Elsie's Business

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U of Nebraska Press, 2006 - Fiction - 212 pages
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Beaten, raped, and left for dead at the side of a road on the Standing Rock Reservation, young Elsie Roberts disappears into her self to revisit the haunts of her childhood and, perhaps, the depths of her experience to uncover the deepest mystery of all. In Elsie?s Business, Elsie?s search through her own memories ultimately intersects with the search of a stranger who is seeking Elsie?s story.

A picture emerges of a poor child, half black and half Native, whose mother has barely eked out a living for the two of them by tanning deerskins and cleaning houses. Rebuilding her life in a different town as a housekeeper, tanner, and beader of moccasins and bags, much like her mother, the taciturn Elsie finds modest comfort and connections among the white people who employ and befriend her. But her peace is fleeting, for someone from her past, or possibly her present, would like to see her silenced completely. A mystery of mesmerizing suspense and sadness, Elsie?s Business weaves the story of a ravaged woman into the traditional tales of her people to create a vivid sense of communities bound by storytelling and understanding and sundered by ignorance and silence.

 

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Contents

Anukite
1
A 1967 Black Camaro
8
Sinte Sapela Win
16
One Hundred Years of Waiting
20
Talking and Walking
30
Moving
40
A Meeting
50
Learning Tradition
59
Taking the Measurements
121
Another Kind of Measuring
126
John Caulfield
131
Cats in the Bushes
135
Friends or Lovers
145
Replay
151
Lowan
160
Funerals
175

Just Following Tradition
66
10 Christmas 1967
78
How the Crow Got to Be Black
91
Moccasins
97
Oscars B B
100
Red Tape
110
Friendship
114
Insomnia
185
Ceremonies and Arrangements
189
Wiping the Tears
197
The Kindness of Strangers
202
Digging Up the Past
205
Going Home
211
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Frances Washburn is an assistant professor of American Indian studies and English at the University of Arizona.

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