In Defense of Loose Translations


In Defense of Loose Translations

An Indian Life in an Academic World

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

American Indian Lives Series

230 pages
6 photographs


August 2024


$24.95 Add to Cart

October 2018


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eBook (EPUB)
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October 2018


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eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2018


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About the Book

In Defense of Loose Translations is a memoir that bridges the personal and professional experiences of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Having spent much of her life illuminating the tragic irony of being an Indian in America, this provocative and often controversial writer narrates the story of her intellectual life in the field of American Indian studies.

Drawing on her experience as a twentieth-century child raised in a Sisseton Santee Dakota family and under the jurisdictional policies that have created significant social isolation in American Indian reservation life, Cook-Lynn tells the story of her unexpectedly privileged and almost comedic “affirmative action” rise to a professorship in a regional western university.

Cook-Lynn explores how different opportunities and setbacks helped her become a leading voice in the emergence of American Indian studies as an academic discipline. She discusses lecturing to professional audiences, activism addressing nonacademic audiences, writing and publishing, tribal-life activities, and teaching in an often hostile and, at times, corrupt milieu. Cook-Lynn frames her life’s work as the inevitable struggle between the indigene and the colonist in a global history. She has been a consistent critic of the colonization of American Indians following the treaty-signing and reservation periods of development. This memoir tells the story of how a thoughtful critic has contributed to the debate about indigenousness in academia.

Author Bio

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn is professor emerita of English and Native Studies at Eastern Washington University. She received the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, among other awards. She cofounded Wíčazo Ša Review and is the author of numerous books, including Why I Can’t Read Wallace Stegner, and Other Essays: A Tribal Voice; Anti-Indianism in Modern America: A Voice from Tatekeya’s Earth; and From the River’s Edge.


"In Defense of Loose Translations is eyewitness testimony of what Native academics lived through as they infiltrated settler-colonial institutions of higher education, purposefully and diligently working to advance the inclusion of Native history, literature, politics, and environmental management into Western-based Euro-American pedagogy, unmasking pretenders who played Indian to advance themselves and jeopardize fledgling Native programs and scholars as they pursued their self-interests."—Kerri J. Malloy, American Indian Quarterly

“[Cook-Lynn] embodies a remarkable consistency and remains unflinching in her dedication to her truth. . . . The final chapters, hard meditations on the choices she has made as an [American] Indian academic, are especially poignant and contribute much to appreciating the intellectual core of American Indian studies. . . . What she presents is a meta memoir, one we will do well to digest and discuss—or dismiss to our detriment.”—Eric P. Anderson, Kansas History

“As a Native intellectual and a Dakota intellectual, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn constructs indigeneity as well as her own life while deconstructing U.S. settler-colonialism. She is one of the world’s experts on the subject area, which gives the subjective text a solid foundation. The book is beautifully written, poetic, lyrical, a signature style. It is truly a brilliant work.”—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, winner of the American Book Award

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24. Keyapi

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