Happy Book Birthday Standing Up to Colonial Power!

Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, and more. This month we’re saying Happy First Book Birthday to Standing Up to Colonial Power: The Lives of Henry Roe and Elizabeth Bender Cloud by Renya K. Ramirez!

About the Book:

Standing Up to Colonial Power focuses on the lives, activism, and intellectual contributions of Henry Cloud (1884–1950), a Ho-Chunk, and Elizabeth Bender Cloud (1887–1965), an Ojibwe, both of whom grew up amid settler colonialism that attempted to break their connection to Native land, treaty rights, and tribal identities. Mastering ways of behaving and speaking in different social settings and to divergent audiences, including other Natives, white missionaries, and Bureau of Indian Affairs officials, Elizabeth and Henry relied on flexible and fluid notions of gender, identity, culture, community, and belonging as they traveled Indian Country and within white environments to fight for Native rights.

Elizabeth fought against termination as part of her role in the National Congress of American Indians and General Federation of Women’s Clubs, while Henry was one of the most important Native policy makers of the early twentieth century. He documented the horrible abuse within the federal boarding schools and co-wrote the Meriam Report of 1928, which laid the foundation for the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Together they ran an early college preparatory Christian high school, the American Indian Institute.

Standing Up to Colonial Power shows how the Clouds combined Native warrior and modern identities as a creative strategy to challenge settler colonialism, to become full members of the U.S. nation-state, and to fight for tribal sovereignty. Renya K. Ramirez uses her dual position as a scholar and as the granddaughter of Elizabeth and Henry Cloud to weave together this ethnography and family-tribal history.


“Ramirez employs her professional skills as an anthropologist to tell the story of her grandparents, Native American activists whose work helped pave the way for the 1960s Red Power movement, with the aim of decolonizing the family legacy…Given this style, this work is best suited for scholarly readers, but Ramirez tells a valuable story of indigenous resistance and a family legacy of activism.”—Publishers Weekly

“Ramirez pulls from archives and personal letters to give us a full picture of her grandparents’ activist work, including the contradictions, at a time when Indian activism was virtually unheard of.”—The Progressive 

“Ramirez’s compelling portrait of the Clouds segues into an academic discussion of “settler colonialism” and its deleterious impact on indigenous peoples and their harmonious connection to the natural world. An important and informative examination of the careers of two brilliant and proficient activists.”—Booklist

On the Blog:

On Twitter:


A Word from the Author:

I have thoroughly enjoyed being invited to discuss Standing Up to Colonial Power for radio programs, including “Native America Calling.” I have to admit I was nervous to be interviewed for a national radio program that focuses on Indigenous writers, but the interviewer put me at ease right away and it was incredibly fun discussing my book and having Native people call in and ask me questions. These Natives received a free book and I got to answer whatever questions were on their mind. It was a chance to honor my ancestors and talk about how my grandparents supported Indigenous rights and fought back against colonial power! Thanks University of Nebraska Press for publishing my book and putting me in contact with radio show hosts to help publicize my book! I look forward to talking about my book again with Deb Reger on WGDR Goddard College Community Radio in January 2020. I bet it will be a blast!



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