“This beautiful and devastating book—part tribal history, part lyric and intimate memoir—should be required reading for anyone seeking to learn about California Indian history, past and present. Deborah A. Miranda tells stories of her Ohlone Costanoan Esselen family as well as the experience of California Indians as a whole through oral histories, newspaper clippings, anthropological recordings, personal reflections, and poems. The result is a work of literary art that is wise, angry, and playful all at once, a compilation that will break your heart and teach you to see the world anew.”
An enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of California, poet Deborah Miranda was born in Los Angeles to an Esselen/Chumash father and a mother of French ancestry. She grew up in Washington State, earning a BS in teaching moderate special-needs children from Wheelock College in 1983 and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Washington. Miranda’s collections of poetry include Raised by Humans (2015); Indian Cartography: Poems (1999), winner of the Diane Decorah Memorial First Book Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas; and The Zen of La Llorona (2005), nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. Miranda also received the 2000 Writer of the Year Award for Poetry from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Her mixed-genre collection Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (2013) won a Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher’s Association and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan Award.
Praise for Bad Indians
”Essential for all of us who were taught in school that the ‘Mission Indians’ no longer existed in California, Bad Indianscombines tribal and family histories, tape recordings, and the writings of a white ethnologist who spoke with Miranda’s family, together with photographs, old reports from the mission priests to their bishops, and newspaper articles concerning Indians from the nearby white settlements. Miranda takes us on a journey to locate herself by way of the stories of her ancestors and others who come alive through her writing. It’s such a fine book that a few words can’t do it justice.”
–Leslie Marmon Silko, author of Ceremony and The Turquoise Ledge
”Bad Indiansbrings the human story of California’s indigenous community sharply into focus. It’s a narrative long obscured and distorted by celebrations of Christian missionaries and phony stories about civilization coming to a golden land. No other history of California’s indigenous communities that I know of presents such a moving, personal account of loss and survival.”
–Frederick E. Hoxie, Swanlund Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
”For so long, Native writers and readers have opened books of our tribal history, archaeology, or anthropology and found that it is not the story we know. It does not include the people we know. It does not tell the stories of the heart or the relationships that were, and are, significant in any time. When we write our own books, they do not fit the ‘record,’ as created by and confirmed by outside views. From the voice of the silenced, the written about and not written by, this book is groundbreaking not only as literature but as history.”
–Linda Hogan, author of Rounding the Human Corners and a faculty member for the Indigenous Education Institute
Also check out Ms. Miranda’s collection of poetry, Raised by Humans.