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Charles Trimble: A shameless promotion for my book 'Iyeska'

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: books, charles trimble, media

This column is a shameless promotion to get you to read my Book, “Iyeska”

I’ve often been told by different people, “You ought to write a book.” And, indeed, I had long planned to do so; but I had ruled out writing a memoir. For me the idea of an autobiography or memoir is presumptuous and egotistical, for I have never considered my life to have been all that exciting, nor has any of my work been of significant importance to merit a memoir.

But I have witnessed and was part of significant milestones in Indian affairs and human rights, and I have known great people who should be written about for history’s sake. That is something I could do and have done. So, I have completed my book and it is available for the purchase.

The book is entitled “Iyeska,” and much of it is based on my experiences or my research and writing. It is essentially a mixed-blood’s view of Indian Country in our time. I have never claimed to be a traditionalist, and have never tried to act like one. I think that the true traditionalists are special people, mostly Indian people who have never allowed their lives to be anything other than what their world view affords them. I have great admiration for the real traditionalists, because they are a rare breed of people, and they are few in number although there are many Indian people who try to emulate them.

As an Iyeska with considerable experience in the larger society, I have strong feelings about issues that I see are continuing to hurt Indian Country; and strong feelings about some Native American people who posture and expound, trying to make the public believe they know the issues and are doing something about them, when often they are only detracting from the real issues and answers, and exacerbate problems faced by younger generations. I have written several critical essays on such matters, some of which are included in this book.

Much of Indian Country’s problems are grounded in poverty – economic poverty, social poverty, and moral poverty. But the most important of the three is one that we can do something about, and that is the economic poverty. We can make our reservation homelands more conducive to responsible development that will provide opportunities for our people to feel that they are contributing to society, not dependent upon it. For their newfound feelings of self-sufficiency and independence can and will help overcome the problems of alcoholism, domestic violence, and social dysfunction that plague so many of our tribal communities.

I have included a chapter of humorous pieces in the book because I think there is much to laugh about in Indian affairs, and Indian people are happy people for the most part. And I think joy and laughter, whenever we can bring it to our work, helps lift the pall of victimhood that some of our supposed intellectuals work to cast over our lives and keep us enshrouded.

I have asked some authors and leaders I respect to write what is known in the publishing world as “blurbs,” to encourage people to read the book, and I am proud of what was written. I hope it does not seem vain for me to quote them here, for I will do so anyway, because I want to encourage the readers of Lakota Country Times to read my book:

Ray Cook, Opinion/Editorial Editor of Indian Country Today Media Network, wrote: “ Chuck is one among only a few dozen Native intellectuals and visionaries who served as camp crier, strategist and journalist during one of the most turbulent, dangerous and focused times of contemporary Native affairs. How close we have, as a people, come to the brink of annihilation only a few people have seen. Chuck is one of them. And, he faced it with all the courage, humor and focused strength of conviction that the times required.

“Readers of this book will be treated to a way of thinking that is all Chuck, all NDN. Be thankful for that, because many of our best people have passed without a word being written by their hand. Without journaling their experiences and how they came to be the way they are and how we became the way we are.”

My brother Sam Deloria, past Director of the American Indian Law Center and current Director of American Indian Graduate Center, wrote: “When Chuck Trimble writes about major events of Indian history of the past 50 years or so, he tells what happened, either because he was there and can give a compelling account, or because he has done his research. The best part of his book is Chuck’s moral vision. Young people need to read it, to understand that we are responsible for ourselves and that we have great strengths as peoples on which we can rely; and they need to read an account of how we got to today.”

And my long time friend Mark Trahant of the Shoshone/Bannocks, perhaps the single finest writer in Native journalism today, wrote the following: “Just a few decades ago many tribes faced the real possibility of disappearing forever. It was a battle that was won because of brilliant leaders like Lucy Covington. Then, after that challenge, a whole slate of new institutions were improved and created in Indian Country, the very ones we see today. Chuck Trimble's account of this history is important because it provides the missing context. Through his experience and through his precise observations, Trimble takes us from his boarding school experience to Congress with many surprises along the way. It's a story young people should know.”

Over many years in Indian affairs I have gotten to know, respect and love many people who have generously and without recognition or even thanks contributed their time, knowledge and talents to serving in the cause of justice and welfare of American Indian people, and several of those heroes are featured in my book.

I acknowledge and thanks people like Mel Tonasket of the Colville Confederated Tribes, a great leader in national Indian affairs who has been like a brother to me throughout the past forty years; and Ernie Stevens, Sr. of the Wisconsin Oneida, a friend and ally with whom I served in exciting times in the National Congress of American Indians; Juanita Ahtone, Kiowa from Oklahoma, who is still active in NCAI, working the pits of the ever important committees; Veronica Murdock, NCAI’s first woman President and a loyal friend; and the late John Rainer of the Taos Pueblo.

I also acknowledge the editors and publishers of the Indian press who have encouraged my writing by publishing them, including Ray Cook of Indian Country Today, Connie Louise Smith of Lakota Country Today, and the unknown person behind the scenes at

Iyeska is now available and can be ordered through the website It will also be available in digital format.

I hope you will read it, and I hope you will enjoy it.

Charles "Chuck" Trimble, was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. He was principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970, and served as Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972-1978. He is retired and lives in Omaha, NE. He can be contacted at and his website is

Related Stories:
Charles Trimble: A political kiss of death from Lakota columnist (11/6)

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