Friday, April 1, 2016
Urban Tribes: Native Americans in the City, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale. Annick Press, 2015. $14.95 ages 12 and up
Many aboriginal people in North America no longer live on the reserves that have been home to past generations. Today many lead urban lives while wanting to stay connected to their traditions. How do they do that? In this beautifully edited companion to Dreaming in Indian, we are introduced to a number of young urban aboriginals who are exploring the many ways there are to stay connected with their culture and still live an urban lifestyle.
Joseph Boyden writes a personal and very powerful introduction concerning his ROOTS:
"My life to date has been one of questioning things that don't always seem to add up. As a mixed-blood person, I can't believe or accept that my First Nations ancestors were savages and that my European ancestors came to North America to teach these savages the true path. I refuse to let others tell me who I should be. I refuse to try to be somebody or something that I am not in order to fit into the crowd. And I especially refuse to allow those who have all the power to treat those who don't with impunity."
As you meet and learn about these young people you will recognize that their stories are as diverse as they are. The questions asked are answered with honesty and pride, allowing readers to understand what they are doing to connect their new urban identities to the past and to the future. The topics are varied, the responses informative; they have much to share with others. Well-designed and replete with photos, text in a variety of formats and art, this is a book that does not avoid difficult stories. Rather, it gives voice to a worthy group of activists who are hopeful for the future and want to offer that hope to young aboriginals like themselves. They want to live their lives in urban areas while not wanting to lose the joys of their heritage and traditional values.
Putting aside stereotypes and encouraging understanding, these moving stories from more than 30 indigenous young people are organized into four sections - Tribal Citizens, Shattering Stereotypes, Building Bridges and Native Renaissance. Each deal with various aspects of the ways these amazing young people are reaching out to the community and building important relationships. They have great pride in their heritage and show it.
This is an important book and should be part of all Native Studies courses being offered now, or being readied for study in our high schools. They are stories that are deserving of our attention and admiration.