X-Marks: Native Signatures of Assent

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

By Scott Richard Lyons
University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis (2010)

Review by Ryan Winn

Blending personal narrative, scholarly research, and critical theory, X-Marks explores the complexity of contemporary Native identity to make an argument for a potentially radical idea in American Indian Studies: inclusion.

Author Scott Richard Lyons attacks terms that are often used by Native and non- Native critics to define a person’s “Indianness.” This includes the words “identity,” “culture,” “nation,” and “traditional.”

Specifically, Lyons challenges the notion of Native intellectuals as “Culture Cops” who both coin and police the language and boundaries by which desired Native lifestyles and lifeways are critiqued. In short, Lyons uses his Ojibwe heritage, as well as the actions of his elders, to call for a paradigm shift that allows American Indians to shed labels, imposed limitations, and belittling terminology that hinders them from having an active role in the modern world. Lyons terms this civil disobedience, thus making a new x-mark himself.

This book would make a compelling addition to American Indian Studies courses as well as to all libraries who house American Indian scholarship.

Ryan Winn is an English, theatre, and communications instructor at College of Menominee Nation in Keshena and Green Bay, WI.

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