All Indians do not live in teepees (or casinos)

Catherine C. Robbins

Book - 2011

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Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press c2011.
Main Author
Catherine C. Robbins (-)
Physical Description
xvi, 385 p. : ill., map ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • The unconquerables
  • Thoughts from the chief
  • An encampment
  • The way we should
  • Where hatred was born
  • The drum
  • Buckskin boxes, galactic explosion
  • Disclosures : we help each other.
Review by Booklist Review

Journalist Robbins moved from New York to Indian country (Albuquerque) in 1969 and has been immersed in Native American culture, ancient and modern, ever since. Here she focuses on tribal repatriation efforts, such as the 1999 Pecos repatriation, which returned 2,000 bodies from Harvard's Peabody Museum of Anthropology to their descendants at Pecos and the Jemez Pueblo. She maintains that repatriation successes send a surge of unifying energy through Indian country, reuniting people and their past, which is also kept alive by oft-repeated stories and traditional ceremonies. The recent development of American Indian art, encapsulated in the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, exemplifies this positive intensification. Conversely, she describes how the outside world negatively affects Native culture, citing the huge increase in reservation gangs and the accompanying decrease in respect for elders. Most Indians don't live on reservations, much less in teepees, she says, and urban transplantation is a centrifugal counterforce drawing Indians away from their homelands. Pulling them back, it is hoped, will be the continuing, galvanizing influence of repatriation.--Donovan, Deborah Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist Robbins creates a collage of the prospects and problems faced by Native Americans in this sharp, readable blend of history, cultural commentary, and advocacy. She straddles past and present, moving from recounting her longtime friendship with an activist to the story of the activist's father, one of the famed Navajo code makers of WWII, and on to the present generation's proud reclaiming of their native tongue. Later sections explore efforts to get Native American parents more involved in their children's education in the context of the devastating legacy of American and Canadian policy of forcibly removing Native American children from their homes to attend Christian schools to speed the process of eradicating indigenous languages, religions, and traditions. It has only recently come to light that along with assimilation, children at the schools were often subjected to torture, molestation, and abuse. Other essays showcase the proliferation of aboriginal art and ceremonies against the continuing alienation and discrimination that plagues American Indians as a group. While the book may not give much detail to specific historical events, it offers a fine survey of a marginalized but resilient people. As one of Robbins's subjects says, "We're probably the most adaptable people in the country." As an illustration of modern Native American life, it effortlessly depicts politics, culture, and pride; as a first book it is a marvel. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Despite the unfortunately misleading title, this work is not intended to be a repudiation of stereotypes about contemporary Native Americans. Instead it chronicles the experiences of the author herself, a journalist, among numerous native groups, primarily in the U.S. Southwest. As a nonnative, Robbins does not pretend to be offering a native perspective. What she does offer is a celebration of how today's Native Americans are revitalizing themselves and their communities in ways that honor their histories and cultures, while also staying grounded in the present. One example is the medical practice of Tieraona Low Dog, who combines the traditional medicine taught to her by her Lakota grandmother with medical training completed at the University of New Mexico to provide the best possible course of treatment for her patients. VERDICT Robbins's enlightening monograph on her explorations of the Native American experience in the 21st century complements Alison Owings's recent Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans, and both are recommended for lay and academic readers.-John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A journalist's report "about contemporary American Indians and how modernity and a restorative vision of the past have generated a new energy among them."In her debut, freelance writer Robbins draws on reporting for the New York Timesand other publications to trace the forces affecting the lives of the nation's four million Native Americans. The main force has been the repatriation of remains and cultural artifacts taken from Indian communities during centuries of European American occupation. Under a process established in 1990 by federal law, many Indian tribes are retrieving artifacts from museums and other agencies, and essentially "gaining sovereignty over their stories and their lives." In 1999, for example, Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology returned 2,000 skeletal remains that archaeologists had removed decades ago from a Pecos Pueblo burial mound in New Mexico. In recounting emotional ceremonies held to celebrate such returns, Robbins explains that repatriations are helping tribes regain identity and cultures lost long ago. With income from gaming and other sources, many tribes are able to pursue claims regarding sacred sites and other matters. There are now about 125 American Indian cultural institutions, many of them museums. The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, established in 2004, further exemplifies the drive for Native cultural expression. At the same time, an ongoing migration to cities, especially by young Native Americans, has become an important (and somewhat countervailing) trend. Most Indians now live in cities and suburbs, writes Robbins, not on reservations, and the author discusses the difficult problems facing them. With their emphasis on human connection, repatriation efforts are becoming a way to help these urban migrants reconnect with the past and preserve their cultural identities. Robbins suggests the same quest for connection can be a useful model for non-Indian Americans, many of whose family members are scattered across the country.A solid, insightful overview of the way American Indians live now.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.