- Masculindians: Conversations about Indigenous Manhood by Sam McKegney
by Sam McKegney
University of Manitoba Press, 2014
Masculindians: Conversations about Indigenous Manhood contributes to the ongoing dialogue and analysis of Indigenous manhood and masculinities. Several texts such as Ty P. Kãwika Tengan’s Native Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai’i and my own Diné Masculinties: Conceptualizations and Reflections have examined specific Hawaiian and Navajo manhood and masculinities, but McKegney’s piece is distinguished by his approach. He brings forth twenty-two diverse perspectives and discussions; that of insightful and thought-provoking conversations with various artists, critics, activists, and elders about Indigenous manhood and masculinities.
McKegney sets up the book into three parts where part one emphasizes culture, history, and worldview, part two theorizes gender, and part three focuses on artistic interventions in the discourse on Indigenous masculinities. Each chapter is a specific conversation with the author and another individual or two. The dialogues cover various themes related to male self-worth and fostering empowerment, balance, and mutually supportive gender relations. Beauty, vulnerability, sensuality, eroticism, shame, stigma, racism, violence, nurturing, mentorship, companionship, and love are all a part of the conversations. The dialogues also bring up stories, songs, interpersonal reciprocity, landscapes, and waterways.
The book is provocative in the set up where each chapter represents different conversations. The conversations are quite engaging and it feels like you are at the discussion table. A deeper analysis of each conversation is warranted, though. The introduction and conclusion do state the purpose of the project, summarize the chapters, and discuss what the implications are for Indigenous masculinity studies.
One theme from the conversations is protectorship. Indigenous men in many Native communities have a responsibility to themselves, their families, their relations, and the community overall. Discussions on protectorship are key to Indigenous communities because Native communities and/or Native nations are building for the present and the future. Without these deep discussions, then the community and/or Native nation will continue to deal with challenges impacting the social, economic, political, psychological, and spiritual well-being of every person and the entire group. Decolonization efforts are taking place in [End Page 118] various communities, and this book is an excellent resource for these deeper conversations, reflections, and ongoing building efforts.
Overall, the book is a valuable contribution to Indigenous masculinity studies. Very few texts focus on Indigenous manhood and masculinities, and this book provides an opportunity to expand this area of study and to engage in conversations on Indigenous community and Native nation building. [End Page 119]
Lloyd L. Lee is a Navajo Nation citizen and associate professor of Native American studies at the University of New Mexico. The American Indian Quarterly book review editor, he is the author of Diné Masculinities: Conceptualizations and Reflections (2013) and the editor of Diné Perspectives: Reclaiming and Revitalizing Navajo Thought (2014).