Great Plains Studies, Center for



Sally Thompson

Date of this Version

Summer 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:3 (Summer 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


Have you ever noticed how often historians and anthropologists write about Indians in the past tense? This phenomenon is one of the most disempowering experiences for an Indian to encounter. Journalist Alison Owings's unique book helps to correct this misperception, while covering broad subjects of history and culture through the lives of sixteen Native Americans, most of whom are unknown outside of their own communities.

Owings's accounts entwine the contemporary with the past. The reader finds intelligent first-hand reflections on how treaties, allotments, reorganization, relocation, termination, federal recognition, NAGPRA, and other federal policies, alongside blood quantum controversies and gaming, have influenced individuals, families, and tribes. Common myths are debunked through these commentaries, especially in "Indians 101," by Osage attorney Elizabeth Lohah Homer. The more personal aspects of these accounts help remind academics and policymakers of the people behind issues and policies.