Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
In the introduction to Native Americans of the Pacific Coast, Vinson Brown presents many admirable ambitions for any scholar writing on human existence. Brown proclaims that he will attempt to make the first Americans "live" in the style of the 1500s to 1700s during the "days of old" and of "glory and independence." He then proceeds to assert that, in order to accomplish this goal, antiquated concepts used to "justify" the conquest of tribal Peoples must be "put aside." He urges us, "instead," to be inquisitive and open so that we can "see and hear" what indigenous life was like before contact. Brown later in the introduction states his primary objectives: to provide the greater details that distinguish the "representative" tribes in the four culture areas spreading from Alaska to the Mexican border; and to "show" parts of the "spirit and essence" of individual people and their families by depicting them "through stories," not stories encompassing lives but as "beginnings" intended as "insights." The notes on the backcover also mention that Brown's Native American friends have been sources of information which has added "visceral and pragmatic" knowledge to his research into the written sources. A close reading of the book, nevertheless, belies Brown's lofty aims, for there are shortcomings and inconsistencies which undercut what otherwise might be a commendable classroom text.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1988