An Indian among los Indígenas
When she was twenty-five, Ursula Pike boarded a plane to Bolivia and began two years of service in the Peace Corps. A member of the Karuk Tribe, Pike sought to make meaningful connections with Indigenous people halfway around the world. But she arrived in La Paz with trepidation as well as excitement, “knowing I followed in the footsteps of Western colonizers and missionaries who had also claimed they were there to help.” In the following two years, as a series of dramatic episodes brought that tension to boiling point, she began to ask: what does it mean to have experienced the effects of colonialism firsthand, and yet to risk becoming a colonizing force in turn?
“The Indigenous peoples Pike lived and worked with speak loudly from these pages, challenging many of us to check privileges we didn’t know we had, demanding the right to be complex, strong, and human. This book is all heart, all vulnerability, as a young California Indian woman makes family far from home.”
— Deborah Miranda, author of Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir
“Pike’s emotional honesty . . . combined with her hard questions about the effectiveness of the Peace Corps and the white saviorism often built into charity work lend a heft not always found in armchair travel. Highly recommended for memoir and travel readers, and book clubs.”
“Ursula Pike’s tender recollection of two years in Bolivia makes space for a complex and captivating portrait of a spirit wanting to relate. By bringing wisdom, clarity, and tremendous insight to her Peace Corps memories, she offers us a necessary perspective on the inseparability of Indigeneity and place. This book is alive with a spirit that welcomed mine to meet it.”
— Elissa Washuta, author of White Magic and My Body Is a Book of Rules
“In Ursula Pike’s perceptive and poignant debut memoir, a North American Indian woman knowingly enters the complex dynamics of voluntourism and discovers aspects about her own identity, colonialism, and comparative privilege while navigating the vivid landscapes and personalities of a small Bolivian community in the Andes.”
— Chip Livingston, author of Crow-Blue, Crow Black
“A riveting memoir of personal transformation, a vivid piece of travel writing, and a necessary portrait of the long shadow that colonization casts over even the most genuine attempts to ‘help’ those outside of our own cultures. In lucid, intelligent, and amiable prose, Pike illuminates the complexities of these transactions and models the grace with which it is possible to scrutinize the dynamics that undergird one’s own best intentions.”
— Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me and Girlhood
“A brutally honest and badly needed story. . . Witty and clearly written, this memoir isa must read, not just for Peace Corps volunteers, anthropologists, and others working in foreign lands, but for everyone—all of us finding ourselves in an ever increasing diverse and complex cultural landscape.”
— Greg Sarris, author of How a Mountain was Made
“Ursula Pike’s memoir is unlike any other I’ve read, with her perceptive, always-seeking, and lovely narrative voice. . . No one’s written about the Peace Corps like this, with the details of food and family and landscape told through the vision of anIndigenous woman finding new stories in a deeply-rooted place miles from her own.”
— Susan Straight, author of In the Country of Women
In bookstores April 6, 2021.