The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

In sum, this book is a fitting tribute to Joe B. Frantz. It will be of considerable
interest to those who knew him and to historians as well as others both now and
in the years to come.
Southwest Texas State Universzty James W. Pohl
Angie Debo: Pioneering Historian. By Shirley A. Leckie. (Norman: University of Ok-
lahoma Press, 2000. Pp. 256. Illustrations acknowledgments, introduction,
epilogue, bibliographic essay, index. ISBN 0-8o61-3256-6. $26.95, cloth.)
Waist deep in creeping poverty and virtually a martyr to exhaustion, Angie De-
bo nonetheless persevered early in her chosen career as a writer and advocate
for American Indians. This detailed biography shows that despite the odds
against her, Debo believed so much in herself and in her work that she occasion-
ally lived on borrowed money and sparse meals rather than compromise herself
and her convictions. Her conclusion that American Indian history was America's
"real imperialism" (p. 34) was as unpopular at the time as was her perceived role
of intercultural broker. Still, Debo pursued an academic goal of gaining a
tenure-track position in a college or university, an aim that was, for a period of
time, repeatedly denied, probably due to a gender bias and to her outspoken
support for American Indians.
Debo stood firm in defense of her writings as well, especially when manuscript
reviewers suggested changes that she rejected. In her diary she wrote, "I will fol-
low all his suggestions-whether or not I agree-except in matters that seem vi-
tal to the integrity of my interpretation) (p. 113). Writers and others will
understand the powerful personality and the costs to be incurred because of and
behind those words. In time her work was recognized and she held several con-
secutive jobs that lifted her out of impoverishment. In particular, she taught at
West Texas State Teachers College in Canyon, and later became the curator of
the newly created Panhandle-Plains Museum. Her numerous other achieve-
ments, all carefully described by author Leckie gradually lead to the recognition
that should have come her way much sooner.
Leckie leaves readers with the impression that Debo, had she been less stub-
born and less committed to defending Native Americans and their interests,
would have been accepted by the academic community. In other words, had she
been "a good ol' boy" and thus fit snugly with others in her field, she would
have made her mark without the stress and sacrifice that defined most of her
adult life. Instead, Debo did, by her actions, defeat her purposes, a situation fa-
miliar to many women inside and outside of academe who come under the su-
pervision of men who are easily challenged and threatened. Was Debo an early
feminist? Leckie doesn't answer that question, but proves in the last pages of the
book that Debo was a revisionist historian long before that term entered the lan-
guage.
This book is easy reading and written in clear prose, but prods along in a few
places. It definitely demonstrates the author's commitment to accuracy and hon-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed August 21, 2014.