Review: Real Indians by Eva Garroutte

Publication Date: July 31, 2003

Using a conversational approach, Garroutte analyzes the way American Indian identity has changed over the decades and what it means for them now.

With interviews from Indians across a wide variety of tribes and generations, this book aims to create a solution for the ever-changing understanding of Indian identity and what it can mean for future generations.

Date Read: January 28, 2019

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This was the last book I read for my Native American Cultures class over this past J-Term, and it was my favorite of the three.

Considering how much I disliked Playing Indian earlier on in this class, I was really hoping that I would like this book better. My roommate, who had taken this class two years ago and is the reason I chose to take this for my Non-Western credit, said that she remembered this being an easier read when she took the class.

I was surprised at how easily I flew through this book, and I think it's mostly due to how the author used her writing voice. It felt really conversational and easy to understand, unlike Playing Indian, which felt more like it was trying to be academic. The way that sources and history were woven into the text of this book and how easily Garroutte incorporated her outside interviews made for a smooth reading experience.

The academic nature of the book didn't feel like it was trying too hard to teach me something. The information was given to me in a simple and straight-forward manner, and once a point had been made, Garroutte left it alone and didn't assume that I needed more explanations. It's something I appreciate because I sometimes find that books chosen by professors can assume that readers need a lot of explanation about a subject, rather than giving them credit that readers might actually understand some of the basics about a subject.

Another thing that I enjoyed were the chapter titles. For some reason, it kept making me think of the Percy Jackson chapter titles, all of which are funny for some reason or another. These titles weren't necessarily all funny, but they were eye-catching and interesting, making me excited to see what Garroutte would be talking about. It was also fun to see how they connected to each chapter and why she chose those titles.

Giving the book three stars ended up being more because I knew that it wasn't something I would have picked up on my own, and it was a book I had to read for class. I'm not the biggest fan of non-fiction books that are academic in nature, as I find them hard to get through. But since I actually liked this, I thought it was deserving of this rating.

There aren't any characters to talk about, but I did really like the voice that Garroutte used.

3 stars. If you're interested in understanding more about American Indian identity over the course of the past several decades, definitely pick this up.

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