Press Publications recently interviewed Shoreview resident Preeti Mathur about the publication of her first book, âFrom Seven Rivers to Ten Thousand Lakesâ.
Q. Tell us a bit about
A. My husband, Anoop, and I have lived in Shoreview since 1981. Our grown children, our daughter Shruti and our son Sujan, are both graduates of Mounds View schools. Anoop and I grew up in Hyderabad, India. We both graduated from the University of Minnesota with our graduate degrees.
Although I came with masters in journalism from India, I had to repeat it here because in 1979 they couldn’t afford to check the program to give me the credits. Likewise, when I graduated and again, because of the times, I just couldn’t find a job as a journalist. I then moved into technical writing and worked as a freelance consultant doing technical documentation and training for many large companies.
I call myself a “serial volunteer” because of my penchant for volunteering for many worthy organizations and causes such as our children’s schools, Boy Scouts, the nursing home where my father lived and our neighborhood. I served on the board of directors of Literacy Minnesota (formerly Minnesota Literacy Council) and the India Association of Minnesota, and was a founding member of the School of India for Languages ââand Culture (SILC) .
Q. Is “From the Seven Rivers to the Ten Thousand Lakes” the first book you wrote?
A. Yes; Although I have written and edited over 60 technical manuals and developed several technical training programs, this is my first such book.
Q. What inspired you to write this book?
A. I was invited and officially commissioned by the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) to write this book.
The idea for the book arose out of the efforts of a few visionary leaders of the Indian community and the Minnesota Indian Association. In the 90s,
they approached MNHS with the idea of ââdoing an oral history project for the growing Indian community. Between 1993 and 2013, nine projects were carried out to document the experiences of various people and organizations in the Indian community. It was the first start to document the presence of American Indians in Minnesota.
Then, in 2016, a traveling Smithsonian exhibit titled âBeyond Bollywoodâ was shown at the Minnesota History Center. My husband and I were part of an advisory committee that was formed to help curators locate the exhibit to include Minnesota Indians. The curators of this exhibit asked me to write a 3,000 word article about the Native Americans of Minnesota for their website, called Mnopedia. The article “From the Ganges to the land of 10,000 lakes” was published in 2017.
In the wake of the âBeyond Bollywoodâ exhibition came the idea for a book on American Indians that was missing from the Minnesota Historical Society Press series called âPeople of Minnesotaâ. The Minnesota Indian Association, with funding from the Dr. Dash Foundation, approached the MNHS to produce a book that would be similar to other books but would be the size of a coffee table and in color! The book,
the first of its kind, would serve as
an introduction to American Indians and be a resource, especially for schools
It was then that the MNHS Publishing Director asked me if I would write this book. I remember thinking this would be a quick and easy job and just expand on the article I wrote earlier. Have I ever been wrong! The book took over a year to write and I had to take time off from work to finish it.
Q. Give a brief overview and the main objective of writing “From the Seven Rivers to the Ten Thousand Lakes”.
The book gives an overview of the Indian people. He describes the three waves and the conditions that stimulated their immigration to Minnesota; experiences of settling in the state and establishing a community here; the professional, political and economic contributions of American Indians of Minnesota, including permanent and visiting residents; and the continuation and celebration of cultural and religious traditions in this adopted country.
The book contains statistics and research data, along with plenty of photographs, personal stories, and informative vignettes, even for a casual reader.
The book was written with
â¢ Communicate and thus promote the understanding of this large group of immigrants. The intention is to hopefully bring down the walls and divisions that seem to have been created these days about people or views different from yours.
â¢ Make people aware of the many contributions Indians have made in Minnesota. While the book is certainly not a complete Who’s Who of the Indian community, it does give examples of many contributions made by members of this community.
â¢ Help second generation and newcomer American Indians learn the history of this community.
A. What do you hope readers will gain from the book?
With over 50,000 people of Indian descent now in Minnesota, I hope that after reading my book, people can have meaningful conversations and discussions with colleagues, clients and neighbors of Indian descent- American. I sincerely believe that “communication is the beginning of understanding”.
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
A. I am an âequal opportunityâ reader. I love to read a wide variety of books and authors. Often, I have several books on my bedside table and I alternate between them.
For escape dishes, I like mysteries, especially the most intimate with a strong female protagonist.
Q. Where can newspaper readers find
Q. Do you have any plans for future work?
A. Currently, I have no current project. I hope to retire from technical writing and return to my journalistic roots. I would also love to pursue my dreams of writing for children and maybe full life stories that I started writing (through Storyworth.com, a gift our children gave us). I hope to make a memoir of these short stories, not so much for publication as for my grandchildren and posterity.
Q: Would you like to add something else?
A: India is a very diverse country, and the American Indian community here reflects that diversity. For this reason, it was very difficult to generalize and describe various facts about the Indian community. Whenever I documented something, I could think of many exceptions or differences from what I had described. In the end, I tried to cover as many aspects and facts as possible to give the big picture of this diverse community.
Second, although I was able to draw much of the content of the book from my own experience living in this community as well as from archival research, I could not have done it all without the help of many members of the community. Indian community, especially the people I had interviewed, as well as the staff of the Minnesota Historical Society, especially my editor, Shannon Pennefeather.
– Compiled by Noelle Olson