Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans

Overview

In Indian Voices Alison Owings takes readers on a fresh journey across America, east to west, north to south, and around again. Owings's most recent oral history--engagingly written in a style that entertains and informs--documents what Native Americans say about themselves, their daily lives, and the world around them.

Young and old from many tribal nations speak with candor, insight, and (unknown to many non-Natives) touching humor about what it is like to be a Native American...

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Overview

In Indian Voices Alison Owings takes readers on a fresh journey across America, east to west, north to south, and around again. Owings's most recent oral history--engagingly written in a style that entertains and informs--documents what Native Americans say about themselves, their daily lives, and the world around them.

Young and old from many tribal nations speak with candor, insight, and (unknown to many non-Natives) touching humor about what it is like to be a Native American in the twenty-first century. Through intimate interviews many also express their thoughts about the sometimes staggeringly ignorant, if often well-meaning, non-Natives they encounter--some who do not realize Native Americans still exist, much less that they speak English, have cell phones, use the Internet, and might attend powwows and power lunches.

Indian Voices, an inspiring and important contribution to the literature about the original Americans, will make every reader rethink the past--and present--of the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Owings (Hey, Waitress!: The USA from the Other Side of the Tray) assembles interviews with Native Americans from across the nation that achieve a remarkable level of intimacy. Subjects address everything from common myths (the Federal government showers Native Americans with "free money") to homosexuality (among many Native Americans, it's not a controversial issue, in fact "homosexuality is...honored in some tribes"). Owings unexplained access is a crucial part of the story, as many Native American communities reject outsiders (in fact, census workers are often kicked off reservations). Owings's descriptions are rich in detail, her stories and statistics captivating. On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, best known for Wounded Knee, the "unemployment rate is over 75%, the alcoholism rate 85%." Many interviewees insist, "We're ordinary people" and wish to be treated as such, but describe discrimination of Native schoolchildren and others. Given the treatment Native Americans have received ("one imposed insult or assault or disaster after another"), Owings is surprised that the people she met are not filled with hatred but, instead, show great accommodation to their situation. They have much to teach the world, Owings concludes, especially when it comes to living a satisfied life. This engrossing, affecting book should be mandatory reading in American history classes.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Choice

"Many years of interviews and research have resulted in this book, an
San Jose Mercury News

"Occasionally startling, often humorous, and always thought-provoking. A captivating book about contemporary Native American life."

Booklist

"Owings' chronicle is enlightening for all who wish to understand 'Where is Native America now?'"

Indian Country Today

"An important (and entertaining!) new book on Native Americans that lets the real experts do the talking."

The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development

"Vital voices from Indigenous peoples have long been shrouded, interpreted, misinterpreted, or just plain ignored. Owings's humanity and journalistic instincts lead us where few non-Natives have ventured. Truly a must read."

— Jackie Old Coyote (Apsaalooke)

Bismark Tribune

"Owings' writing can be summed up in one word: entralling. Her vivid prose brings the scenes and stories to life in detail."

American Indian Library Association

"This is a model of what a good oral history book should be. Owings tells our stories honestly, eloquently and without her own baggage, and our people’s stories don’t pull many punches either. Survivance shines through in every chapter."

— John D. Berry

Native Peoples Law Caucus Newsletter

"Owings is a good writer and an even better listener. She manages to present the stories told by real-life Natives/Indians/Tribal People with attention to detail and as accurately as a person outside the culture probably could. She brings her own perspective to the stories and although these asides may make many Natives/Indians smile in all-too familiar recognition of encounters with non-Natives, they also help to illustrate the uniqueness of Native/Tribal culture. This book is an excellent addition to the ongoing conversation between Natives and non-Natives and it also enhances mutual understanding among the Peoples of this country."

Library Journal
Owings (Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich) presents a wide-ranging collection of personal stories as told by Native Americans from Maine to Hawaii. She conceived of collecting these oral histories when confronted with her own ignorance about both the historic and the modern lives of native peoples. Each chapter is devoted to an individual or group of individuals from a specific tribe, and Owings wisely lets the speakers tell their own stories, often in their own words. The sum is a rich collection that is poignant, funny, heartbreaking, and very real. The vast diversity in Native America is evident. Each interviewee comes across multidimensionally, strongly and openly identifying with his or her tribe or nation, while balancing tradition, language, heritage, politics, and identity with the day-to-day business of working, parenting, creating, traveling, and living. Similarities are evident, but so are rich differences in perspective, status, circumstance, and outlook. The book is engaging and thoughtfully conceived and effectively communicates Owings's central thesis—that Native Americans are alive, well, and thriving and have much to teach and share with the rest of us. VERDICT Recommended for all readers of nonfiction, and highly recommended for anyone living in or near Native communities.—Julie Edwards, Univ. of Montana, Missoula, Lib.
Booklist

"Owings' chronicle is enlightening for all who wish to understand 'Where is Native America now?'"
San Jose Mercury News

"Occasionally startling, often humorous, and always thought-provoking. A captivating book about contemporary Native American life."
Indian Country Today

"An important (and entertaining!) new book on Native Americans that lets the real experts do the talking."
Bismark Tribune

"Owings' writing can be summed up in one word: entralling. Her vivid prose brings the scenes and stories to life in detail."
American Indian Library Association

"This is a model of what a good oral history book should be. Owings tells our stories honestly, eloquently and without her own baggage, and our people’s stories don’t pull many punches either. Survivance shines through in every chapter."

— John D. Berry

Native Peoples Law Caucus Newsletter

"Owings is a good writer and an even better listener. She manages to present the stories told by real-life Natives/Indians/Tribal People with attention to detail and as accurately as a person outside the culture probably could. She brings her own perspective to the stories and although these asides may make many Natives/Indians smile in all-too familiar recognition of encounters with non-Natives, they also help to illustrate the uniqueness of Native/Tribal culture. This book is an excellent addition to the ongoing conversation between Natives and non-Natives and it also enhances mutual understanding among the Peoples of this country."
The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development

"Vital voices from Indigenous peoples have long been shrouded, interpreted, misinterpreted, or just plain ignored. Owings's humanity and journalistic instincts lead us where few non-Natives have ventured. Truly a must read."

— Jackie Old Coyote (Apsaalooke)

American Indian Quarterly

"Alison Owings does an outstanding job of just what this book promises to address in the title, Listening to Native Americans. Owings is a recognized journalist, and her work as an oral historian observing, listening, and sometimes participating in day-to-day American Indian life makes this book a welcome and must-read addition to the small number of books that focus on contemporary American Indians."
Professor of History, Arizona State University - Donald L. Fixico (Shawnee

"This is the United States of Native America at its best! Owings brilliantly weaves together the grassroots narratives and heart-felt stories that she gathered in her travels throughout Indian Country. The result is a stunning and eye-opening book, written in page-turning prose, that reveals the emotions, pains, and humor of Native Americans. Whether you know nothing about Indians or just want to know more, you need to read this book!"
author of In the Hands of the Great Spirit - Jake Page

"Alison Owings is a brilliant listener. Otherwise she wouldn't have been able to interview so many native people and have them talk about their lives, their dreams, their accomplishments with such intimacy."
The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development - Jackie Old Coyote (Apsaalooke)

"Vital voices from Indigenous peoples have long been shrouded, interpreted, misinterpreted, or just plain ignored. Owings's humanity and journalistic instincts lead us where few non-Natives have ventured. Truly a must read."
Executive Director, Congress of American Indians - Jacqueline Johnson-Pata (Tlingit)

"I loved Indian Voices. And it was great fun to read because it is about real people in contemporary times."
American Indian Library Association - John D. Berry

"This is a model of what a good oral history book should be. Owings tells our stories honestly, eloquently and without her own baggage, and our people’s stories don’t pull many punches either. Survivance shines through in every chapter."
Choice

"Many years of interviews and research have resulted in this book, an
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813549651
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 4/11/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


ALISON OWINGS, a former television news writer, is the author of Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (Rutgers University Press) and Hey, Waitress! The USA from the Other Side of the Tray.
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Table of Contents


Preface
Introduction

1 A Man of the Dawn: Darrell Newell (passamaquoddy)
2 "Indians 101": Elizabeth Lohah Homer (Osage)
3 A Trio of Lumbees: Pamela Brooks Sweeny, Curt Locklear, and Mary Ann Cummings Jacobs
4 Elders of the Haudenosaunee: Darwin Hill (Towanda Seneca) and Geraldine Green (Cattaraugus Seneca)
5 City Kid: Ansel Deon (Lakota/Navajo)
6 The Drum Keeper: Rosemary Berens (Ojibwe)
7 "How's everybody doing tonight?": Marcus Frejo, aka Quese IMC (Pawnee/Seminole)
8 Tales from Pine Ridge: Karen Artichoker, with Heath Ducheneaux and Dwanna Oldson (Lakota)
9 "Get over it!" and Other Suggestions: Patty Talahongva (Hopi)
10 The Former President: Claudia Vigil-Muniz (Jicarilla Apache)
11 Practicing Medicine: Harrison Baheshone (Navajo)
12 The Kin of Sacajawea: Emma George and Summer Morning Baldwin (Lehmi Shoshone)
13 Indian Humor: Carol Craig (Yakama)
14 Powwow Power: Yom Phillips (Kiowa)
15 Relearning for Life: Henry Frank (Yurok)
16 Eskimo Ice Cream: Christine Guy (Yup'ik)
17 Aloha from Hawai'i: Charles Ka'upu Jr.

Conclusion
Notes
Acknowledgements
Index

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