Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life

David Treuer, Author
David Treuer. Atlantic Monthly, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1971-1
Paperback - 330 pages - 978-0-8021-2082-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-3837-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-5837-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-0837-2
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-8021-9489-3
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Novelist Treuer (Little) offers an ambitious, impressionistic study of life on Native American reservations. His blending in of the history of his Ojibwe tribe and his own family results in a nuanced view of personal and tribal identity. It’s neither definitive nor a work of full personal disclosure, but it is “the story of the paradoxically least and most American place in the twenty-first century. Welcome to the Rez.” Whether he’s describing the central role of fishing walleye, the region’s signature fish; the Ojibwe’s treaty right fights; or the timeless method for harvesting wild rice, Treuer paints a picture of a vital if economically strained tribal life, deftly supplying historical context to explain how the Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and White Earth reservations came to be and survive. If the stand-alone chapters don’t always flow smoothly into one another, the vignettes—of treaty rights fishing activists; of how casinos have changed economic life on the rez; how his mother, a tribal judge, dispensed justice; how an Ojibwe language teacher ensured the viability of the tribal language for another generation; and most powerfully, how Treuer’s grandfather’s suicide left the family reeling—bring the world and personalities of the rez to vivid, heartrending life. (Feb.)
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