Doug George-Kanentiio,
Iroquois Culture & Commentary
(Clear Light, 2000)

Iroquois Culture & Commentary is the most straightforward and open Native American cultural book I have read to date. I developed a keen respect for the author as I read his candid discussions about all things Iroquois. It is easy to understand why he was editor of the international news journal Akwesasne Notes for many years and has since written regular columns for multiple publications.

Doug George-Kanentiio writes with clarity and ease of comprehension. His style is laidback and conversational, yet concretely informative. He has a gift for teaching and is able to reduce the most complex matter to a simple explanation. It is clear he places value on delivering his message to all readers without trying to impress scholars. I suspect the scholars may find him impressive to the point of discomfort. (You go, guy!)

Another thing that I really like about this author is his willing to discuss all topics. Many writers avoid the sticky subjects, such as abortion or homosexuality. This book delves right into the matters, states the facts, offers the author's commentary and presses on to the next topic. This instills a trust in readers that they are getting the whole truth and not some sanitized version or half-truths.

Iroquois Culture & Commentary covers it all, from creation myths and the Bering Strait migration theory to current land claim litigation and the battles over casinos and gambling. It even relates the story of the May 1, 1990 shootout that resulted in two deaths and the arrests of five persons, including the author.

Doug George-Kanentiio is an award-winning columnist who writes regular columns for News from Indian Country and the Syracuse Herald American. He is the co-author of Skywoman: Legends of the Iroquois and Treaty of Canandaigua 1794. He is the former editor of Akwesasne Notes and has worked as adviser, producer and scriptwriter for national television documentaries on Iroquois topics. He is a chairman for Round Dance Productions Inc., a nonprofit cultural organization, and a trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian.

If you have any interest, even remote, in Native Americans, you need to read Iroquois Culture & Commentary. The cultural part goes deep, but the commentary portion may well change the way you look at things. Give this one a read and see if Doug George-Kanentiio is not one of the most logical and candid intellectuals our time. Above all else, this is simply a good read!

book review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

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