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Review of Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices

charleyboy_dreaming in indianDreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices
edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Middle School, High School   Annick   130 pp.
11/14   978-1-55451-687-2   $19.95

“If your imagination isn’t working — and, of course, in oppressed people that’s the first thing that goes — you can’t imagine anything better. Once you can imagine something different, something better, then you’re on your way.” So begins the foreword to this dizzyingly eclectic anthology of contemporary Native American voices from Canada and the United States. Forty-six contributors, clearly identified by tribe or background on the pages and in the endnotes, present poems, paintings, drawings, photographs, interviews, and remembrances that reveal glimpses of what it means to be Indian (or First Nation, Metis, Inuit…) today. Some entries explicitly reflect on this theme as it relates to boarding school, or bullying, or spirituality; others simply depict Indian people following a variety of pursuits, including music, sports, fashion, comics, and cooking. Visually, the book also works to break down stereotypes: while there are some depictions of traditional Native American dress (some of them ironic), there are many photographs showing people in modern, everyday clothing. The book lacks a coherent design, with myriad competing graphic elements, but perhaps that is the point: that Native Americans are “tremendously diverse peoples with tremendously diverse life experiences…not frozen in the past, nor are we automatically just like everybody else.”

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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