Native Life Narratives
Contemporary Stories

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True Stories -- Many truths. Dibaajimowin -- in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language) means just a story -- but the first part of the word -- dibaa -- is a meaning-part that suggests its words are measured, thoughtful, observed, judged. Here, those are are histories, personal narratives, experiences -- truths of that kind. These may be humorous, they may be artistic recountings of personal experiences, they may be stories that tell in narrative fashion of how it was to live in the traditional lifestyle before it was distrupted. Just about any sort of true story by native persons can be educational and interesting for those (especially young people) of other tribes.

If you want to email contemporary Native authors, some said they'd like to hear from Indian young people, their emails at the time they wrote those stories -- which may be valid or not, by now -- are beside the starts..

The first two stories are true ones of Native people -- a woman and a man -- who have been imprisoned 20 years, unjustly. Leonard Peltier is famous, Norma Jean Croy is little known. For both cases, there are links to the official defense committee pages, support groups for these political prisoners. But I have also provided background info missing from those websites, which is part of a history all Native youth should learn.

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-- NORMA JEAN CROY -- A woman of the Shasta Tribe (California), has been imprisoned since 1978. Her story, as Indian history, is more important than Peltier's (below). She's been imprisoned as long, but there are no books, movies, demonstrations, expensive lawyers, working on her case. Her crime? Being shot in the back, being an Indian woman. Norma Jean's story is part of that huge body of Indian history that nobody knows except those few who lived it. The forgotten people. Federal Court petition!

Leonard Peltier -- Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, longest U.S. political prisoner, His story and Defense Committee page link. New article from Harvard, no new facts. New info on his Defense Committee page (linked-to) about upcoming support activities

-- Miracle: The White Buffalo of Prophecy -- STORY has MOVED! to Arvol Looking Horse's Pages. June 21 World Peace Prayer Ceremony updates

-- Wendjidu Zinzibahkwud, Real Sugar -- was a staple of the diets of Anishinaabe peoples, and probably all who lived where sugar maples (there are many species) grow. Some traditional sugaring is still done today. Anishinaabemowin vocabulary-builder. Not new on server, but part of the FOOD section, though new to STORIES.

-- Mahnoomin, sacred seeds wild rice, is still a staple of the diets of a few (mostly Anishnaabeg) people who live near the Great Lakes. Anishinaabemowin vocabulary-builder, for many of the processes of ricing. You should be able to read it even if uninterested in the language. Not new on server, but part of TRADITONAL FOODS page.

-- Story Robe by He Dog (Percy Creighton), Blackfoot. Glenbow Museum special exhibit. After reading explanation, chose imagemap page for closeups of the rob with the story of each part translated.

-- Don Monet, -- author-artist-cartoonist of Colonialism on Trial now works in Toronto and posts a (political) cartoon a day on his studio website; no telling what's there now. These cartoons may be downloaded (in zipped form) for free use in non-profit org periodicals. Browser archive yourself here, ;see Indian cartoons breakout on Picture Stories menu here.

-- Death of an Eagle--by Brooke Craig, Cherokee. Who really is the Eagle here? You can access from it the Federal Dead Eagle Repository she visited.

-- My Blackfeet Grandma, My Afro-American Relatives--and Me in Between-- by Francine Mathews, one-fourth Blackfeet. Saddening effects of racism -- not just of white people.

  • Fences Against Freedom -- Acclaimed Laguna Pueblo - mixed-blood writer Leslie Marmon Silko explains some particularly bitter experinces of racism she and her family have experienced.

  • Mixed Blood -- by well-known Modoc writer Michael Dorris explains identity problems, and how he applies his solutions to such books as Morning Star Girl (Columbus arrives), The Crown of Columbus Bicentennial best-seller written with his Ojibwe wife Louise Erdrich, and Yellow Raft in Blue Water whose main character is a girl of mixed Indian and Afro-American blood.

Campbellton Fire -- True story of a big early 1900's fire told by Canadian Mi'kmaq elders who remember it. Prepared by Mike Sack, Indian Brook Mi'kmaq, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Cherokee Trail of Tears John G. Burnett, a friend of many Georgia Cherokees, was a private assigned to be interpreter on the largst and last removal. In 1890 he describes what happened 60 years before, a crime, many murders committed by U.S. troops , on the forceed death marches to Oklahoma

-- The Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg (Little People) -- Pat Paul, Maliseet Nation, father of 6 (2 girls still at home), lives on the Tobique Reserve in New Brunswick, Canada, teaches at the Adult Learning Center there. He writes often on native topics. In this true story, Pat researched Little People as seen and told of by elders of his reserve. Their cave-home is unfortunately drowned now by a dam.

-- The Tribes Need Heroes: Where Are they Today?--A discussion in Cyberspace (on the InterNet) among 5 young men, who wonder about heroic figures of old times, as they continue their education and responsibilities of leadership themselves without really realizing it.

Inuit Ironic Joke Story -- Trade survival for fashion, and see how Polar bears like your new coat.

Inuit Woman's Story -- by Jean Koonmak from Native Women Writing the Circle, Canadian Arctic

Inuit Mayor of Griese Fiord -- town in high Canadian Arctic to which people were moved in order to stake Canadian land claim tells of midnight sun summer sealing on edge of ice.

Displaced Navajo Woman Tells hardships -- Florence Luna, intrviewed in 1980, tells of difficulties and pain on being removed from land Navajos have lived in more than a century.

An Indian Boy's Story, Daniel La France, Mohawk, Born in the 19th century on St. Regis-Akwesasne Reserve, which is divided by the Canada border, he was persuaded by a "honey-tongued" government man to join the student population they needed to finance a government Indian boarding school (probably Carlisle, in Pnnsylvania, under Capt. Richard Pratt, "From Savagery to Civilization" was its motto.). A lot of interesting inside poop on the conduct of the school, where Indian students were "green scalps" just as they are today for Federal Impact Aid funds to just-outside- reservations public schools. He ends with a plea to keep reservations. Written in 1903.

On the Indian Girl in Modern Fiction -- E Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake (1861-1913) grew up on the 6 Nations Resrve, near Brantford, Ontario. She becam a stage personality, reciting her own Indian and nature poetry. Web section on her life is part of Canada's SchoolNet Digital Discoveries, prepared with grants to do research and create such pages by Industry Canada.

Nedawi: Real Life Story of An Indian Girl, Osage activist Susette LaFleshe reaches out through St. Nicholas Magazine in 1881, to white youth. This was a very popular children's magazine with the upper middle classes. She attempts to build sympathy for Indian people and a feeling that the old Native lifeways were beautiful and worthwhile. Etext.

Gray Wolf's Daughter -- Autobiographical story of original Lakota Plains lifeways as seen by a young girl who dcides to go to a boarding school to learn white ways, despite her grandma's opposition. By Angel DeCora (Lakota), 1899; Etext.

  • The Sick Child -- a True life story of 19th-century Lakota life, medicine ways, and hardships. Autobiographical story by artist-writer Angel Decora, 1899. Etext.

Sun Dance at Spotted Tail Agency, In 1889 Willian Schwatka published -- just on the eve of the Ghost dancing and Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 -- a story of his observations of the Sun Dance he saw conducted in the 1880's by bands who considered themslves bound to peace by Red Cloud's 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. Despite the usual 19th century racism, the 19th-century Sun Dance he observed (allowed by military officials at the agency) is interesting.

The Basket Maker, Seyavi, Paiute Woman -- A true-lifestory written by Mary Austin, a talented writer of the southwest, in 1903. Story focuses on Seyavi's life, values, harmony with environment, that enables her to make her beautiful, time-consuming baskets. Etext

An Indian Allotment. -- Osage scholar, writer Francis LaFlesche, writes in 1900. He shows the allotment process (which he depicts as friendly), after Oklahoma (the Removal Indian territory) had been opened to white settlers.

A Narrative About A Word -- Computer showing how Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language) carries rich meanings in a network of language and history. By Paula Giese.


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Page prepared by Paula Giese graphics and text copyright 1995, 1996, 1997

Copyrights to the stories are held by their respective creators, 1995 pr ear;loer or at first appearances here.

Last updated: 1/11/97