Today we welcome a guest post from Hertha D. Sweet Wong, author of Picturing Identity: Contemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text, just published by UNC Press. In Picturing Identity, Hertha D. Sweet Wong examines the intersection of writing and visual art in the autobiographical work of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American writers and artists who employ… Continue Reading Hertha D. Sweet Wong: The long history of Native identity, in words and pictures
UNC Press is raffling off the two inaugural volumes in our new series, Critical Indigeneities. To help us celebrate, enter to win copies of: Defiant Indigeneity: The Politics of Hawaiian Performance by Stephanie Nohelani Teves The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Diné Belonging by Kristina M. Jacobsen To enter, simply follow us on… Continue Reading Time for another UNC Press book giveaway: Enter to win two new books in Native American and Indigenous studies!
Today UNC Press publicity director Gina Mahalek talks to Stephanie Elizondo Griest, author of All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands, about liminal spaces/borderlands, spirituality, shared struggles, and more. ### Gina Mahalek: Your first four books are a celebration of wanderlust, which has fueled your travels to nearly 50 countries. Why did you… Continue Reading Author Interview: Stephanie Elizondo Griest, All the Agents and Saints
Today we welcome a guest post from Douglas Hunter, author of The Place of Stone: Dighton Rock and the Erasure of America’s Indigenous Past, on the contested history of Dighton Rock and it’s petroglyphs. Claimed by many to be the most frequently documented artifact in American archeology, Dighton Rock is a forty-ton boulder covered in… Continue Reading Douglas Hunter: Dighton Rock, Leif Eriksson, and the Origins of Scientific Racism
Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital by Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove is the most up-to-date and comprehensive history of race and race-relations in the nation’s capital. Thoroughly researched yet very readable, Chocolate City focuses on African American history, but does not neglect Native American and white components of DC history. Continue Reading Chris Myers Asch & George Derek Musgrove: Chocolate City
Today is the official publication date of All the Agents and Saints by Stephanie Elizondo Griest. As we wish a happy book birthday to Stephanie and All the Agents and Saints, we wanted to share the coverage that she’s been getting to keep our readers in the loop! Continue Reading Elizondo Griest: All the Agents and Saints
Marshaling more than two centuries of evidence, historian Kelly Lytle Hernández unmasks how histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles. In this telling, which spans from the Spanish colonial era to the outbreak of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Hernández documents the persistent historical bond between the racial fantasies of conquest, namely its settler colonial form, and the eliminatory capacities of incarceration. Continue Reading Book Trailer: City of Inmates by Kelly Lytle Hernández
In the spring of 1962, legislators in Georgia voted unanimously to repeal a set of anti-Indian laws from the 1820s and 1830s. These laws had sparked the political crisis that led to the Cherokee “Trail of Tears,” the removal of the majority of Cherokees from the Southeast to Indian Territory. Starting in 1828, Georgia had extended its jurisdiction over Cherokee territory, outlawed the Cherokee government, and nullified Cherokee laws in an effort to force tribal leaders to negotiate a removal agreement with the United States. Continue Reading Andrew Denson: Apologizing for Indian Removal in the Civil Rights Era South
Shirley Bowman: Navajo language and culture teacher, world traveler, mother, grandmother, Navajo Nation citizen, professor, fellow “foodie” and tamale maker extraordinaire. These are some of the things that come to mind when I remember my teacher, mentor, friend and “mom,” Shirley Ann Bowman (1949-2017), who passed away last week on March 7th. I met Shirley in the fall of 2008 in Crownpoint, when I began my research on Diné country western bands (“rez bands”) and was looking for a Navajo language teacher. She embraced me fully, immersing me not only in the Navajo language but what in it meant to be a woman in Diné society, my expected social roles, and how—as a non-Native, Anglo woman—to conduct myself accordingly. Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: In Memoriam: Shirley Bowman (1949-2017)
Twenty years later, dances remain an important part of reservation social life, where live bands play up-tempo songs and couples mostly dance the two-step, a partner dance moving in a counter-clockwise direction. Dance bands play four-hour sets, typically 9 pm to 1 am, and take one break in the middle. The “sweet spot” for these dances is between 12 and 1: this is when the band is really warmed up, the dancers are relaxed, and dancers come out in large numbers onto the dance floor. It’s a short-lived space, nestled between lots of starts and stops and logistical glitches, but catching it is well worth the wait. For me, it’s a bit of time-capsuled, Navajo reservation magic. Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: “Won’t You Be With Me Tonight (After the Ace’s Wild Dance)”?: Navajo Country Bands, Stage Patter, and Rodeo Announcers
What struck me this time after many months away overseas is the subtle ways that Diné cultural sovereignty is practiced in this informal economy, where unemployment on the Navajo Nation currently hovers above 50%, and where tribal citizens are incredibly creative about ways to make ends meet in order to live on or close to their ancestral homeland (a statement about sovereignty and connection to homeland in its own right). Although not an explicitly “political” space, Diné citizens express their attachments to being Diné through what they choose—or refuse—to sell in this public space. Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: The Gallup Flea Market and Navajo Cultural Sovereignty
In the spring of 1935, an odd dispute erupted between rival groups of heritage workers in Tennessee and Georgia over the right to commemorate the Cherokee “Trail of Tears.” That year, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Georgia decided to erect a small monument commemorating Red Clay, a site along the Tennessee border where the government of the Cherokee Nation met in the years just prior to removal. Continue Reading Andrew Denson: The DAR Squabble: Possessing Cherokee History in the Southeast
We have celebrated the theme of Community for the past several days with our sibling publishers in the Association of American University Presses’ #UPweek. Today we invite you into our own virtual rolodex to introduce you to just some of the many partner organizations with whom we have collaborated to make many of your favorite books and journals possible. Continue Reading University Press Week 2016 Blog Tour Day 5: #FF UNC Press Publishing Partners
Gina Mahalek: What is Kīkā Kila? What does it sound like?
John W. Troutman: Kīkā Kila is a Hawaiian expression for describing both a type of guitar and a technique for playing it. The instrument, also known as a “steel guitar,” a “lap steel,” a “dobro,” or a “Hawaiian guitar,” among other names and associations, developed in the Islands in the 1880s and 1890s. Players would physically modify a “standard” guitar, add steel strings to it, and fabricate finger picks and a steel bar, about 3” in length (the instrument is named after this bar). After creating new, open tunings for the guitar, players would place the guitar in their laps, pluck the strings with finger picks on one hand, and then, with their other hand, slide the steel bar along the strings, located high above the fretboard. The technique created an entirely new sound for the guitar, one that better mimicked both the gentle rising and falling of a somber human voice as well as the melodic acrobatics that Hawaiian falsetto singers were becoming known for at the time. Hawaiians soon began creating all sorts of other sound effects on the steel guitar, and very quickly, it became the most important accompanying (as well as lead melodic) instrument in Hawaiian music. Continue Reading Interview: John W. Troutman on Kīkā Kila
Native Americans were one small constituency in a diverse whaling workforce brought together by ship owners for one purpose only—to cooperate in gathering whale products from the world’s oceans. The merchant investors, who did the initial hiring, sought trustworthy, skilled officers and cheap, hardy, and obedient laborers. With profit as their objective, they were open to hiring any man who could do the job but not if the crew’s social composition threatened orderly collaboration. From the top down, federal laws and industry standards applied measures to enhance productivity by dampening the volatility such diversity produced: they privileged rank over race and regulated the number of foreigners serving on American ships. From the bottom up, seamen brought prejudices on board with them. The color of one’s skin, the land of one’s birth, and the language one spoke inflected how shipmates interacted with each other and at any time could combust in conflict. Even though race had no formal role in how the ship operated, it loitered beneath the surface to bear on who was hired to do what job and shadowed shipboard relations with unspoken assumptions. Continue Reading Excerpt: Native American Whalemen and the World, by Nancy Shoemaker
The stories of Indian laborers often feel secondary to the spaces and stories of the Franciscan fathers, despite the fact that the missions were primarily centers of Indian work. The fathers hoped that productivity would lead to a surer conversion while they also made a profit, especially from the products of cattle in the form of hides and tallow that they sold to British and American ships along the Pacific coast. There are certainly signs of this work throughout the missions—from tallow vats to tanneries—and La Purisma stands out to me as a site that focuses on the type of work that its mostly Chumash inhabitants did on a daily basis. Beyond the missions, Indians as workers are even less visible in public presentations of California’s historical memory. Vaquero parades, rodeos, and festivals are rare, and the role of Indians in those festivals is small to nonexistent.
There are a few likely reasons for this omission. Continue Reading John Ryan Fischer: Indian Cowboys in California
Dolezal’s purported blackness (and Indianness) was not a temporary costume, but was more like the racial shifting that anthropologist Circe Sturm and a number of other writers have outlined and it is not uncommon in the history of the United States. In Real Native Genius, I examine this phenomenon through the lives of Okah Tubbee and Laah Ceil, two apparently non-Native people who remade themselves as Indians during the mid-19th century. Like Dolezal, Laah Ceil was raised as a white woman, and the two cases raise similar questions. Why would a white woman abandon the abundant privileges of whiteness to pass as a racial minority, particularly given the long and brutal histories of white supremacy and settler colonialism that did and do endanger people of color? What combination of fantasy and necessity enabled their transformation? What benefit(s) did/do they derive from their imposture? Continue Reading Angela Pulley Hudson: On Racial Passing, Posing, and Posturing
Tensions flared between British troops and provincial and ranger soldiers. Grant and his supporters charged that the provincials and rangers were poorly trained, undisciplined buffoons. Middleton and his supporters begged to differ. They countered that provincial troops had saved the day in the decisive 1761 showdown with the Cherokee. Continue Reading Daniel J. Tortora: The Grant-Middleton Duel and the Aftermath of the Anglo-Cherokee War
These accounts were prefatory to what in the Puritan era would have been termed the “application” of Apess’s texts, specifically, how they served as “looking-glasses” or mirrors for white people to see themselves as they were. Look at the “reservations” in the New England states, Apess commanded, home to “the most mean, abject, miserable race of beings in the world,” places of “prodigality and prostitution” where rum corroded the inhabitants’ moral fiber, and sexual exploitation often was the result. “Agents” or overseers appointed by the state offered no help and often participated in the Natives’ exploitation, neglecting to educate them as the law required and helping themselves to wood and other cash crops on tribal lands. And why? It was because of racial prejudice, whites’ unwillingness to acknowledge the simple humanity of the Indians. “I would ask,” Apess wrote, “if there cannot be as good feelings and principles under a red skin as there can be under a white” (155–56). Continue Reading Excerpt: The Life of William Apess, Pequot, by Philip F. Gura
History-based films serve as a teaching tool, spark an interest in the past, and provide perspective on issues in modern society. But I have yet to find a gripping, historically accurate film on eighteenth-century southern history. It is time that Hollywood takes notice of the Anglo-Cherokee War. Continue Reading Daniel J. Tortora: Why Hollywood Should Take Notice of the Anglo-Cherokee War