Indigenous American Women: Decolonization, Empowerment, Activism / Edition 1

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Overview


Oklahoma Choctaw scholar Devon Abbott Mihesuah offers a frank and absorbing look at the complex, evolving identities of American Indigenous women today, their ongoing struggles against a centuries-old legacy of colonial disempowerment, and how they are seen and portrayed by themselves and others.
 
Mihesuah first examines how American Indigenous women have been perceived and depicted by non-Natives, including scholars, and by themselves. She then illuminates the pervasive impact of colonialism and patriarchal thought on Native women’s traditional tribal roles and on their participation in academia. Mihesuah considers how relations between Indigenous women and men across North America continue to be altered by Christianity and Euro-American ideologies. Sexism and violence against Indigenous women has escalated; economic disparities and intratribal factionalism and “culturalism” threaten connections among women and with men; and many women suffer from psychological stress because their economic, religious, political, and social positions are devalued.
 
In the last section, Mihesuah explores how modern American Indigenous women have empowered themselves tribally, nationally, or academically. Additionally, she examines the overlooked role that Native women played in the Red Power movement as well as some key differences between Native women "feminists" and "activists."
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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Mihesuah says, "I have written these essays because of my concern about tribal America." This is not a collection of biographies, as the title might suggest, and it is not entirely about Native women, though her major focus is on them. Describing herself as an academic and an activist, Mihesuah takes on a wide range of concerns: feminism in the Native context, the problems and benefits of Native activism, exploitation of Indians by non-Indians who invade the reservations and then exploit what they gather (she does not have anything good to say about the popular book On the Rez by Ian Frazier), discrimination against Indian academics, problems that stem from poverty, crime, lack of education and health care, and loss of identity and culture as Natives are thrust willy-nilly into an environment of two cultures and expected to survive in both. The names of women political leaders, activists, artists, and writers appear in her essays: Wilma Mankiller (who was once chief of the Western Cherokee Nation), Mary Crow Dog, Paula Gunn Allen, Shan Goshorn, Buffy Ste. Marie, and others. She writes about the American Indian Movement at its height and returns repeatedly to Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, a Native activist who was murdered in 1975. "I am speaking here as a formally educated, mixed heritage, tribally enrolled, Oklahoma Choctaw woman with serious concerns about tribal rights, nation building, and how those of us in academe can help Natives serve those interests." The book is not easy reading; only educated adults and advanced high school students will read the essays, but these persons would do well to read them and share the author's insights with the larger Native community. Says Mihesuah, "Thiscollection does not contain the definitive work on anything. Instead, these are merely overviews of complex topics that, I hope, will continue the much-needed discussion." KLIATT Codes: A; Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2003, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 246p. illus. notes. bibliog. index., Boardman
Journal of American Ethnic History

"Particularly insightful, thought-provoking, [and] well-researched."—Rodney Frey, Journal of American Ethnic History

— Rodney Frey

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

"As many of these issues relate to decolonization, the legacy of colonialism, and feminism, the essays speak to a larger audience than just American Indian women or people involved with American Indian Studies. Thos whose work spans both activism and scholarship are likely to find something of interest between these covers. The book may also help those who have little experience with activist-scholarship such as Milhesuah’s work come to a better understanding of what she and others like her are trying to do."—Stacy Schlegel, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

— Stacy Schlegel

Great Plains Quarterly

“A powerful book about the impact of colonization on the indigenous peoples of North America. . . . These essays should be required reading in every research seminar. . . . And they clearly establish Milhesuah as a leading indigenous intellectual.”—Theda Perdue, Great Plains Quarterly

— Theda Perdue

Western American Literature

“Her observations on research and writing about Native women are valuable reminders to other scholars in the field. . . . scholars whose research deals with Native women will find Mihesuah’s Indigenous American Women a worthy resource.”—Patrice Hollrah, Western American Literature

— Patrice Hollrah

New Mexico Historical Review

"Native and non-Native feminist scholars will find much to debate in this collection, which accomplishes its primary purposes—contributing to a growing body of scholarly literature by Indigenous women, confronting difficult topics frankly and directly, demonstrating ethical research, and providing catalysts for much-needed converstaions about the complex nature of feminisms and activist agendas."—Amanda J. Cobb (Chickasaw), New Mexico Historical Review

— Amanda J. Cobb

Journal of American Ethnic History - Rodney Frey
"Particularly insightful, thought-provoking, [and] well-researched."—Rodney Frey, Journal of American Ethnic History
Montana, The Magazine of Western History - Lillian Ackerman
"Well worth reading to learn how a perceptive insider views the current state of Native affairs."—Lillian Ackerman, Montana, The Magazine of Western History
Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History - Stacy Schlegel
"As many of these issues relate to decolonization, the legacy of colonialism, and feminism, the essays speak to a larger audience than just American Indian women or people involved with American Indian Studies. Thos whose work spans both activism and scholarship are likely to find something of interest between these covers. The book may also help those who have little experience with activist-scholarship such as Milhesuah’s work come to a better understanding of what she and others like her are trying to do."—Stacy Schlegel, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
Great Plains Quarterly - Theda Perdue
“A powerful book about the impact of colonization on the indigenous peoples of North America. . . . These essays should be required reading in every research seminar. . . . And they clearly establish Milhesuah as a leading indigenous intellectual.”—Theda Perdue, Great Plains Quarterly
Western American Literature - Patrice Hollrah
“Her observations on research and writing about Native women are valuable reminders to other scholars in the field. . . . scholars whose research deals with Native women will find Mihesuah’s Indigenous American Women a worthy resource.”—Patrice Hollrah, Western American Literature
New Mexico Historical Review - Amanda J. Cobb
"Native and non-Native feminist scholars will find much to debate in this collection, which accomplishes its primary purposes—contributing to a growing body of scholarly literature by Indigenous women, confronting difficult topics frankly and directly, demonstrating ethical research, and providing catalysts for much-needed converstaions about the complex nature of feminisms and activist agendas."—Amanda J. Cobb (Chickasaw), New Mexico Historical Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803282865
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Series: Contemporary Indigenous Issues Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 246
  • Sales rank: 845,154
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Devon Abbott Mihesuah is a professor of applied Indigenous studies and history at Northern Arizona University. Her books include Cultivating the Rosebuds: The Education of Women at the Cherokee Female Seminary, 1851–1909 and Roads of My Relations.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. 1 Research and Writing
1 A Few Cautions on the Merging of Feminist Studies with Indigenous Women's Studies 3
2 Writing about Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash 9
3 Review of Ian Frazier's On the Rez 14
4 Comments on Linda McCarriston's "Indian Girls" 19
5 In the Trenches of Academia 21
Pt. 2 Colonialism and Native Women
6 Colonialism and Disempowerment 41
7 Culturalism and Racism at the Cherokee Female Seminary 62
8 Finding a Modern American Indigenous Female Identity 81
Pt. 3 Activists and Feminists
9 1970s Activist Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash 115
10 Interview with Denise Maloney-Pictou and Deborah Maloney-Pictou 128
11 Activism and Expression as Empowerment 143
12 Feminists, Tribalists, or Activists? 159
Notes 173
Bibliography 211
Index 237
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