Before an indigenous people can decolonize, Leo Killsback explains, they must first understand what the world was like before colonization. Such understanding allows indigenous people to generate realistic goals and achieve positive change, reinventing themselves into people and nations who can honor original ways without corrupting or disgracing them.
In two volumes, A Sacred People and A Sovereign People, Killsback, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, reconstructs and rekindles an ancient Cheyenne world--ways of living and thinking that became casualties of colonization and forced assimilation. Spanning more than a millennium of antiquity and recovering stories and ideas interpreted from a Cheyenne worldview, the works’ joint purpose is rooted as much in a decolonization roadmap as it is in preservation of culture and identity for the next generations of Cheyenne people.
Dividing the story of the Cheyenne Nation into pre- and post-contact, A Sacred People and A Sovereign People lay out indigenously conceived possibilities for employing traditional worldviews to replace unhealthy and dysfunctional ones bred of territorial, cultural, and psychological colonization.
Together these volumes use an ancient past to confront long-standing challenges and to speak to the future. Comprising teachings that go to the true identities of the old ones, they reveal a way of thinking that today very few people know and even fewer live. Within such revelations about past leaders and events, Killsback demonstrates, lie the foundations for rebuilding and healing the Cheyenne Nation.
Leo K. Killsback grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and teaches American Indian Studies at Arizona State University. Devoted to the preservation and resurgence of Cheyenne language and culture, he sustains relationships within his nation by means of the collaborative methodologies that neither exploit nor marginalize.