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review 2017-08-05 18:54
Histories and stories that are just not taught.
This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made - Frederick E. Hoxie

Had this book for awhile and decided to finally knock it off my list. Author Hoxie looks at the stories of Indian activists and figures that are simply not taught in the US school system unless you take a specific class, have a particular area of study or have a special interest. It's really quite terrible.

 

Each chapter looks at different people (mostly specific individuals but the fight of the Ojibwe to stay on their land at Mille Lac, Minnesota) and their lives. From their upbringing to what they chose to do plus the historical context and how these individuals were perceived. Some stories are quite sad and it's clear that *many* of the same tactics that one can see being used today towards activists or particular famous figures have been used throughout history, although perhaps not quite in the same form due to the changes in technology and communication.

 

The information was interesting but the reading was very, very dry and academic. Hoxie's a professor and it shows. While the stories themselves were interesting (especially when placed in context of US history that often ignores these stories), I found the writing really hard to get through. I wonder if maybe I had more knowledge in general it might have helped me.

 

That said, I don't regret reading it. There are very unfortunate reasons as to why we often don't hear of these struggles and why these names are not as well known to many US people. Just keep in mind that if you're going into this book as a non-specialist you may feel a bit lost/also struggle with it.

 

I bought it as a bargain book. I'd probably borrow it from the library instead if I did it again but for the right person it probably wouldn't be a bad purchase. I'd also expect it to show up in a syllabus/course/talk on Native Americans, activism, examining the role of the US government, etc.

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review 2017-02-14 20:28
Book 1/100: Sacred Wilderness by Susan Power

I fell off the wagon of uploading my book reviews for the end of 2016, but I'm starting fresh in the new year.

 

Sacred WildernessSacred Wilderness by Susan Power
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was divided into several different story "sections" -- one that took place in present day and followed an older Native American woman who was employed by a wealthy couple as a cook/housecleaner and others that delved into the stories of the main characters' ancestors.

I loved the way this book blended Native American and Catholic spirituality (which is what drew me to the book), particularly the Virgin Mary's intuitive understanding that all beings who forged a path of peace were sacred and would have been "friends of her son." Mary's manifestation appeared in both the historical and the modern timelines, and I liked her portrayal in the historical one better; she felt just a touch too "woo-woo"in her modern incarnation, and I kind of felt as if the privileged, unemployed middle-aged woman she was sent to "awaken" was not really deserving of the honor. On the other hand, her appearance to comfort a grieving mother and clan leader in the historical storyline seemed a much more worthy visitation.

The historical writing was incredibly beautiful and evocative. The modern writing I found to be a little stilted in places, but I liked that it lent some greater insight into the politics of being American Indian and living in the current culture. This is something I still strive to find a deeper understanding of, especially since moving to a state with a significant Native population that still remains mostly a mystery to me.

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