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Reviewed by:
  • Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press ed. by Jacqueline Emery
  • Lydia Presley
Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press. Edited by Jacqueline Emery. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017. xi + 341 pp. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $55.00 cloth.

Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press by Jacqueline Emery builds on movements and activism taking place in Native American communities within the past few years.

Emery models one way to focus our attention on the personal stories of the students who attended notable schools such as Carlisle, [End Page 328] the Hampton Institute, and the Seneca Indian School in Oklahoma. Her goal is to show how boarding-school newspapers were used to "shape representations of Indianness" present in "US print culture" and also to argue that the print culture in these schools were fostering communities of "printers, editors, writers, and readers" (2).

Emery identifies and aims to fill a gap in scholarship, a space where Native authorship has yet to be made widely available. Her goal is to amplify those voices by publishing a selection from various genres for the "critical attention" that it has not received (2).

Still, studying boarding-school newspapers is not without its issues, as Emery points out. Among those are the tendency, she says, of Native American literary studies to "privilege the book over other forms" of text and the skepticism of the Native-authored texts, due to the amount of scrutiny and supervision their authors were under (4-5). She argues that new scholarship has identified boarding-school newspapers as an "untapped archive" for "early indigenous writings" that "challenge the restrictive assimilationist-resistance binary" that has previously been the core of scholarship on these boarding schools (5).

And so, Emery publishes essays, stories, and editorials from some lesser-known Native Americans to names more familiar, such as Luther Standing Bear, Charles Eastman, and Gertrude Bonnin (Zitkala-Ša). Since the boarding-school stories are presented without comment, it is important to remember and present the stories as nuanced and complex writings.

Still, Emery's book is timely and important, as it is critical that both Native Americans and allies push for education about this period in history, especially at such a crucial time in our development as a country. Now, more than ever, with the call for a "national identity," we should be looking to our past and what the building of that national identity entails. This means that we should be educating our citizens on how our past governments have attempted to shape the "American." Emery's book provides us with a rich resource of stories gathered from the voices of the students who were part of Carlisle founder Richard Henry Pratt's vision.

Lydia Presley
Department of English
University of Nebraska–Lincoln


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pp. 328-329
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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