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Being and Becoming Indian Biographical Studies of North American Frontiers

ISBN 0881337358 / 9780881337358 / 0-88133-735-8

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Book summary

Cultural, ethnic, and personal identity form the central core of these essays that examine the lives and experiences of fourteen individuals, and their much broader applications. Biography is used not as an end in itself, but as a method of improving and intensifying understanding of a variety of social and cultural processes that are significant phenomena in the long history of changing relationships between the diverse peoples of North America. The lives of these selected subjects provide a broad sampling: their careers span several centuries; they lived in many parts of North America; and they are a diverse cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds. Their lives were spent on cultural margins, on the frontiers between the predecessors of ethnic groups familiar to us today; conflict, discrimination and repression were commonly their lot. These individuals coped with their frustration in turbulent eras and contexts. How they did so provides useful lessons for us today. By using biography as a magnifying glass, peering closely at the experiences of particular individuals, this broad sampling aims at revealing more texture and intricacy than what emerges from other types of anthropological and historical studies and at generating some new insights. [via]