Make a Beautiful Way is nothing less than a new way of looking at history—or more correctly, the reestablishment of a very old way. For too long, Euro-American discourse styles, emphasizing elite male privilege and conceptual linearity, have drowned out democratic and woman-centered Native approaches. Even when myopic western linearity is understood to be at work, analysis of Native American history, society, and culture has still been consistently placed in male custody. The recovery of women’s traditions is the overarching theme in this collection of essays that helps reframe Native issues as properly gendered.
Paula Gunn Allen looks at Indian lifeways through the many stitches of Indian clothes and the many steps of their powwow fancy dances. Lee Maracle calls for reconstitution of traditional social structures, based on Native American ways of knowing. Kay Givens McGowan identifies the exact sites where female power was weakened through the imposition of European culture, so that we might more effectively strengthen precisely those sites. Finally, Barbara Alice Mann examines how communication between Natives who have federal recognition and those who do not, as well as between Natives east and west of the Mississippi, became dysfunctional, and outlines how to reestablish good relations for the benefit of all.
Barbara Alice Mann is a lecturer in the English department at the University of Toledo and the author of George Washington’s War on Native America.
Winona LaDuke is a Native American activist and the author of Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming.
“[Make a Beautiful Way] goes beyond women's studies alone, maintaining that elements unnatural to Native ways of knowing have been imposed on the study of Native America's elements consisting of European prejudice and male privilege. This focus on women’s traditions provides essays which examine Indian lifestyles and history through women’s lives and eyes. A fine approach which adds different perspective to Native history and issues.”—Bookwatch
Table of Contents
1. Does Euro-Think Become Us? Paula Gunn Allen
2. Decolonizing Native Women Lee Maracle
3. Weeping for the Lost Matriarchy Kay Givens McGowan