MESSENGERS OF THE WIND by Jane Katz

MESSENGERS OF THE WIND

Native American Women Tell Their Life Stories
edited by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A rich collection of personal stories rewarding enough so that generous readers will forgive its obvious flaws. Katz (I Am the Fire of Time: The Voices of Native American Women, not reviewed, etc.), a teacher of multicultural literature from Minneapolis, offers the stories of more than 25 contemporary Native American women. The accounts are culled from recorded interviews conducted by Katz. Most of those interviewed are extremely articulate women. Some (Chrystos, Wendy Rose, Vi Hilbert) are writers themselves. Readers are left to wonder why they needed a non-Indian to write their lives and how much of their actual voice remains. The pieces seem to have the ring of truth, however. There are stories of empowerment here. Artist Emmi Whitehorse speaks of the key role women played in her family, claiming that they owned and ran everything, a fact that she tries to reflect in her art. Physician Lois Steele speaks of the interrelatedness of all things and the energy all things and creatures share, as well as of growing up on the reservation and her work on the Indians Into Medicine program, which recruits and trains Indians for careers in health care. There are also stories of great pain. Activist for Native rights Elaine Salinas and the poet Chrystos speak of the abuses (both mental and physical) of the boarding school system to which so many Indian youths were subjected, uprooted from both their families and their culture. Fifteen-year- old Cassandra Holmes talks about the relevance of the pipe ceremony and her involvement in AIDS and anti-racism activism. The common thread that runs through all the accounts is a tenacious will to survive on one's own terms. These are powerful women with important stories to tell. They provide the discerning reader with much information about the realities of Indian life in the United States today.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-345-39060-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1995