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Book Review
What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Waziyatawin, Ph.D.,
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what_does_justice_look_like.jpgA passionate and unyielding voice for justice, Waziyatawin, Dr. Angela Wilson, advocates for Minnesota Truth vs. Minnesota Nice. This book is first of all a terse and eloquent recapitulation of Minnesota history in relation to the Dakota, in other words, it is a clear eyed and sorrowful account of genocide. Waziyatawin uses the loaded word genocide with a careful explanation of its accuracy. She is painstaking in her efforts to bring clarity to a divisive subject. It is so important for Indigenous people in Minnesota, whatever their tribal origins, to stand together. For that reason, I hope that Waziyatawin’s ideas can be separated from any personal issues with other tribal people — some of which are recounted in this book. Considering our mutual history, we should all rise above the small, the petty, the all-too- human ways that tribal people are forced to struggle with each other for recognition by the power brokers in a dominant  culture.Waziyatawin’s forceful recommendations for reparation, if adopted, could make Minnesota a leader in the difficult task of integrating the ugly truths of history into an understand of this state’s, and this country’s, relationship with Indigenous People. Acknowledging the truth makes a people stronger, not weaker.As a specific example,Waziyatawin compares Fort Snelling’s disgraceful “fun fort” self-depiction with the somber reality that imbues other concentration camps and Holocaust memorials. The compelling facts about Fort Snelling include the sacred nature of the land itself, and the fact that it is filled with the marked and unmarked graves of Dakota ancestors, including women who starved themselves to death out of grief, women raped by soldiers, children and elders dead of sicknesses that raged through the fort. Minnesotans also hanged Dakota leaders on that earth. And so when Waziyatawin quite reasonably advocates returning the Fort to the Dakota to do with as they decide, it would seem an act of unquestionable justice. It seems, in fact, a great idea. Nobody who reads this book will ever drive to the airport again without seeing the devastated woman on the cover – a young woman interred in what became a death camp in the winter of 1862-63. If Fort Snelling was to become a Dakota garden and ceremonial ground, the young woman’s thousand mile stare would at last rest with the living. — Review by Louise Erdrich


Women and Warriors of the Plains: The Pioneer Photography of Julia E. Tuell
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Carol A. Markstrom,
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empowerment_of_north_american_indian_girls.jpgOk, so this one isn’t new but I couldn’t resist. As a Native photographer, I pride myself on knowing most of the old time photographers who documented the plains Indians. I had never heard of this woman or this book, so I was suprised to see it in a Mountain Press catalog. I had to order it and find out what it was all about. Imagine my excitement when I opened the book to find photographs of Plains Indians that I had never seen before. It was like a gift from the past. Unlike the posed photographs of Eastman, these photos are more what today we call “candid”. Just  eople going about their daily activities. Unfortunetly the book is a medium sized paperback, with paper of ordinary quality – meaning the  hotographs are small, dull and sometimes a bit fuzzy. Which makes to hard to decide whether the photograph is out of focus, or if it’s the paper and resolution that make it look fuzzy. Still, its a treat to look through the photos; examining the detailsand faces, outfits and tipis, landscapes and structures of a world gone by but still held close to our hearts. As these photographs aren’t widely known, nor the photographer (at least  ot that I am aware of) I would think this book could use a reprint on high end paper in big format.What a treasure that would be. Still worth adding to your collection in its current form. – Review by Catherine Whipple


Warriors in Uniform: The Legacy of American Indian Heroism
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Herman J. Viola and Ben Nighthorse ampbell National Geographic,
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warriors_in_uniforn.jpgThis illustrated history covers the last Confederate general—a Cherokee—to lay down his arms; the code talkers who used tribal languages to help win World War II; the first Native American woman to give her life as a soldier; those serving in Iraq today; and many others. Spiritual and gripping, this book reveals how ancient traditions of war persevere and how the “warrior” designation is a great honor to the Native American community. Full of first person accounts and a stunning gallery of never-before-seen artifacts from personal collections. Former senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and other distinguished Native Americans contributed to the collection.
Native American Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Rita J. Simon and Rachel Hernandez,
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native_american123.jpgNative American Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories is the work of two researchers, Rita J. Simon and Rachel Hernandez, who sought to present the stories of American Indians who had been reared in non- Native homes. The book is a collection of interviews given by adults ages twenty-five to fifty-nine.While none those interviewed seem to embrace the tragedy of a “lost bird”, none claim to have been left wholly intact by the experience of transracial adoption. A book stands as a correction to a little known study conducted over thirty-six years ago by sociologist David Fanchell. In 1972, when Fanchell published his study of transracial adoption and American Indian children, none but adoptive parents were ever interviewed.That study points back to the Indian Adoption Project, an undertaking of the Child Welfare League of America (and aided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs)as an effort at promoting the adoption of Native children by placing them into White homes. Fanchell used the project as an opportunity to conduct a study of transracial adoption. Thousands more children would be adopted in the years that followed the project, and the impetus for transracial adoption movement would go unchallenged until the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978.The individuals whose stories are collected in this book were not adopted under the Indian Adoption Project but their stories are among some of the first stories to be published since the inception of the Project in 1957. – Review by Melissa Olson
The Porcupine Year
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by by Louise Erdrich HarperCollins,
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the_porcupine_year.jpgIn this riveting continuation of the story of Omakayas, “little frog”, Louise Erdrich weaves a readable, yet very complex story about a girl’s spiritual and physical coming of age. In this imaginative and culturally-authentic young adult novel, Erdrich introduces us to Omakayas and her Ojibwe elders who wisely guide her toward realization of her own powers. Set against the harsh physical and political landscape of 1852, Omakayas and her family travel westward from Madeline Island toward Rainy Lake. In their year-long journey, Omakayas, her younger brother Quill, and other family members face hunger, physical dangers, and enemies. They survive because they remain strong and true to their Ojibwe teachings. Omakayas comes to trust her dreams and she learns herbal medicine in her journey to become a medicine woman; Quill is captured by the Dakota, matures through this tribulation and also grows toward manhood. Through these and other harrowing experiences, they learn to rely on their spiritual helpers; the book’s title comes from Quill’s helper, the Porcupine. The Porcupine Year is rich in detail and instructional in content. Readers, children, parents and educators will find it an inspiring template for Ojibwe cultural values. Like the earlier books about Omakayas, The Birchbark House and The Game of Silence, this story will capture your heart and your imagination. – Review by Pauline Danforth


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