In Defense of Loose Translations


In Defense of Loose Translations

An Indian Life in an Academic World

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

American Indian Lives Series

232 pages
6 photographs


October 2018


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

October 2018


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

October 2018


$29.95 Add to Cart

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 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 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 tried to contribute 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, was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and won the Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America. She co-founded Wíčazo Ša Review and is the author of several books, including Why I Can’t Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays: A Tribal Voice; New Indians, Old Wars; A Separate Country: Postcoloniality and American Indian Nations; and Anti-Indianism in Modern America: A Voice from Tatekeya’s Earth.


"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's sharp wit, careful deconstruction of U.S. policies, and commentary on the complicity of politicians and the press in propping up a sanitized version of the national history could well be, at this point, a matter of preaching to the converted. Those unfamiliar with her work, however, can find much to admire in her positions and may be drawn to consult her earlier writings. She embodies a remarkable consistency and remains unflinching in her dedication to her truth. . . . What she presents is a metamemoir, 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

Prologue                                                                                                                                  000

Chapter 1                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 2                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 3                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 4                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 5                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 6                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 7                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 8                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 9                                                                                                                                000

Chapter 10                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 11                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 12                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 13                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 14                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 15                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 16                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 17                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 18                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 19                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 20                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 21                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 22                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 23                                                                                                                              000

Chapter 24: Keyapi                                                                                                                 000

Also of Interest