Mixing It Up
A Measure of Our Times
Review Notation: Mixing It Up -- A Measure of Our Times...

On Behalf of the Wolf
and the First Peoples
by Joseph Marshall III

Published by Red Crane Books

We -- the wolf and the first peoples -- have within us a key to the future of this country and, indeed, the world. A truth instilled by adversity. A truth both ancient and new.

Milenniums ago we both roamed freely. We did not destroy the land or contaminate the water or foul the air. Our populations did not exceed the physical world's ability to support us. We each had a place in the natural order, the Great Circle of Life, and we kept our places. Nor did we unduly or self-righteously interfere with any other species.

The new, more recent truth comes from having stood on the brink of extinction. It is simple and frightening. The actions, attitudes, and policies by which Indians and wolves are "controlled" are the same that are applied to the land, air, water -- attitudes and policies that have deep roots in arrogance, ignorance, and apathy when they should be based on truth, understanding, and compassion.

For the sake of the world, we pray that non-Indians and non-wolves will see these truths. And if these truths are seen and accepted, then we will all know that there is a natural order still, no matter how much we may have allowed technology and anthropocentrism to hide it from us.

Joseph Marshall III, from the title essay

Marshall's invocation of a certainty of order among all living things, and to a deeper awareness of this truth within each of us, creates the center of this swiftly challenging narrative.

Although the rapidity with which technological "advances" have changed the face and structure of our shared U.S. cultures is an issue Marshall broaches with a sense of warning approaching doom, this is not to be understood as an "anti-techno" tract. Rather, as Marshall himself so eloquently puts it, "unless and until we understand the simplest of realities, we should not think ourselves capable and responsible enough to understand the complex." In that sense, while Marshall's title essay is certainly an indictment of the usage and the quick-tilt of technology, it is ultimately, and with good sense, for balance that he argues.

This collection is as philosophical as it is historical, as poetic as critical. Balance again is the issue, in the essay "Not All Indians Dance," where Marshall gives due praise to a "young producer" who interviewed the author for a television segment on the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. Yet, while the questions were honorable and led to a cohesive chronology, in Marshall's view, what the show established was another segment honoring the myth and legend of U.S. indigenous peoples, rather than embracing the additional information of importance Marshall had wanted to add about the mundane daily realities of the Lakota hero. And, in this appealing entry to the collection, Marshall himself uncloaks some of his own basic realities, much to the chagrin of non-Indian colleagues and spectators: his work with a bow and arrow isn't "symbolic," and no, he doesn't dance. Including a list of factual data that will remind us whereof he speaks, Marshall provides here an accessible, noteworthy essay necessary to classrooms everywhere.

By turns humorous, ironic, contemplative, and urgent, each essay in this collection is important for both its commentaries on modern cultures and its contribution to historical revisionism, and this is a book which belongs in the homes and classrooms of everyone interested in not just Native American studies, but world affairs.

Review by Canéla Analucinda Jaramillo

Forward to review of Patricia Justiniani McReynolds' Almost Americans: A Quest for Dignity
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