We Are an Indian Nation: A History of the Hualapai People

May 13th, 2011 | By | Category: 22-4: Honoring Student Success, Media Reviews

By Jeffrey P. Shepherd
University of Arizona Press (2010)

Review by Bradley Shreve

After more than 10 years of research and writing, Jeffrey Shepherd’s study of the Hualapai people of western Arizona has finally hit the shelves. Like his mentor Peter Iverson’s landmark book, Diné: A History of the Navajos, Shepherd’s work offers a concise analysis of the tribe’s history, focusing primarily on the 19th and 20th centuries.

Shepherd views Hualapai history through the lens of conquest and colonialism, and he does not mince his words: The United States, he writes, conducted “nothing less than campaigns of ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide” against the Hualapai. Still, We Are an Indian Nation is a story of survival and endurance.

In his research Shepherd draws upon a variety of sources, including Hualapai oral histories and traditional stories. It’s no surprise then that the book has been endorsed by Hualapai leaders, including Wilfred Whatanome, Sr., chairman of the tribe’s council. At times, Shepherd’s theorizing can be overly thick and difficult to wade through, but his overarching message remains clear. Although best suited for upper division or graduate level courses, We Are an Indian Nation is an important contribution to Native history—and is exactly the sort of book that should be on the shelves of all tribal college libraries.

Bradley Shreve is chair of the social and behavioral sciences division at Diné College. He is author of Red Power Rising: The National Indian Youth Council and the Origins of Native Activism (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011).

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