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Sequoyah Rising: Problems in Post-Colonial Tribal Governance Paperback – May 31, 2010

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About the Author

Steve Russell is a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Indiana University, Bloomington.

More About the Author

I am Cherokee, born and raised in Oklahoma but in the Creek Nation.

I dropped out of high school in the 9th grade. Joined the USAF as soon as old enough and volunteered for Vietnam. Got my Vietnam orders in Nov of 1966, took a leave and got hit by a drunk driver on the way back in Dec. Didn't get out of the hospital until July of 1967. Orders canceled in May. The listening post to which I was assigned was overrun in the Tet Offensive...but I wasn't there.

Talked my way into the University of Texas at Austin. BS in secondary education (government and history), magna cum laude, 1972. No teaching job for a guy with a beard, so onward to law school. Graduated 1975 and ran for Justice of the Peace in Austin. Defeated, 53/47.

Practiced law and paid my debts. Criminal defense, consumer and civil rights plaintiffs. My partner, Vivian Mahlab, is still at it.

Appointed to the Austin Municipal Court in 1978, and became Presiding Judge after one term. Informed that I would not be reappointed for insufficient attention to the interests of the Councilman who was key in my appointment, I ran for higher office, Travis County Court at Law No. Two, being vacated by my old friend Bob Perkins. To the surprise of many, including myself, I won.

Served for 12 years, changing the nature of my dockets every four or so. Finally quit when facing the prospect of another contested election for a job that no longer lit fires in my brain.

Finally got a teaching job at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Denied tenure in 2000 and announced my intent to quit in a year. Granted tenure in 2001 but still quit.

Made it to Carnagie Research I, Indiana University-Bloomingon, with a promotion to Associate Professor. More money for less teaching. Gradually gained a national reputation but in Indian Studies more than Criminal Justice. Tenured in 2006. Took a sabbatical and wrote a book putting together my ideas about tribal governance, Sequoyah Rising.

Meanwhile, my poetry book, Wicked Dew, won the Native Writers Circle of the Americas First Book Award in 2008, a prize that used to carry a publication contract and $500. Unfortunately, I won it the year NWCA lost their funding and Wicked Dew gathered rejection letters until I started Dog Iron Press in 2012 and published it myself.

I periodically threaten to run for Congress or an appellate judgeship, but I'm pretty content in Sun City, Georgetown, Texas, where my kids (4) and grandkids (9) gather about twice a year and I can be part of their lives in between the gatherings.

Like most men, I think of "life" in terms of career, but I'm old enough to understand real life is my family. I've been married three times.

First, to Betty Ann White, now known as Judith Sage White. Our son is Paul Russell-White. We split amicably and she lives in Austin.

Second, to Donna Harris Mobley, who died of a sudden stroke on May 4, 1994, the worst day of my life. Our daughter is Mary Katherine Mobley.

Third and I hope last, to Jamie Tracy Colton. Our kids are Mykol and Beth.

The grandkids are numerous and all of them are special but their accomplishments change too often to fairly profile them.

My life is a fairy tale. I didn't reach all my goals and I'm not finished but if this is all there is to be, I'm satisfied.

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