Not First in Nobody's Heart: The Life Story of a Contemporary Chippewa

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Paquin presents through his own life an unvarnished account of the bleak existence of many Native Americans today. An extremely deprived childhood, in which his family often had only potatoes to eat, made him more aware of his poverty than of his Indianness. He was beaten at home and turned to petty thievery. A teenage alcoholic, he was in and out of reform school, prison and mental hospitals, winding up on skid row, one of the working poor of economically depressed Michigan. Radicalized in his 30s, Paquin became an advocate of Native fishing rights. Only this, and the love of his wife (whom he eventually lost to a massive coronary) helped turn him around. The book is told in plain, earthy, at times only semi-literate English. It reflects no longing for the ``good ole days'' or for traditional ways. As Doherty ( Disputed Waters ) points out in his afterword, because he did not consider himself Indian when growing up, his account is atypical of much Native American autobiography. This makes it all the more indispensable for anyone interested in real Indians and not stereotypes. (July)
Library Journal
While in prison in 1965, Paquin, a Chippewa, began relating his life story to a fellow inmate. His purpose in doing so was to spare others his hardships and mistakes. In 1979, with the assistance of historian Doherty, who had met him while researching a book on Native American fishing rights ( Disputed Waters , Univ. Pr. of Kentucky, 1990), Paquin began again to describe a life of parental cruelty, child abuse, violent confrontations with peers, prison, attempted suicide, and, finally, marriage to a compassionate woman, birth of a son, and the struggle to support his family through fishing and other hard labor. This is not a typical Native American autobiography: Paquin does not reminisce about the loss of traditional ways. He connects with his Chippewa heritage and consciousness only later in life when he attempts to preserve treaty fishing rights off his native St. Ignace, Michigan. A valuable contemporary document that updates older, traditional materials, it is most recommended for larger Native American and ethnic studies collections.-- Christine Cartner, California State Univ. Lib., Fresno
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813818375
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/1992
  • Pages: 272

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