Family Matters, Tribal Affairs
Carter Revard was born in the Osage Indian Agency town of Pawhuska, Oklahoma. One of seven children, he completed his first eight grades in a one-room country school, working as a janitor, farmhand, and greyhound trainer through high school. He won a radio quiz scholarship to the University of Tulsa, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, and in 1952 was given his Osage name by his grandmother and the tribal elders. How his family coped with the dizzying extremes of the Great Depression and the Osage Oil Boom and with small-town life in the Osage hills is the subject of this book. It is about how Revard came to be a writer and a scholar, how his Osage roots have remained alive, about the alienation of being an Indian who "didn't look Indian," and about finding community, even far from home. It is also an exploration of how he and other American Indian writers are, with words, making places to live--in poems, novels, and essays, as well as on reservations and in cities. Above all, this is a book about identity, about an Osage son who grew up to find that the world is neither Indian nor white but many colors in between Told with grace and wit, "Family Matters, Tribal Affairs" is a moving memoir by one of our most accomplished Native American poets. Like N. Scott Momaday's "The Names" or Leslie Marmon Silko's "Storyteller," this is a story--told in a rich variety of vignettes and voices--about a family, about one man, about many people. "Like that mockingbird," Revard writes, "I have more than one song, but they are all our songs. It seems to me that no one else will sing them unless I do."
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