Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lois Beardslee's Rachel's Children

I heard about Rachel's Children last week at the Native Studies meeting in Oklahoma. I wrote to Beverly Slapin at Oyate to see if they carry it, and if they had a review that I could post. They do have it; I ordered a copy and look forward to reading it. Order your copy from Oyate. It is a non-profit organization whose book sales help them continue to do their work. You might find books cheaper at other places, but you'd be hard pressed to find one whose work is as important as Oyate's.

[The review below is used by permission of its author, Doris Seale, and may not be used elsewhere without her written permission.]


Beardslee, Lois (Ojibwe/Lacandon), Rachel’s Children. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press (2004). 147 pages, high school-up; Ojibwe

Rachel’s story comes to us in the voice of an interviewer who wants nothing from her but her knowledge, her stories, and a piece of her spirit; who observes her life with the sense of superiority that comes from profound ignorance.

Rachel is frighteningly intelligent, and she brings the interviewer and the reader face-to-face with what it is to be an Indian woman in 21st-Century America; what it takes to live with the land and not off it, and the courage and unremitting determination required to confront this country’s social system and survive it. Scarred, but still alive.

Nothing is exaggerated; not the prejudice, not the hatred and deliberate cruelty, not the sheer stupidity that stunt Native lives. But there is also the beauty of true things; the way the pollen comes off the evergreens in the spring, “a great yellow cloud” borne on the wind, sweeping up and out, new life. And the intensity of Rachel’s love for her children and her husband, and they for her.—Doris Seale

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