Tag Archives: Native American and Indigenous Studies

Read an excerpt of one of the books that inspired the documentary film “Promised Land” — Join us for a free screening in Seattle

In Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, Second Edition (published Spring 2017 in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series), Coll Thrush brings the Indigenous story to the present day and puts the movement of recognizing Seattle’s Native past into a broader context.

Native Seattle and several other UW Press titles (including Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia edited by Robert T. Boyd, Kenneth M. Ames, and Tony A. Johnson, and the forthcoming Chinook Resilience by Jon D. Daehnke) helped form the framework for the documentary Promised Land,” about the Duwamish Tribe and Chinook Nation fight for federal recognition. “Promised Land” filmmaker Sarah Samudre Salcedo says:

“The book not only informed our film’s research for the Duwamish, but so well described the tribe’s modern day struggle for recognition that it inspired our focus to the broader federal policies that eventually drew our attention to the Chinook story, and stories like it across the nation. Those histories and struggles are so well-documented in these books and our film wouldn’t have made sense without them and the appearance of the authors within the documentary.”

We are thrilled that Seattle Theatre Group (STG) is hosting a free screening of “Promised Land” at the Neptune Theatre on July 6 and bringing the Duwamish Tribe and Chinook Nation’s struggle to the people of Seattle. Both tribes will be on hand before and after the show at tables in the lobby, and at a post-film panel discussion, to talk to the community. University Book Store will also have a table at the event to sell our books. Doors open at 7 p.m., the Duwamish and Chinook start drumming at 7:30 p.m., and the film starts at 8 p.m. We hope you can join us!

In celebration of the screening event later this week, we feature the following excerpt from the new preface to the second edition of Native Seattle:

Please join us for this special event:

STG & Tall Firs Cinema present
Promised Land
Special Guests: Duwamish Tribe, Chinook Nation, and the Filmmakers

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Doors at 7 p.m.
Event at 8 p.m.

Come early at 7:30 p.m. for preshow songs and drumming with the Chinook Indian Nation and Duwamish Tribe.

Post-film Q&A with Chinook Nation, Duwamish Tribe, and Tall Firs Chinemas.

Free and open to the public. All ages / bar with ID. GA seating – first come, first seated.

RSVP on the STG site

RSVP on Facebook

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SaveBeyond the federally recognized tribes, Seattle’s urban Indigenous community has also become increasingly visible in the decade since Native Seattle was first published. Performers like Red Eagle Soaring, a dance and theatre ensemble made up of Indigenous youth of many backgrounds, took stages across the city. Artists such as Seminole-Choctaw filmmaker Tracy Rector, whose “You Are On Indigenous Land” photography installation, made up of intimate portraits of members of her community taken by her and her colleagues, received praise from the local press. And in 2015, Blackfeet legal advocate and jurist Debora Juarez successfully campaigned for the city council, representing the city’s northernmost district. A far cry from the place of Indigenous people in the city’s consciousness in earlier eras—symbols of a vanishing race or threats to urban order—Indigenous women and men have become important players in the city’s cultural and political landscape.

Indigenous institutions are also on the rise. Daybreak Star cultural center, located in Discovery Park and founded by the activists who took over Fort Lawton in 1970, remains a crucial resource for many people in Seattle’s Indigenous community, including hosting the annual Seafair Days powwow. At the University of Washington, meanwhile, wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ (Intellectual House) opened in 2015, after years of organizing by activists both within and outside the UW community. It serves as a center for Indigenous concerns on campus and is already a much sought-after venue for academic and other events. But wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ’s place-story goes deeper than that. According to Tseshaht Nuu-chah-nulth professor Charlotte Coté, “when you walk into Intellectual House, you really do feel the spirits of their ancestors. This is not just a building.” Designed by Cherokee-Choctaw architect Johnpaul Jones in a style reminiscent of the longhouses that once graced the nearby Duwamish community of Little Canoe Channel, wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ was described by organizing committee member Denny Hurtado of the Skokomish Tribe as “a home where we can share our culture with the non-natives, and build bridges amongst us.” And down at the Pike Place Market, Nooksack artist and entrepreneur Louie Gong has opened the famed market’s first Indigenous-owned business, Eighth Generation. Together, all of these new additions to Seattle’s Indigenous landscape speak to the ongoing work of the city’s Indigenous community to be seen, to create, and to flourish.

Seattle’s Indian-inflected self-image has also continued to grow and change. In 2008, for example, the city unveiled a new trail circling Lake Union that was named after Cheshiahud, the Duwamish man who had once lived on the lake’s shoreline. Nearby, at the Museum of History and Industry’s new location, the 1950s diorama of the Denny Party no longer serves as the starting point of the city’s history; instead, a gallery curated under the guidance of local tribal members reminds visitors that they, as was Denny, are on Indigenous land. In 2014, meanwhile, the city council ruled unanimously to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, making Seattle one of the first cities to reorient itself in relation to a long-honored and much-excoriated commemoration of colonialism’s ultimate bête noir. That same year, the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl, and even that victory was framed in part through Indigenous imagery: the Burke Museum displayed a Kwakwaka’wakw eagle transformation mask thought to the be the inspiration for the football team’s logo, while during the team’s victory parade, running back Marshawn Lynch received a drum from Lummi tribal member John Scott. Lynch’s beating of the drum received worldwide attention and once again highlighted Indigenous presence in the city. Finally, in the years to come, the city’s much-debated redevelopment of the waterfront will feature the work of Puyallup artist Qwalsius (Shaun Peterson), whose Coast Salish–style works will push back against the North Coast imagery so associated with Seattle’s public image.

In the midst of all this, with the deepest place-story of all, the Duwamish remain. Despite being denied federal recognition yet again in 2015—a decision the Department of the Interior described as “final”—the tribe’s members continue to fight for legal and cultural recognition. In the wake of the 2015 ruling, more than fifty Duwamish people and allies protested at the West Seattle home of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and in one newspaper account of the decision, tribal chairwoman Cecile Hansen stated firmly, “we’re not invisible.” This is true. As they had during the 2001 sesquicentennial of the Denny Party’s landing at Alki Beach, the Duwamish continue to make their presence known in very public ways while attending to their own cultural revival. Former tribal councilmember James Rasmussen, for example, is one of the leaders of the Duwamish Cleanup Coalition, whose goal is to continue the work of remediating the Superfund site that is Seattle’s only river, while the tribe’s dance group T’ilibshudub (Dancing Feet) often performs around the city and elsewhere. Most notably, the Duwamish opened their long-planned longhouse and cultural center in 2009, just across West Marginal Way from the site of their ancient town of Crying Face. The tribe has also been involved in documenting its own history, perhaps most importantly through the work of University of Victoria graduate student and Duwamish descendant Julia Allain who collected stories of many of the tribe’s leading families. These activities and others show that federal recognition, as a colonial legal framework, does not necessarily determine Indigeneity: as Indigenous people around the world have asserted, they can exist regardless of someone else’s rules.

None of the events described above have happened without significant Indigenous activism, as has been always been the case throughout Seattle’s history, in which Native people have had to struggle to claim a place in the city and to combat the stereotypical images of the doomed, vanished Indian. In doing, so, they have exhibited what Ojibwe journalist and scholar Gerald Vizenor has called “survivance.” Survivance, a neologism that connotes both survival and resistance, speaks to something beyond simple persistence:

Theories of survivance are elusive, obscure, and imprecise by definition . . . but survivance is invariably true in native practice and company. The nature of survivance is unmistakable in native stories . . . and is clearly visible in narrative resistance and personal attributes, such as the native humanistic tease, vital irony, spirit, cast of mind, and moral courage.

The character of survivance creates a sense of native presence over absence, nihility, and victimry. Survivance is a continuation of stories, not a mere reaction . . . survivance is greater than the right of a survivable name.

Nothing captures this notion of survivance more than the 2015 protests against oil giant Shell, whose enormous drilling rig was anchored for a time in Elliott Bay. Hundreds of “kayaktivists” took to the water to speak out against drilling and block aquatic access to the rig, but this was more than the usual Seattle environmentalist action. There, among the brightly colored plastic watercraft, were tribal canoes, leading the charge in defense of the earth. Such is survivance; such is the truth that Seattle’s Indigenous history is far from over.

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July 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

Next Thursday evening, Seattle Theatre Group will present a screening of the film Promised Land, a documentary about the Duwamish and Chinook fight for treaty recognition influenced by several UW Press books. The Neptune Theatre screening is free and open to the public and will include preshow songs and drumming with the Chinook Indian Nation and Duwamish Tribe, and a postshow discussion with representatives from the tribes and the filmmakers. There’s still time to RSVP, and we hope you can join us!

The Scholarly Kitchen features the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship program and interviews editor in chief Larin McLaughlin: “The [Mellon] University Press Diversity Fellowship program is not a lament at how the pipeline is limited but rather a recognition that university presses can take responsibility for expanding their own recruiting pool directly.”—Roger C. Schonfeld

Senior acquisitions editor Catherine Cocks moderated a live panel discussion on the how, when, and why of developmental editing for the monthly Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Art of Acquisitions Panelists included Ann Regan (editor in chief, Minnesota Historical Society Press) and Matt Bokovoy (senior editor, University of Nebraska Press). You can watch the recorded Hangout video on YouTube, and catch up on public Art of Acquisitions Hangouts on the AAUP site and follow the series on Twitter at #artofACQ.

Book of the Month Giveaways

Enter to win one of this month’s picks! (Open to US residents only.)

  1. Playing While White by David J. Leonard (Entry form)
  2. The Portland Black Panthers by Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson L. Jeffries (Entry form)

The giveaways will close on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Winners will be notified by Monday, July 17, 2017.

Reviews and Interviews


No-No Boy by John Okada gets a mention in an advice essay at Inside Higher Ed.


Anthropology News features an article by Sanctuary and Asylum author Linda Rabben.


New Books in Genocide Studies / New Books network (NBn) interviews editor John Roth about Losing Trust in the World: “A compelling body of essays. . . . Readable and challenging. In the end, I’m not sure I know exactly how to ‘confront’ torture. But I am better equipped to try.”—Kelly McFall


Penn State News interviews author Madhuri Desai about Banaras Reconstructed.


UW Today features a May 2017 Perspectives newsletter article about UW art professor Zhi Lin and his eponymous exhibit. The Zhi LIN exhibit is view at Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) from June 27, 2017 – February 18, 2018, and we will distribute the accompanying book, Zhi Lin, for TAM.


The Rumpus reviews Vagrants & Accidentals by Kevin Craft: “A pleasure to hold and behold. . . . Through the conflation of music, birds, personal lives, and a shaky natural world, Craft troubles the reader with the impossible question: How are we to live when loss—personal, environmental, and political—is heaped upon loss?”—Cate Hodorowicz


artnet News features Queering Contemporary Asian American Art and coeditors Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe: “Via its challenging and diverse reflections, Queering Contemporary Asian American Art shows how the specific questions of Asian American art history make the stakes of resisting a homonormative queer community (i.e. one that models itself after standards of success defined by white privilege and capitalism) even more vivid.”—Terence Trouillot

In conjunction with the book’s release and Pride month, the Center for Art and Thought is hosting a virtual exhibition called “Queer Horizons,” featuring artists showcased in the book, and curated by the coeditors.


Inquirer.net mentions A Time to Rise edited by Rene Ciria Cruz, Cindy Domingo, and Bruce Occena (forthcoming October 2017) in an article about the retirement of community organizer-leader Lillian Galedo.


Library Journal Xpress Reviews includes a short review of The Hope of Another Spring by Barbara Johns: “Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Asian American studies, art, art history, and U.S. history; in particular, those wanting to read more about Japanese American history.”—Tina Chan


Bronxnet features video from a lecture by City of Virtues author Chuck Wooldridge, taped at Lehman College’s Leonard Leif Library this past April.


Waterway by David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink (dist. for HistoryLink) gets some nice coverage ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, including features at Shelf Talk, Pacific NW Magazine, and Seattle Magazine.

New Books

Smell Detectives: An Olfactory History of Nineteenth-Century Urban America
By Melanie A. Kiechle
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter

What did nineteenth-century cities smell like? And how did odors matter in the formation of a modern environmental consciousness? Smell Detectives follows the nineteenth-century Americans who used their noses to make sense of the sanitary challenges caused by rapid urban and industrial growth. Melanie Kiechle examines nuisance complaints, medical writings, domestic advice, and myriad discussions of what constituted fresh air, and argues that nineteenth-century city dwellers, anxious about the air they breathed, attempted to create healthier cities by detecting and then mitigating the most menacing odors.

New in Paperback

The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City
By Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson L. Jeffries

Readers will gain a valuable new understanding of what the Black Panther Party meant to a city far away from the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City, and activists will get priceless lessons in the dos and don’ts of local organizing.”—H. Bruce Franklin, author of Vietnam and America

Classical Seattle: Maestros, Impresarios, Virtuosi, and Other Music Makers
By Melinda Bargreen

Bargreen offers compelling personal insights into her subjects’ lives as performers and residents of our region. No other book provides such a well-informed and well-written perspective focusing exclusively on Seattle’s classical community.”—Dave Beck, KING FM

Reclaimers
By Ana Maria Spagna

Spagna’s enthusiasm for their dedication and causes is irresistible. Such struggles are the real deal, after all, and what reader wouldn’t cheer on these tenacious underdogs trying to remedy past damage? We’re blessed with opportunities to make a difference, the writing shows. . . . The lessons of her journeys. . . are ‘Do what you can. Hope without hope. Expect the unexpected.”—Irene Wanner, Seattle Times

Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road
By James Longhurst

“Bike Battles is masterly in its treatment of public policy toward the ‘roads as commons,’ and has given new depth to our understanding of cycling in America. I envy the light and easy style of the author.“—Glen Norcliffe, author of Ride to Modernity


The Tanoak Tree: An Environmental History of a Pacific Coast Hardwood
By Frederica Bowcutt

Bowcutt examines the history of the tanoak tree, bringing to life a rich story about how humans are connected to this beautiful yet unassuming tree. . . . [T]his valuable book will be important for a broad audience.“—Choice

Events

JULY

July 6 at 8 p.m. (Doors at 7 p.m.) STG & Tall Firs Cinema present Promised Land documentary screening at the Neptune Theater, Nights at the Neptune, with University Book Store, Seattle, WA (Press books will be on display; authors featured in documentary)

July 7-9, Eileen Bjorkman, The Propeller under the Bed, Arlington Fly-In, Arlington, WA

July 8 at 2 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, King County Library System – Burien, Burien, WA

(SOLD OUT) July 10 at 6 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Historic Seattle and the Shoreline Historical Museum, Firland Sanatorium | CRISTA Ministries, Seattle, WA

July 11 at 7 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Humanities Washington, Asotin County Library, Basalt Cellars Winery, Clarkston, WA

July 12 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, MOHAI, Seattle, WA ($15 general public / $10 members; RSVP)

July 12 at 7 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington, Guemes Island Community Center, Anacortes, WA

July 13 at 7 p.m., Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, King County Library System – Auburn, Auburn, WA

July 22 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, Pacific Northwest Historians Guild, Guided hike of Coal Creek Trail, Newcastle, WA (RSVP; $10-25)

July 23 at 2 p.m., Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots, Pierce County Library System – Sumner Library (flyer), Sumner, WA

July 23 at 3 p.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, Seattle Public Library – Central Library, Seattle, WA

July 24-30, Eileen Bjorkman, The Propeller under the Bed, EAA AirVenture Fly-In, “Author’s Corner,” Oshkosh, WI

July 27 at 5:30 p.m., Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, Timberland Regional Library – Vernetta Smith Chehalis Timberland Library, Chehalis, WA

July 27 at 6:30 p.m., Jennifer Ott, Waterway, Mukilteo Yacht Club, MYC General Meeting, Everett, WA

July 28 at 7 p.m., Linda Rabben, Sanctuary and Asylum, Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative) annual session (Program), Scattergood Friends School, West Branch, IA

July 30 at 2 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington, Mason County Historical Museum, Shelton, WA

AUGUST

August 4 at 7 p.m., Ernestine Hayes, The Tao of Raven, Alaska State Library, Summer Lecture Series at the APK, Juneau, AK

August 5 at 11 a.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Bear Pond Books, Stowe, VT

August 7, David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, King County Library Services – Renton Highlands, Renton, WA

August 15, Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, King County Library System – Lake Forest Park, Lake Forest Park, WA

August 15 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, Co-presented with Capitol Hill Historical Society and Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

August 31, David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, with Kevin O’Brien, Third Place Books, Seward Park, Seattle, WA

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Native American and Indigenous Studies Association 2017 conference preview

We are thrilled to join the University of British Columbia and its co-hosts at the 2017 annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) from June 22 to 24, 2017 at UBC’s Vancouver campus on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam Nation.

University of Washington Press editor in chief Larin McLaughlin, senior acquisitions editor Catherine Cocks, advancement and grants manager Beth Fuget, and assistant editor Niccole Leilanionapae’aina Coggins will be representing the press at booth 15.

If you’ll be attending the meeting, please join us on Friday, June 23 at 3:45 p.m. for light refreshments and a book signing to celebrate the most recent titles in the Indigenous Confluences series edited by Coll Thrush and Charlotte Coté. Network Sovereignty author Marisa Elena Duarte and Unlikely Alliances author Zoltán Grossman will be signing their new books!

Follow NAISA 2017 on Twitter and use the hashtag #NAISA2017 to keep posted on the annual meeting on social media!

New and forthcoming from our Indigenous Confluences series:

Dismembered: Tribal Disenrollment and the Battle for Human Rights
By David E. Wilkins and Shelly Hulse Wilkins

Since the 1990s, Native governments have been banishing, denying, or disenrolling citizens at an unprecedented rate. Nearly eighty nations, in at least twenty states, have terminated the rights of indigenous citizens. This first comprehensive examination of the origins of this disturbing trend looks at hundreds of tribal constitutions and interviews with disenrolled members and tribal officials to show the damage this practice is having across Indian Country and ways to address the problem.

Network Sovereignty: Building the Internet across Indian Country
By Marisa Elena Duarte

Given the significance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to social and political life, many U.S. tribes and Native organizations have created their own projects, from streaming radio to building networks to telecommunications advocacy. Duarte examines these ICT projects to explore the significance of information flows and information systems to Native sovereignty, and toward self-governance, self-determination, and decolonization.

Unlikely Alliances: Native Nations and White Communities Join to Defend Rural Lands
By Zoltán Grossman
Foreword by Winona LaDuke

Unlikely Alliances explores the evolution from conflict to cooperation through place-based case studies in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains, Great Basin, and Great Lakes, from the 1970s to the 2010s. They suggest how a deep love of place can overcome the most bitter divides between Native and non-Native neighbors. In these times of polarized politics and globalized economies, many of these stories offer inspiration and hope.

Chinook Resilience: Heritage and Cultural Revitalization on the Lower Columbia River
By Jon D. Daehnke
Foreword by Tony A. Johnson
Forthcoming November 2017

This collaborative ethnography explores how the Chinook Indian Nation, whose land and heritage are under assault, continues to move forward and remain culturally strong and resilient. Jon Daehnke focuses on Chinook participation in archaeological projects and sites of public history as well as the tribe’s role in the revitalization of canoe culture in the Pacific Northwest. This lived and embodied enactment of heritage, one steeped in reciprocity and protocol rather than documentation and preservation of material objects, offers a tribally relevant, forward-looking, and decolonized approach for the cultural resilience and survival of the Chinook Indian Nation, even in the face of federal nonrecognition.

California through Native Eyes: Reclaiming History
By William J. Bauer Jr.

Native Students at Work: American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute’s Outing Program, 1900-1945
By Kevin Whalen
Foreword by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community
By Andrew J. Jolivette

Education at the Edge of Empire: Negotiating Pueblo Identity in New Mexico’s Indian Boarding Schools
By John R. Gram
Foreword by Ted Jojola

A Chemehuevi Song: The Resilience of a Southern Paiute Tribe
By Clifford E. Trafzer
Foreword by Larry Myers

Other Native American and Indigenous Studies titles:

Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, Second Edition
By Coll Thrush
Foreword by William Cronon
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books

This updated edition of Native Seattle brings the indigenous story to the present day and puts the movement of recognizing Seattle’s Native past into a broader context. Native Seattle focuses on the experiences of local indigenous communities on whose land Seattle grew, accounts of Native migrants to the city and the development of a multi-tribal urban community, as well as the role Native Americans have played in the narrative of Seattle.

The Gift of Knowledge / Ttnuwit Atawish Nch’inch’imamí: Reflections on the Sahaptin Ways
By Virginia R. Beavert
Edited by Janne L. Underriner

The Gift of Knowledge / Ttnuwit Atawish Nch’inch’imamí is a treasure trove of material for those interested in Native American culture. Linguist and educator Beavert narrates highlights from her own life and presents cultural teachings, oral history, and stories (many in bilingual Ishishkíin-English format) about family life, religion, ceremonies, food gathering, and other aspects of traditional culture.

Sonny Assu: A Selective History
By Sonny Assu
With Candice Hopkins, Marianne Nicolson, Richard Van Camp, and Ellyn Walker
Forthcoming Summer/Fall 2017

Through large-scale installation, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and painting, Sonny Assu merges the aesthetics of Indigenous iconography with a pop-art sensibility. This stunning retrospective spans over a decade of Assu’s career, highlighting more than 120 full-color works, including several never-before-exhibited pieces.

American Indian Business: Principles and Practices
Edited by Deanna M. Kennedy, Charles F. Harrington, Amy Klemm Verbos, Daniel Stewart, Joseph Scott Gladstone, and Gavin Clarkson
Forthcoming September 2017

This book provides an accessible introduction to American Indian businesses, business practices, and business education. Chapters cover the history of American Indian business from early trading posts to today’s casino boom; economic sustainability, self-determination, and sovereignty; organization and management; marketing; leadership; human resource management; tribal finance; business strategy and positioning; American Indian business law; tribal gaming operations; the importance of economic development and the challenges of economic leakage; entrepreneurship; technology and data management; business ethics; service management; taxation; accounting; and health-care management.

The Tao of Raven: An Alaska Native Memoir
By Ernestine Hayes

Menadelook: An Inupiat Teacher’s Photographs of Alaska Village Life, 1907-1932
Edited by Eileen Norbert

Being Cowlitz: How One Tribe Renewed and Sustained Its Identity
By Christine Dupres

Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia
Edited by Robert T. Boyd, Kenneth M. Ames, and Tony A. Johnson

Tulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community
By Harriette Shelton Dover
Edited and introduced by Darleen Fitzpatrick
Foreword by Wayne Williams

Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Series

Published with Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art, Burke Museum

Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form, 50th Anniversary Edition
By Bill Holm

In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Art at the Burke Museum
Edited by Robin K. Wright and Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse

Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtis, the Kwakwaka’wakw, and the Making of Modern Cinema
Edited by Brad Evans and Aaron Glass
Foreword by Bill Holm

Q&A with ‘Dismembered’ coauthors David E. Wilkins and Shelly Hulse Wilkins

Today we speak with coauthors David E. Wilkins and Shelly Hulse Wilkins about their book, Dismembered: Native Disenrollment and the Battle for Human Rights, published this spring. Florangela Davila, writing in Seattle Magazine, calls it “a first-of-its-kind book that looks at tribal disenrollment.”

Since the 1990s, Native governments have been banishing, denying, or disenrolling citizens at an unprecedented rate. Nearly eighty nations, in at least twenty states, have terminated the rights of indigenous citizens. This first comprehensive examination of the origins of this disturbing trend looks at hundreds of tribal constitutions and interviews with disenrolled members and tribal officials to show the damage this practice is having across Indian Country and ways to address the problem.

What is the biggest misunderstanding people have about your field and what you do?

David E. Wilkins and Shelly Hulse Wilkins: The conflicting stereotypes about Native peoples are always an obstacle to understanding. Indians are: extinct/corporations; poverty stricken/rich; addicts/mystics; craven opportunists/naive naturalists.

People who don’t know anyone Native swing back and forth between these ideas depending on the argument they are trying to make. This reliance on racist views obscures the real work being done by Native peoples and governments. There are only a handful of Native political scientists and it’s our job to provide the best level of research and writing possible so that Native governments, and those who interact with them, have the tools and knowledge they need for effective and long-lasting good governance.

Why did you want to write this book?  

DEW & SHW: We wanted to call attention to the wrongs happening under the guise of sovereignty. Native people are very proud of their sovereign status yet, in some instances that has been used by scoundrels as an excuse, a shield behind which they destroy political opponents, enrich themselves, or take revenge for old grudges. Allowing sovereignty to be used in this way diminishes and endangers its power across Indian Country. Many are afraid to speak out because they don’t want to be seen as questioning a Tribe’s sovereign authority to decide for themselves who does and does not belong to their nation. Unfortunately, this attempt to protect sovereignty through silence—hoping the issue will just go away—ends up eroding it for everyone. Our book is an attempt to bring the facts behind these shameful actions to light so that they can be discussed and addressed in the open.

What do you think is Dismembered‘s most important contribution?

DEW & SHW: We want to educate everyone about the issue of disenrollment and encourage Native people to examine and appreciate the power of citizenship and sovereignty. The people, not the government, hold true sovereignty, thus it cannot exist without human and civil rights.

The power to define citizenship is critical to the exercise of sovereignty for Native Nations. That said, the tools and the concepts utilized by many Tribal governments are those they inherited from the US Federal Government. Traditional means of governance did not include making distinctions about belonging based on blood quantum, genealogy, or enrollment records.  These are standards set by a government with the goal of eliminating or assimilating Native people.

In the 1990s, a woman who was stripped of her Tribal citizenship contacted David. He had heard of banishment—a temporary punishment for wrong-doing—but the idea that a human being could be stripped of their citizenship, their Tribal identity, was shocking. He began to keep a file on the issue. At first, the practice wasn’t widespread and seemed to be confined to a few California Tribes, but his file began to grow.

The reasons given were all over the place. Some were accused of treason for voicing disagreement at open council meetings. Disenrollement—or, as we began to call it, dismemberment—was also an efficient means of dealing with whistleblowers. If someone uncovered corruption involving those in power, the Tribe found a reason to get rid of them. Elders, children, native language speakers, former chairs, and council members—no one was immune. A common assertion was that these people lacked sufficient blood quantum or were dually enrolled in other tribes, but the problem was that record keeping by the federal government was terrible. Even the lucky ones who were able to offer what was considered official proof of their rights to belong were confronted with changing rules. No sooner did they provide what was asked than they were presented with another arbitrary road block. One family was put through the horrific experience of exhuming their great-grandmother and grandmother for DNA testing. The tests proved they belonged, but the Tribe disenrolled them anyway.

Perhaps, even more shocking than this cruelty was posthumous dismemberment– stripping the dead of their Tribal identities. It’s a very efficient means of getting rid of trouble makers or trimming your rolls. If you traced your heritage through your grandpa and those in power decided your grandpa wasn’t an Indian, then all who descended from him were automatically out.

Some people are enrolled fraudulently. In a very few instances people deliberately have lied or forged documents but these make up only a small portion of the disenrollment cases.

Cast-out people had nowhere to turn. Tribal governments said that as a sovereign nation, it was right and proper that they have the ability to define their membership, just as any other nation. Their Tribal Courts offered no relief. Those systems have come a long way since that time, but many were (and many still are) beholden to the Tribal leadership. They were unable or unwilling to rule against their own sovereign government in favor of an individual that government had decided to terminate. Judges who tried to do so were fired and replaced with those more amenable to the status quo.

Disenrollees lost their citizenship, which may just sound like a shame to most people who take their US and state citizenship for granted. US citizenship can’t be taken away and, after all, the dismembered are still citizens of their states and the US, but in reality, losing citizenship is deadly. Folks lost their health care, access to education, jobs, homes, even their family members as the process split households—one brother was in, the other was out.

Ultimately, there is no due process.  These people can be labeled and accused of anything and they have had no rights, no means with which to fight back. A few hard working attorneys, like Gabe Galanda and Ryan Dreveskracht, have started to make a real difference—they were able to prevent the disenrollment of a group of folks from the Grand Ronde Community in Oregon and are fighting for the Nooksack 306 here in Washington. That gives us hope.

How did you come up with the title?

DEW & SHW: Tribes tend to call their citizens members, a term that came from the federal government that serves to diminish the importance of belonging to a Tribal Nation. It sounds more like joining the Rotary than being part of a nation. But we felt it important to deconstruct and reuse the term. The feelings these people described were so agonizing, as though they were physically cut off from the body that sustained them. Tribal nations, too, suffered when they cut off living beings that are the true embodiment of their sovereignty. That is why we refer to these people as dismembered.

Describe the process of writing the book.

SHW: David had more than 20 years worth of stories in his file and a network of friends who had been dismembered. He had also written articles over those years. Together, we wrote more articles and began to conduct formal interviews. Marty Two Bulls, an incredibly talented political cartoonist, contributed his work. The tireless Gabe Galanda, one of the few attorneys to take on the cause of disenrollees, shared photos from a social media campaign he and Louie Gong designed to call attention to the issue.

What was the most interesting thing you learned from writing the book?

DEW & SHW: Perhaps the most shocking thing we learned was the amount of money outsiders were making from fomenting discord within Tribal Nations. Non-native attorneys who keep the conflicts going in order to bill more hours, outside consultants—self-professed enrollment experts—who organize seminars or directly advise Tribal leaders on ways to “clean-up their rolls,” financial advisors who calculated how much further per-capita payments would go if membership were to be reduced.


David E. Wilkins is the McKnight Presidential Professor in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the coauthor of American Indian Politics and the American Political System. Shelly Hulse Wilkins is a partner with the Wilkins Forum and specializes in tribal governmental relations.

From the Desk of the Director: Books in Common

In May we received exciting news from Western Washington University: the Western Reads committee has chosen a University of Washington Press book, Tulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community, by Harriette Shelton Dover, as their common book for the 2017–18 school year. The committee selected this book by a Tulalip elder in consultation with Indigenous people on and off campus to commemorate the 1969 “Right to be Indian” conference. This gathering drew tribal members from across the region in support of young people working to improve their communities through social and political self-determination. Now, as we approach the conference’s fiftieth anniversary, more than 4,000 incoming Western students, faculty, and staff will engage with Tulalip, From My Heart, Dover’s remarkable story about her tribe’s history, struggles, and powerful ties to land now occupied by others.

Harriette Shelton Dover

Dawn Dietrich, associate professor and director of the Western Reads program, shared her enthusiasm for this selection as a way of fostering collaboration and relationship building around Native American education. The choice of this common book “honors the Coast Salish traditions that defined, and continue to define, this region,” Dietrich told us.

UW Press has played an important role in publishing the stories of Native American and Indigenous communities for almost 100 years. Our list includes memoirs by Coast Salish and Alaska Native writers, tribal dictionaries and grammars, books about Native American art and culture, as well as new work presenting contemporary issues from decolonizing perspectives. Our books are enjoyed by general readers, taught in classes, found in libraries of tribal colleges, and used by scholars and artists in many disciplines.

The Western Reads common book selection is just one example of how communities and readers engage with the work we publish. Another is Promised Land, a new documentary about the Duwamish and Chinook fight for treaty recognition. Several UW Press books “formed the academic framework of the film’s narrative,” as filmmaker Sarah Samudre Salcedo puts it, including Coll Thrush’s Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, Robert T. Boyd, Kenneth Ames, and Tony Johnson’s Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia, and Jon Daehnke’s forthcoming Chinook Resilience: Heritage and Cultural Revitalization on the Lower Columbia River. The Seattle Theatre Group will present Promised Land on July 6, 2017, at the Neptune Theatre. The screening is free and open to the public and will include a preshow discussion with representatives from the tribes. We hope you can join us.

UW Press is dedicated to publishing books that help communities engage in shared conversations and inform new art and scholarship. We are proud to bring important stories and ideas to life for current and future generations.

We invite you to browse our new and forthcoming Native American and Indigenous publications and other recent catalogs on our website.

Happy reading!

Nicole F. Mitchell, Director
University of Washington Press

December 1 is World AIDS Day

December 1 is World AIDS Day. This excerpt of Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community, by Andrew J. Jolivette, looks closely at the ways in which the Two-Spirit community has been impacted by HIV/AIDS and offers a path toward a better understanding of and by the Indigenous world.

Burning sage fills the room at the Native American AIDS Project in San Francisco with pungent smoke. It’s a cold winter day when I begin my first focus group with gay, Two-Spirit, and transgender American Indians who also identify as mixed-race. As each participant enters the room, I introduce myself and explain that the goal of this project is to understand how we can reduce rates of HIV/AIDS infection in American Indian and Indigenous communities. I also suggest that this is a story about healing, not about sickness. This is, I tell them, a story that will produce meaningful interventions for other American Indian people in San Francisco and across the United States.

As prayers are offered for the office space to become ceremonial and safe, I can see the members of the group begin to stand closer together. One participant, an older man in his fifties, speaks first. His tone, as he tells of his transition from the reservation in Nevada to urban life in San Francisco, is one of authority. He describes unbelievable trauma and yet there is hope in his message. He recalls a time when San Francisco was a beacon for gay, Two-Spirit, and transgender Natives, but explains that there has since been a decline in leadership within the community. Other participants are nodding in agreement. A transgender participant in her early forties suggests that the only way a community can heal is if it remains a community. I hear the relevance of this insight to HIV prevention efforts: focusing on behavioral change at the individual level causes a greater degree of stigmatization and isolation, which in turn increase harmful behaviors and lead to higher HIV transmission risk. Continue reading

Native American and Indigenous Studies Association 2016 conference preview

Later this week, we head to the 2016 annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The meeting runs from Wednesday, May 18, to Saturday, May 21, and we can’t wait to take part in this new round of scholarly conversations and to debut new offerings in Indigenous studies with scholars, activists, artists, and all attendees!

University of Washington Press director Nicole Mitchell and exhibits, advertising, and direct mail manager Katherine Tacke will represent the press in the exhibit hall, so come say hello at booth 201! Use the hashtag #NAISA2016 to follow along with the meeting on social media, and use promo code WST1614 for 30% off books and free shipping.

If you’ll be attending the meeting in Honolulu, we hope you will stop by to check out our new and forthcoming titles, including new books in the Indigenous Confluences series, as well as to learn more about the new collaborative Mellon-funded Indigenous studies digital publishing platform initiative spearheaded by UBC Press (flyer below).

New and forthcoming from our Indigenous Confluences series:

Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community
By Andrew J. Jolivette

Meet the author at NAISA on Wednesday, May 18!

“This excellent book helps to fill a huge gap in the Native studies literature about mixed-identity gay men and their struggles with multiple oppressions.”—Renya Ramirez, author of Native Hubs: Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond

Indian Blood makes a significant contribution to the field as the first major work on Native Americans, HIV/AIDS, mixed-race identity, gender and sexuality, and the urban environment. The scholarship is superior.”—Irene Vernon, author of Killing Us Quietly: Native Americans and HIV/AIDS Continue reading