20 October 2009


i have a lifelong hunger for understanding the experience of other ethnic, social or gender groups, including native americans. by coincidence, the book reading club i am about to join will be discussing The Surrounded by D'Arcy McNickle, a Salish writer. i've read dozens of books by or about different indian nations and individuals over the years, and while my natural affinity is for the northern plains tribes, the perspectives of writers from all regions are important.

i was pleasantly surprised to find an extensive list of native american writers at wikipedia. my own short list includes (but is not limited to):

James Welch -- Fools Crow

Sherman Alexie -- The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Vine Deloria, Jr. -- Custer Died For Your Sins

Dennis Banks -- Ojibwa Warrior

Russell Means -- Where White Men Fear To Tread

Woody Kipp -- Viet Cong at Wounded Knee

Dee Brown -- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Mari Sandoz -- Crazy Horse, The Strange Man of the Oglalas

Stanley David Lyman -- Wounded Knee 1973

please note that while the last three authors are non-indian, their meticulous research and willingness to set their own cultural biases aside produced valuable windows into the lives of their subjects, and into the conflict between indian and white cultures. please note also that i am not one of those whites who romanticizes indian culture beyond all recognition of reality. every culture has its strengths and shortcomings, its heroes and scoundrels and just plain folk. still, for me it is an undeniable truth that indigenous peoples, especially those threatened or oppressed by a powerful colonizing culture, deserve to be understood and respected on their own terms. as do we all. (click on map to enlarge)

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