Bad Indians (Expanded Edition): A Tribal Memoir (10th Anniversary Edition)

Product Details
$30.00  $27.90
Heyday Books
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.1 X 1.0 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Deborah A. Miranda is an enrolled member of the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation of the Greater Monterey Bay Area in California, with Santa Ynez Chumash ancestry. In addition to Bad Indians, she is the author of four poetry collections and coeditor of Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature. She earned her PhD in English literature from the University of Washington in Seattle and was Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, where she taught literature of the margins and creative writing. She retired from her professorship in 2021 to focus on scholarship and poetry involving California Mission history and literatures. She and her spouse, writer Margo Solod, live in Eugene, Oregon, a short distance from homelands in California.


Alta Journal California Book Club Pick 2023

Winner, PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Literary Award

Winner, 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award, Gold Medal for Autobiography/Memoir

Shortlisted for the 2014 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

"Bad Indians is the sacred text and story of California, the book that sits beside me when I write, the book I have given to all of my daughters, the book I give to people I love when they need to know the deeply-sung truths and revelations of this state, of this world. Deborah Miranda writes of hundreds of years of children, parents, love and despair and love again, here in a land beloved and stolen and cherished. With tenderness and fiercely lyrical beauty, she takes apart myth and resurrects the branches of her own trees, as no one else ever could."--Susan Straight, author of Mecca and In the Country of Women

"Bad Indians stands out as a classic quintessentially Indigenous memoir. It is a powerful text that demonstrates, through a merging of personal storytelling, history, and gathering of testimony, a meta-story of generational trauma and triumph. It is the best book of its kind and will continue to be an essential text in California, national, and world history."--Joy Harjo

"In Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir, we learn about the Indigenous people of California from the 16th century to the present. What was and is day-to-day life for them? How much has been erased from our history books? How do we begin to dispel the myth that Native Americans are a people of the past? We start here."--Brea Baker, ELLE magazine

"A desperately needed correction to centuries of fantasy and whitewashing. [...] Miranda's dialogic kit is rich and deep, and it uses archival aesthetics to create a story that is as full of information and lacunae as California history itself. Accepting that some parts of her family's past will never be retrievable gives Miranda the chance to allow readers to appreciate how much was destroyed in the history of contact between California's Native tribes and the Mexican and European settlers who came to establish the mission system." --John Freeman

"Bad Indians serves as a vital, eloquent corrective to the dominant narrative of California. [...] This is a vibrant tapestry of a text, an assemblage of poetry, oral history, prayer, visual collage, memoir, elegy, and personal testimony. [...] How will we change the story of California? With what Native-led texts can we begin? It is our unearned fortune that Miranda asks these challenging questions and directs us to the languages and stories with which to answer them." --S. M. Sukardi, Alta Journal

"I teach this book to my students in every creative nonfiction class and am excited by it every time. It is a powerful example of how memoir can be what we want it to be. This is a fearless and beautiful book."--Sasha taqʷsəblu LaPointe, author of Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk

"In Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir [...] Deborah A. Miranda rightly insists on putting together the voices of her people and a critique of the mythology that required them to submit to an unequal structure, even in the telling of their own stories." --Anita Felicelli, author of Chimerica

"I am all for dunking on the mission system because fuck that noise (and if you're not convinced/unaware of this nasty part of California history, please read the book Bad Indians, by Deborah Miranda)." --Kali Simmons, Vulture

"For anyone and everyone who likes to listen to and tell stories and who believes in the liberating power of story."--Jonah Raskin, Anderson Valley Advertiser

"Throughout Bad Indians, Miranda employs an array of strategies: writing letters and reproducing images, sharing poems and documents. It's all a way to create territory for the many voices that have been effaced. The point is to explore a larger story, deeper and more diffuse. This is why it must be shared and heard." --David Ulin

"Essential for all of us who were taught in school that the 'Mission Indians' no longer existed in California, Bad Indians combines tribal and family histories, tape recordings, and the writings of a white ethnologist who spoke with Miranda's family, together with photographs, old reports from the mission priests to their bishops, and newspaper articles concerning Indians from the nearby white settlements. Miranda takes us on a journey to locate herself by way of the stories of her ancestors and others who come alive through her writing. It's such a fine book that a few words can't do it justice.''--Leslie Marmon Silko, author of Ceremony and The Turquoise Ledge

"Bad Indians brings the human story of California's indigenous community sharply into focus. It's a narrative long obscured and distorted by celebrations of Christian missionaries and phony stories about civilization coming to a golden land. No other history of California's indigenous communities that I know of presents such a moving, personal account of loss and survival."--Frederick E. Hoxie, Swanlund Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"For so long, Native writers and readers have opened books of our tribal history, archaeology, or anthropology and found that it is not the story we know. It does not include the people we know. It does not tell the stories of the heart or the relationships that were, and are, significant in any time. When we write our own books, they do not fit the 'record, ' as created by and confirmed by outside views. From the voice of the silenced, the written about and not written by, this book is groundbreaking not only as literature but as history."--Linda Hogan, author ofRounding the Human Corners and a faculty member for the Indigenous Education Institute

"This multi-genre memoir uses archives in all senses of the word, as well as imaginative writing, to render a prismatic and complex story about [Miranda's] own family and the history of colonization in California from the Spanish missions of the 1700s to present."--Mental Floss

"Miranda's research into her family history, indigenous Californians, is the grounding cable for her to tell their collective tribal story. The book is full of photo slides, obtained through her meticulous research, as she writes to humanize the people within them; some of them her direct ancestors. Through Miranda's poetic lyricism and objective research we cannot help but feel them through the lens."--Electric Literature

"Bad Indians [...] shows us exactly the kind of writing that artificial intelligence can't do. [...] By inserting her voice and perspective into the stale and one-sided historical record, Miranda transforms her research process into a living conversation about California's past and ongoing violence to Indigenous culture and how healing can begin." --Karin Spirn, Alta Journal

"Bad Indians deconstructs the Spanish perspective of Indians and provides Miranda's family history of violence that stems from the Catholic Church's presence. Defiant, intense, and personal." --Em Poupart, Birchbark Books, Minneapolis, MN