Bowman's Store: A Journey to Myself by Joseph Bruchac.
Dial Books/Penguin Books: NY, 1997.

I knew about Joseph Bruchac before reading his autobiography, so I do not know if this has influenced my thinking. Bruchac is a renowned storyteller of Abenaki folklore. He is known for researching and passing on traditions and supporting other Indians/Native Americans in regaining their heritage as well. I didn't know, however, that he was not raised in those traditions - manner of life, yes, but not the stories. His grandfather hid the fact that he was Abenaki to avoid harassment.

Bruchac's life is interesting. His family life was unusual, living with his grandparents instead of his parents, who he saw occasionally. His grandparents drew from different heritages in raising him - a strong moral background and outdoor and indoor learning were equally important, with lots of time to explore on his own. As I described it, not so different from my own, but for different reasons. I lived with my family, a large family, but they tended to go their own ways, so I was often alone.

Bowman's Store is largely about the things that are related to his grandfather and his heritage, and the love and protection he felt from his grandparents. Bruchac weaves in Abenaki stories in many of the chapters. Besides his passionate story (heartaches and affirmations), the book is also an accounting of rural life in New York state, primarily in the 1950s.

In my reading of biographies, I have found many to be plain and of interest only for the information. This is the opposite. The telling itself is worth the reading. The Abenaki perspective also adds to the personal history. It made me see some things about history that I hadn't noticed before. One of the truly wonderful aspects of biographies, multiple perspectives.

related-Abenaki Indians, Indian authors - United States, Native Americans, storytelling and storytellers, folklore, traditions, heritage, conduct of life
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