Warren Petoskey is an elder of the Waganakising Odawa and Minneconjou Lakotah nations. He is a writer, artisan, musician and dancer—and lectures on the infamous history of Indian boarding schools. He and his wife Barbara, whose ancestors survived the Trail of Tears, live in Michigan. Warren’s passion as a writer and teacher is to convey the depth, the beauty—and the enduring vitality—of Indian culture in the Americas. But he shines, especially, as a storyteller. Far from dry history lessons, each chapter in his book invites readers into a real-life story from Warren’s world.
AUTHENTIC INDIAN HISTORY
Lots of authors, today, claim to express Native American ideas, but few are actually Indians living in tribal communities. Warren’s family name now identifies one of the most beautiful, up-scale resort towns in northwest Michigan. The story of Warren’s courageous ancestors trying to co-exist in that corner of the Great Lakes is fascinating. Throughout the book, you will meet an Indian elder trying to convey his people’s rich and compelling story to a world that only knows this culture from Hollywood. In the opening pages of Dancing My Dream, anthropologist Kay McGowan explains, “Warren’s words are prayers for Indian people: prayer of hopefulness against all odds.”
IN WARREN’S OWN WORDS …
He introduces his story in Dancing My Dream in this way: My wife Barbara and I share blood memory through generations of our people. The Creator gives me dreams. In one dream, the Creator showed me the woman I would share my life with and, seven years later, we met and married. We now have seven children and 14 grandchildren. Often in life, though, we lose our way. For more than a decade now, I have counseled men and women suffering the residual effects of the nation’s infamous Indian boarding school system. My father, Warren Frank Petoskey, was one of the children forced into those schools. So was my grandfather, Cornelius Joseph Petoskey. The Creator directed me to write this book out of love and honor for humanity, but especially for my Red Brothers and Sisters, and most especially for the generation that is coming. This coming generation whose members, I worry, feel no responsibility for the words of their great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers.
I have also written this book to validate our experience as Native Indigenous People. For too long, we have remained silent and have internalized our feelings. I welcome all people to come and share this journey with me. We all come from a spiritual origin and we are on our way to a spiritual destination. I am walking the Red Road. It is a good path to travel.
A LONG ROAD, STOPPING TO TEACH AND TELL STORIES
Warren Petoskey has participated in Indian events nationwide. He has appeared in documentary films, newspaper and magazine stories about Native American life and has represented an Indian point of view in a wide range of cross-cultural events. Because he travels widely and receives many requests, please send inquiries early to ReadTheSpirit@gmail.com