All Indians do not live in teepees (or casinos)

Catherine C. Robbins

Book - 2011

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Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press c2011.
Physical Description
xvi, 385 p. : ill., map ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Catherine C. Robbins (-)
  • 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 Reviews

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. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

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 [Page 94]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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.) [Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Both a tribute to the unique experiences of individual Native Americans and a celebration of the values that draw American Indians together, All Indians Do Not Live in Teepees (or Casinos) explores contemporary Native life. Based on personal experience and grounded in journalism, this story begins with the repatriation of ancestral remains to the Pueblo peoples of New Mexico. The 1999 return to Pecos of the skeletal remains of two thousand bodies excavated during an archaeological expedition nearly a century earlier was the largest repatriation in American history. In a united, purposeful, and energizing quest, the Pecos and Jemez Indians brought their ancestors home. This event, along with subsequent repatriations, has accelerated similar momentum across much of Native America. In All Indians Do Not Live in Teepees (or Casinos), Catherine C. Robbins traces this restorative effect in areas such as economic development, urbanization, the arts, science, and health care. Through dozens of interviews, Robbins draws out the voices of Indian people, some well-known and many at the grassroots level, working quietly to advance their communities. These voices speak against the background of the narrative’s historical context. The result is a rich account of Native American life in contemporary America, revealing not a monolithic “Indian” experience of teepees or casinos, but rather a mosaic of diverse peoples existing on a continuum that marks both their distinctions and their shared realities.