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In a Barren Land: The American Indian Quest…

In a Barren Land: The American Indian Quest for Cultural Survival, 1607 to…

by Paula M. Marks

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0688166334, Paperback)

The unfair and often brutal treatment of American Indians is a well-documented saga. Personalities and events such as Chief Joseph, Geronimo, the Trail of Tears, and the massacre at Wounded Knee are now familiar history, even if representative of a radically different era. But conflict still rages, as demonstrated in the legal challenges to Indian claims of limited sovereignty and the controversies caused by the existence of casinos on some reservations. This is complex and detailed history indeed, and Paula Mitchell Marks ambitiously grasps at nearly four centuries of conflict in In a Barren Land, beginning with the first European settlements in America and extending to the courtroom showdowns of the 1990s. As she deftly demonstrates, there has been plenty of heartbreak along the way: devastating diseases; massacres; lies; broken treaties; loss of ancient hunting, fishing, and burial grounds to private development and federal control; and rampant poverty on many reservations. Though Marks writes from the Indian's perspective, she works to avoid a good-versus-evil treatment of relations, explaining, for instance, how Indians were often aggressive and brutal in their attempts to check white migration onto their lands, and how tribes continue to receive large subsidies from the federal government even as they assert greater independence. In retracing their steps as a people, Marks illustrates how contemporary Indians occupy a gray area in U.S. society, wedged somewhere between assimilation and a collective desire for detachment that clearly indicates that there are many chapters yet to be written.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:48 -0400)

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