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A Forest of Time: American Indian Ways of History

by Peter Nabokov

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371545,300 (4)1
A Forest of Time, first published in 2002, is the first introduction for undergraduates, graduates and general readers to the notion that American Indian societies had vital interests in interpreting and transmitting their own histories in their own ways, for themselves. Drawing upon his own varied research as well as sampling the latest in scholarship from ethnohistory, anthropology, folklore and Indian studies, Dr Nabokov offers dramatic examples of how native peoples also put rituals and material culture, landscape, prophecies, and even the English language to the urgent service of keeping the past alive and relevant. Throughout these lively chapters, we also witness the American Indian historical imagination deployed as a coping skill and survival strategy. This book surveys the latest integrating ideas while offering a useful bibliography that opens up, and demands that we engage with, alternative chronicles for America's multi-cultural past.… (more)
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This is a tricky review to write, partly because I skimmed most of the book and partly because this is a textbook—or a textbook-like book, hard to say which. It’s less a narrative than a series of connected essays, which bring up some interesting points, present some things for me to mull over and bear in mind, and critique anthropologists, historians, folklorists, and other academics who have occasion to interact with indigenous peoples and their stories. I don’t know enough about historigraphy or indigenous histories to evaluate his bias, but it doesn’t seem like Nabokov’s cherry-picking his topics or examples apart from what he needs to to drive home his points: accept that Native people have their own histories which don’t look or act like European histories; let Native people be their own historians without imposing Western mindsets on their work; take White histories of indigenous peoples with a heaping of salt; respect indigenous peoples, their culture, and their stories. I found it interesting and readable, but it wasn’t gripping or page-turning or overly enlightening the way I prefer books to be. (But then again, textbook. What do you expect?)

7/10 ( )
  NinjaMuse | Jul 26, 2020 |
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A Forest of Time, first published in 2002, is the first introduction for undergraduates, graduates and general readers to the notion that American Indian societies had vital interests in interpreting and transmitting their own histories in their own ways, for themselves. Drawing upon his own varied research as well as sampling the latest in scholarship from ethnohistory, anthropology, folklore and Indian studies, Dr Nabokov offers dramatic examples of how native peoples also put rituals and material culture, landscape, prophecies, and even the English language to the urgent service of keeping the past alive and relevant. Throughout these lively chapters, we also witness the American Indian historical imagination deployed as a coping skill and survival strategy. This book surveys the latest integrating ideas while offering a useful bibliography that opens up, and demands that we engage with, alternative chronicles for America's multi-cultural past.

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