Ward Churchill’s Kill the Indian, Save the Man

From around the 1880s to the 1980s Indian children were forcibly removed from their homes and their tribes and placed in “educational institutions” or “boarding schools”. In these schools, the were forced to speak only English, practice only Christianity, and wear only “white” clothes. They were brutally punished for speaking their own languages. Essentially, the US and Canadian governments set about a policy of cultural genocide against the indigenous people in their countries. Over half of the children who were subjected to this forced “learning” did not survive. They died of disease, malnutrition and most likely destroyed spirits. It is heartbreaking to read.

Ward Churchill has done his research on this topic and knows his stuff. Most of what he brings to light angers me beyond belief. It is a shame, however, that Churchill tends to be unable to write in a layman’s style language and give the facts life. His writing is tedious and overly scholarly, if you know what I mean. I’ve very much enjoyed reading this part of our hidden history, and will likely look for memoirs from actual victims of the institutions.

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Filed under Course Readings, Non-Fiction

George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss *updated*

I read the first half of this last week. This week, I have to try to finish it so I can write a literary analysis of it. I’m finding it tedious to read. A lot of the descriptions seem unnecessary and just downright over the top. So far, I’m enjoying the story, but getting to it through the superfluous other stuff is annoying. Yet again, this is for a class, so this isn’t something I would pick up just out of the blue and say, “hey, I WANT to read this book.” Probably won’t ever want to read it again, either.

UPDATE: Ok it’s a woman’s perogative to change her mind, and boy have I. Not only did this book get better with time, I actually think I might go back and read it again. At the end of the book, I kept thinking back to the many instances of foreshadowing that led me to the ending, so now I want to go back and read it again if only just to catch them all. I’d also like to get a deeper understanding of Eliot’s use of irony throughout the book… no, not the sarcastic irony we a know and hold dear, the dramatic irony. It’s very deeply woven into the book, and I really think I missed out on a lot of it in my mad rush to finish the book in time to write a paper. So, in all, that superfluous, tediously detailed stuff is probably very important to the novel… duh, right?

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Mooring Against the Tide by Jeff Knorr and Tim Schell

I’m taking a creative writing course this semester, and the required text for the course is actually turning out to be quite helpful. It is written in plain language that is easy to understand. The book is broken into two parts, one for poetry and one for fiction. Each chapter so far has included good working definitions of terms used in writing poetry and fiction. There are also many examples from real workshopping sessions and real student writers. I’m enjoying the class more than I expected to mostly because this book is such a good go-to resource.

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Contemporary Native American Political Issues by Troy Johnson

This semester, I’m taking a course called Contemporary Issues in Native American Culture.  There were two textbooks  required for this course, the one listed here, and Contemporary Native American Cultural Issues by Duane Champagne.  We haven’t yet delved into the Cultural Issues book yet, but we have read the first essay in the compilation by Troy Johnson. 

The first essay was by Ward Churchill regarding Native American tribal sovereignty.  I found this essay to be extremely hard to read.  Rather than using plain language, Churchill used what I like to call legalese.  For the average reader, the information that Chruchill was trying to get across was completely lost in the language.  His information was extremely interesting, once I got to the heart of it, but it took me a while to hack my way through the jargon.

With any luck, the rest of the essayists in the book will be a little easier to read and understand.  I’m enjoying this class, and because I have some Indian heritage, it’s important that I learn at least a little about my past.

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Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility *updated*

Since I’m working on my Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, a lot of what I’m currently reading has to do with courses I’m taking.

Currently I’m reading Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.  I must say, this book puts me to sleep.  I can’t read very much of it at a time.  I’ve never been a fan of Jane Austen, but I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice when I had to read it a couple of semesters ago.  Sense and Sensibility, however, just doesn’t seem as good.

I don’t particularly care about a single one of the characters.  Yes, Elinor has found out that her love is engaged to another woman… don’t care.  There’s no passion.  Yes, Marianne’s Willoughby is being a jerk… don’t care.  I can only hope that the book gets a little better so I can finish it for the course.

Update!
I managed to finish the book, and it did get a little better. However, it never got as good as Pride and Prejudice was. The ending was a little too neatly tied up. After all the tedious backstory we had of characters, their lives quickly took a turn and the novel ended in a neat little bow. It’s almost like Jane Austen got sick of writing the book and just said, “Ok, this happens to this one, and that happens to that one. *whew* done!” I know that’s what I said when I finished it.

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