Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land

Ballantine. Sept. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781984821188. $27. BIOG
Moving between personal recollections and historical observations, Jensen (Univ. of Arkansas; Inst. of American Indian Arts) narrates what it means to be Métis, and what it feels like to be connected by bodies and land. Beginning by describing life in a fracking town, Jensen considers the history of land, from her hometown in Audubon County, IA, to the Standing Rock Reservation to each campus she attends, either as a student or as a professor. For Jensen, this is also a story about the cost of passing for white without trying. The degradation and exploitation of Indigenous women is never far from mind. How do we do memorialize the dead while being present for the living? She passionately shows how people become who they are, including her dad, who had a history of alcohol abuse and violence. These are the strongest parts of the book, as is her exploration of her ancestors, Road Allowance People from the southern prairies of Canada. The inclusion of sociological definitions, while sometimes distracting, underscores Jensen’s aim to remind us that the language we use to discuss these issues is inextricably linked to cultural history.
VERDICT A meditative exploration of people and place that shows what it means to live and survive.
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