California Literary Review

Native American

Book Review: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan

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October 15th, 2012

The course of Curtis’ campaign to document the lives and life style of the Native American peoples is related by Egan with considerable detail and page-turning élan. There were plenty of incidents of physical ordeal and, in some cases, real danger. An Apache medicine man who divulged secrets of his tribe’s religious practices died under suspicious circumstances shortly after Curtis left the reservation. That fate might well have befallen Curtis…

EP Review: Angel Haze’s Reservation

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July 20th, 2012

There are not an enormous number of 20-year-old, Native American, childhood-in-a-cult surviving, queer, female rapper/singers around currently. Given the cult stuff, you’d hope not. Angel Haze is, though and she’s about to be one of the biggest things in the world.

The Denver Art Museum’s New Galleries of American Indian Art

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March 23rd, 2011

Navajo “eyedazzler” rugs of the nineteenth century, in which brilliantly colored wools form intricate diamonds, are grouped together to emphasize the subtle formal variations introduced by individual weavers; the vivid reds, yellows, and greens which made the designs possible were the product of new chemical dyes.

Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort at The National Museum of the American Indian

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November 3rd, 2009

The first piece you see upon entering is Shapeshifter (2000), an enormous, abstracted whale skeleton built entirely out of white plastic chairs. Jungen’s leviathan is hung in front of a simple black wall and the contrast of colors intensifies its extraordinary power. Shapeshifter has the pristine, flawless texture of a mass produced object, yet somehow feels organic. You can easily imagine the enormous tale with its graceful, individually-carved vertebrae swinging to life.

Frontiersman: Daniel Boone and the Making of America by Meredith Mason Brown

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November 16th, 2008

It was brutal stuff. Massacres, scalpings, crops burned, winters with only salted meat to eat – and this on both sides. Again Boone survived this melee, but it took a great deal of guile to do it. When his daughter Jemima was kidnapped by a Cherokee and Shawnee war party, for instance, he needed his backwoods know-how to track them down quickly and shoot the offenders.

A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn by James Donovan

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September 25th, 2008

Had Sitting Bull and his war chiefs reacted in the customary skirmishing style of Plains Indian warfare, the outcome would have been very different. But the Sioux and Cheyennes, fighting with their backs to the wall against the encroaching tide of white civilization, opted for a pitched battle and almost from the outset, Custer’s tactical plan went terribly wrong.

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz

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August 6th, 2008

Gold, jewels – that was what the new world promised and that was what the Spanish demanded. It is the same paradox that had English settlers starving on the shore while lobsters scuttled underfoot. If it wasn’t what they had imagined, it didn’t exist.

Curses on You, White Men!

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May 12th, 2008

The inhumane acts committed by both sides in this war equal the most heinous crimes of history. The hate was uncontrollable. The Indians sought revenge and a return to their way of life before colonization, and the New Englanders felt they had God on their side. The renowned Puritan preacher and scholar Cotton Mather asserted that “. . . the Evident Hand of Heaven appearing on the Side of a people whose Hope and Help was alone in the Almighty Lord of Hosts, Extinguished whole Nations of Savages.”

Four Shipwrecked Castaways Cross Sixteenth Century America

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December 19th, 2007

“But at that point most of the expeditionaries perished as a result of Indian attacks, illness, and starvation. In fact, several expedition members resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. Eventually, out of three hundred men comprising the original land contingent, only four survived. These four castaways remained as slaves of the coastal Indians of Texas for six years until they finally made their escape into what is now northeast Mexico.”

The Translation of Dr. Apelles: A Love Story – by David Treuer

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April 24th, 2007

The novel’s postmodernism is not its strongest or even its most salient feature; and comparing the book to Calvino, Borges, and Saramago does it a great disservice.

Never Come To Peace Again: Pontiac’s Uprising and the Fate of the British Empire in North America – by David Dixon

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April 22nd, 2007

Dixon’s approach is both refreshing and accurate. He eschews the required kowtowing associated with ethnic minorities.

Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy by Kent Nerburn

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April 10th, 2007

No one knows for certain who first uttered the notorious statement that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” General Philip Sheridan, commander of the U.S. Army on the Western Frontier, often gets the dubious honor for a remark he reputedly made to a Comanche chief in 1869.

An Interview With Scott Zesch

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April 3rd, 2007

“It seems to have been universal throughout North America. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, abductions by Indians were common along the eastern seaboard, especially in colonial Massachusetts and Virginia. A large number of those children also came to prefer the natives’ way of life.”

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