Standing Rock Sioux writer Midge (The Woman Who Married a Bear: Poems, 2016, etc.) delivers powerful, often funny observations on life as a Native American woman in a contentious time.
As poet and novelist Geary Hobson observes in his foreword, Native people are too often thought of, at least by non-Natives, as humorless: “stolid, dour, ready to pounce on you (if you are white) and take away that unnecessary scalp.” Not so Midge, who loves a pun, a play on words, and a goofy recasting of pop-culture tropes: “Gag me with a coup stick” are the first words that appear in the book, followed shortly afterward by an exchange with her mother that includes the title’s play on another title, that of Dee Brown’s classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and works in Chief Joseph with the witticism, “I will fight no more about putting the toothpaste cap on, forever.” The laughter isn’t frivolous, Midge suggests, but rather a way of thumbing a nose at death and the dominant culture. There’s a lot to fight, of course. One of her essays imagines that before trying on African American culture, the one-time headline grabber Rachel Dolezal was a “pretendian,” one of those pretend Indians whose numbers, she reckons, run to about 54% of the population. In another, the author considers other kinds of ethnic border crossings on a trip to Thailand, where she realized that, at least in that context, she was as American as any other American: “big trucks, big talk, big bombs, big money….” She does not, however support Donald Trump, who doesn’t fare well in these pages, and she chides her fellow citizens for being ignorant of “racism, sexism, and living and supporting an authoritarian regime." There are a few misses here and there, but mostly Midge hits, and hits hard.
If you’re wondering why the presence of Andrew Jackson’s portrait in the Oval Office is offensive, this is your book.