D.L. Birchfield,
How Choctaws Invented Civilization
& Why Choctaws Will Conquer the World

(University of New Mexico Press, 2007)

The news release for How Choctaws Invented Civilization & Why Choctaws Will Conquer the World is titled: "Native Author Provides Tongue-in-Cheek Commentary on Indian Country Issues."

What an understatement! D.L. Birchfield is a brilliant satirist. His sarcasm is only exceeded by his exuberance for storytelling ... with a truckload of humor. You will not be able to put this book down or even to interrupt your reading long enough to get a cup of coffee (a Choctaw habit, as I have learned from this book). You cannot turn the page quickly enough to get to that next sentence.

This book should carry a warning on the front cover about eating while reading. I almost choked to death on a sandwich during Birchfield's perfectly logical explanation for why the earliest Choctaws divided into "groups of a few dozen people." Then I got to the explanation of why those early trespassers journeyed from Asia through the Bering Strait and into North America. By the time I finished the book, I was laughing until I had tears rolling.

Birchfield tells it like it was, like it is and like it really should be; perhaps with a minute touch (or an emphatic exaggeration) of personal bias. He weaves a story that will charm, then traumatize you. It is guaranteed that you cannot read this book without emotion. He will elicit a strong response.

Birchfield walks you through the history of North America as a devoted Choctaw tribesman sees it. He shows you the horrendous grief bestowed upon the friendly Choctaws -- and all other natives -- by the Americans, honestly called the "North American Germans" in this book. He demonstrates how history is nothing more than the writer's point of view, which translates to propaganda for the writer's personal beliefs.

Though the cultural aspects of the book are educational and entertaining, the most enlightening parts are about treaty negotiations. Birchfield's law degree allows him to dissect the treaties, state their exact parameters and evaluate how each has been used, abused and just plain broken. He cites cases and offers splendid, easily understood explanations.

The author says this book was not written for Indians, except for their amusement. It was written for Americans. In his words: "This work is a hybrid between academic scholarship and creative nonfiction, and it employs fiction writing techniques regarding tone, pace, voice, and other things, rather like a heavily plotted novel that's somewhat character driven."

How Choctaws Invented Civilization & Why Choctaws Will Conquer the World is an exceptionally entertaining piece of literary genius. You will either love it or hate it, but either way, you will feel extreme emotions. Even if you hate the message, you have to give this brilliant author credit for creating a masterpiece and you will still likely enjoy his explanations for certain points in history.

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

31 May 2008

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new