Contemporary Native artists highlighted in beautiful layout
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — ‘Dreaming in Indian’ is a compilation of various Native American voices from all over North America, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale.
The foreword by Lee Maracle states the book’s main purpose is for Indigenous youth to have “a good book to fall into.”
But the book itself fell apart fairly early.
The book’s binding literally came undone within a few pages, but its message was clear.
The layout of the book is beautiful and the glossy pages are filled with amazing artwork by the contributors themselves.
It is broken up into four different parts; roots, battles, medicines and dreamcatchers.
‘Roots’ focuses on the appreciation of the contributors’ homes and childhood, where they came from.
The first couple of pages mention fried bologna and the ‘four reservation food groups.’
The stand out story was Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq Gillis’s story thanking her bullies for making her strong.
The artwork on the glossy pages stand out, though there are some pages that did not quite make sense as to their purpose to be included in the book. As the book moves along, my interest grew.
I found myself Googling the contributors and discovering new Native artists.
The Native youth target audience could greatly benefit from picking up this book for inspiration, especially ones who may feel out of place for being different, trying to find identity within themselves and their culture.
‘Battles’ focuses on that struggle of identity and overcoming issues Native youth face today.
Starting off with the beauty standard of Native women and how that affected the three contributors to the subject, ‘battles’ dives into gender identity, abuse, addiction and poverty.
Contributor Christian Allaire shares his story about how out of place he felt because he loved to dress up and how he felt like the odd man out, but his passion led him into a career of fashion journalism.
‘Shedding my own skin’ by Joseph Boyden addresses his suicide attempt as a teen and how he recovered comparing it to his pet Burmese python.
‘Medicines’ is about finding the strength within oneself through passion.
The very first contributor of this section, Christi Belcourt shares her story about her painting ‘Water song.’ Her answer as to why she included the spider in her painting is heartwarming.
Chayla Delorme Maracle discusses how the Sun Dance helped her quit drinking and doing drugs as a teen, how the spirituality of the dance led her on the path of sobriety.
‘Medicines’ show the great alternatives Native people have found to find happiness.
The last section, ‘dreamcatchers’ focuses on how Indigenous people across North America were able to make their dreams reality through art, activism and education.
Actresses, musicians, chefs and activists make an appearance in ‘dreamcatchers,’ with reasons for why and how they have achieved their dreams.
The 127-page book is an easy read but by no means should it be breezed through. Readers should take the time to appreciate every single page and story, it’s worth the time.