact with Europeans and examine the role these changes have played in the traditions and lives of the contemporary Cherokees.

Interviewees include a great range of informants, from native speakers of Cherokee with extensive knowledge of traditional fishing methods to Euro-American English speakers whose families have lived in North Carolina for many generations and know about contemporary fishing practices in the area. The topic of fishing thus offers perspective on the Cherokee language, the vigor of the Cherokee system of native knowledge, and the history of the relationship between Cherokee people and the local environment. Heidi Altman also examines the role of fishing as a tourist enterprise and how fishing practices affect tribal waters.
         

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From Princess to Chief

Life with the Waccamaw Siouan Indians of North Carolina

A collaborative life history of Priscilla Freeman Jacobs, From Princess to Chief tells the story of the first female chief (from 1986 to 2005) of the state-recognized Waccamaw Siouan Indian Tribe of North Carolina. 
 
In From Princess to Chief, Priscilla Freeman Jacobs and Patricia Barker Lerch detail Jacobs’s birth and childhood, coming of age, education, young adulthood, marriage and family, Indian activism, and spiritual life. Jacobs is descended from a family of Indian leaders whose activism dates back to the early twentieth century. Her ancestors pressured the local county and state governments to fund their Indian schools, led the drive for the Waccamaw Sioux to be recognized as Indians in state and federal legislation, and finally succeeded in opening the long-awaited Indian schools in the 1930s. 
 
Jacobs’s lasting legacies to her community include the many initiatives on which she collaborated with her father, Clifton Freeman, including the acquisition of common land for the tribe, initiation of a tribal board of directors, incorporation of a development association, and the establishment of a day care and many other social and educational programs. In the 1970s Jacobs served on the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs and was active in the Coalition of Eastern Native Americans.
 
Introducing the powwow as a way for young people to learn about the traditions of Indian people throughout the state of North Carolina, Jacobs taught many children how to dance and wear Indian regalia with pride and dignity. Throughout her life, Priscilla Jacobs has worked hard to preserve the traditional customs of her people and to teach others about the folk culture that shaped and molded her as a person.
 
Told from the point of view of an eyewitness to the community’s effort to win federal recognition in 1950 and their lives since, From Princess to Chief helps preserve the story of Jacobs’s Indian community.

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Inside the Eagle's Head

An American Indian College

Angelle A. Khachadoorian

 
The Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) is a selfdescribed National American Indian Community College in Albuquerque, New Mexico. SIPI is operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an agency of the U.S. government that has overseen and managed the relationship between the government and American Indian tribes for almost two hundred years. Students at SIPI are registered members of federally recognized American Indian tribes from throughout the contiguous United States and Alaska.

 

A fascinatingly hybridized institution, SIPI attempts to meld two conflicting institutional models—a tribally controlled college or university and a Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Indian school—with their unique corporate cultures, rules, and philosophies. Students attempt to cope with the institution and successfully make their way through it by using (consciously or not) an array of metaphorical representations of the school. Students who used discourses of discipline and control compared SIPI to a BIA boarding school, a high school, or a prison, and focused on the school’s restrictive policies drawn from the BIA model. Those who used discourses of family and haven emphasized the emotional connection built between students and other members of the SIPI community following the TCU model. Speakers who used discourses of agency and selfreliance asserted that students can define their own experiences at SIPI. Through a series of interviews, this volume examines the ways in which students attempt to accommodate this variety of conflicts and presents an innovative and enlightening look into the contemporary state of American Indian educational institutions.

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Mayas in Postwar Guatemala

Harvest of Violence Revisited

Edited by Walter E. Little and Timothy J. Smith

Like the original Harvest of Violence, published in 1988, this volume reveals how the contemporary Mayas contend with crime, political violence, internal community power struggles, and the broader impact of transnational economic and political policies in Guatemala. However, this work, informed by long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Mayan communities and commitment to conducting research in Mayan languages, places current anthropological analyses in relation to Mayan political activism and key Mayan intellectuals’ research and criticism. Illustrating specifically how Mayas in this post-war period conceive of their social and political place in Guatemala, Mayas working in factories, fields, and markets, and participating in local, community-level politics provide critiques of the government, the Maya movement, and the general state of insecurity and social and political violence that they continue to face on a daily basis. Their critical assessments and efforts to improve political, social, and economic conditions illustrate their resiliency and positive, nonviolent solutions to Guatemala’s ongoing problems that deserve serious consideration by Guatemalan and US policy makers, international non-government organizations, peace activists, and even academics studying politics, social agency, and the survival of indigenous people.
CONTRIBUTORS
Abigail E. Adams / José Oscar Barrera Nuñez / Peter Benson / Barbara Bocek / Jennifer L. Burrell / Robert M. Carmack / Monica DeHart / Edward F. Fischer / Liliana Goldín / Walter E. Little / Judith M. Maxwell / J. Jailey Philpot-Munson / Brenda Rosenbaum / Timothy J. Smith / David Stoll

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The Monacan Indian Nation of Virginia

The Drums of Life

Rosemary Clark Whitlock, with foreword by J. Anthony Paredes and introduction byThomas J. Blumer

The contemporary Monacan Nation had approximately 1,400 registered members in 2006, mostly living in and around Lynchburg, Virginia, in Amherst County, but some are scattered like any other large family. Records trace the Monacans of Virginia back to the late 1500s, with an estimated population of over 15,000 in the 1700s.
 
Like members of some other native tribes, the Monacans have a long history of struggles for equality in jobs, health care, and education and have suffered cultural, political, and social abuse at the hands of authority figures appointed to serve them. The critical difference for the Monacans was the actions of segregationist Dr. Walter A. Plecker, Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1912 until he retired at age 85 in 1946. A strong proponent and enforcer of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Law of 1924 (struck down in 1967), which prohibited marriage between races, Plecker’s interpretation of that law convinced him that there were only two races–white and colored–and anyone not bearing physically white genetic characteristics was “colored” and that included Indians. He would not let Indians get married in Virginia unless they applied as white or colored, he forced the local teachers to falsify the students’ race on the official school rolls, and he threatened court clerks and census takers with prosecution if they used the term “Indian” on any official form. He personally changed government records when his directives were not followed and even coerced postpartum Indian mothers to list their newborns as white or colored or they could not take their infants home from the hospital. Eventually the federal government intervened, directing the Virginia state officials to begin the tedious process of correcting official records. Yet the legacy of Plecker’s attempted cultural genocide remains. Through interviews with 26 Monacans, one Episcopal minister appointed to serve them, one former clerk of the court for Amherst County, and her own story, Whitlock provides first person accounts of what happened to the Monacan families and how their very existence as Indians was threatened.
 

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