We Who Walk the Seven Ways is Terra Trevor’s memoir about seeking healing and finding belonging. After she endured a difficult loss, a circle of Native women elders embraced and guided Trevor (mixed-blood Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca, German) through the seven cycles of life in their Indigenous ways. Over three decades, these women lifted her from grief, instructed her in living, and showed her how to age from youth into beauty.
With tender honesty, Trevor explores how the end is always a beginning. Her reflections on the deep power of women’s friendship, losing a child, reconciling complicated roots, and finding richness in every stage of life show that being an American Indian with a complex lineage is not about being part something, but about being part of something.
"Terra Trevor's book is a gentle invitation to journey with her across decades. There are phrases and sentences I underlined, places where I wept, passages that will remain with me as they drew me to insights I'd previously struggled to name. I closed the final pages and knew that in reading this book, I had been the recipient of a generous and much-needed gift. While I can certainly finish a book in a day, I chose to move slowly through this one, letting each idea, each paragraph, each reflection gently spill over me, allowing the pages to alter me in some way."
—Patrice Gopo, author of Autumn Song: Essays on Absence
“In this personal history, Trevor considers what it has meant to navigate the world as a “mixed-blood” Native woman, whose light complexion belies her ancestors among the Cherokee, Lenape, and Seneca peoples. Born to a white mother and American Indian father in the early 1950s, Trevor delves into her relationship with her paternal grandparents and Auntie, who taught her about the heritage that felt more authentic than a white identity, as well as the elder Native women who welcomed her into their community and schooled her in the “seven ways” of being in tune with Native tradition. Moving back and forth across time, Trevor recounts the complexity of her relationships and experiences and how they were shaped by U.S. law and policies governing Native life and culture. Foreword Reviews calls We Who Walk the Seven Ways “a moving memoir about friendship and identity.”
University of Nebraska Press
Native Studies | Memoir
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Praise for We Who Walk the Seven Ways
“Terra Trevor learns from elders to nurture her mixed-blood identity and shape her activism in Indian health and education, and community building. This is an inspiring, heartfelt memoir of one Native woman’s spirit journey from childhood to her own elderhood.”
—Robert Bensen, editor of Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices on Child Custody and Education
“This poignant memoir touches on the trials and tribulations of a mixed-blood American Indian straddling two races. Written with simplicity, grace, and urgency, transcending any expectations. After not being heard as a child, she thankfully found her voice as a writer, and how lucky we are!”
—Diana Raab, author of Writing for Bliss
“The book’s insights are fascinating and there is a feeling of authenticity throughout. Terra Trevor confronts big (and often tragic) life events with humility and real wisdom. She not only describes how she makes her way through those events but does so in a very pragmatic way. Additionally, the work incorporates a powerful look at the intersections between gender, race, and culture. This is an important story, beautifully told and extremely relevant for these difficult times.”
—Margaret Randall, author of I Never Left Home: Poet, Feminist, Revolutionary
“This gorgeous must-read memoir is layered in questions, loss, complexities, wisdom and insightful reflections. I was in awe of how the author managed to navigate some extremely challenging landscapes and yet she was still able to see and experience beauty in the world. My soul felt nourished as I was reading this memoir and long after I finished it had a ripple effect, a way of calling the reader back, an ongoing invitation to go deeper.”
She is the granddaughter of sharecroppers, born in the early 1950s and raised in a large extended family in a banjo and fiddle tradition, rich with storytelling and music. She came of age in Compton, California, where her childhood was divided between the city and camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains, pulling dinner from a lake. Of mixed descent, including Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca and German, her work is infused and shaped by her identity as a mixed-blood and her connection to the landscape. She lives with her husband and family on the California coast, based between the ocean and redwoods, and calls the mountains home.
When she is not writing, she is wandering hills and valleys with grandkids and dogs, and she gives readings, sits on panels, and visits with book clubs to talk about her books with the people who read them.