Tracks Along the Left Coast

51er9-Er4gLby Andrew Schelling
Counterpoint Press, 2017

Tracks Along the Left Coast: Jaime de Angulo & Pacific Coast Culture is a story of the life of the Old Coyote of Big Sur, Jaime de Angulo. In addition to being a tale capturing de Angulo’s time as a cowboy, miner, poet, doctor, linguist, and ethnomusicologist, the book provides insight on the persecuted Native Californian cultures and languages that have endured to modern times.

Jaime de Angulo’s poetry and prose represented the bohemian sensibilities of the twenties, thirties, and forties. He was also known for his reworkings of coyote tales and shamanic mysticism. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Andrew Schelling has written or edited twenty books, including Love and the Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry and Erotic Longing. For over twenty years he’s been teaching at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School and also teaches at Deer Park Institute, in Himachal Pradesh, India.

Jaime de Angulo (1887-1950) was born in Paris to Spanish parents. At eighteen, he fled to America to become a cowboy. In his lifetime, he was also a rancher, doctor, lecturer, anthropologist, linguist, and musicologist, as well as wrote poetry and fiction. He also published articles on indigenous languages and music systems of Northern California and Mexico. The year before he died, he broadcasted retellings of Native Californian myths and stories over the radio, which are still available today.

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Coyote Traces: Aku Wuwu’s Poetic Sojourn in America

coyote-traces

Foreign Language Publications, The Ohio State University, 2016

Coyote Traces author Aku Wuwu, of the Yi ethnic minority in Southwest China, shares his real journey through both nations and the internconnection of cultures and languages.

In the words of author Aku Wuwu: “In these poems, I have tried to record the tangible and intangible heritages of Native Americans as I perceive them. In the process, I occassionally invoke my own Nuosu heritage. Imbibing the fresh air of other peoples’ cultures, I ponder over my personal spiritual life and the home of my soul. I wish to combine these shattered fragments into some serious ideas and thoughts. While writing these so-called cross-lingual and cross-cultural texts, I have attempted to explore the real nature of humanity, which has occassionally turned out to be a spiritual pilgramage back to my own native civilization.”

The collection of 80 poems, written in both Chinese and English translations, includes 9 full-color photo plates from the author’s journey. Paperback, 377 pages. (Publisher’s description)

Cheyenne Madonna

By Eddie Chuculate
Black Sparrow Books, 2010

In seven interconnected stories Chuculate pursues the painful self-discovery of a half-Cherokee youth trying to distance himself from his family’s chronic drinking, impoverishment, and racism. In “YoYo,” Jordon, the dreamy protagonist of most of the stories, finds his myopic world abruptly pried open by the appearance of an older, and dazzlingly fast, black girl. In “A Famous Indian Artist,” Jordon describes the disintegration of his admiration for his uncle, the only relative he has who has lived a creative life. In “Dear Shorty,” Jordon depicts his alcoholic father in shockingly unsparing and unsentimental terms; after first following disastrously in his footsteps, Jordon achieves stature as an artist, yet continues to try to connect with his father, even after it’s too late. Chuculate writes forthright prose in a somber key, examining without judgment the lives of Native American characters like Old Bull, a Cheyenne who, in “Galveston Bay, 1826,” the collection’s one stand-alone story, ventures out to see the ocean for the first time, only to get savaged by a hurricane. Memory and will converge here to powerful effect. (Publishers Weekly)

Eddie Chuculate won a PEN/O. Henry prize in 2007 and held a Wallace Stegner creative writing fellowship at Stanford University. A Creek and Cherokee Indian from Muskogee, Oklahoma, he has a degree in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and was accepted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind and Ecology

treemeaning

by Robert Bringhurst
Counterpoint, 2007

The Tree of Meaning presents thirteen superb and surprising lectures on language,  storytelling, mythology, comparative literature, humanity, and the breadth of oral and literate culture.

Bringhurst’s “ecological linguistics” includes studies of Native American art and illuminating essays about Haida culture, the process of translation, and the relationship between being and language. A companion collection of speeches and lectures by Bringhurst, Everywhere Being Is Dancing: TwentyPieces of Thinking, is also highly recommended.

Robert Bringhurst is a poet, translator, linguist, and typographer. He has published more than a dozen books of poetry, and his manual The Elements of Typographic Style has become one of the most influential contemporary texts on typographic design. He has worked for many years with Native American texts. He lives on Quadra Island off British Columbia.

Perma Red: A Novel


By Debra Magpie Earling

Blue Hen Books (Penguin), 2003.

In this beautiful first novel, set on the Flathead Reservation of Montana in the 1940s, Earling traces the youth and young adulthood of Louise White Elk and the men who try to win her heart and soul. A red-headed, mixed-blood temptress, Louise always has a man or two, none of whom is any good for her. Throughout, a third-person narrative alternates with a first-person account by Charlie Kicking Woman, the police officer who tracked down Louise when she ran away repeatedly as a child but whose interest in the woman is less than professional. Louise is also entangled with Baptiste Yellow Knife, who adheres to the old ways and resists all contact with whites and authorities. The abject poverty is keenly felt, as is the pride that allows one to prevail and the resignation that keeps one from aspiring to more. (Reviewed by Debbie Bogenschutz, Library Journal)

Debra Magpie Earling is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation. She teaches at the University of Montana. This is her first novel.

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation


By Jonathan Lear

Harvard University Press, 2006.

Jonathan Lear, a psychoanalyst and professor of philosophy, delves into what he calls the ‘blind spot’ of any culture: the inability to conceive of its own devastation. He molds his thoughts around a poignant historical model, the decimated nation of Crow Indians in the early decades of the twentieth century. The last Crow chief, Plenty Coups, told his white friend and biographer, Frank B. Linderman, about what happened to his people “when the buffalo went away.” They were despondent, and in Plenty Coups’ words, “After this nothing happened.” Lear dissects this phenomenon, and the Crows’ struggle for continued survival, in a highly esoteric discussion drawing on the writings of Aristotle, Plato, and other philosophers. What makes this discussion relevant to mainstream readers is his application of the blind-spot hypothesis to the present, in which the twenty-first century was ushered in by terrorist attacks, social upheavals, and natural catastrophes, leaving us with ‘an uncanny sense of menace’ and a heightened perception of how vulnerable our civilizations are to destruction, as was the Crow’s. (Reviewed by Deborah Donovan, Booklist)