Contact: Amanda Cobb 277-6358
Carolyn Gonzales 277-5920

September 7, 2001


Amanda J. CobbAmanda J. Cobb, new American Studies faculty member at the University of New Mexico, is a winner of the 22nd annual American Book Award. Her book, "Listening to Our Grandmothers' Stories: The Bloomfield Academy for Chickasaw Females, 1852-1949," also received the 1998 North American Indian Prose Award from the University of Nebraska Press.

"Listening to Our Grandmothers' Stories" uses letters, reports, school programs and student interviews to tell the story of the Bloomfield Academy, founded by the Chickasaw Nation in conjunction with missionaries. Founded long before Carlisle, the first federally run, off-reservation boarding school, Bloomfield represents one of the rare 19th century instances of a Native community seizing control of its children's formal education.

Cobb, who became interested in the school because her grandmother, Ida Pratt Cobb, a Bloomfield alum, discusses the educational experience the students received, how the curriculum changed over time, and what elements set the academy apart from most other schools attended by Native American children, even after it was taken over by the federal government. For the Chickasaw Nation, Bloomfield, an assimilation tool, became an important method of self-preservation.

The American Book Awards were established in 1978 by the Before Columbus Foundation to respect and honor excellence in American literature. The foundation recognizes the diversity of tradition in American literature and promotes dissemination of contemporary multicultural writing. Cobb received her award this summer in a ceremony in Chicago.

Cobb, originally from Oklahoma, was an assistant professor at New Mexico State University before coming to UNM. She has participated in the Americans for Indian Opportunity Ambassadors Program, a leadership program for emerging Native leaders founded and directed by American Indian activist LaDonna Harris. Cobb served as a Senior Fellow for Americans for Indian Opportunity this summer and her new book project, "The Real Washington Redskins: The Native Circle in Washington, D.C., 1965-1975," is the direct result of her participation in the organization. Cobb is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma.

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