cover image When Nickels Were Indians: An Urban, Mixed-Blood Story

When Nickels Were Indians: An Urban, Mixed-Blood Story

Patricia Penn Hilden, Author Smithsonian Books $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56098-601-0

Part white, part Nez Perce Indian, Hilden writes of her experiences living in two cultures, the one spiritual and communal, the other material and individualistic. Though blue-eyed and pale-skinned, she most strongly identified with her Indian heritage but felt accepted neither by whites nor by full-blooded Indians. The contrasting milieus of her formative years-a Los Angeles multiracial neighborhood, upper-class white Palo Alto and UC Berkeley in the radical '60s-added to her identity problems. But this is less a memoir than an angry polemic against the enduring hypocrisy and cruelty of whites toward Indians. In anguish and outrage, she points to both old and current injustices. A particular target is the James Agee-Edward Steichen icon, The Family of Man, which she holds culpable for promulgating false notions of the commonality of all peoples. But her litany of culprits includes white Indian wanna-bes, consciousness-raising liberals, '60s Berkeley radicals, the media, anthropologists, museum curators, British intellectuals and ``Euro-centered'' whites in general. Hilden, who has studied at Oxford and Cambridge, is a visiting associate professor in the ethnic studies department at Berkeley. Illustrations. (Nov.)