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What’s In A Name?

If the professional football team in the nation’s capital went by a name invoking any of the offensive terms associated with dominant, powerful, racial or ethnic groups in this country, how long would it go unchallenged?

It appears that the pressure to get the National Football League’s affiliate in Washington, D.C., to drop its racially coded name was heating up just as this year’s Native American Heritage Month gets under way. NFL officials met in late October with leaders of the Oneida nation, which had already amped up the campaign against the football team’s infamous name with radio ads and a symposium.

The   controversy and the various arguments pro and con for retaining the name serve as a reminder that most of us know far too little about the indigenous people of this land. Ignorance perpetuates stereotypes and the practices that institutionalize names and words that are offensive to the people associated with them and to other justice-minded people. The antidote to ignorance is education.

To facilitate discussions about the history of Native Americans, respect for differences and inclusion, offers a number of books on native people that can serve as resources for discussions. Here are some selections from our publishers available at discount prices on our Website:

La Salle and His Legacy: Frenchmen and Indians in the Lower Mississippi Valley, by Patricia K. Galloway, $22.50 (List price: $25) University of Mississippi Press, June 2006, ISBN: 9781578069330, pp. 144 pages.

Little attention has been paid to the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle’s 1682 expedition into the Lower Mississippi Valley and even less to the reception his party received from the land’s original inhabitants that contributed to the invaders’ survival. This collection of essays by 13 scholars attempts to put LaSalle’s forays into context, examines the impact of French colonialism in the Southeast and adds detail about the new arrivals’ interactions with native people. This is a limited, signed, hand-numbered edition in clamshell box with limited, signed, hand-numbered print. It includes 120 color photographs and a chronology.

The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735, by James F. Barnett Jr., $36 (List Price: $40) University of Mississippi Press, November 2007, ISBN 9781578069880, pp. 224.

This history of the Natchez Indians is taken from accounts of Spanish, English, and French explorers, missionaries, soldiers, and colonists, and in the archaeological record. With a strategic location on the Mississippi River, the Nat-chez Indians were central to the course of René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle’s expedition in the 17th century. He met the Natchez on his journey, and the encounter led to sickness and eventually the annihilation of the Natchez. This work is considered the most complete and detailed history to date of the Natchez.

American Indian Children at School, 1850-1930, by Michael C. Coleman,   $22.50 (List Price: $25), University of Mississippi Press, November 2007, ISBN 9781604730098, pp. 240 pages.

During the  19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Native American children and youths were separated from their families and sent to boarding schools run by religious missionaries and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They were stripped of their culture and forced to assimilate to European-American ways as part of their education. The children were forbidden to speak their native tongues and given Eurocentric names. The schools reached peak enrollment in 1973 with an estimated 60,000 students. In this book, more than 100 former students offer autobiographical accounts giving witness to their often-bewildering experiences in an alien environment, as well as their struggles to readapt when they returned to their own people.

Conversations with Sherman Alexie, by Nancy J. Peterson, $19.80 (List Price: $22), University of Mississippi Press, October 2009, ISBN:  9781604732801, pp. 224.

The New York Times Book Review called Sherman Alexie “one of the major lyric voices of our time” after the release of his first collection of poems, The Business of Fancydancing, in 1992. In 2007, Alexie won a National Book Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a young-adult novel based on his own high school experiences. In this book, part of the University of Mississippi Press “Conversations With” series of books that are collections of interviews with individual writers, talks about his work and his life growing up on a reservation. A native of Washington State, he is of Coeur d’Alene heritage from his father and Spokane from his mother. He grew up in Wellpinit on the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington. His other writings include poetry collections (I Would Steal Horses, First Indian on the Moon), short story collections (The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Ten Little Indians), novels (Indian Killer, Reservation Blues), and screenplays (Smoke Signals).

The following review is reprinted from the DiverseBooks blog for June 4, 2013

Africans and Seminoles: From Removal to Emancipation, by Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. $18.70 (List price $22), ISBN 9781578063604, University of Mississippi Press, November 2001, ISBN 9781578063604, pp. 296.

This is a new edition documenting the interrelationship of two racial cultures in antebellum Florida and Oklahoma. Seminoles held slaves, but their system was unlike that of other slaveholders. The Seminoles often clashed with bounty hunters over ownership claims and even over who was free and who was not. Tensions mounted during the Second Seminole War, when many blacks united with Seminoles fighting against the United States. Blacks and Seminoles were later sent to Oklahoma together as part of the federal government’s “removal” project. The fortunes of the two groups remained intertwined, but their relationships were conflicted as others sought to re-enslave or control free blacks. After the Civil War, many blacks were adopted into the Seminole nation. In a preface to this edition, the author explains the controversy over their role.


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