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LIU Brooklyn Professor Pens History of Great Basin Indians

Michael Hittman’s fourth book deemed a “must” read for Native Americans historians


Alka Gupta,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Brooklyn,
Long Island University

LIU Brooklyn History of Great Basin IndiansBrooklyn, N.Y. – The Native Americans of North America's Great Basin of the western United States are the centerpiece of a new book, "Great Basin Indians: An Encyclopedic History," by LIU Brooklyn professor Michael Hittman.

An essential resource for any reader interested in the Native peoples of the American West, the book is due out in May and published by University of Nevada Press.

Dr. Hittman, an expert on Ghost Dance religions, peyote rites and the Northern Paiutes of Nevada, has organized the book in an encyclopedic format to allow discussion of many diverse topics, including geography, religion, the impact of Euro-American settlement, tribes and intertribal relations, reservations, federal policies and scholarly theories. His book features biographical entries on such historical figures as Sarah Winnemucca, a 19th-Century Paiute princess, and Mel Thom, a founder of the Red Power Movement in the 20th Century.

"The book took 12 years to be realized, and demonstrates the seeming Biblical truth, "The last shall come first," said Dr. Hittman, who called on a vast range of archival and secondary sources, as well as many interviews, to pull together his book.

Dr. Hittman also examines the results of such recent methodologies as DNA analysis and gender studies, which offer new insights into the lives and history of these enduring inhabitants of one of North America's most challenging environments.

"This is an important and very significant contribution to the literature," writes one reviewer, Richard O. Clemmer. "There is really no book like it. It will be a must for Great Basin historians, whether they are interested in Native Americans or in more general issues."

Dr. Hittman, who recently retired from teaching anthropology at LIU Brooklyn after 46-years, is expanding on his three previous books, which focused on the Northern Paiute, one of the major tribal groupings of the Great Basin. He is the author of the definitive biography of the 1890 Ghost Dance prophet ("Wovoka and the Ghost Dance"), and a controversial life history called "Corbett Mack: The Life of a Northern Paiute," which documented long-lasting, previously unknown Native American opiate addiction. Both books have gone through second editions, the latter having been translated into Italian. He currently is directing "Wovoka Nobe: The House of Wovoka," a cultural museum for the Yerington Paiute Tribe. 

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Posted 02/21/2013

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