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“Taking Up The Mantle”: Murray reviews Native collection

Saturday Review: “Taking Up the Mantle and Making It Her Own”: a review by Lynne Norris Murray of Upon Her Shoulders: Southeastern Native Women Share Their Stories of Justice, Spirit, and Community edited by Mary Ann Jacobs, Cherry Maynor Beasley, Ulrike Wiethaus

Murray remarks that “a patchwork quilt suggests different patterns, colors, and fabrics that represent individual women’s contributions to the whole community.” This book, the women involved in making it, the women’s stories in it, and their communities are each such a quilt. She pulls this quote from the book: “Gayle Simmons Cushing’s poem “Patchwork Images” opens Part III, “Getting Justice When There Was None,” and provides part of the book’s title. The last stanza likens women’s roles to a patchwork quilt: “The responsibility of being Native woman was placed upon / Her shoulders at birth, / Blanketed – like a patchwork quilt – around her body” (106).”

Murray walks the reader through the three separate sections of the collection. She points out how the stories both honor the elders in the communities and also “captures new voices who embrace their collective past and use their knowledge to advance their futures.”

“From Barbara Locklear’s perspective as an elder she writes, “I now see that what is truly important is not the things that I leave behind, but the path that I make for others to follow” (47). The path is not designed for others to follow lockstep in her footsteps, but to continue making one’s own.” Like the art of quilting, the stories provide a destination, but not the map, so each woman’s version is distinctly her own.

Read the rest of the review in the Winter 23 Online issue out now and buy the book off our Winter List at