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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The Other Movement

Indian Rights and Civil Rights in the Deep South

Denise E. Bates

The Other Movement: Indian Rights and Civil Rights in the Deep South examines the most visible outcome of the Southern Indian Rights Movement: state Indian affairs commissions. In recalling political activism in the post-World War II South, rarely does one consider the political activities of American Indians as they responded to desegregation, the passing of the Civil Rights Acts, and the restructuring of the American political party system. Native leaders and activists across the South created a social and political movement all their own, which drew public attention to the problems of discrimination, poverty, unemployment, low educational attainment, and poor living conditions in tribal communities.

While tribal-state relationships have historically been characterized as tense, most southern tribes—particularly non-federally recognized ones—found that Indian affairs commissions offered them a unique position in which to negotiate power. Although individual tribal leaders experienced isolated victories and generated some support through the 1950s and 1960s, the creation of the intertribal state commissions in the 1970s and 1980s elevated the movement to a more prominent political level. Through the formalization of tribal-state relationships, Indian communities forged strong networks with local, state, and national agencies while advocating for cultural preservation and revitalization, economic development, and the implementation of community services.

This book looks specifically at Alabama and Louisiana, places of intensive political activity during the civil rights era and increasing Indian visibility and tribal reorganization in the decades that followed. Between 1960 and 1990, U.S. census records show that Alabama’s Indian population swelled by a factor of twelve and Louisiana’s by a factor of five. Thus, in addition to serving as excellent examples of the national trend of a rising Indian population, the two states make interesting case studies because their Indian commissions brought formerly disconnected groups, each with different goals and needs, together for the first time, creating an assortment of alliances and divisions.

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Our Elders Teach Us

Maya-Kaqchikel Historical Perspectives

Written by David Anthony Carey, with preface by Allan Burns

In this rich and dynamic work, David Carey Jr. provides a new perspective on contemporary Guatemalan history by allowing the indigenous peoples to speak for themselves.

Combining the methodologies of anthropology and history, Carey uses both oral interviews and meticulous archival research to construct a history of the last 130 years in Guatemala from the perspective of present-day Mayan people. His research took place over five years, including intensive language study, four summers of fieldwork, and a year-long residence in Comalapa, during which he conducted most of the 414 interviews. By casting a wide net for his interviews—from tiny hamlets to bustling Guatemala City—Carey gained insight into more than a single community or a single group of Maya.

The Maya-Kaqchikel record their history through oral tradition; thus, few written accounts exist. Comparing the Kaqchikel point of view to that of the western scholars and Ladinos who have written most of the history texts, Carey reveals the people and events important to the Maya, which have been virtually written out of the national history.

A motto of the Guatemalan organization Maya Decinio para el Pueblo Indigena (Maya Decade for the Indigenous People) is that people who do not know their past cannot build a future. By elucidating what the Kaqchikel think of their own past, Carey also illuminates the value of non-Western theoretical and methodological approaches that can be applied to the history of other peoples. Valuable to historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, or anyone interested in Mayan and Latin American studies, this book will inform as well as enchant.



 


 

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Public Indians, Private Cherokees

Tourism and Tradition on Tribal Ground

Christina Taylor Beard-Moose

A major economic industry among American Indian tribes is the public promotion and display of aspects of their cultural heritage in a wide range of tourist venues. Few do it better than the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, whose homeland is the Qualla Boundary of North Carolina. Through extensive research into the work of other scholars dating back to the late 1800s, and interviews with a wide range of contemporary Cherokees, Beard-Moose presents the two faces of the Cherokee people. One is the public face that populates the powwows, dramatic presentations, museums, and myriad roadside craft locations. The other is the private face whose homecoming, Indian fairs, traditions, belief system, community strength, and cultural heritage are threatened by the very activities that put food on their tables. Constructing an ethnohistory of tourism and comparing the experiences of the Cherokee with the Florida Seminoles and Southwestern tribes, this work brings into sharp focus the fine line between promoting and selling Indian culture.

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Re-Enchanting the World

Maya Protestantism in the Guatemalan Highlands

C. Mathews Samson

Christian evangelicals among native people in Latin America.

What does it mean to be both Maya and Protestant in Guatemala? Burgeoning religious pluralism in Mesoamerica and throughout Latin America is evident as Protestantism permeates a region that had been overwhelmingly Catholic for nearly five centuries.

In considering the interplay between contemporary Protestant practice and native cultural traditions among Maya evangelicals, Samson documents the processes whereby some Maya have converted to new forms of Christianity and the ways in which the Maya are incorporating Christianity for their own purposes. At the intersection of religion and cultural pluralism, contemporary evangelicals focus on easing the tension between Maya identity and the Protestant insistence that old ways must be left behind in the conversion process.

Against the backdrop of the 36-year civil war that ended in 1996 and the rise of the indigenous Maya Movement in the late 1980s, this work provides a unique portrait of social movements, cultural and human rights, and the role that religion plays in relation to the nation-state in post-conflict political processes. Re-enchanting the World fills a niche within the anthropological literature on evangelicals in Latin America during a time of significant social change.

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Red Eagle's Children

Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al.

Edited by J. Anthony Paredes and Judith Knight

Red Eagle’s Children presents the legal proceedings in an inheritance dispute that serves as an unexpected window on the intersection of two cultural and legal systems: Creek Indian and Euro-American.

Case 1299: Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al. appeared in the Chancery Court of Mobile in 1846 when William “Red Eagle” Weatherford’s son by the Indian woman Supalamy sued his half siblings fathered by Weatherford with two other Creek women, Polly Moniac and Mary Stiggins, for a greater share of Weatherford’s estate. While the court recognized William Jr. as the son of William Sr., he nevertheless lost his petition for inheritance due to the lack of legal evidence concerning the marriage of his biological mother to William Sr. The case, which went to the Alabama Supreme Court in 1851, provides a record of an attempt to interrelate and, perhaps, manipulate differences in cultures as they played out within the ritualized, arcane world of antebellum Alabama jurisprudence.
 
Although the case has value in the classic mold of salvage ethnography of Creek Indian culture, Red Eagle’s Children, edited by J. Anthony Paredes and Judith Knight, shows that its more enduring value lies in being a source for historical ethnography—that is, for anthropological analyses of cultural dynamics of the past
events that complement the narratives of professional historians.
 
Contributors
David I. Durham / Robbie Ethridge / Judith
Knight / J. Anthony Paredes / Paul M. Pruitt
Jr. / Nina Gail Thrower / Robert Thrower /
Gregory A. Waselkov
 

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Source Material for the Social and Ceremonial Life of the Choctaw Indians

Written by John Swanton and foreword by Kenneth H. Carleton

Long considered the undisputed authority on the Indians of the southern United States, anthropologist John Swanton published this history as the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) Bulletin 103 in 1931. Swanton's descriptions are drawn from earlier records—including those of DuPratz and Romans—and from Choctaw informants. His long association with the Choctaws is evident in the thorough detailing of their customs and way of life and in his sensitivity to the presentation of their native culture.

Included are descriptions of such subjects as clans, division of labor between sexes, games, religion, war customs, and burial rites. The Choctaws were, in general, peaceful farmers living in Mississippi and southwestern Alabama until they were moved to Oklahoma in successive waves beginning in 1830, after the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

This edition includes a new foreword by Kenneth Carleton placing Swanton's work in the context of his times. The continued value of Swanton's original research makes Source Material the most comprehensive book ever published on the Choctaw people.

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Under the Rattlesnake

Cherokee Health and Resiliency

Edited by Lisa J. Lefler, with a foreword by Susan Leading Fox

For the Cherokee, health is more than the absence of disease; it includes a fully confident sense of a smooth life, peaceful existence, unhurried pace, and easy flow of time. The natural state of the world is to be neutral, balanced, with a similarly gently flowing pattern. States of imbalance, tension, or agitation are indicative of physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual illness and whether caused intentionally through omission or commission, or by outside actions or influences, the result affects and endangers the collective Cherokee.
 
Taking a true anthropological four-field approach, Lefler and her colleagues provide a balanced portrait of Cherokee health issues. Topics covered include: an understanding of the personal and spiritual impact of skeletal research among the Cherokee; the adverse reactions to be expected in well-meaning attempts to practice bioarchaeology; health, diet, and the relationship between diet and disease; linguistic analysis of Cherokee language in historical and contemporary contexts describing the relationship of the people to the cosmos; culturally appropriate holistic approaches to disease prevention and intervention methodologies; and the importance of the sacred feminine and the use of myth and symbolism within this matrilineal culture. All aspects—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—figure into the Cherokee concept of good health. By providing insight into the Cherokee perspective on health, wellness, and the end of the life cycle, and by incorporating appropriate protocol and language, this work reveals the necessity of a diversity of approaches in working with all Indigenous populations.

CONTRIBUTORS
Heidi M. Altman / Roseanna Belt / Thomas N. Belt / David N. Cozzo / Michelle D. Hamilton / Jenny James / Susan Leading Fox / Lisa J. Lefler / Russell G. Townsend

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Waccamaw Legacy

Contemporary Indians Fight for Survival

Written by Patricia Lerch

An insightful and informative look into the Waccamaw Siouan's quest for identity and survival.

Waccamaw Legacy: Contemporary Indians Fight for Survival sheds light on North Carolina Indians by tracing the story of the now state-recognized Waccamaw Siouan tribe from its beginnings in the Southeastern United States, through their first contacts with Europeans, and into the 21st century, detailing the struggles these Indians have endured over time. We see how the Waccamaw took hold of popular theories about Indian tribes like the Croatan of the Lost Colony and the Cherokee as they struggled to preserve their heritage and to establish their identity.

Patricia Lerch was hired by the Waccamaw in 1981 to perform the research needed to file for recognition under the Bureau of Indian Affairs Federal Acknowledgement Program of 1978. The Waccamaw began to organize powwows in 1970 to represent publicly their Indian heritage and survival and to spread awareness of their fight for cultural preservation and independence. Lerch found herself understanding that the powwows, in addition to affirming identity, revealed important truths about the history of the Waccamaw and the ways they communicate and coexist.

Waccamaw Legacy outlines Lerch’s experience as she played a vital role in the Waccamaw Siouan's continuing fight for recognition and acceptance in contemporary society and culture.

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