Birding While Indian: A Mixed-Blood Memoir

Birding While Indian: A Mixed-Blood Memoir

By Thomas C Gannon

Catalogs a lifetime of bird sightings to explore the part-Lakota author's search for identity and his reckoning with colonialism's violence against Indigenous humans, animals, and land.


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Book Information

Publisher: Mad Creek Books
Publish Date: 06/27/2023
Pages: 248
ISBN-13: 9780814258729
ISBN-10: 0814258727
Language: English

What We're Saying

November 02, 2023

A call for more stories about and by Indigenous Americans. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

Full Description

Winner, 2024 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize "A fascinating search for personal and cultural identity." --Kirkus Thomas C. Gannon's Birding While Indian spans more than fifty years of childhood walks and adult road trips to deliver, via a compendium of birds recorded and revered, the author's life as a part-Lakota inhabitant of the Great Plains. Great Horned Owl, Sandhill Crane, Dickcissel: such species form a kind of rosary, a corrective to the rosaries that evoke Gannon's traumatic time in an Indian boarding school in South Dakota, his mother's devastation at racist bullying from coworkers, and the violent erasure colonialism demanded of the people and other animals indigenous to the United States. Birding has always been Gannon's escape and solace. He later found similar solace in literature, particularly by Native authors. He draws on both throughout this expansive, hilarious, and humane memoir. An acerbic observer--of birds, the environment, the aftershocks of history, and human nature--Gannon navigates his obsession with the ostensibly objective avocation of birding and his own mixed-blood subjectivity, searching for that elusive Snowy Owl and his own identity. The result is a rich reflection not only on one man's life but on the transformative power of building a deeper relationship with the natural world.

About the Author

Thomas C. Gannon is an associate professor of English and ethnic studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a lifelong birder and inhabitant of the Great Plains. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

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