Embracing Fry Bread


Embracing Fry Bread

Confessions of a Wannabe

Roger Welsch

272 pages


December 2012


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2012


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

When he was out playing Indian, enacting Hollywood-inspired scenarios, it never occurred to the child Roger Welsch that the little girl sitting next to him in school was Indian. A lifetime of learning later, Welsch’s enthusiasm is undimmed, if somewhat more enlightened. In Embracing Fry Bread Welsch tells the story of his lifelong relationship with Native American culture, which, beginning in earnest with the study of linguistic practices of the Omaha tribe during a college anthropology course, resulted in his becoming an adopted member and kin of both the Omaha and the Pawnee tribes.
With requisite humility and a healthy dose of humor, Welsch describes his long pilgrimage through Native life, from lessons in the vagaries of “Indian time” and the difficulties of reservation life, to the joy of being allowed to participate in special ceremonies and developing a deep and lasting love of fry bread. Navigating another culture is a complicated task, and Welsch shares his mistakes and successes with engaging candor. Through his serendipitous wanderings, he finds that the more he learns about Native culture the more he learns about himself—and about a way of life whose allure offers true insight into indigenous America. 

Author Bio

Roger Welsch is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the author of more than forty books, including Touching the Fire: Buffalo Dancers, the Sky Bundle, and Other Tales and My Nebraska, both available in Bison Books editions.


“If it can be said of anyone who is not an Indian (Native American, American Indian) that he or she has the ‘soul of an Indian,’ it has to be said of Roger Welsch. He offers the one thing that diverse groups of people, indeed the world, need to get along: understanding.”—Joseph Marshall III, author of The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Learning

"Welsch's natural warmth and skill as a storyteller, and his obvious respect for the individuals he encounters, come through clearly in his writing, and it's easy to see why so many people, from so many backgrounds, might be honored to call him "friend.""—Publishers Weekly

"Though an anthropology scholar, Welsch is never pedantic or preachy. Instead, this is a heartfelt and very personal story, rich in wry and self-deprecating humor."—Deborah Donovan, Booklist

"Welsch's gratitude toward the Omahas and Pawnees is real, his outrage at their painful history is justified, and his story is proof that Native American culture is still alive and complex."—Kirkus

"Welsch manifests himself as a listener who has spent fifty-five years involved in Native culture where he has made uncountable friends. His ability to write honest prose, both informative and erudite, captivates from the beginning."—Wynne Summers, Great Plains Quarterly

Table of Contents


1. First, a Story

2. Introduction

3. A Beginning

4. Beyond the Handgame

5. History, Long and Short

6. Who Are We?

7. The Call of Curiosity, Keep the Change

8. Enter the Wannabes

9. What's in a Name

10. Who Is "The Indian"?

11. Who Is the Wannabe?

12. The Contrary Lesson of the Prime Directive

13. First Steps

14. The Fix Is Out

15. Indian Wannabes

16. Gottabes

17. Becoming New

18. How It Goes, How It Went

19. The Plot Thickens

20. Why?

21. Gottabes Again

22. The Ways of Foodways

23. Carnivores Forever

24. Another World

25. The Consequences of Incuriosity

26. Symbols and Realities

27. Indian Humor

28. Names and Naming

29. The Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger of 1877

30. Names . . . and Names

31. Matters of Faith

32. Deduction/Induction

33. What Is Indian Religion?

34. The Sun Dance

35. The Native Church

36. Inside Native Religion

37. Knowing What We Don't Know

38. What History Teaches Us

39. The Empty Frontier

40. Indians Today

41. Indians as Americans

42. The Land

43. The Real Wonder of It

44. Eloquence

45. From Presumed Inferiority to Rampant Egalitarianism

46. Time

47. Property and Gifts

48. The Gift of Giving

49. The Fabric of Sharing

50. The Spirit of Giving

51. Squaring the Circle

52. So, How Different Are We?

53. What We See

54. Indians and Deeper Truths

55. Conclusions

56. Repositories of Wisdom

57. What's in It for Indians?

58. So You Wannabe a Wannabe?