Writing on stolen land

Pendleton writer Bette Husted read from her new novel, All Coyote’s Children, at the Josephy Center last week. It’s the story of a white family living on the Umatilla Reservation, surrounded by and ultimately intertwined with the Indian families around them.

Writing Indian characters and stories in fiction—or non-fiction for that matter—is a tricky business. Having historically used power and privilege to take away land, language, and culture, Euro-Americans should be and mostly are cautious in telling Indian stories now. We’re mindful of guilt for past actions—some of them not so far in the past, as boarding schools and the last efforts at assimilation in the 1950s are in living memory for many—and struggle with speaking “for” others whose experience we Euro-American writers do not have.

A quick survey of the literature finds much that is marked by prejudice and stereotyping (take a look at some old Zane Grey’s!)—and much that is romanticized. And some that explores the complexities Read The Article

Senator Daniel Inouye and the Museum of the American Indian


National Museum of the American Indian, Washington D.C.
The recent passing of Senator Daniel Inouye caused me to remember Alvin Josephy’s respect for him and a story that I tell now in hopes that someone still alive can corroborate or deny it.
The Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation was established by George Gustav Heye in 1908 and opened to the public in New York City in 1922. Heye, a wealthy New Yorker obsessed with Indian artifacts, sent expeditions from one end of the Americas to the other and accumulated over a million of them. He died in   1957, leaving his museum to the People of New York.
But the museum came on hard times in the 1970s. Its neighborhood had deteriorated, attendance had dropped, and artifacts been sold to keep the place running. My recollection from Alvin is that he, his former classmate at Harvard, David Rockefeller, and a few others
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