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#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women

by Lisa Charleyboy (ed.); Mary Beth Leatherdale (ed.)

From the editors of Urban Tribes (2015) and Dreaming in Indian (2014), this new release focuses on the strength, resilience, and pride of Indigenous women. The collection starts with a striking piece of art, RedWoman, depicting a female form covered to the eyes with a flowing red cloth, and is paired with candid prose about escape and freedom by well-known writer, artist, and scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. This sets the tone for how the editors effectively match text with moving artwork, all of which celebrate Indigenous women’s identities. Personal stories and poems make up the bulk of the collection, but letters, tweets, a comic strip, glam photos, illustrated stories, and a Q&A enhance the variety.

From a 13-year-old Standing Rock protester who says, “We demand ‘rezpect’ for our water, our land, and our voices” to the description of a “turquoise green Grandmother” who rides along the Highway of Tears, the voices are as diverse as the continent they represent. “It Could Have Been Me” acknowledges the shared fear Indigenous women endure with reference to the missing and murdered. Stereotypes are overturned while exploring the theme of “What does it mean to be an Indigenous woman?” Romantic, tragic legends featuring Indian maidens leaping off cliffs are rejected and revised. Addictions are acknowledged as destructive ways of numbing pain, and women share how they have been able to break these habits and “begin to forgive, accept, and heal.”

Each empowering piece deserves thoughtful contemplation to fully understand and appreciate the contributors’ messages and invites repeated readings of the entire collection. The editors have striven to create an intensely meaningful gift for the book’s key readership: young Indigenous women. In turn, non-Indigenous readers will gain new understandings, prompting them to question ingrained assumptions, and learn more about the talented artists and writers featured.