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Embracing Fry Bread: Confessions of a Wannabe
     

Embracing Fry Bread: Confessions of a Wannabe

5.0 1
by Roger L. Welsch
 

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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

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. 
 

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803225329
Publisher:
UNP - Bison Books
Publication date:
12/01/2012
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
748,477
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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Embracing Fry Bread: Confessions of a Wannabe 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
je917 More than 1 year ago
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.