Children of the Dragonfly
280 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Mar 2001
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Children of the Dragonfly

The University of Arizona Press

Sometimes the losses of childhood can be recovered only in the flight of the dragonfly.Native American children have long been subject to removal from their homes for placement in residential schools and, more recently, in foster or adoptive homes. The governments of both the United States and Canada, having reduced Native nations to the legal status of dependent children, historically have asserted a surrogate parentalism over Native children themselves.

Children of the Dragonfly is the first anthology to document this struggle for cultural survival on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. Through autobiography and interviews, fiction and traditional tales, official transcripts and poetry, these voices— Seneca, Cherokee, Mohawk, Navajo, and many others— weave powerful accounts of struggle and loss into a moving testimony to perseverance and survival.

Invoking the dragonfly spirit of Zuni legend who helps children restore a way of life that has been taken from them, the anthology explores the breadth of the conflict about Native childhood. Included are works of contemporary authors Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Luci Tapahonso, and others; classic writers Zitkala-Sa and E. Pauline Johnson; and contributions from twenty important new writers as well. They take readers from the boarding school movement of the 1870s to the Sixties Scoop in Canada and the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 in the United States. They also spotlight the tragic consequences of racist practices such as the suppression of Indian identity in government schools and the campaign against Indian childbearing through involuntary sterilization.


Part 1. Traditional Stories and Lives

Severt Young Bear (Lakota) and R. D. Theisz, To Say "Child"

Zitkala-Sa (Yankton Sioux), The Toad and the Boy

Delia Oshogay (Chippewa), Oshkikwe's Baby

Michele Dean Stock (Seneca), The Seven Dancers

Mary Ulmer Chiltoskey (Cherokee), Goldilocks Thereafter

Marietta Brady (Navajo), Two Stories

Part 2. Boarding and Residential Schools

Embe (Marianna Burgess), from Stiya: or, a Carlisle Indian Girl at Home

Black Bear (Blackfeet), Who Am I?

E. Pauline Johnson (Mohawk), As It Was in the Beginning

Lee Maracle (Stoh:lo), Black Robes

Gordon D. Henry, Jr. (White Earth Chippewa), The Prisoner of Haiku

Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), The Snakeman

Joy Harjo (Muskogee), The Woman Who Fell from the Sky

Part 3. Child Welfare and Health Services

Problems That American Indian Families Face in Raising Their Children, United States Senate, April 8 and 9, 1974

Mary TallMountain (Athabaskan), Five Poems

Virginia Woolfclan, Missing Sister

Lela Northcross Wakely (Potawatomi/Kickapoo), Indian Health

Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d'Alene), from Indian Killer

Milton Lee (Cheyenne River Sioux) and Jamie Lee, The Search for Indian

Part 4. Children of the Dragonfly

Peter Cuch (Ute), I Wonder What the Car Looked Like

S. L. Wilde (Anishnaabe), A Letter to My Grandmother

Eric Gansworth (Onondaga), It Goes Something Like This

Kimberly Roppolo (Cherokee/Choctaw/Creek), Breeds and Outlaws

Phil Young (Cherokee) and Robert Bensen, Wetumka

Lawrence Sampson (Delaware/Eastern Band Cherokee), The Long Road Home

Beverley McKiver (Ojibway), When the Heron Speaks

Joyce carlEtta Mandrake (White Earth Chippewa), Memory Lane Is the Next Street Over

Alan Michelson (Mohawk), Lost Tribe

Patricia Aqiimuk Paul (Inupiaq), The Connection

Terry Trevor (Cherokee/Delaware/Seneca), Pushing up the Sky

Annalee Lucia Bensen (Mohegan/Cherokee), Two Dragonfly Dream Songs

Robert Bensen is coeditor of Iroquois Voices, Iroquois Visions: A Celebration of Contemporary Six Nations Arts and has authored numerous essays on Native literature and child custody. He is Professor of English and Director of Writing at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, where he also teaches American Indian law and literature.
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