The No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous Peoples

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I am reading this book for two classes: this class, and my INDG 201 class. I think it acts as a great primer for someone who has no idea of what indigenous peoples are, but it has not sparked any great lines of inquiry for me.  There is one exception to this, though, because of the ethnocentrism and generalizations in this book, I have been wondering if I am careful enough when I read.

This book keeps making huge sweeping statements of the sort I was warned against if my first year. I am simply amazed that the author got away with this. The author seems to think that every indigenous group belongs to the same worldview, or perhaps she just didn’t have enough room to write properly. Anyway, here is an example of a generalization from this book: “Music is the food of life for indigenous communities…[music] often accompanies story telling, as elders gather round the fire with the younger generation after the day’s labour is done” (Hughes, 108).  From this statement am I meant to understand that every indigenous group lives in this fashion? That they all, all of them gather round the fire after working to listen to songs and stories from the elders?

I will balance this criticism by saying that the author does use many specific examples from individual indigenous groups.  These examples, while taken with a grain of salt, were the most informative part of this book for me.


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