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Snell, Alma Hogan. Matthews, Becky, ed. Grandmother's grandchild; my Crow Indian life.

Univ. of Nebraska Press, Bison Books. 213p. illus. notes. index. c2000. 0-8032-9291-0. $12.95. SA

The Smithsonian institution Research Expeditions enlisted a small army of persons to provide information, research, and personal skills to bring out this autobiography of the life of Alma Hogan Snell, a Crow woman born in 1923. Snell, whose husband is of German descent, tells in first person about her life growing up in a reservation environment and, as an adult, of moving from one reservation to another as the needs of family and work dictated. She is a Christian (drawn to the faith by Baptist missionaries) who melds Christian and Native American spirituality elements in a rich and satisfying way. Her life story explores medical spells and potions, relationships with animals, the ins and outs of human relationships, living with harsh prairie weather, school and learning, and adjusting to white culture. Snell speaks little of political or broader tribal life. A central and most striking feature of her account is "... her ability to connect herself and her generation with memories of a grandmother." The grandmother, whose name was Pretty Shield, is pictured in b/w photographs as a plain, short, round woman, her face lined with leathery wrinkles. The text, through Shell's eyes, brings Pretty Shield to life as a woman of insight, talented in human and survival skills. Says Snell, "I have a push in my heart to keep up Indian cultural values. I'm sure that Pretty Shield is the source of that push." Snell personally read and approved the final version of this book, but her own voice is not heard as clearly as one would like. Though care was taken to minimize the intrusion of the interviewer, the reader senses the presence of the professional writer helping Snell choose her words. This autobiography stands with a recently published book, They Call Me Agnes, the autobiography of Agnes Deernose who is also a Crow and who is mentioned by Snell. (It was reviewed in KLIATT in Sept. 01). The Deernose autobiography was written in a similar way, through the auspices of the Anthropology Department of Yale University. Edna M. Boardman, Minot, ND
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Author:Boardman, Edna M.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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