University of Nebraska Press

American Indian Lives

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

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American Indian Lives

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The Turtle's Beating Heart

One Family's Story of Lenape Survival

Denise Low

“Grandchildren meet their grandparents at the end,” Denise Low says, “as tragic figures. We remember their decline and deaths. . . . The story we see as grandchildren is like a garden covered by snow, just outlines visible.”

Low brings to light deeply held secrets of Native ancestry as she recovers the life story of her Kansas grandfather, Frank Bruner (1889–1963). She remembers her childhood in Kansas, where her grandparents remained at a distance, personally and physically, from their grandchildren, despite living only a few miles away. As an adult, she comes to understand her grandfather’s Delaware (Lenape) legacy of persecution and heroic survival in the southern plains of the early 1900s, where the Ku Klux Klan attacked Native people along with other ethnic minorities. As a result of such experiences, the Bruner family fled to Kansas City and suppressed their non-European ancestry as completely as possible. As Low unravels this hidden family history of the Lenape diaspora, she discovers the lasting impact of trauma and substance abuse, the deep sense of loss and shame related to suppressed family emotions, and the power of collective memory.

Low traveled extensively around Kansas, tracking family history until she understood her grandfather’s political activism and his healing heritage of connections to the land. In this moving exploration of her grandfather’s life, the former poet laureate of Kansas evokes the beauty of the Flint Hills grasslands, the hardships her grandfather endured, and the continued discovery of his teachings.
 

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William W. Warren

The Life, Letters, and Times of an Ojibwe Leader

Theresa M. Schenck

This is the first full-length biography of William W. Warren (1825–53), an Ojibwe interpreter, historian, and legislator in the Minnesota Territory. Devoted to the interests of the Ojibwe at a time of government attempts at removal, Warren lives on in his influential book History of the Ojibway, still the most widely read and cited source on the Ojibwe people. The son of a Yankee fur trader and an Ojibwe-French mother, Warren grew up in a frontier community of mixed cultures. Warren's loyalty to government Indian policies was challenged, but never his loyalty to the Ojibwe people. In his short life the issues with which he was concerned included land rights, treaties, Indian removal, mixed-blood politics, and state and federal Indian policy.
 
Theresa M. Schenck has assembled a remarkable collection of newly discovered documents. Dozens of letters and other writings illuminate not only Warren’s heart and mind  but also a time of radical change in American Indian history. These documents, combined with Schenck’s commentary, provide historical and contextual perspective on Warren’s life, on the breadth of his activities, and on the complexity of the man himself; as such they offer a useful and long-awaited companion to Warren’s History of the Ojibway.

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