Embracing Fry Bread: Confessions of a Wannabe

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Overview


When he was out playing Indian, enacting Hollywood-inspired scenarios, it never occurred to the child Roger Welsch that the little girl sitting next to him in school was Indian. A lifetime of learning later, Welsch’s enthusiasm is undimmed, if somewhat more enlightened. In Embracing Fry Bread Welsch tells the story of his lifelong relationship with Native American culture, which, beginning in earnest with the study of linguistic practices of the Omaha tribe during a college anthropology course, resulted in his ...
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Embracing Fry Bread: Confessions of a Wannabe

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Overview


When he was out playing Indian, enacting Hollywood-inspired scenarios, it never occurred to the child Roger Welsch that the little girl sitting next to him in school was Indian. A lifetime of learning later, Welsch’s enthusiasm is undimmed, if somewhat more enlightened. In Embracing Fry Bread Welsch tells the story of his lifelong relationship with Native American culture, which, beginning in earnest with the study of linguistic practices of the Omaha tribe during a college anthropology course, resulted in his becoming an adopted member and kin of both the Omaha and the Pawnee tribes.
 
With requisite humility and a healthy dose of humor, Welsch describes his long pilgrimage through Native life, from lessons in the vagaries of “Indian time” and the difficulties of reservation life, to the joy of being allowed to participate in special ceremonies and developing a deep and lasting love of fry bread. Navigating another culture is a complicated task, and Welsch shares his mistakes and successes with engaging candor. Through his serendipitous wanderings, he finds that the more he learns about Native culture the more he learns about himself—and about a way of life whose allure offers true insight into indigenous America. 
 
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a memoir filled with compassion and humor, Welsch (Touching the Fire) writes neither as an anthropologist nor an activist, but simply as a non-Indian, self-described “wannabe” grateful at having had the chance, more by fate than choice, to participate in the cultures of the Northern Plains’ indigenous tribes. Thankfully lacking in rosily New Age–tinted awe toward Indian wisdom, Welsch relates a deepening, near lifelong involvement with these communities, first as a political ally, then as a friend, and finally as an accepted and beloved family member. While dispensing a modest portion of advice to fellow “wannabes,” he explores questions of cultural ownership and lifestyle through the prism of personal experiences like playing the traditional Omaha Indian handgame or returning his land in Nebraska to the Pawnee Nation as a sacred site and reburial ground. Nonetheless, Welsch’s background as a University of Nebraska–Lincoln anthropology professor emerges as he lucidly explains such concepts as the esoteric-exoteric factor: the dividing line for acceptable, understandable expression within and without minority communities. Welsch’s natural warmth and skill as a storyteller, and his obvious respect for the individuals he encounters, come through clearly in his writing, and it’s easy to see why so many people, from so many backgrounds, might be honored to call him “friend.” (Dec.)
Dad of Divas

"This book will allow you a rare glimpse into the Native American World, and whether you are closely familiar or whether this world is completely foreign, you will learn so much as you read this book!"—Dad of Divas
Walter R. Echo-Hawk

“We can all enjoy the wit and humor of my long-time friend and Native rights colleague Roger Welsch. He presents an important message, as we strive to live together as one great people joined together on the same land by a common heritage.”—Walter R. Echo-Hawk, author of In the Courts of the Conqueror: The Ten Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided

Booklist

"Though an anthropology scholar, Welsch is never pedantic or preachy. Instead, this is a heartfelt and very personal story, rich in wry and self-deprecating humor."—Deborah Donovan, Booklist

— Deborah Donovan

Booklist - Deborah Donovan

"Though an anthropology scholar, Welsch is never pedantic or preachy. Instead, this is a heartfelt and very personal story, rich in wry and self-deprecating humor."—Deborah Donovan, Booklist
Joseph Marshall III

“If it can be said of anyone who is not an Indian (Native American, American Indian) that he or she has the ‘soul of an Indian,’ it has to be said of Roger Welsch. He offers the one thing that diverse groups of people, indeed the world, need to get along: understanding.”—Joseph Marshall III, author of The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Learning

 
Great Plains Quarterly - Wynne Summers

"Welsch manifests himself as a listener who has spent fifty-five years involved in Native culture where he has made uncountable friends. His ability to write honest prose, both informative and erudite, captivates from the beginning."—Wynne Summers, Great Plains Quarterly
Kirkus Reviews
A Nebraska-born folklorist shares how his life and perspectives have changed as a result of his 60-year-long relationship with Native American communities. Welsch (My Nebraska: The Good, the Bad, and the Husker, 2011, etc.) resides with his wife in Dannebrog, Neb., (pop. 347) on land he has returned to the Pawnees--and on which he continues to live "by their grace." Through personal interest, the author developed lifelong friendships with members of the Omaha and Pawnee nations, having been officially accepted as a member of both tribes. Welsch offers a disclaimer early on that his book is a memoir of his own experience of being accepted into another culture--a "casual, straggling conversation," not a scholarly study, nor an attempt to speak on American Indians' behalf. This approach makes the book authentic and engaging, if repetitious, and frees the author to toss in as much snark as he pleases. Welsch doesn't suffer fools (most of mainstream white America, especially Nebraska football fans) gladly and doles out smug exaggerations where a touch of perceptive wit would be more effective and less alienating. Nonetheless, he writes ably and knowledgeably about a variety of topics, offering readers plenty to learn and enjoy. Welsch praises much of Indian culture, including civil debates, eloquent speechmaking, rich oral history, gift-giving practices, patriotism, community and lack of conflict among faiths. He also leverages his unique position as a full member of both cultures to humorously highlight the differences between Native and white cultures, such as "Indian Time," and to deconstruct stereotypes in white and Native relations. Welsch's gratitude toward the Omahas and Pawnees is real, his outrage at their painful history is justified, and his story is proof that Native American culture is still alive and complex.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803225329
  • Publisher: UNP - Bison Books
  • Publication date: 12/1/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 805,322
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Roger Welsch is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the author of more than forty books, including Touching the Fire: Buffalo Dancers, the Sky Bundle, and Other Tales and My Nebraska, both available in Bison Books editions.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 First, a Story 1

2 Introduction 6

3 A Beginning 16

4 Beyond the Handgame 19

5 History, Long and Short 25

6 Who Are We? 28

7 The Call of Curiosity, Keep the Change 30

8 Enter the Wannabes 35

9 What's in a Name 39

10 Who Is "The Indian"? 43

11 Who Is the Wannabe? 47

12 The Contrary Lesson of the Prime Directive 54

13 First Steps 56

14 The Fix Is Out 59

15 Indian Wannabes 63

16 Gottabes 66

17 Becoming New 74

18 How It Goes, How It Went 75

19 The Plot Thickens 78

20 Why? 81

21 Gottabes Again 83

22 The Ways of Foodways 86

23 Carnivores Forever. 92

24 Another World 95

25 The Consequences of Incuriosity 99

26 Symbols and Realities 103

27 Indian Humor 105

28 Names and Naming 114

29 The Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger of 1877 117

30 Names … and Names 119

31 Matters of Faith 121

32 Deduction/Induction 123

33 What Is Indian Religion? 128

34 The Sun Dance 131

35 The Native Church 135

36 Inside Native Religion 142

37 Knowing What We Don't Know 145

38 What History Teaches Us 147

39 The Empty Frontier 157

40 Indians Today 162

41 Indians as Americans 166

42 The Land 173

43 The Real Wonder of It 178

44 Eloquence 180

45 From Presumed Inferiority to Rampant Egalitarianism 184

46 Time 187

47 Property and Gifts 191

48 The Gift of Giving 194

49 The Fabric of Sharing 197

50 The Spirit of Giving 200

51 Squaring the Circle 205

52 So, How Different Are We? 213

53 What We See 218

54 Indians and Deeper Truths 220

55 Conclusions 227

56 Repositories of Wisdom 233

57 What's in It for Indians? 240

58 So You Wannabe a Wannabe? 243

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  • Posted February 23, 2013

    This is a wonderful book by a great storyteller. He has a wonder

    This is a wonderful book by a great storyteller. He has a wonderful perspective on the midwest native americans that all of us can understand. I think the best chapter was when he described indian humour. It was great. You need to read this book.

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