Women of White Earth

Aug 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 13-1: Honoring Our Students & Alumni, Media Reviews

WOMEN OF WHITE EARTH COVERPhotographs and interviews by Vance Vannote, with editorial assistance from Janet Pratt
University of Minnesota Press, 1999
211 pages

Review by Maria Escalante

In the Women of White Earth, Vance Vannote collects images and interviews of 43 members of the Minnesota White Earth Tribe. Through interviews, he allows the women to tell their own stories. A psychologist who lives and practices in Fargo, ND, Vannote has studied photography since 1974.

This is a great book for tribal college instructors to emphasize the importance and effectiveness of oral histories. The brief biographies of each woman give readers a strong sense of who they are and what they have overcome. The common thread throughout the interviews is that almost every woman has survived some form of adversity with an inner strength and courage. That ability to survive is an important element for tribal college students, who need to know that they are not the only people working for an education, or just trying to be, and having obstacles. Vannote’s collection could also serve as inspiration for tribal college students to take the time to talk to the women in their area.

The strengths of this collection are the variety of experiences of the women and the fact that they are living now. Anyone working at a tribal college can relate. The most appealing for tribal college students would be the wide range of educational experiences, from high school graduates to women with doctorates. While this book looks exclusively at people of the White Earth Reservation, it is a collection of strong and inspiring women, role models for their ability to reach their goals. Women of White Earth is an excellent motivator for tribal college students who think that no one can understand their experiences.

Maria Escalante is the librarian for the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, WI.

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