White Birch, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir

White Birch, Red Hawthorn

A Memoir

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ISBN10: 1517901324 ISBN13: 9781517901325 Publisher: Univ of Minnesota Pr Published: Apr 18 2017 Pages: 179 Weight: 0.50lbs. Height: 8.00" Width: 5.00" Depth: 0.50" Language: English

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"This is conquered land." The Dakota woman's words, spoken at a community meeting in St. Paul, struck Nora Murphy forcefully. Her own Irish great-great grandparents, fleeing the potato famine, had laid claim to 160 acres in a virgin maple grove in Minnesota. That her dispossessed ancestors' homestead, The Maples, was built upon another, far more brutal dispossession is the hard truth underlying White Birch, Red Hawthorn, a memoir of Murphy's search for the deeper connections between this contested land and the communities who call it home.

In twelve essays, each dedicated to a tree significant to Minnesota, Murphy tells the story of the grove that, long before the Irish arrived, was home to three Native tribes: the Dakota, Ojibwe, and Ho-Chunk. She notes devastating strategies employed by the U.S. government to wrest the land from the tribes, but also revisits iconic American tales that subtly continue to promote this displacement--the Thanksgiving story, the Paul Bunyan myth, and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Murphy travels to Ireland to search out another narrative long hidden--that of her great-great-grandmother's transformative journey from North Tipperary to The Maples.

In retrieving these stories, White Birch, Red Hawthorn uncovers lingering wounds of the past--and the possibility that, through connection to this suffering, healing can follow. The next step is simple, Murphy tells us: listen.

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