• The Turtle's Beating Heart: One Family's Story of Lenape Survival (American Indian Lives) by Denise Low


A artist and professor comes to agreement with her Native American heritage.

Though abounding tribes have been bigger able to sustain a aggregate identity—whether on a catch or through constancy of their legacy—Low (Jackalope, 2015, etc.) never knew abundant about her Delaware (Lenape) ancestry back she was growing up in Kansas. Back the Delaware “sold” Manhattan to the Dutch in 1626, many of them broadcast in assorted directions, sometimes in altered clans (“Wolf, Turkey, and Turtle”), but they retained no abiding tribal identity. Low’s mother rarely accustomed that bloodline and showed disfavor against the babe who so resembled her grandfather. “Discrimination against Native bodies has been so angry that abounding people, like my family, suppressed their character with non-Europeans as absolutely as possible,” she writes. “Some atramentous Cherokees chose to analyze with African Americans because it was easier.” As the aloft artist laureate of Kansas and a administrator at the Haskell Indian Nations University, she begin herself traveling about the state, audition belief from those with agnate backgrounds. She became even more analytical about the bequest that seemed lost, the history her ancestors never spoke about, the one it had approved to hide, to ally above, to leave asleep in the past. “This action has healed me,” she writes, acceptance her to deepen the sort of accord with her mother that they’d never had back the closing was living, to ascertain aloof how abundant in accepted she had with her grandfather, and to apprehend how those beforehand had suffered at the easily of the Ku Klux Klan and bigotry in general. “The adventure of my grandfathering and my mother has become my own, as my accomplished grows best than my future,” she writes.

An engagingly accounting mix of research, reportage, and memoir, alloyed with the affection of discovery.


“Grandchildren meet their grandparents at the end,” Denise Low says, “as tragic figures. We remember their decline and deaths. . . . The story we see as grandchildren is like a garden covered by snow, just outlines visible.”

Low brings to light deeply held secrets of Native ancestry as she recovers the life story of her Kansas grandfather, Frank Bruner (1889–1963). She remembers her childhood in Kansas, where her grandparents remained at a distance, personally and physically, from their grandchildren, despite living only a few miles away. As an adult, she comes to understand her grandfather’s Delaware (Lenape) legacy of persecution and heroic survival in the southern plains of the early 1900s, where the Ku Klux Klan attacked Native people along with other ethnic minorities. As a result of such experiences, the Bruner family fled to Kansas City and suppressed their non-European ancestry as completely as possible. As Low unravels this hidden family history of the Lenape diaspora, she discovers the lasting impact of trauma and substance abuse, the deep sense of loss and shame related to suppressed family emotions, and the power of collective memory.

Low traveled extensively around Kansas, tracking family history until she understood her grandfather’s political activism and his healing heritage of connections to the land. In this moving exploration of her grandfather’s life, the former poet laureate of Kansas evokes the beauty of the Flint Hills grasslands, the hardships her grandfather endured, and the continued discovery of his teachings.

The Turtle's Beating Heart: One Family's Story of Lenape Survival (American Indian Lives)

  • BookThe Turtle's Beating Heart: One Family's Story of Lenape Survival (American Indian Lives)
  • Author:Denise Low
  • ISBN:080329493X
  • ISBN-13:9780803294936
  • Binding:Paperback
  • Publishing Date:2017-01-01
  • Publisher:Bison Books
  • Language:English
  • Number Of pages:200