Indigenous people of North America

1. Sovereign entrepreneurs: Cherokee small-business owners and the making of economic sovereignty 
Lewis, Courtney. North Carolina, 2019

Anthropologists have long studied how Native Americans build sustainable economies in internal colonialized situations. In the 1970s–80s, those researching ethnic art as household industries marketing to tourists and middle-class consumers found there were challenges because of the structure of the art market and its control by a series of nonnative go-betweens. In Sovereign Entrepreneurs, Lewis takes the study of artists as small business owners one step further and shows how they have overcome these problems on the eastern band of Cherokee lands in North Carolina over the last 40 years. By focusing her analysis on all small businesses and entrepreneurs in a single native community, she uncovers the challenges and successes of individual initiatives. In this fascinating study, Lewis shows how diversity can overcome the dangers of a nation’s relying on one economic product—casinos—and how individual and household entrepreneurship provides stability as well as room for necessary innovation.
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2. Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley histories: language, archaeology, and ethnography
Kaufman, David V. Nebraska, 2019

Historically, the peoples of the Lower Mississippi Valley were among the densest populations in North America. In Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley Histories, Kaufman, an independent researcher who focuses on indigenous language documentation, revitalization, and language contact, uses linguistic evidence to provide an enlightening account of the social and cultural history of this area. Well written and comprehensive, this volume traces the linguistic and trade ties between the Lower Mississippi Valley and other settlements, most notably Cahokia near present-day St. Louis, which was larger even than London at the time. Detailing the influence of Cahokia on the trade routes and language of the Lower Mississippi Valley, this work suggests an even larger network of cultural exchange, spanning as far north as the Ohio Valley and as far south as the Valley of Mexico. Scholars will appreciate the detailed accounts of the many indigenous languages that have sadly been nearly lost in terms of present-day active speakers, making this a useful resource for those working to revitalize these languages.
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3. Feeding Cahokia: early agriculture in the North American heartland
Fritz, Gayle. Alabama, 2019

This is an excellent book that examines a topic with deep roots in American archaeology: the role of agriculture in the rapid growth, florescence, and decline of Cahokia Mounds, the largest prehistoric population center north of Mexico. As Fritz (emer., Washington Univ.) points out, numerous debates surround this topic. For years, the archaeological story maintained that Cahokia’s ruling class governed via a wealth distribution system that relied mainly on corn grown by the lowest classes of society. Fritz sees this as a vastly oversimplified scenario that misrepresents the status of farmers, who were primarily women and girls of various socioeconomic levels. Further, the narrow focus on corn as the primary crop overlooks the abundant evidence that numerous other plants, including knotweed, chenopodium, and maygrass, were major contributors to the Cahokia diet. Fritz puts that diet in excellent perspective by examining the archaeobotanical record for the several thousand years prior to the rise of Cahokia.
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4. American Indian Newspapers
Adam Matthew, 2019

“A rich collection, American Indian Newspapers (AIN) offers a unique look at how news was reported by and to Native American communities across the US and Canada over the course of the last two centuries,” wrote Daniel W. Jolley for ccAdvisor. Adam Matthew contacted hundreds of publishers and tribal councils to find those willing to enter into digitization agreements for sharing their collections in this central database. The result is 45 titles covering the years from 1828 to 2016 in such areas as Alaska, British Columbia, Hawaii, Georgia, North Carolina, and various states across central and western US—43 publication locations in all. Along with English language newspapers are titles published in the Chinuk Wawa, Dakota, Diné Bizaad, Lakota, Sm’algyax, and Ōlelo Hawaiʻi languages. Notable titles include Cherokee Phoenix (Cherokee Advocate) and Cherokee Voices, Hopi Action News, Navajo Times, and Osage News. Many of the titles began publication in the turbulent 1970s and so reflect the voices of more contemporary Native American tribes and communities that mattered to them. Among topics are tribal laws and elections, land rights, sovereignty, environmentalism, the preservation of local culture and language, and political activism and protest. Older newspapers provide a unique take on historical events and local political and cultural happenings among various tribes.
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5. The small shall be strong: a history of Lake Tahoe’s Washoe Indians 
Makley, Matthew S. Massachusetts, 2018

Makley (Metropolitan State Univ.) offers a compelling narrative of the Washoe Indians, a tribal nation indigenous to the area around Lake Tahoe in present-day Nevada and California. Rooted in oral interviews, archival research, and secondary literature, the book presents nine tightly constructed chapters that carry the narrative from Washoe creation stories to contemporary accounts of efforts to reassert sovereignty of place. Makley examines Washoe encounters with settler colonialism when the silver rush unleashed miners, loggers, and settlers in the area in the mid-19th century; the Washoe’s surprising use of the otherwise catastrophic General Allotment Act to protect their pine nut lands around the turn of the 20th century; Washoe efforts to enter into intergovernmental partnerships to assert the right to serve as stewards of the region and its resources; the creation of a language immersion school; and successful drives to ban rock climbing on sacred sites. This timely work makes a strong case for how attention to tribal nations can provide unique insights into the history and contemporary state of Native North America.
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6. Life of the indigenous mind: Vine Deloria Jr. and the birth of the Red Power movement 
Martínez., David. Nebraska, 2019

The 1969 publication of Custer Died for Your Sins made Vine Deloria Jr. the most prominent spokesman for Native Americans. In that manifesto and in his many subsequent writings, he expressed a dynamic tribal nationalism that earned him Indian Country Today’s Indian Visionary Award shortly before his death in 2005. In this text, Martínez (Arizona State Univ.) has composed a comprehensive account of Deloria’s four earliest books about tribal self-determination and the American need for Indian values. He recounts how Deloria assailed longstanding paternalistic attempts by whites to dispossess, exploit, and assimilate Indians, suppress their spirituality, and terminate their treaty status. He had a decided influence on developing US federal policies that somewhat recognized Indian sovereignty. Perhaps most important was his profound, abiding effect on fellow Natives, stirred by his impassioned declarations of individual Indian human rights and tribal sovereignty: rejecting the melting pot, reaffirming traditional religion, espousing kinship-based communal sharing, and achieving greater self-governance.
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7. Hearts of our people: Native women artists 
by Jill Ahlberg Yohe and Teri Greeves Washington, 2019

This exhibition catalogue will be the definitive treatment of Native American art made by women. Curated by Yohe and Greeves, with input from an advisory board of 20 distinguished female Native artists, the book, like the exhibition, has an agenda: it draws attention to the fact that, as Yohe writes in the introduction, “Native women’s contributions to the art world have largely gone unrecognized by outsiders, despite the fact that women are responsible for most of the Native artwork in collections.” One of the book’s strengths is that it shows how contemporary art made by painters, sculptors, and conceptual artists is informed by the art of the past. Concurrently, it shows that traditional forms of creativity—such as pottery, quillwork, beadwork, embroidery, weaving, featherwork, and carving—continue to flourish in the 21st century. The book features footnoted essays by distinguished scholars, curators, and artists and is well indexed.
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