7.27.2021

friends and family reunion road trip: day six: ashland to berkeley

This morning, after packing up the gear and the dogs, we went to my mother's place for a short visit before leaving town. She loves seeing Cookie and Kai, and it's great to see her every day that we're in the area.

After more goodbyes, we headed to the Ashland Dog Park again. This time Cookie and Kai were yipping and whining with excitement as we pulled into the parking lot. Not quite the hysteria that accompanies trips to the beach, but still... two very happy and excited dogs.

After some play and some romping, we were back on I-5 South. It's about 4.5 or 5 hours to the Bay Area, an easy drive. We're staying at another VRBO cottage, this time in the Elmwood area of Berkeley. The neighbourhood is gorgeous -- huge trees, large old houses with lush front gardens, very walkable. The cottage is large and pretty amazing, separated from the host's house by a beautiful patio garden. The dogs are allowed to be loose in her yard, but it's not secure enough. She Who Cannot Be Contained would be touring Berkeley in no time.

This cottage is probably a prime example of housing that would have once been a great rental, maybe for two students or a couple, but is now a vacation rental, further depleting the housing stock in an area already squeezed for space. I know some people want travelers to boycott Airbnb and VRBO -- a nice idea for people who don't travel. Public pressure on city councils to restrict vacation rentals seems to be the only way, an uphill battle pitting housing activists against the tourism and hospitality industries, not exactly a level playing field. It's a problem that can't be solved on the consumer level. (Cut and paste that sentence for future use. Telling people to voluntarily inconvenience themselves is not a sound strategy for change, in my view.)

After settling in a bit, we (all four of us) walked down to a locally famous burger joint called The Smokehouse. There's a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's in the area, and I love both, but I knew we'd end up overbuying, especially since we'll be out and about almost the whole time we're here. The burgers and dogs were very good! 

Tonight we're sacked out in the cottage, drinking craft beer and cider we picked up in Oregon. We have a busy few days ahead, with lots of plans, lots of people, plus books and baseball.

family and friends reunion road trip: day five: hanging out in ashland and talent

On Monday, we started the day at the Ashland Dog Park. Kai and Cookie had a great time. It was their second time there, and they were more comfortable and up for socializing. There were lots of beautiful dogs of all sizes, and people were friendly but not intrusive. Just lovely. It's also so wonderful to see our dogs are completely relaxed around other dogs -- no fear, no aggression whatsoever.

We went into Ashland and met my mother, my sister, and two nieces for lunch. Unfortunately this meant leaving the dogs in the car. Of course the windows were all open, but it was still very hot. Lunch was fun, but we were glad to get them back to the air-conditioned cottage.

After hanging out for a while, we went back to my brother and sister-in-law's, and hung out on the deck. The group kept growing, so we had the chance to visit with lots of folks. Wine bottles and water jugs were plentiful. Leftover chicken, lamb, shrimp, and tempeh appeared. The grand-niece came home from camp and entertained us. As it grew late, the group dwindled until we all finally went to bed.

* * * *

The VRBO cottage was perfect, and it turned out to be a five-minute drive to my brother and sister-in-law's place. There are dog-friendly hotels everywhere these days, but having a little house is the best. Five stars all around for this host. 

It is very hot here, but so dry! I marvel at being outside in 28, 30, 32 C degree weather without sweating and without being too uncomfortable. I am usually overheated at 25 C. It also cools down at night, so sitting outside is lovely. That's also different! In NYC and the GTA, when it's super hot and humid during the day, it will stay that way all night, too, so there's no relief.

It will be much cooler and more humid in the Bay Area. I love San Francisco and am excited to be going back. It was also a lot easier to say goodbye to the Oregon crew, knowing we would see them on our way back. 

With two of the couples -- one niece and spouse who live in California and one nephew and spouse who live in New Jersey -- I had to say goodbye for who knows how long. I'm grateful I spent some time with them in the last few days. But I wish I could see them more often.

family and friends reunion road trip: some things I've seen

 Seen on many lawns and in many windows:

 
I saw a few in my mother's senior community, which made me happy.

* * * * 

Seen on a front-yard fence near the Ashland Dog Park:











Seen in the approach to every town and city so far: tent encampments. Whole villages of people without homes.


7.26.2021

family and friends reunion road trip: day four: birthday party at a winery

This was another big family day, and a wonderful one. 

We took Kai and Cookie to a dogsitter who we found through Rover, the Airbnb for dogs. She has a sweet little older house with a big fenced-in yard, and was very relaxed and easy-going. I had already told her about Cookie (a/k/a She Who Cannot Be Contained), to be on the alert for digging, and to keep her double-collared on walks.

This was the first time these pups have been left at someone's home, rather than a doggie daycare place where there are lots of other dogs to distract them. They seemed perfectly happy and comfortable, trotting around in the backyard, sniffing everything, and we made a quiet getaway.

My brother and sister-in-law had booked a private room at a local winery. The food was very good, the wine was cold and plentiful, and the company was outstanding. My brother asked me to make the toast, which was a fun challenge, since I hadn't prepared. It seemed to go over well.

My mother seems somewhat overwhelmed by all the goings-on, but also seems very happy. She had presents for my own birthday, including this cute "librarian bookend".

When we picked up the dogs, they were (of course) thrilled to see us, but they were also relaxed and not stressed. The dogsitter said they were well-behaved and no escapes were attempted. At night they were completely wiped out from their big adventure.

I've said this many times in this blog: I didn't grow up in a particularly happy family. Certainly there were good times, and I do have many happy memories. But the head of the family was a tyrant and a bully, and also mentally ill (although there was no awareness of that at the time). His issues and behaviour controlled our lives in myriad ways. Family gatherings were generally riddled with anxiety, fear, and abuse. These fun, happy family gatherings, free of fear and anxiety, are something I've only experienced as an adult. To both love and like my family is something I am truly grateful for.

7.25.2021

family and friends reunion road trip: day three: an amazing day in southern oregon

We've run out of adjectives to describe the day. Amazing, incredible, awesome. A celebration. A love-fest. It would have been special and meaningful any time, but coming after the pandemic, it was profound.

After a quick breakfast in the cottage, we headed straight to my mother's place. She lives in a retirement / assisted living community in Ashland, about 15 minutes from where we're staying -- and more importantly, 15 minutes from the rest of the Oregon family (all transplants from the eastern US).

This was the first time I had seen my mother since she stayed with us in the summer of 2019. We were set to make this trip in April of 2020, postponed because of covid. It's the longest I've ever gone without seeing my mother, and throughout the pandemic, in the back of my mind, I wondered if I would ever see her again. What a joy and relief to hug her!!

We saw Mom's apartment for the first time, which is simply amazing, with huge, spacious rooms, and a balcony with a view of the mountains. This was just a brief visit to say hi. Nephew M and spouse J were coming over to take her out to breakfast, for some special Grandma alone time. So we got to see them, too. 

After that, we took Cookie and Kai to the Ashland dog park. It's a really nice park, large, grassy, with a good water supply, some shade, and lots of friendly dogs. We knew it wouldn't be a great day for the pups, so I'm extra glad we did this.

In the lovely little neighbourhood near the dog park, we saw a moving Black Lives Matter display, and I stopped to take pictures (to be shared in the future).

Next up, another stop at the Medford Food Co-op, and we were off to my brother and sister-in-law's place in Talent, only a few minutes from where we're staying. 

M and M live on 50+ acres of land with a storybook view of a valley and mountains. They are Land Stewards; their land is used for grazing pasture, a vineyard, beekeeping, and other sustainable uses. They have an amazing house, and on the same property, our nephew D, partner R, and their daughter S live in a small cottage.

Also staying at their place: nephew J and spouse C, and niece E and spouse T, who all live in northern California. 

We last saw brother/sister-in-law M and M when they visited us on the Island in 2019, and last saw their adult children and partners in 2016 -- our Vancouver/Oregon trip. That was the first (and until now only) time we saw our grand-niece in person! Pretty amazing! At that time S was 14 months old; now she is 6!

The only wrinkle for us is M and M keep their house pet-free, and there would be no way to keep them safe, loose on the property. This is Cookie, after all! We set up our tether-stake in some shade near the house. Cookie and Kai could see the house and anyone on the deck or patio, but weren't part of the fun. It was also very hot out, so we had to make sure they were always in shade and had plenty of water.

We periodically checked on them, and Cookie's line would be tangled around trees and bushes, and she'd be straining on a tiny bit of tether. They'd be super happy and excited to see us, we'd untangle Cookie and get them both settled... only to disappear again into the house.

After a few hours, the rest of the crew showed up: my sister J and partner J, niece C and spouse J, and nephew M and spouse J. I hadn't seen since these folks, my sister's adult children, since the last family weddings in 2018! They brought with them the guest of honour, my mother C.

Once everyone was assembled and a lot of the barbecue preparation was done, champagne (both regular and alcohol-free) was poured all around. My brother made a beautiful toast, the perfect mix of earnest and humourous, and we all lifted a glass to Connie.

We also toasted to other milestone birthdays, which my brother announced by birth month: 70, 65, 60, and 40. Pretty cool!

As the internet says, "you won't believe what happened next". Nephew J stepped up to toast, and he announced that he and C are pregnant, expecting their first in January 2022! Everyone gasped and cheered and exclaimed! Tears of joy and hugs all around. It was an incredible surprise: only their parents and the west-coast siblings knew. Our grand-niece S has been the first of the next generation of our family; now there will be two.

After more talking and hugging, and checking on the dogs, we assembled everyone for a big surprise for my mom: I had coordinated a Tribute video. All of us who were present, plus some extended family and very dear friends, had recorded videos telling C what she means to them, what they love and admire about her, and sharing special memories. Doing this through Tribute gave people incentive to create lovely videos, and made it easy to coordinate and assemble the final product.

For my mother, this was a complete surprise, and for everyone else, the first time they had watched the completed video from start to finish. It was... indescribable. Loving, meaningful, very moving. I totally lost it, weeping, more than once. No surprise there!

Allan and I ended the completed Tribute with this short video showing all our dogs through the years, over a jazz-piano version of the Happy Birthday song. Our nephews and nieces, and of course my mother, all remember our first dogs, Gypsy and Clyde, and everyone gasped and exclaimed to see their pictures. That turned out to be a really nice touch: everyone mentioned it to me later in the evening.

After a while we went outside to the deck and patio to eat. I felt Cookie and Kai had had enough. The temperature was cooling and there was plenty of shade, but being tethered... not so much fun. Allan walked them around for a while, then we brought them up to the deck, and tied looped their leashes around deck-posts to secure them, putting them much closer to the action. We moved a few chairs to their corner, so we could visit and gab with each other while including them.

After eating, we had one more surprise for the day. We brought with us some small gifts from the U'mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, for everyone there. (All the purchases pay royalties to Indigenous artists.) We're not huge on material gift-giving, but this was something I really wanted to do, to show my appreciation and love, and to share a little bit of Indigenous Vancouver Island culture with my family. Everyone was very happy and appreciative, which made me feel great. We gave grand-niece S a puppet (very culturally relevant to the Kwak'wala-speaking peoples), which she promptly named, and didn't take off her hand for the rest of the evening.

By the time it was growing dark, Cookie, Kai, and I were all beat. It wasn't hard to leave, knowing we would all see each other the next day, for the next round of celebration!

7.23.2021

family and friends reunion road trip: day two: everett, washington to talent, oregon

I am happy to report that today was far less eventful. 

The most important thing was to get on the road early. We know from past experience (our first trip to Vancouver and Oregon in 2016... where the idea to move west was born!) that there are two major traffic areas on this stretch of 5 South -- Sea-Tac and Portland. The plan was to get up very early, start driving immediately, and be past Sea-Tac before the major morning rush.

This is not an issue for me, as I am normally up at 5:00 a.m. Sleeping until 6 or 6:30 is late for me. Allan, however, is most definitely not a morning person. Waking up early is painful and difficult for him, so I was very grateful to be out the door by 6. We stopped at one of the famous coffee shacks that are everywhere in the PNW, got back on 5 South, and didn't stop until we were in Lakewood, south of Tacoma. 

I brought the laptop to breakfast, and executed my cunning plan: logged into my Telus account to change the plan on Allan's phone, emailed friends and family we're seeing on the trip to tell them my phone is out of commission and give them Allan's number, got my email set up on Allan's phone, and installed the apps I need to make the trip work. All before our food arrived. 

Which is not to say I worked quickly. I could have knit a sweater before our food arrived. Or someone could have, someone who knows how to knit. Black Bear Diner chain: a long wait for mediocre food. But again, happy to be there, and even happier to use their wifi.

After breakfast, we gave the dogs their breakfast in the parking lot, and got back on the highway. As we were slowly driving past Portland, I had a brilliant idea: why not find a dog park in the area and give the pups some exercise and fun.

Now here is an example of technology improving our lives in unexpected ways. I was able to use Allan's newly data-enabled phone to find a list of fenced-in dog parks in the Portland area, chose the southern-most one -- and we were about three-quarters of a mile away from exit we needed! Amazing timing. Google navigated us to Willamette Park, a huge and beautiful multi-use park on the Willamette River. The fenced in dog area was just a large square of sand with no shade, but our dogs were very happy to run around for a bit. Cookie especially seemed very happy, bouncing around, awkwardly chasing a toy, so happy and relaxed.

It was sunny and pretty hot, so after a short time, we put the dogs' leashes on and walked on a shady bike/walk path. We took them to the boat launch -- many canoes and kayaks on the river -- so they could wade in and cool down. Cookie was eyeing a family of ducks, but no dice. She Who Cannot Be Contained will not be off-leash on this trip unless surrounded by visible fences!

After the park, we couldn't find an entrance to 5 South, and had to take a connector highway north, get off, and U-turn. Worth it!

The rest of the drive was uneventful. We picked up some supplies at the Medford Food Co-Op, and discovered we were only 10 minutes away from the cottage in Talent that I had booked, pulling in around 7 p.m.

It's a lovely one-room cottage, very comfy, everything we need, and surrounded by fields and orchards.

Seen on a highway billboard: MARXISM, YOUR TICKET TO A POVERTY LIFESTYLE, with a picture of Uncle Sam.

7.22.2021

family and friends reunion road trip: day one: port hardy to everett, washington

Our epic road trip has begun! Excited? I'm over the moon. 

This was the trip we were supposed to take last year, but... covid. This year it's even better: a celebration of my mother's 90th birthday, with all her children, grandchildren, their partners, and her great-grandchild, all converging in southern Oregon to celebrate together. Thanks for coming along.

On Thursday we were up early, packed the dogs and the car, and hit the road. Everything took longer than expected, as it usually does, but we made a few mistakes. Most notably, we should have called ahead and picked up our food at Ideal Cafe (our must-visit as we drive down-Island), but instead we hit this extremely popular joint it at lunch hour. The wait there was just enough to mess up our timing for our ferry reservation. The next later sailing was full. Rut-row.

Allan did some fancy driving while I checked all the different ferry sailings and came up with Plan B. We pulled up to the ticket booth exactly two minutes after our reserved time. And... we were the last reservation allowed on the ferry. The kindly BC Ferries worker admonished us but let us in. Whew!

Taking the ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver is not the preferred way to make this trip. Ideally, we would take the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington, saving many hours of driving. That Victoria ferry, however, is an international trip, for tourists and travelers, and is still not running. So we're driving more, but we can still get to Southern Oregon in two days. We were pretty happy to be on that boat!

And here comes my second mistake, albeit one I could not have anticipated. I turned off my phone to conserve the battery. When I turned it on, it began an update... then crashed. And died. It would not turn on, and none of the tricks I know would revive it. I tried and tried and tried... nothing. It's a rock. 

So now we're traveling without a paper map, and all the information -- where we're staying, directions, and so forth -- are in my email. On my phone. I look back fondly at the days when I used to print out all our reservations, directions, and whatnot, and put them in a plastic sleeve. (Yep, I've always been a librarian waiting to happen.)

So we have no map and no information.

Allan's phone doesn't have data. In fact we have a data blocker on his phone. 

I have my laptop with me, but obviously for that we need wifi.

So we land in Vancouver and figure we'll follow the signs to the border. From there, I know we're staying in Everett, Washington, just north of Seattle. And -- only because I saw the subject line of a reminder email -- I know the name of the chain hotel we've reserved! I didn't even open the email, but I did remember the subject line. 

There's only one highway all the way from the US border to southern Oregon: I-5. So all we need to do is find the border, and get I-5 south. From there, we'd exit the highway in Everett, and if we don't see the hotel from the highway, we'll ask at another hotel where to find ours. If that didn't work, we'd find someplace with wifi and get my email on the laptop.

We pulled in to the first hotel we saw, and the desk clerk printed directions, and we were only 10 minutes away. (This was our first reminder of how friendly people are in the Pacific Northwest US. I had a friend in Seattle who called it pathologically friendly, a phrase I loved and immediately adopted.)

It wasn't much of a room, but we were quite glad to get there. 

I was still stressed about my phone, but I came up with a plan. And we were exhausted and then it was morning.

7.19.2021

indigenous peoples day at the kwalilas hotel in port hardy

On Indigenous Peoples Day, the day of the summer solstice, we attended a ceremony held by the local First Nations communities outside the Kwa'lilas Hotel, the beautiful Indigenous-owned hotel in Port Hardy. I purposely didn't bring a camera, thinking photography was prohibited -- only to discover that because this was a public demonstration, not being held in the Nation's Big House, photography was acceptable. I did take a few pics with my cell phone, but these barely count as photography.

I am sharing the June 25 cover and colourful centrefold published by The Eagle of the Port Hardy event and at an event in Alert Bay. 


These photographs were taken by Kathy O'Reilly, publisher of The Eagle, used with permission.





These photographs were taken by Robin Quirk, 
Robin's Eye Photography, Alert Bay, used with permission.






7.18.2021

what i'm reading: the heartbeat of wounded knee: native america from 1890 to the present

 

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is a fascinating nonfiction. Part hidden history, part contemporary journalism, plus a dash of personal memoir, this ambitious book offers a new perspective on the Indigenous peoples of North America, in both the past and the present. 

Historian and journalist David Treuer, who is Ojibwe, has dug deep into a misunderstood past, and surveyed a nuanced present, to create an important narrative that will be new to most readers. 

* * * *

The book that is echoed in Treuer's title, Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, is likely the most famous work ever written about Native Americans. It's always been on my to-read list, but when I would think about reading it, it felt so heavy. Similar to how I feel about Holocaust literature, I didn't want to engage. Now I'm glad I never read that book, because I've learned that most of it is myth and misconception.

The first part of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee could be titled "A People's History of Native America" -- a Howard Zinn-style counter-narrative, re-telling the story of contact and westward expansion from the Indigenous point of view, highlighting resistance and resilience -- and there was plenty of both. 

Treuer unearths a hidden history of resistance that is stunning and inspiring. The resistance was as relentless as the forces stacked against them. Indigenous people used myriad forms of creative resistance against invasion, removal, and the destruction of their cultures. In the face of monumental, inescapable change, they regrouped and reinvented themselves again and again, over decades and centuries. Some chapters of this story are undeniably horrible and dark, but it's a more nuanced story than the one you likely already know and believe. 

Throughout, Treuer pushes back against the more typical narrative of ruin, defeat, and despair. He also engages in some surprising myth-busting and truth-telling about modern and contemporary Native America. 

* * * *

We know that, post-contact, the Indigenous people of North America were killed by both outright slaughter, by the destruction of their environment (such as the mass buffalo slaughter), and by disease. I knew that Native peoples had no immunity to smallpox, but I had not considered that while westward settlers were spreading infection, a smallpox vaccine was already in use. Some infection was intentional, but even unintentional infection was preventable.

"Guns and germs," however, are only part of the story. Indigenous cultures were also killed by: government edict, legal sleight of hand, forced (and botched) assimilation, forced re-education, the systemic destruction of access to cultural necessities, a ridiculous number of treaties signed then ignored, and even by well-intentioned, paternalistic do-gooders. 

One piece that I found particularly galling is how, after a US government push for Nations to become self-sufficient -- or to use dominant channels to regain the self-sufficiency they had lost -- the same government passed laws that made it absolutely impossible for them to do so. 

In one example, Menominee tribes practiced sustainable forestry in the deep woods of Wisconsin and Michigan. 
Oral history has it that a kind of spiritually based sustainable-yield management system was put into practice shortly after the reservation was established in 1854. According to a tribal leader, Charlie Frechette, the Menominee invoke this practice as part of many of their ceremonial proceedings: "Start with the rising sun and work towards the setting sun, but take only the mature trees, the sick trees, and the trees that have fallen. When you reach the end of the reservation, turn and cut from the setting sun to the rising sun, and the trees will last forever." The proceeds from the first trees they cut and sold went to buy flour. The tribe was in a position to use the resources it had left in order to take care of itself and to remain self-sufficient.

The government, again working in direct contradiction of its own stated ideology (weren't Indians supposed to learn "I" and not "we," and the value of buying and selling?), quickly put a stop to Menominee logging . . . In the government's view, land was to be cleared of trees and then planted. This was the path to civilization. It was also a path to disenfranchisement: the timber barons in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota wanted to sell the timber themselves and reap the profits. 
Again and again, across eras and geography, Nations were prepared to adapt, and were successfully adapting, only to have the rules changed when private interests wanted to clear the way for more profit.

* * * *

Here are some random tidbits that were of particular interest to me. 
  • I learned that Robert La Follette, a socialist, and arguably the greatest American to ever serve in the United States Senate, was also great ally to Indigenous people. I love when different threads of my interests intersect in such positive ways. 

  • Here is a great capsule explanation of a commonly held, destructive misconception about financial payments to Nations.
  • A settlement that was recompense for previous federal and private mismanagement and unlawful seizure of land and the assets on it was now recast as a reward to be granted to submission or withheld for insubordination. This failure of imagination is more pervasive and insidious than has generally been recognized, and it is shred by Indians and non-Indians alike. Such concessions made to the tribes in recognition of the horrors and tribulations of the nineteenth century, or colonialism more generally, are not pity payments or proto-welfare. Treaty rights and all of the benefits that accrue from them arise from the treaties themselves -- according to the U.S. Constitution, they are the "supreme law of the land" and the tacit recognition of the inherent rights Indians possessed long before the coming of the white man. The Menominee had the right to exist, the right to government, the right to social services not because they had suffered but because some of those rights were inherent long before they were brought to the treaty table -- and because others were received from the Americans in exchange for the right to settle Menominee homelands.

    Had those rights been honored, the Menominee could have become the most fabulously successful tribe in the history of world and the U.S. government would still have been obligated -- by international law, by precedent, by its own founding documents, and by the treaties is signed -- to honor the provisions in those agreements.
  • The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is full of examples of how steadfast Indigenous resistance, over the long haul, succeeded in changing laws and had a far-reaching impact on cultural survival. The dogged persistence of Maria Pearson, a Yankton Sioux woman, led to the passage of Iowa Burials Protection Act of 1976, which pushed back against the "the state, museum culture, and academic mind-set that (at best) saw Indian remains as a scientific opportunity rather than as human remains." At roughly the same time, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1982, gave Indigenous people the right to worship as they chose (yeah, 1982). These two laws made it possible for activists to win the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in 1990.
NAGPRA was, like a lot of legislation, meant to right historical wrongs and to curtail those ongoing. For instance, it initiated an official process for the return of Indian remains and funerary and non-funerary and religious objects held at state and federal institutions and in any museum or collection that received federal funds or grants. It also established procedures for the treatment of Indian remains and objects discovered during construction on state and federal land. Last, it made the trafficking of Indian remains a federal offense (though possession of remains is still legal). Although imperfect, this legislation has had a profound effect on the tribes themselves and on their relationship with the federal government. To date, the remains of more than 57,847 Indian people, 1,479,923 associated funerary objects, 243,198 unassociated funerary objects, and 5,136 sacred objects have been repatriated, in what continues to be a powerful and significant homecoming for tribes across the country. Armed with such legislation, tribes can finally try to make whole, however imperfectly, what has been broken. And coupled with the growth of Indian education and the move to put more and more power in Indian hands, the legislation created a sense that centuries of hostility from the state directed at Indians were at last giving way to some restoration of Indians' ability to control and protect our cultural patrimony.
  • The story of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the incidents at Pine Ridge Reservation were revelatory to me. Here, Treuer goes into too much detail for my interest, which I suspect is an attempt clear up a muddied history, to put on record the facts as he has uncovered them. Those facts are not certainly not a proud moment in Native history. This attests to Treuer's willingness to embrace all of that history, not only the bits that portray Indigenous people in a positive light. For me it also raised questions about progressive people's support of AIM, which most of us know little or nothing about, merely because it sounds like something we should support. In reality it was a petty, corrupt, randomly violent, misogynist organization without widespread support or anything approaching a mandate. Apparently many Native people joke that AIM stands for "Assholes in Moccasins".

  • The contemporary stories at the end of the book are brilliant. These are stories of people who are blending environmental activism, food culture, health and fitness, and other serious and necessary contemporary work with traditional ceremonies, helping to restore and reclaim their own heritage while helping people regain physical and mental health. These stories are incredibly inspiring. They're also especially exciting to me because I'm aware of similar efforts taking place where I live. Indigenous people continue to rediscover their heritage and to fold that rediscovery into reinvention. If you read this book, even if you lose track in some of the middle-distance, don't miss the stories at the end.
* * * *

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is and does many things, so if a reader finds some parts more engaging than others, that's to be expected. I loved the first part of the book, the Howard Zinn-style myth-busting. Parts of the more modern history, such as some of the American Indian Movement stories, I would have liked less detail, and gave those parts a light read. When the narrative catches up with the present, I once again found it fascinating and riveting. If, like me, you find some parts too detailed, I encourage you to skim and stay with the book. It's well worth your time.

I heartily endorse these pullquotes from published reviews:

"In a marvel of research and storytelling, an Ojibwe writer traces the dawning of a new resistance movement born of deep pride and a reverence for tradition. Treuer's chronicle of rebellion and resilience is a manifesto and rallying cry." — O, The Oprah Magazine
 
"Part of the magic of this book stems from Treuer's ability to move seamlessly back and forth from the Big Indian Story to the voices of living Indians explaining to us, and to themselves, what it means to be Indian, American, and both at the same time. . . .  open[ing] a window on the contemporary Indian world, in its dazzling variety, and infus[ing] the book with a kind of vividness and punch rarely found in narrative histories. . . . It's hard to imagine there will be a better, more compelling look at Indian country than this one anytime soon." — The Daily Beast

"A gripping medley of academic rigor, reporting and memoir, Treuer's fascinating and unconventional account of Native American history burns with a passionate sense of resiliency." — Washington Post