Read Between the Ravines

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Lake Bluff Public Library and Lake Forest Library are proud to present our fifth annual Read Between the Ravines. This Two Communities, One Nonfiction Book program brings together the Lake Bluff and Lake Forest communities with the purpose of enhancing nonfiction literacy and inspiring discussion around real-world issues. Our 2023 selection is An Indian Among Los Indígenas: a Native Travel Memoir by Ursula Pike. 

2023 Featured Book

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An Indian Among Los Indígenas: A Native Travel Memoir by Ursula Pike

Summary: When she was twenty-five, Ursula Pike boarded a plane to Bolivia and began her term of      service in the Peace Corps. A member of the Karuk Tribe, Pike expected to make meaningful connections with Indigenous people halfway around the world. After all, she was not just another privileged volunteer. She was “one of the good ones”—a fellow Native who wanted to help lift a community out of poverty through economic development.

But her hopefulness quickly turned to something different. She was there to help Bolivians, but instead they helped her: cooking her food, washing her clothes, teaching her to navigate the geography and language. Even her plans for “economic development” seemed questionable, as if they meant expecting a community to choose between its culture and its future.

Over the next two years, as a series of dramatic episodes brought these tensions 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?

 An Indian Among Los Indígenas, Pike’s memoir of this experience, upends a canon of travel memoirs that has historically been dominated by white writers. It is a sharp, honest, and unnerving examination of the shadows that colonial history casts over even the most well-intentioned attempts at cross-cultural solidarity. It is also the debut of an exceptionally astute writer with a mastery of deadpan wit.

About the Author

Image of Ursula Pike

Ursula Pike is a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work won the 2019 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest in the memoir category, and her writing has appeared in Yellow Medicine ReviewWorld Literature Today, and Ligeia Magazine. She has an MA in economics, with a focus on community economic development, and was a Peace Corps fellow at Western Illinois University. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia from 1994 to 1996. An enrolled member of the Karuk Tribe, she was born in California and grew up in Daly City, California, and Portland, Oregon. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.

Read Between the Ravines Programs