Donald L. Fixico opens “That’s What They Used to Say:” Reflections on Native American Oral Traditions by informing the reader that the book is not an academic text. He is correct: it is much more than this. The text is at once narrow and broad, focusing on the life of a single individual and on Native people in general, the author telling us not only a personal biography but also providing us with an insight into Native American life. As Fixico notes, “to understand Indian people is to learn their stories” (9). To introduce the reader to the value and power of stories, Fixico deploys the concept of “inside the lodge,” a metaphor for the conceptual awareness that Native people hold that allows them to benefit from the valuable knowledge that stories provide.

Fixico takes us on a tour both geographical and personal as he identifies the ways stories fit...

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