Street-Gang and Tribal-Warrior Autobiographies
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225 pages

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A study of the similarities between the autobiographies of warrior tribes and of street gangs.

Down the ages warriors have told the stories about their powers and their deeds. And some of their stories have made it into print––those of Black Elk, a Sioux shaman; Two Leggings and Plenty Coups, Crow Indians; Wolf Chief, the eagle hunter; Tukup and Tariri, shrinkers of heads; and others from North America, New Guinea, the island of Alor, the highlands of Luzon and even a Bedouin.

H. David Brumble’s ‘Street-Gang and Tribal-Warrior Autobiographies’ introduces readers to all these warrior autobiographies—and to the memoirs of warriors who live just down the block: Carl Joyeaux’s ‘Out of the Burning’, Colton Simpson’s ‘Inside the Crips’, Nathan McCall’s ‘Makes Me Wanna Holler’ and Sanyika Shakur’s ‘Monster’. Gangbangers, Brumble argues, have told life stories that are eerily like the life stories that come to us from warrior tribes. He suggests that gangbangers were so alienated from the larger society that they reinvented something very similar to the tribal-warrior cultures right in the asphalt heart of American cities.

Grisly, probing and resonant with the voices of generations of fighters, ‘Street-Gang and Tribal-Warrior Autobiographies’ is an unsettling work of cross-disciplinary scholarship.

List of Figures; Preface; Introduction; 1. To Drink of Death: Tukup’s Head-Hunter Autobiography and the Characteristics of Tribal-Warrior Autobiography; 2. The Kinds of Street-Gang Autobiography; 3. The Bubble Reputation: Honor, Glory and Status among the Warriors; 4. Glory Manifest: Coup Tales, Warrior Boasts and Gangsta Rap; 5. Brutal Honesty; 6. The Education of the Warrior; 7. The Warrior Choice; 8. Mona Ruiz’s ‘Two Badges’: Women Warriors and Warriors’ Women; 9. Sam Blowsnake and the Unfortunate Pottawatomie; 10. The Gangbanger Autobiography of Monster Kody (AKA Sanyika Shakur); 11. Battle, Raid and Stratagem; 12. Berserkers and the Tragedy of Warrior Individualism; Appendix A On Circumcision; Appendix B A List of the Tribal Peoples and Street Gangs Mentioned in This Book; Annotated Bibliography of Tribal-Warrior Autobiographies; Bibliography of Works Cited; Index.



Publié par
Date de parution 10 avril 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781783087839
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Street-Gang and Tribal-Warrior Autobiographies
Gila River Reservation, gang graffiti. There were few buildings at this end of the reservation, and so the gangbangers painted their graffiti on the roads. (2005 photo © H. David Brumble).
Street-Gang and Tribal-Warrior Autobiographies
H. David Brumble
Anthem Press
An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company

This edition first published in UK and USA 2018
75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK
or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK
244 Madison Ave #116, New York, NY 10016, USA

© H. David Brumble 2018

The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN-13: 978-1-78308-781-5 (Hbk)
ISBN-10: 1-78308-781-1 (Hbk)

This title is also available as an e-book.
For Harriet
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies.
List of Figures


Chapter One To Drink of Death : Tukup’s Headhunter Autobiography and the Characteristics of Tribal-Warrior Autobiography Chapter Two The Kinds of Street-Gang Autobiography Chapter Three The Bubble Reputation: Honor, Glory and Status among the Warriors Chapter Four Glory Manifest: Coup Tales, Warrior Boasts and Gangsta Rap Chapter Five Brutal Honesty Chapter Six The Education of the Warrior Chapter Seven The Warrior Choice Chapter Eight Mona Ruiz’s Two Badges : Women Warriors and Warriors’ Women Chapter Nine Sam Blowsnake and the Unfortunate Pottawatomie Chapter Ten The Gangbanger Autobiography of Monster Kody (AKA Sanyika Shakur) Chapter Eleven Battle, Raid and Stratagem Chapter Twelve Berserks and the Tragedy of Warrior Individualism

Appendix A  On Circumcision
Appendix B  A List of All the Tribal Peoples and Street Gangs Mentioned in This Book
Annotated Bibliography
Works Cited
Frontispiece Gila River Reservation, gang graffiti
I.1 Shuar shrunken head

I.2 Monster in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, street-gang graffiti

I.3 Yanomami barbed arrowhead

I.4 Graffiti in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood: in memoriam

1.1 Graffiti in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood: knowledge

4.1 Graffiti in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood: red and blue

4.2 Kiowa ledger drawing: Big Bow and the Navajo

4.3 Cheyenne ledger drawing: Dog soldier

4.4 Cheyenne ledger drawing: Beaver’s challenge

4.5 Cheyenne ledger drawing: spirit power protection

4.6 Yanomami warrior’s scars

4.7 Shaman’s tree in Jukwa, Ghana

4.8 Sioux ledger drawing: a warrior takes two women
I fell under the spell of American Indian autobiographies some thirty years ago. I found hundreds of them, and I read them all. But it was the early as-told-to autobiographies that I found most intriguing, the autobiographies of non-literate tribesmen and women: Black Elk, Two Leggings, Black Hawk, Yellow Wolf, Pretty-Shield and many, many others. They tell remarkable stories: Yellow Wolf’s role in the Nez Perce War of 1877, Two Leggings’ raids, Pretty-Shield’s stories of moving camp, Wolf Chief’s suffering for spirit powers, Plenty Coups’ rise to chiefdom, Apache raids into Mexico, stories of torture and enslavement, Geronimo’s vengeance, Maxidiwiac’s careful tending of her crops. There are stories of Kwakiutl and Arikara raids that recognize no boundary between the real and the spirit world.
Then I discovered street-gang autobiographies. Many of these, too, are as-told-to autobiographies, and I began to see that they were in many other ways like the early American Indian autobiographies. And then it occurred to me to see what autobiographies have been collected from tribes outside of North America. There are far fewer of these. One day I would like to find out why this is so. But for the moment, let me say that the chapters that follow are based on my reading of all the oral tribal autobiographies, all the North American Indian autobiographies and all the street-gang autobiographies—all, that is, that considerable effort has discovered to me.
I can only hope that these autobiographers, and the warrior cultures that produced them, will prove as fascinating to others as they are to me.
I would like to thank first of all the long list of amanuenses—anthropologists, sociologists and other enthusiasts—who have taken down these all narratives and edited them for later generations. They have built up a treasure trove.
I would also like to offer thanks to those who have helped me with this work more personally: the late Donald Bahr, Kathy Blee, Chris Boettcher, Chris Donnorummo, Russel Durst, Robert L. Gale, John Hagedorn, Norm Hummon, Arnold Krupat, Oommen Mammen, Josephine Metcalf, Eithne Quinn, Ravinder Reddy, James B. Richardson, Rich Scaglion, Eric C. Schneider, Michael West and Paul Zolbrod commented helpfully on all or part of this work in its various stages. Dan Everett has been especially helpful, as a prop, a guide and an inspiration.
Myke Reiser allowed me access to his unpublished gangsta-rapper interviews. Goeff Boucher helped me understand his collaboration with Mona Ruiz; R. Lincoln Keiser helped me understand his work with Chicago’s Vice Lords; Ann Pearlman helped me understand her work with Colton Simpson. Terrell Wright has corresponded with me from his prison cell about his street-gang autobiography, Home of the Body Bags . Clayton Robarchek and Carole Robarchek graciously allowed me access to some of their unpublished research notes on the Woarani.
A special thanks to Dave Stoddard of the Las Vegas Police Force and to Anthony Longo, Gregory Ziel and David Winslow of the Las Vegas Police Department Gang Crime Section.
I am also grateful to my editors at Anthem Press, Nisha Vetrivel and Abi Pandey—and to their anonymous readers—for their willingness to take a chance on this book. Stuart Murray has been an exemplary copy editor.
Some portions of this book have appeared in earlier form elsewhere: “The Gangbanger Autobiography of Monster Kody (AKA Sanyika Shakur) and Warrior Literature,” American Literary History 12 (2000): 158–86 (reprinted by permission); “Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams, Gangbanger Autobiography, and Warrior Tribes,” Journal of American Studies 44 (2010): 155–70 (reprinted by permission); “Brutal Honesty? The Uses of Gore in Tribal-Warrior and Gangbanger Autobiography,” Canadian Review of American Studies 40, no. 2 (2010): 163–85 (reprinted by permission).

Peace, or minimally the avoidance of victimization, depended upon a group’s ability to inflict more violence than it received.
James Flanagan, on the Rwala Bedoiun ( 1988 : 179)
A total of 7288 gang-related homicides occurred in Los Angeles County from 1979 through 1994; Gang-related homicide rates for African American males aged 15 to 19 years increased to 192.41 per 100,000 population per year in 1989 to 1991.
H. R. Hutson et al. ( 1995 )
As an undergraduate I took a course devoted to Beowulf . This tale of honor, courage, betrayal and slaughter made a deep impression on me. But some of my most vivid memories of the course are of the professor. He was a trim, tweed-coated man of about 60. His salt-and-pepper hair was close-cropped. He sat at a table, alternately reading and interpreting. He was a captivating teacher. The poem was very real to him. I remember that he would sometimes grind his teeth as he read the bloodier passages. His interpretations were vivid. And it seemed clear to me that this man’s heart beat in sympathy with the poem, that his vitals yearned for a more muscular age, that in his eyes Portland was but a poor, soft place in 1966. I wondered at the time if he was aware how casually Beowulf or Achilles would have burned his house, taken his Chevrolet and his daughter and eaten him for breakfast.
It seems to me now that Tukup’s oral autobiography might have proved illuminating for my professor. Tukup was a South American headhunter, a Shuar Indian, a shrinker of human heads ( Figure I.1 ). Tukup’s ideas about what is necessary for personal honor and what is necessary in the pursuit of revenge are close to Beowulf’s. Still better, perhaps, my professor might have read Monster: The Autobiography of an L. A. Gang Member and some other street-gang autobiographies, because they take us into the mind and the territory of tribal warriors who lived just down the block ( Figure I.2 ). Beowulf and Achilles live at a safe distance in time. Piegan, Crow, Sarsi and Sioux warriors are nearer, but they are bathed in the light of a glorious sunset. Tukup was cutting heads just 60 years ago, but in a remote region of Ecuador. And Yanomami poisoned arrows ( Figure I.3 ) were confined to the jungles of the Orinoco Basin. Most American cities have become far safer in the last 25 years, 1 but back in the late 1980s and early 1990s you could board the wrong bus and end up in Monster Kody’s ’hood—

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