"I have no central myth or legend, no single point of view, to enclose me. I have death, grief, snatches of history, and memory of songs. I have toleration, passion, an oddly persistent memory," writes Native-American feminist scholar Paula Gunn Allen in this collection of political essays, literary criticism, and personal reflections. She claims a mixed ethnic inheritance of Maronite Lebanese, Celtic Scots, and Laguna Pueblo.

Allen makes the point that we are all "maverick spirits, hybrid identities" in contemporary America. Sadly enough, this fact has not made us open to the riches of cross-cultural exchanges. Gunn writes about the spiritual benefits of mixed ancestry, heritage, and culture. She celebrates the bounties of Native-American spirituality and criticizes the body-hating aspects of a chauvinistic Christian theology. Two of the best essays in Off the Reservation pay tribute to the "psychescape" of the Southwest where border-crossing is a way of life.