by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
University of Oklahoma Press
A classic in contemporary Oklahoma literature, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s Red Dirt unearths the joys and ordeals of growing up poor during the 1940s and 1950s. In this exquisite rendering of her childhood in rural Oklahoma, from the Dust Bowl days to the end of the Eisenhower era, the author bears witness to a family and community that still cling to the dream of America as a republic of landowners.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is a historian and Professor Emerita of Ethnic Studies and Women's Studies at California State University, East Bay. In 1968, she was one of the founders of the early women's liberation movement. Along with a small group of dedicated women, she produced the seminal journal series, No More Fun and Games. From 1967 to 1972, she was a full time activist living in various parts of the United States, traveling to Europe, Mexico, and Cuba. In 1974, she became active in the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the International Indian Treaty Council, beginning a lifelong commitment to international human rights.
In 1981, she was asked to visit Sandinista Nicaragua to appraise the land tenure situation of the Miskitu Indians in the northeastern region of the country. Her two trips there that year coincided with the beginning of United States government's sponsorship of a proxy war to overthrow the Sandinistas, with the northeastern region on the border with Honduras becoming a war zone and the basis for extensive propaganda carried out by the Reagan administration against the Sandinistas. In over a hundred trips to Nicaragua and Honduras from 1981 to 1989, she monitored what was called the Contra War. Her book, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War was published in 2005.