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Publishers WeeklyStarred 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.
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