Rabbit Decolonizes the Forest
Stories from the Euchee Reservation
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
206 Pages | 6 x 9 | 8 b&w illus., 4 line drawings
Written in an engaging, down-to-earth style, the stories in this book immerse the reader in the everyday experiences of the Euchee community. With his gift for storytelling, Bigler welcomes readers into the lives and culture of the people whose stories he has heard or observed throughout his life and career as a lawyer and judge. Unforgettable characters appear or reappear in various settings, and these figures, whether animal or human, are bound to bring forth a chuckle or leave the reader wanting to learn more about their history. Some of the tales address serious legal injustices, while others poke gentle fun at lofty academic constructs. In the title story, for example, the mischievous character Shajwane (Rabbit), resolves to decolonize the forest, to strip away its “false narrative,” by literally removing all new growth from the trees.
These stories bring to life Euchee traditions that include family ties, the stomp dance, and communal cooking and feasting. Woven throughout is the sacred element of spirit. As Bigler explains in his introduction, the “spiritual” for Euchees signifies not a Western quest for peace or centeredness but a world filled with animate spirits that interact with all of us—as we see them, feel them, or seek them out.
The Euchee people are unknown to most Americans. They inhabit a small area southwest of Tulsa and have yet to receive federal recognition. Yet even in their modern-day lives—as these stories capture so beautifully—the Euchee people remain fiercely determined to show “they are still here.”
“In Rabbit Decolonizes the Forest, Gregory H. Bigler connects the old and the new, the local and the global, to provide insights into the circumstances of the Euchee particularly and, by extension, of Native American peoples generally. Bigler joins a long line of distinguished and creative Indigenous writers who were, and are, committed to keeping the past alive in the present for the sake of the future.”—Jason Baird Jackson, author of Yuchi Folklore: Cultural Expression in a Southeastern Native American Community
“With Rabbit Decolonizes the Forest, readers take a seat on the stomp grounds’ visitors bench and immerse themselves in the beauty of Euchee culture. Bigler’s retelling of the communal stories he grew up with pulls us into the world of the misbehaving Shaw-jane, her bumbling Bear kin, the ever-present little people, wild onion dinners, and ribbon dancing, thus keeping the ancient Euchee ways alive. With each telling and reading, the stories decolonize an ancient people and those of us lucky enough to pick up this book.”—Sandra Muse Isaacs, author of Eastern Cherokee Stories: A Living Oral Tradition and Its Cultural Continuance