Reviews

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“A number of contemporary historians and ethno-historians work diligently toward the re-examination of American history with less ethno-centric bias. In the same vein as Richard White, Dan Littlefield, James Brooks, and others, vehoae masterfully sets about the task of getting history right.

“This book, based on what must have included heroic efforts of research, illustrates the longstanding damage on American history caused by the ‘social amnesia’ of dominant Euro-American culture. The convenient erasure of American Indian perspective and influence on America’s past is central to the discussion. Linking primary sources from archival records with a strong understanding of actual Native American history, vehoae strikes a well-deserved blow against authors of revisionist history.

“Scholars familiar with Native American issues will find this volume useful in building a better understanding and knowledge base. Those unfamiliar will find it eye-opening, to say the least.”

Greg Rodgers, Choctaw Storyteller; author of The Ghost of Mingo Creek and other Spooky Oklahoma Legends;  contributing author to the anthology, Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection; One Dark Night in Oklahoma; Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale (2015 Oklahoma Book Award, children’s category).

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“In this well-researched text, vehoae adeptly illuminates the attitudes of high-handed arrogance and condescension typical of Anglo-Europeans’ dealings with The Nations from the early history of the United States to the twentieth century. I have the highest confidence in the author’s scholarship, having, as a librarian, witnessed firsthand the thoroughness of her research and her persistence in following leads back to primary source material  Indeed, the author leaves no stone unturned in her search for the truth, no matter how repugnant and embarrassing.

“I was particularly struck by her thorough and disturbing account of the use of “religion” and “education” to attempt to mold indigenous people into a form more palatable to the dominant white culture. This book will stand as a strong witness to the un-sanitized reality of where we have been. Truth-tellers like vehoae teach us that in confronting the truth of our past, we can hope to avoid repeating our past mistakes. vehoae’s careful documentation and meticulous endnotes blaze a trail for future scholars to continue her research.”

Karen Bays, County Coordinator, Pioneer Library system; Branch Manager, Shawnee Public Library, Oklahoma.

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“Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia is a well researched reminder that history has two sides. Our failure to see both perspectives leaves us diminished in our understanding of events and issues that shape us as a people and a nation. European influences and attitudes toward indigenous people continued to warp our sensibilities, and in a burgeoning North America, we relegated the Native Americans to the role of a conquered people.

“vehoae draws from primary source documents to record an alarming history of ‘to the victor belongs the spoils,’ and the resultant reprehensible treatment afforded the conquered. In a State that believes it necessary to make English our official language, social amnesia is alive and thriving. Thanks, vehoae, for reminding us there is more to history than the conquerors’ perspective.”

Kitty Pittman, Administrator, OITS, OK Department of Libraries; NewsOK Media “Oakie Reads” Book Reviews.

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“Balzac is credited with saying “Behind every great fortune there is a great crime.” As a corollary to this statement, it might be said, “The prosperity of every great nation is founded on a series of great crimes.” This corollary doubtless applies to the prosperity of the United States. An impartial judge inquiring into these crimes would find a reasonable summary of the facts in an upcoming book, Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia, by Shirl Yancey who writes under the name, vehoae.

“In this scholarly, well-reasoned and amply documented work, vehoae assembles and presents a devastating barrage of damning documents. Beginning with the insatiable greed of the European colonial powers and continuing through the shameful duplicity of the US federal government, vehoae calls on primary sources to illustrate the callous beliefs and actions that prompted and attempted to justify the enormous crimes perpetrated against the Native Americans who she refers to as “The Nations.”

“In a modern world where daily lip service is paid to the protection and advancement of human rights, Conscience: as the title suggests, issues a clear call against arrogance and hypocrisy.

“The author presents her evidence in a compelling and straightforward fashion leaving the reader to wonder whether it would ever be possible to advance a counterargument. vehoae is never strident or hysterical. She simply presents the evidence and invites the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. It is clear from the subtext, however, that vehoae is passionate about her subject and she clearly has strong emotional connections to “The Nations.”

“Conscience: is an important addition to the body of work shining a light on the powerful and ambiguous mixture of crimes and triumphs that went into the making of the United States of America. This is a valuable resource for anyone interested in putting modern American prosperity in its proper historical context.”

“When one comes face to face with the savagery of the past, there are a number of possible responses: (1) Deny, (2) Excuse, (3) Rationalize, (4) Over-compensate (5) Justify – to list a few. The chief contribution of this book is to challenge the reader to take an unbiased look at the facts and judge for yourself. Some might argue that re-examination of these painful events is pointless as nothing can be done now to undo these past injustices. Even if this is so, books like this are important to remind us of what can happen if human rights become subordinated to ‘public policy.’ Hats off to vehoae for this potent reminder.”

Michael W. Hinkle, award winning author, The Butane Gospel, enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation; contributing author of anthology, Oklahoma: The Fountain of the Heartland.

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“Statesmen are memorialized for their words: “Ask not …” (Jack Kennedy); “I have a dream!” (MLK); “Remember the Alamo!” (Sam Houston?). They are often haunted, too, by less gracious words captured on video or paper.

“In Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia, vehoae uses quotes from primary sources to compile a record of conquistadores, governors, kings and presidents whose careers spanned the conquest of North America. Using their own words, the author chronicles the process of appropriation of our continent by European elitists and their progeny.

“Most people, American and otherwise, are aware in some vague sense that white people “stole” the land from the red people. Conscience reveals the politicians and very documents who facilitated the process. And to read aloud the words, written by Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, etc. as they came to terms with the “Indian Problem” is to realize that the more we study these statesmen the less we truly understand them. Whatever humanitarian, philosophical, or economic justifications these men use to explain their acts seem to blend seamlessly into the grand sweep of inevitable history; but as real words, they are uncomfortable threats giving voice to that history as it moves through diplomacy to war to subjugation.

“Conscience goes further, though, by revealing some of the ways Native family life was deliberately dismantled as a step toward detribalization as it played out in the words of politicians who had the power to implement sweeping policies that separated children from parents, citing arrogant notions that “government” knew best.

“Ultimately, vehoae’s book seems to stand as a warning against government itself, and it is no great leap to apply the lessons therein to modern American society: that government unchecked grows hungrier; that government tends to think it knows what is best for people.”

Robby McMurtry, award winning author & graphic illustrator; enrolled member of The Comanche Nation of Oklahoma; Gunplay: The True Story of Pistol Pete on the Hootowl Trail; Native Heart: The Life & Times of Ned Christie, Cherokee Patriot & Renegade; The Road to Medicine Lodge: Jesse Chisholm in the Indian Nations; contributing author to anthology, Oklahoma: The Fountain of the Heartland.

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“A helpful and concise compendium using important primary sources, Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia is a valuable read for anyone interested in the social and political attitudes that comprise the real truth of American history.”

Rilla Askew, award winning author; The Mercy Seat; Fire in Beulah; Harpsong; and many more works.

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“…. vehoae’s informative book … should be read in every American history class. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting more information about treatment of the Indians during ‘settlement’ of the West after the War Between the States (otherwise known as the War of Yankee Aggression).”

Dr. Harry Gilleland, award winning author and poet; Aldric & Anneliese; Poetic Musings of an Old Fat Man; White Lightning Road; Poetry for the Common Man; Bob the Dragon Slayer; and, Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems.

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“vehoae has uncovered the truth concerning the ‘facts’ most people think they know about the history of our country in relation to the Native Tribes. vehoae presents the truth by going back and citing from original primary sources. The author has a definite point of view but is neither strident nor off-putting while having her say. By providing an abundance of footnotes and an extensive bibliography, the reader can be sure of the real truth, not the revisionist [history].

“The author has a style of writing that holds the reader’s attention with a conversational tone and flow that is seldom found in works of nonfiction.”

Cynthia Guion, librarian, Oklahoma Department of Libraries

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“The great astrophysicist Stephen Hawking warns us that contact with alien life may not be in our best interest. After all, human history shows all too well how indigenous peoples suffer at the hands of a more technologically-advanced society.

“The laws of space and time suggest that such visitations are probably not in our future. Still, if we were to awake one morning to find mother ships overhead, I suspect that a nervous Earth might hear our visitors say something like the following. (Note: just replace ‘Indians’ with ‘Earthlings’):

‘The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed.’ [Section 14, Article 3, Northwest Ordinance of U.S. Congress, July 13, 1787

“This quote introduces Chapter 5—“What’s mine is mine. What’s yours is mine!” of Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia by vehoae. In the author’s first book, she illustrates, through exhaustive research, how the perspectives and motivations of the European invaders and their progeny influenced the rhetoric, politics, and decision-making of the day regarding the continent’s Indian Nations.

“Beyond the dishonest diplomacy practiced with the tribes, we are treated to the views and arguments of political and religious leaders as they sought a solution to the Indian problem. Such quotes and primary document details trace the discussions of extermination, assimilation and segregation of the tribes from early European settlement to the days of the Indian Boarding Schools.

“It’s an uncomfortable history, of course. Reading about the worse angels of our nature (if I may twist the resurrected Lincoln quote) should make us feel uncomfortable. Seeing an unflattering side of American statesmen like Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson strikes at our patriotic heart.

“We know this truth about our past, but some Americans would just like us to forget about it. But vehoae says, “No, look. This is what we did. Here is the proof.” Her appendix, exhibits, bibliography and end note citations take up a third of the book. (I wasn’t kidding about exhaustive research.)

“While at the University of Oklahoma in the late 70s, I was lucky enough to have a class with Dr. Jerry Steffen, who warned us about condemning past generations. The future will laugh at us, and condemn us, too, he said. He reminded us to always consider past history in light of the times. This did not mean we should not pass judgments on cruelties of the past. It meant that by understanding the period of history, we could understand why such cruelties happened.

“There is no advantage to ignoring our history, but there is much to gain by confronting painful truths. For what better way will we truly find the better angels of our nature?

“Visit vehoae’s website to find out more about the author, her interests and her work.

“Read an interview with the author, where she discusses her book and the writers that inspired her. Plus, she provides a host of research tips for non-fiction writers!

“If I may again quote Dr. Steffen on history: ‘What happened is not important. What people think happened is important.’ ” (Can you tell vehoae’s book took my mind back to Dr. Steffen’s class!) I bring up this second bit of Steffen wisdom because vehoae writes that white Americans began to believe that it was the Indians who were the trespassers. After all, we had God and Manifest Destiny on our side. These heathens are simply in our way. It makes me wonder… what false premises do we live under today that future generations will say influenced our behavior, politics, and ability to live peacefully in the world with each other.”

Bill Young, Public Information Manager, Oklahoma Department of Libraries; NewsOK Media

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“… [vehoae’s] book came from a dedicated life to let others know the truth of the struggles of the American Indians and the trust they gave to untrustworthy men in politics and even government officials. In today’s world, we have to ask, ‘Whom can we trust?’ ”

Vera Long, poet; author of Vera: The Country Poet; contributing author of Oklahoma: The Fountain of the Heartland.”

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“As the Library Director for the Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma, and also as an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, I have recommended vehoae’s book to many people to read. I knew some of the history, but to see the words from original documents and read them on pages catches your breath. I shall continue to recommend this well written book. vehoae has a heart for the Nations.”

Sandy Tharp, Library Director, Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma, enrolled member of Cherokee Nation, poet/author/songwriter; author of Smile, and Indian Teardrops, in the anthology, Oklahoma: The Fountain of the Heartland; author of The Apple Tree.

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