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Walking Where We Lived: Memoirs of a Mono Indian Family Paperback – September 15, 1999

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gaylen D. Lee is a descendent of the Pomona family, tradition leaders of the Nim's Eagle clan. A self-employed upholsterer, he has been active in the preservation of his family's culture throughout his life.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (September 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806131683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806131689
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a Mono Indian, I have nothing but words of praise for Gaylen Lee's work. He begins by saying that he only speaks for himself, which is important since our families' experiences are all so different depending on contact and acculturation. I am grateful that this book was written, as it is something all people can read, appreciate and gain understanding of a California tribe.
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By A Customer on October 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
The reader hears the authentic voice of a tribe of Indians of the US far west. Lee knows his people's language and uses Native words liberally. He exlains attitudes and concepts that were at such odds with white thinking that it made the Indians vulnerable to domination. He does not apologize for his people's culture. Adults whose knowledge of Indian life may have ended with elementary school social studies will find this book astonishing
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Format: Paperback
Gaylen Lee has offered a gem! This non-linear memoir is so thoughtfully written that it provides delicate insight into the history and life of the Mono Indians while wrapping you in the story along the way.

Pulled along through the text you want to read more but not without appreciating each step. This is a true treasure.
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Format: Paperback
I found this in my father's library while visiting his house in Mariposa, near Yosemite. It's an evocative and enlightening book which tells, in alternate chapters, the history of the Nim*, who are California Indians from the area I was staying in, and the personal history and experiences of the author, who grew up practicing many of their traditional ways. The non-historical chapters are arranged by seasons, beginning with spring and ending when winter begins to warm into another spring.

Lee's style is alternately scholarly, poetic, personal, and frank. He wrote this, the first personal account of the Nim by a Nim, partly because the existing written material on them, compiled by white anthropologists, was misleading or outright wrong. Some information is left out because it's "none of anybody's business;" other material, mostly involving the medicinal or food use of local plants, is deliberately vague to prevent foolish and inexperienced people from accidentally killing themselves.

The history is the usual tale of stolen land and broken treaties, attempted cultural genocide and fighting back. (One of the lighter bits quotes John Muir's horror at the incredible filthiness of some Indians he encounters while hiking in the woods; Lee points out that they were in a mosquito-infested area, and the Indians had sensibly covered themselves with a natural repellent - mud!) The personal narrative is written in a more intimate voice, sometimes earthy, sometimes funny, often moving. Lee's love for his family shines through every page.

I liked this a lot, and I think anyone who likes memoirs or nature writing would enjoy it. If you have a particular interest in California history or California Indian culture, it ought to be essential reading.
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Format: Paperback
Much has been written about Native Californians, but this book comes to us from a Nim (West Mono) writer who actually grew up in the old ways as taught to him by his people. It would be difficult to think of the indigenous Californians as "primitive" after reading this book. Their remarkably intricate crafts, legends, hunting and fishing techniques, and ceremonies make a single weave that endured for millennia--and that still endure, though tattered, in spite of a century of colonialism and genocide.

This book also dispels the dual urge to romanticize Native people and to see them as passive victims of whites. Lee reveals only those stories and ceremonial details already in print, keeping the rest private to avoid their exploitation. His people defended themselves with some success and resisted colonization even while adapting to it without losing their essence as a people.
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