21-4 “Native American Studies” Resource Guide

May 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 21-4: Native American Studies, Summer 2010, Resource Guides, Web Only
By Jerry Worley

Being relatively new to Wisconsin, I felt that I should dedicate this resource guide on Native American Studies to the Dairy State’s own indigenous people. I scoured the libraries and web and also interviewed several Ojibwe tribal academicians and traditionalists.

I have also provided an eclectic mix of books, journals, and online citations as well as the performing arts, which I consider critical to Native American Studies. Therefore, I consulted two of Wisconsin’s most prominent – and nationally acclaimed – Native drum groups: Badger Singers and Pipestone.

Several people at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) were very helpful , especially Dr. Wendy Makoons Geniusz, the director of American Indian Studies at UWEC. Of Cree descent, she was raised in the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) language and culture in Pas, Manitoba. She wanted readers to know about the new UWEC online Ojibwe class and her new book, which is described below. The university offers four semesters of Ojibwe language. Anyone with internet access can register to take Ojibwe for credit or just watch the class for free. Go to the Native American Studies page of the university website (http://uwec.edu/ais/) and click on “Watch Ojibwe Class.”

I list several people below who are willing to be interviewed. However, I encourage us all – administrators, faculty, and students – to go out in your own areas and interview others, especially those who have a sometimes fragile and tenuous link to the past. Indeed, our greatest academic resources might just be such people. These interviews were a wakeup call for me as a professor — a warning to remember and honor the oral tradition.

Article:

  • Faircloth, Susan C., & Tippeconnic, III, John W. (2010). The dropout/graduation rate crisis among American Indian and Alaska Native students: Failure to respond places the future of Native peoples at risk. Los Angeles, CA: The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA; www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu.

This study scrutinizes the calamity concerning high school graduation/dropout percentages with American Indian and Alaska Native students. Twelve Western states were examined; the results reveal that less than 50% of Native students graduate each year. The authors advocate that policymakers assess and amend current practices that degrade, humiliate, bully, or disenfranchise Native students. Faircloth and Tippeconnic also suggest making schools kinesthetically, psychologically, and emotionally safe by acting to terminate racism, assure fair treatment and concern for all students, vigorously include families in the school districts, offer prospects for students to be absorbed deeply in their respective Native language and culture, and train administrators and teachers to work with American Indian and Alaska Native students.

Books:

  • Caduto, M.J. & Bruchac, J. (1994). Keepers of the night: Native American stories and nocturnal activities for children. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing.

In light of the many new teacher education programs being offered at tribal colleges nationwide, I felt we needed a wonderful source for pre-service elementary teachers and their students. Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) deliver with these “field-tested, hands-on activities.” This book will be an invaluable addition to any educator’s Native American Studies curriculum. Bruchac is an award-winning author with over 500 publications, including books, stories, articles, and poems. This book is part of a series that would be of great interest to both teachers and parents.

  • Forbes, J. D. (2007). The American discovery of Europe. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Just check out the title by Jack Forbes (Powhatan-Renápe and Delaware-Lenápe); this book provides fodder for a much needed discussion of the indigenous view of history. In other words, why begin studying “history” on the East Coast and with Eurocentric methods?

  • Geniusz, W.M. (2009). Our knowledge is not primitive: Decolonizing botanical Anishinaabe teachings. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Dr. Wendy Makoons Geniusz’s new book takes a critical swipe at Eurocentric perspectives by honoring Anishinaabe botanical knowledge. She reveals customs either long forgotten or deliberately shunned and describes indigenous research methods. She exposes the problems caused by the one-sided view. She wants to open communication lines to build trust between traditional knowledge experts and the sometimes indifferent practitioners from the dominant culture. The book uses a theoretical method for research developed by Anishinaabe elders working with the Seven Generations Educational Institute (see on-line source below).

  • LeBeau, P. R. (2009). Term paper resource guide to American Indian history. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

The author gives the Native American Studies scholar dozens of research papers that provide a critical foundation for going deeper into more complex issues. This text is recommended for high school and undergraduate students.

  • Miller, D.; Smith, D.J.; McGeshick, J.R.; & Shanley, J. (2008). The history of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana, 1800-2000. Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press.

This is the first comprehensive scholarly book ever written on the history of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana. It is an absolute must for Native American scholars interested in the reservation period in American history.

  • Rockwell, D. (1991). Giving voice to Bear: North American Indian myths, rituals, and images of the bear. Niwot, CO: Roberts Rinehart Publishers.

A comprehensive masterpiece for Native American Studies scholars, this poetically written book centers on the bear and its important relationship with a variety of North American Indians.

  • Thompson, W.N. (2005). Native American issues: A reference handbook, (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

This source was recommended highly by the reference librarians at UWEC. Every year, hundreds of American Indian Studies students are assigned research papers, and they find this source helpful, according to the librarians. The text classifies a very complex discipline, and the critical reviews are very high.

On-line:

The research librarians highly recommended this database, and one called it, THE best diversity database. With almost 2 million articles from various news publications dating back to 1990, Ethnic Newswatch provides the serious Native American Studies scholar with information about not only contemporary Native American issues but also those of other diversity groups.

This superb site from the Yale Law Library contains many other documents besides treaties, so be sure to type in “Treaties between the United States and Native Americans” once you have entered the Avalon site.

Geniusz spoke favorably of this site, which conveys the mission of the Canadian school that blends culture and traditions with modern information and technology. Check out this Anishinaabe resource and its many links, which provide a cross cultural attempt to bring it all together in contemporary fashion.

Interviews:

  • Smith, Jerry. Contact: Mr. Jerry Smith, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, 13394 W. Trepania Road, Hayward, WI 54843. Phone (715) 634-8934, ext. 262.

Smith is “the elder in residence” for the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwe Community College in Hayward, WI. He will tell traditional stories that range from time-honored plants and medicines to stolen rice ponds to customs going back to the Paleolithic Era. Smith works at the tribal office and is more than willing to share another refreshing perspective. He is one of the main reasons why I take my UWEC students to Hayward for a cultural immersion experience. “Our stories are alive,” Smith says.

  • White, Lewis. Contact: Mr. Lewis White, Lac Courte Oreille Tribal School, 8575 N. Round Lake School Road, Hayward, WI 54843. Phone (715) 634-8924, ext. 230, or email lwhite@lcoschools.bia.edu.

Wow, what a living resource . . . White remembers the “smell of smoked tanned buckskin” growing up. For those students and scholars needing a critical connection between the reservation period and contemporary culture of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, he is that person. Like Jerry Smith, White is approachable, and his stories are colorful and accurate. When he was a young man, he became a charter member of the Badger Singers as they roamed the West and Midwest going from powwow to powwow. Today, he is the Ojibwe language teacher at the LCO Tribal School.

Audio CDs:

  • Horncloud, W. (Writer and Performer). (1998). Traditional Lakota Songs. Phoenix, AZ: Canyon Records.

Available through several internet sites including Canyon Records and Amazon, this 1971 recording is a must for Native American Studies scholars who wish to hear the past. Some songs date back to the 1800s. I have owned this for about eight years, and I truly appreciate Horncloud’s authentic recording.

  • Lac Courte Oreilles Badger Singers. (Writers and Performers). (1998). Songs of King Eagle. Escanaba, MI: Noc Bay Publishing.

Performing since their teens, the Badger Singers have included Lewis White, Jim Miller, Stony Larson, Rusty Barber, Bobby Blackdeer, Paul Demain, Will Goug’e, Will Goug’e, Jr., Jim Goug’e, Bill Cadotte, Randy Cadotte, Scott Penass, Odawa White, Craig Goug’e, “Duck” White, Roger Baker, and many more. This group germinated in the late 1960s and early 1970s when Ojibwe music was in danger of disappearing. The Badger Singers perform not only traditional Ojibwe songs but also songs from “out West” and “out East.” Mostly geared toward powwow songs, the Badgers were mentored by Ed Bearheart and other Ojibwe elders. In fact, this CD is dedicated to Bearheart’s life. The Badgers were influenced and encouraged by many old style singers. In their early years they would travel great distances – such as Montana, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. They have also performed throughout the Midwest and into New York, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, and even Germany. They were at their peak in the ‘70s and ‘80s. This CD contains narrations by White, Larson, and Miller. Luckily for me and my students, we were personally invited to a practice session where the Badgers answered questions in between songs. In my opinion, it was better than being backstage with the Rolling Stones!

  • Lakota Thunder (Writers and Performers). (2000). Veteran Songs. Bismarck, ND: Makoche Records. This recording was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Native American Music Album. Singing about Lakota warriors who were involved in many conflicts, these young Lakota led by Courtney and Dana Yellowfat produced a vibrant jewel that will remain a key link between traditional and contemporary Native American music. It is available through many internet music sites including CD Universe and Makoche Records.
  • Pipestone (Writers and Performers). (2010). As the Rez Turns. Phoenix, AZ: Canyon Records.

Available through several music sites including Amazon and Zango Music (a comprehensive collection of today’s Native American music), As the Rez Turns is a cutting-edge album recorded by Canyon Records. It will give round dance lovers all they need in melodies and hilarious lyrics. This CD is HOT — it was sold out at LCO – but luckily for me, I “scored” a rare copy at one of the musician’s homes. Pipestone is a nationally respected group, and these young men write their own songs. That is why they get their recording contracts. It’s all original! Their previous album (Round Dance Songs – Good Ol’ Fashioned NDN Lovin’) won the Native American Music Awards’ Album of the Year. Pipestone is invited quite often to places such as California and Florida. Many of the musicians sprouted from the LCO Tribal School’s drum group “Eagles,” who were mentored by the above mentioned Lewis White.

For me personally, building this resource guide was a memorable and enlightening experience, especially when I took the time to find the Native American Studies’ sources just around the corner. I especially appreciated those resources who are breathing, living vibrantly, and willing to share their infinite wealth of information.

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