Mann, Barbara Alice 1947–
Mann, Barbara Alice 1947–
PERSONAL: Born August 4, 1947, in Toledo, OH. Education: University of Toledo, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1982, M.A., 1994, Ph.D. (summa cum laude), 1997. Politics: "Decidedly post-colonial in outlook." Hobbies and other interests: "Drawing, needlework, classical music (piano)—my favorite composers: Chopin and Brahms."
ADDRESSES: Office—Department of English, University of Toledo, 2801 West Bancroft St., Toledo, OH 43606. E-mail—[email protected].
CAREER: Writer, historian, ethnographer, oral traditionalist, and educator. University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, lecturer in English, 1998–. Presenter at colloquiums and conferences, 1994–.
MEMBER: James Fenimore Cooper Society (board member), Jane Austen Society of North America, Native American Commission of Ohio (cofounder), Ohio Native American NAGPRA Council (founder), Phi Kappa Phi.
AWARDS, HONORS: Outstanding Scholar of the Year Award, University of Toledo, academic year 1982–83; Richard M. Summers Graduate Award, 1994; Outstanding University Woman, University of Toledo, 2004; University Women's Commission Professional Development Stipend, 2006.
(Coeditor and contributor) Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2000.
Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor and contributor) Native American Speakers in the Eastern Woodlands, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2001.
George Washington's War on Native America, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2005.
(Editor and contributor) Daughters of Mother Earth: The Wisdom of Native American Women, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2006.
Land of the Three Miamis: Northwest Ohio's Native American Traditions, University of Toledo Urban Affairs Center (Toledo, OH), 2006.
Contributor to books, including Debating Democracy, Clear Light (Santa Fe, NM), 1998; Encyclopedia of Native American Economic History, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1998; Native American Treaties in Contemporary Context, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2004; and Unlearning the Language of Conquest: Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2006. Contributor to periodicals, including Native Americas, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Mid-America Folklore Journal, Choice, Historian, and American Indian Quarterly. Contributing editor, Encyclopedia of Native American Legal Tradition, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: Barbara Alice Mann, a writer, educator, and activist of Seneca descent, is the author of several works of Native American scholarship. Native Americans, Archaeologists, and the Mounds examines the historical and political issues surrounding the mound-builder culture in the Ohio River valley. In the work, Mann compares Western interpretations and explanations of the mounds to traditional understandings, noting that the work of archaeologists and government officials often bolstered discriminatory policies toward Indigenous peoples. According to Michelle A. Hamilton in the American Indian Quarterly, the author demonstrates that "we must understand Native American oral histories and archaeological sites within their own perspective, or else the information becomes 'Euroformed' and distorted. Consequently, Mann firmly places her work within the larger academic debate over the utility, accuracy, and significance of oral and traditional knowledge in Indigenous history."
In George Washington's War on Native America, Mann argues that military campaigns against Native Americans during the Revolutionary War were acts of genocide designed to seize Native lands. Using historical documents from American, British, and Native sources, along with extant oral traditions, the author contends that Washington hoped to enrich himself through his association with a land sale company. Though David Dixon, reviewing the work in the Journal of American History, wrote that "Mann's account of the frontier war lacks objectivity," Journal of Military History contributor Walter Dunn stated that the work "serves as a powerful statement of the native side of a conflict which has been sugarcoated for two centuries."
Mann once told CA: "My disgust at the lack of respect shown to Native American studies motivates me to write and speak. The realization that specialists are required for specialties does not seem to have penetrated as far as departments that house Native American studies programs. In too many of them, any ole body is seen as qualified to spout off, resulting in some execrable nonsense being palmed off as the real low-down on 'the Indians.' I see academia's lack of concern for precision when the topic turns to Natives as a lingering effect of colonialism. It needs to be rooted out, so I went and got myself a trowel.
"Calling errors is only half my motivation for writing and speaking. I also feel it necessary to blaze a trail to better scholarship on Native America by doing the apparently unthinkable: including Natives in discussions of themselves. The need to make space for Native analyses in academia has pushed me to develop my own method. On the one hand, I rigorously quiz Western sources, not only evaluating them against each other, but also against Native understanding of the issues. On the other hand, I incorporate, as absolutely equal sources, Native oral traditions on the matter. I worked out this method for Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas, and it proved so prosperous that I plan to use it from here on out.
"Finally, I am motivated to explode the bailiwick system of scholarship, whereby no one talks to anyone 'outside' her field. I believe that academic writing needs to be dislodged from the stagnating effects of its own insularity.
"One of the first influences on me as a writer, long before I took my Ph.D., was The Sacred Hoop by Paula Gunn Allen. The word 'liberation' is wildly overused, but it is the correct term here: The sense of liberation I felt at watching her set the record straight was palpable. Later, when I read Ward Churchill's work, especially A Little Matter of Genocide, I saw the gaping need to correct the outrageous gaffes, goofs, skews, and, worse, strategic silences in the Western record of Native America. I felt beckoned to help fill the hole by breaking the silence.
"[My writing process:] First, a subject grabs me. Sometimes, it comes in a dream or a vision. When this happens, if it won't let me go within the week, I take it on as a project. In more prosaic instances, I am asked by a publisher or editor, to write on a certain topic. In the case of my book, Native Americans, Archaeologists, and the Mounds, an elder, the Head Mother of the Ohio Cherokees, asked me to write the book.
"Second, I cogitate on the subject, trying to see what the issues are (as opposed to what they are casually purported to be). This can take weeks, or it can take years.
"Third, I research like a crazed woman, scratching sources down to their bare nubbins, where I usually find some long-ignored gem. (At this stage, librarians cut me a wide swath. Some have been known to hide in the restroom.) I also talk to appropriate oral traditionalists and spare no pains to find Native perspectives on the topic at hand.
"Fourth, I begin pumping the data I want to use into rough chapter headers, creating my bibliography and endnotes as I go, a method I picked up from my good friend, the historian Bruce Johansen. At this stage, the book is all notes, and I am doing grunge-work.
"Fifth comes the stage I dread and delay as long as possible: Drafting. I hate it. My notes just sit there mugging rudely for the camera, until I manage to wipe the silly grins off their faces. Imposing readable order on the detailed chaos of notes takes tremendous concentration. At this stage, tapping me on the shoulder has roughly the same effect as shaking a sleepwalker awake. The unwary enter my lair at their own risk. (My friends call it 'draft-dodging.')
"Sixth is the stage I live for: Polishing. Once the material has calmed down, I'm able to look over the panoply of the whole, crafting better fits here and cohering logical sequences there. I nail down meaning with the rightwords rather than with quick words lurking about in the same general vicinity. Finally, it is of great moment to me to talk so that everyone can understand the text, not just other phuddy-duds (Ph.D.'s). I never liked secret hand-shakes, so I deplore aka-speak, the jargon of academia that is so utterly obtuse as to puzzle even those in related fields. I speak plainly, out of respect for my audience.
"As I said above, I get my inspiration [to write on the subjects I have chosen] from the spirits, from elders, from editors and publishers, and from my own irritation at the racial stereotyping that still informs far too much 'scholarship' on Native America."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Indian Quarterly, winter-spring, 2005, Michelle A. Hamilton, review of Native Americans, Archaeologists, and the Mounds, p. 304.
Journal of American History, September, 2006, David Dixon, review of George Washington's War on Native America, p. 501.
Journal of Military History, April, 2006, Walter Dunn, review of George Washington's War on Native America, pp. 501-502.
Reference & Research Book News, August, 2005, review of George Washington's War on Native America, p. 65.