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In Defense of Loose Translations

An Indian Life in an Academic World

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 10/2018
Pages: 240
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781496212368


In Defense of Loose Translations is a memoir that bridges the personal and professional experiences of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Having spent much of her life illuminating the tragic irony of being an Indian in America, this provocative and often controversial writer narrates the story of her intellectual life in the field of Indian studies. Drawing on her experience as a twentieth-century child raised in a Sisseton Santee Dakota family and under the jurisdictional policies that have created significant social isolation in American Indian reservation life, Cook-Lynn tells the story of her unexpectedly privileged and almost comedic "affirmative action" rise to a professorship in a regional western university. Cook-Lynn explores how different opportunities and setbacks helped her become a leading voice in the emergence of Indian studies as an academic discipline. She discusses lecturing to professional audiences, activism addressing nonacademic audiences, writing and publishing, tribal-life activities, and teaching in an often hostile and, at times, corrupt milieu. Cook-Lynn frames her life's work as the inevitable struggle between the indigene and the colonist in a global history. She has been a consistent critic of the colonization of American Indians following the treaty-signing and reservation periods of development. This memoir tells the story of how a thoughtful critic has tried to contribute to the debate about indigenousness in academia.  


Elizabeth Cook-Lynn is professor emerita of English and Native Studies at Eastern Washington University. She received the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas, was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and won the Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America. She co-founded Wíčazo Ša Review and is the author of several books, including Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays: A Tribal Voice; New Indians, Old Wars; A Separate Country: Postcoloniality and American Indian Nations; and Anti-Indianism in Modern America: A Voice from Tatekeya's Earth.    


"As a Native intellectual and a Dakota intellectual, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn constructs indigeneity as well as her own life while deconstructing U.S. settler-colonialism. She is one of the world's experts on the subject area, which gives the subjective text a solid foundation. The book is beautifully written, poetic, lyrical, a signature style. It is truly a brilliant work."—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, winner of the American Book Award