A look at recent publishing about Native Americans
Most of the nonfiction published about Native Americans is designed to help with "the tribe report." Raymond Bial's "Lifeways" series (Benchmark) has been acclaimed for its use of color photographs of contemporary people and reenactments. Yet, behind its fresh look, the series provides much of the same condescending, trivializing language and non-Native perspective as in less-attractive fare. The books are written almost entirely in the past tense, suggesting that these people and their ways of life are gone, and elements of Native cultures are depicted in opposition to European ones, suggesting that they are at odds.