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Areavoices: 'Beloved Child'

Diane Wilsons's Beloved Child is a collection of stories that highlights the struggle of Native Americans to find an identity that combines their traditional spirituality and culture with a rapidly advancing 21st century that seems to place more ...

Diane Wilsons's Beloved Child is a collection of stories that highlights the struggle of Native Americans to find an identity that combines their traditional spirituality and culture with a rapidly advancing 21st century that seems to place more importance on forgetting the past than treasuring it. Wilson's title emerges from Ella Cara Deloria's work Waterlily, and centers around the effort to raise "beloved children." This idea motivates the majority of Wilson's exploration of modern Native American culture as she asks almost all of her interviewees how Native American culture can persevere and exist in conjunction with modernity.

The book's chapters are sorted into different stories centered around the question of how "Beloved Children" can be raised today. While the book is heavy on personal stories of Native Americans there is a strong historical background provided in the book that talks about the consequences of the 1862 Dakota War, the relocation of Native Americans into South Dakota, and the effect that monuments such as Fort Snelling have on Native American understanding of their own culture even today as we near the 150th anniversary of the Dakota War. An important bi-annual event that is mentioned several times within the book is the Dakota Commemorative March, a march meant to commemorate the forced expulsion of Native Americans from Minnesota land. Wilson retells many of the participants' experiences from the march which offer an understanding of how an event that happened nearly 150 years ago can still have a profound effect upon Native American identity today.

Although Beloved Child is not a perfect book, Diane Wilson does an excellent job of uncovering deep-seated historical wounds that affect Native Americans as well as showing a vision for 21st century Native Americans that combines modernity and advancement with tradition and more importantly the memory of a genocide that has been sadly overlooked and unaddressed in our modern society.

Related Topics: BOOKS
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