Betrayal, Rejuvenation, and the History of a People

people are dancing againphoto of Charles

In 2004, Oregon’s Siletz Tribe asked Charles Wilkinson to write its tribal history. Wilkinson (distinguished legal scholar and lifelong student of the American West) took on the task, and six years later we have The People Are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon.

Frank Pommershein (author of Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution) writes: “Charles Wilkinson captures the Siletz people’s long journey of betrayal and rejuvenation with such warmth, insight, and engagement that a reader feels privileged to share in it.”

For more on the Siletz people, and Charles Wilkinson’s latest book, please take a look at this excellent clip!

Charles Wilkinson’s books on the complex history of the American West are among the most indispensable volumes on the Land Library’s shelves. Here’s just a few:

blood strugglefire on the plateau
Blood Struggle: The Rise of the Modern Indian Nation, Fire on the Plateau: Conflict and Endurance in the American Southwest

frank's landingcrossing next meridianeagle birdfourth west
Messages from Frank’s Landing: A Story of Salmon, Treaties, and the Indian Way, Crossing the Next Meridian: Land, Water, and the Future of the West, The Eagle Bird: Mapping a New West, and The Fourth West (the 2009 Wallace Stegner Lecture)

The Rocky Mountain Land Series will be hosting both Charles Wilkinson and author & attorney Walter Echo-Hawk on Saturday, December 4th. For more details on this FREE event, click here. And for more information on Walter Echo-Hawk’s book, In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided, you can scan our earlier post!

We hope you can make this special Land Series event. In the meantime, we’d like to share one of our favorite passages from The People Are Dancing Again. Here’s Charles Wilkinson on the home of the Siletz people:

“Their traditional homeland was literally the most productive, in terms of mammals, fish, and other seafood, of anywhere in western North America; western Oregon Indians understandably revered these ‘landscapes that fed their people.’ Their environment was so mild in climate — often rain- and windswept to be sure, but ultimately so easy on a person. The land was physically magnificent, with its green ridges and mists and changing coastlines and endless sea. Everyone was buried there, from way back, and all the stories were told there. This was where it began. The reverence for their homeland, for duh-neh, their place, is so complete, so profound, that their religion has no heaven separate from earth. When people pass on, they remain here, in their paradise.”

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