Also of interest... in Native American voices and allies
by Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf, $16)
Layli Long Soldier is a poet of Lakota descent who lives between two languages and deploys that doubleness “with ferocious precision,” said John Freeman in the Los Angeles Times. The poems in her magnificent debut collection have a “jittery, stutter-stepping” rhythm, often combining strategic repetition with bursts of lyricism. The title series of poems rewrites Congress’s half-hearted 2010 apology for U.S. mistreatment of Native Americans, peeling away legal politesse to expose an undercurrent of lies.
Good Friday on the Rez
by David Hugh Bunnell (St. Martin’s, $27)
David Bunnell’s “searing” memoir might renew your faith in progress, said May-lee Chai in The Dallas Morning News. Bunnell, the founder of PC Magazine, grew up in a Nebraska town where the Lakota minority were treated like dogs. But Bunnell rejected racism, and eventually became a teacher on a South Dakota reservation and witnessed the battles of the Indian civil rights movement. He’s revisiting difficult history, but the lasting friendships he forged add warmth to his testimony.
God’s Red Son
by Louis Warren (Basic, $35)
The Ghost Dance movement of the late 1800s was more than a sad sideshow to the collapse of traditional Native American societies, said Fergus Bordewich in The Wall Street Journal. In this “compellingly written” chronicle of the movement and its lasting influence, historian Louis Warren asks us to see it as a profound religious revival. It integrated Christian and tribal teachings and promoted cross-tribe solidarity. Its rituals so spooked whites, though, that it helped trigger 1890’s massacre at Wounded Knee.
Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits
by Chip Colwell (Univ. of Chicago, $30)
Custody battles over Native American artifacts often involve agonizing choices, said Bob Holmes in the New Scientist. Anthropologist and museum director Chip Colwell frequently referees such conflicts, and his new book illuminates the complexities. Though Colwell could have better explained science’s legitimate interests in studying, say, a ceremonial robe from an Alaskan tribe, he’s right to highlight the cultural imperatives that prompt Native Americans to demand the return of sacred objects. ■