A gripping, witty memoir about indigeneity, travel, and colonialism
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 sought to make meaningful connections with Indigenous people halfway around the world. But she arrived in La Paz with trepidation as well as excitement, “knowing I followed in the footsteps of Western colonizers and missionaries who had also claimed they were there to help.” In the following two years, as a series of dramatic episodes brought that tension 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 aid. It is also the debut of an exceptionally astute writer with a mastery of deadpan wit. It signals a shift in travel writing that is long overdue.