Although much contemporary American Indian literature examines the relationship between humans and the land, most Native authors do not set their work in the "pristine wilderness" celebrated by mainstream nature writers. Instead, they focus on settings such as reservations, open-pit mines, and contested borderlands. Drawing on her own teaching experience among Native Americans and on lessons learned from such recent scenes of confrontation as Chiapas and Black Mesa, Joni Adamson explores why what counts as "nature" is often very different for multicultural writers and activist groups than it is for mainstream environmentalists.
This powerful book is one of the first to examine the intersections between literature and the environment from the perspective of the oppressions of race, class, gender, and nature, and the first to review American Indian literature from the standpoint of environmental justice and ecocriticism. By examining such texts as Sherman Alexie's short stories and Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Almanac of the Dead, Adamson contends that these works, in addition to being literary, are examples of ecological criticism that expand Euro-American concepts of nature and place.
Adamson shows that when we begin exploring the differences that shape diverse cultural and literary representations of nature, we discover the challenge they present to mainstream American culture, environmentalism, and literature. By comparing the work of Native authors such as Simon Ortiz with that of environmental writers such as Edward Abbey, she reveals opportunities for more multicultural conceptions of nature and the environment.
More than a work of literary criticism, this is a book about the search to find ways to understand our cultural and historical differences and similarities in order to arrive at a better agreement of what the human role in nature is and should be. It exposes the blind spots in early ecocriticism and shows the possibilities for building common ground— a middle place— where writers, scholars, teachers, and environmentalists might come together to work for social and environmental change.
In The Andes Imagined, Jorge Coronado not only examines but also recasts the indigenismo movement of the early 1900s. Coronado departs from the common critical conception of indigenismo as rooted in novels and short stories, and instead analyzes an expansive range of work in poetry, essays, letters, newspaper writing, and photography. He uses this evidence to show how the movement's artists and intellectuals mobilize the figure of the Indian to address larger questions about becoming modern, and he focuses on the contradictions at the heart of indigenismo as a cultural, social, and political movement.
By breaking down these different perspectives, Coronado reveals an underlying current in which intellectuals and artists frequently deployed their indigenous subject in order to imagine new forms of political inclusion. He suggests that these deployments rendered particular variants of modernity and make indigenismo representational practices a privileged site for the examination of the region's cultural negotiation of modernization. His analysis reveals a paradox whereby the un-modern indio becomes the symbol for the modern itself.
The Andes Imagined offers an original and broadly based engagement with indigenismo and its intellectual contributions, both in relation to early twentieth-century Andean thought and to larger questions of theorizing modernity.
We all know what happened at Wounded Knee . . . don't we?
In this powerful and essential work, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn confronts the politics and policies of genocide that continue to destroy the land, livelihood, and culture of Native Americans. Anti-Indianism in Modern America tells the other side of stories of historical massacres and modern-day hate crimes, events that are dismissed or glossed over by historians, journalists, and courts alike. Cook-Lynn exposes the colonialism that works both overtly and covertly to silence and diminish Native Americans, supported by a rhetoric of reconciliation, assimilation, and multiculturalism. Comparing anti-Indianism to anti-Semitism, she sets the American history of broken treaties, stolen lands, mass murder, cultural dispossession, and Indian hating in an international context of ethnic cleansing, "ecocide" (environmental destruction), and colonial oppression.
Cook-Lynn also discusses the role Native American studies should take in reasserting tribal literatures, traditions, and politics and shows how the discipline has been sidelined by anthropology, sociology, postcolonial studies, and ethnic studies. Asserting the importance of a "native conscience"--a knowledge of the mythologies, mores, and experiences of tribal society--among American Indian writers, she calls for the expression in American Indian art and literature of a tribal consciousness that acts to assure a tribal-nation people of its future.
Passionate, eloquent, and uncompromising, Anti-Indianism in Modern America concludes that there are no real solutions for Indians as long as they remain colonized peoples. Native Americans must be able to tell their own stories and, most important, regain their land, the source of religion, morality, rights, and nationhood. As long as public silence accompanies the outlaw maneuvers that undermine tribal autonomy, the racist strategies that affect all Americans will continue.
It is difficult, Cook-Lynn concedes, to work toward the development of legal mechanisms against hate crimes, in Indian Country and elsewhere in the world. But it is not too late.
In Bound and Determined, Christopher Castiglia gives shape for the first time to a tradition of American women's captivity narrative that ranges across three centuries, from Puritan colonist Mary Rowlandson's abduction by Narragansett Indians to Patty Hearst's kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Examining more than sixty accounts by women captives, as well as novels ranging from Susanna Rowson's eighteenth-century classic Rueben and Rachel to today's mass-market romances, Castiglia investigates paradoxes central to the genre. In captivity, women often find freedom from stereotypical roles as helpless, dependent, sexually vulnerable, and xenophobic. In their condemnations of their non-white captors, they defy assumptions about race that undergird their own societies. Castiglia questions critical conceptions of captivity stories as primarily an appeal to racism and misogyny, and instead finds in them an appeal of a much different nature: as all-too-rare stories of imaginative challenges to rigid gender roles and racial ideologies.
Whether the women of these stories resist or escape captivity, endure until they are released, or eventually choose to live among their captors, they end up with the power to be critical of both cultures. Castiglia shows that these compelling narratives, with their boundary crossings and persistent explorations of cultural divisions and differences, have significant implications for current critical investigations into the construction of gender, race, and nation.
The captivity narrative of Mary Rowlandson, The Soveraignty and Goodness of God, published in 1682, is often considered the first “best seller” to be published in North America. Since then, it has long been read as a first-person account of the trials of Indian captivity. After an attack on the Puritan town of Lancaster, Massachusetts, in February 1676, Rowlandson was held prisoner for more than eleven weeks before eventually being ransomed. The account of her experiences, published six years later, soon took its place as an exemplar of the captivity narrative genre and a popular focal point of scholarly attention in the three hundred years since.
In this groundbreaking new book, Billy J. Stratton offers a critical examination of the narrative of Mary Rowlandson. Although it has long been thought that the book’s preface was written by the influential Puritan minister Increase Mather, Stratton’s research suggests that Mather was also deeply involved in the production of the narrative itself, which bears strong traces of a literary form that was already well established in Europe. As Stratton notes, the portrayal of Indian people as animalistic “savages” and of Rowlandson’s solace in Biblical exegesis served as a convenient alibi for the colonial aspirations of the Puritan leadership.
Stratton calls into question much that has been accepted as fact by scholars and historians over the last century, and re-centers the focus on the marginalized perspective of Native American people, including those whose land had been occupied by the Puritan settlers. In doing so, Stratton demands a careful reconsideration of the role that the captivity narrative—which was instrumental in shaping conceptions of “frontier warfare”—has played in the development of both American literary history and national identity.
This volume of new essays provides the first book-length critical
assessment of the fiction of America's best-known contemporary writer of
Native American heritage.
Louise Erdrich is arguably the most prolific and prominent contemporary
writer of American Indian descent in North America today. Her novels and
short stories have won great critical acclaim and are widely taught in
American and world literature courses.
This collection of original ssays focuses on Erdrich's writings rooted
in the Chippewa experience. Premier scholars of Native American literature
investigate narrative structure, signs of ethnicity, the notions of luck
and chance in Erdrich's narrative cosmology, her use of hunting metaphors,
her efforts to counter stereotypes of American Indian women, her use of
comedy in exploring American Indians' tragic past, her intentions underlying
the process of revision in Love Medicine, and other subjects.
Including a variety of theoretical approaches, this book provides a
comprehensive examination of Erdrich's work, making it more accessible
to new readers and richer to those already familiar with her work.
Because American Indian literatures are largely informed by their respective oral storytelling traditions, they may be more difficult to understand or interpret than the more text-based literatures with which most readers are familiar. In this insightful new book, Susan Berry Brill de Ramírez addresses the limitations of contemporary criticism and theory in opening up the worlds of story within American Indian literatures, proposing instead a conversive approach for reading and understanding these works. In order to fully understand American Indian literatures, Brill de Ramírez explains that the reader must become a listener-reader, an active participant in the written stories
. To demonstrate this point, she explores literary works both by established Native writers such as Sherman Alexie, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Luci Tapahonso and by less-well-known writers such as Anna Lee Walters, Della Frank, Lee Maracle, and Louis Owens. Through her literary engagements with many poems, novels, and short stories, she demonstrates a new way to read and understand the diverse body of American Indian literatures. Brill de Ramírez's conversive approach interweaves two interconnected processes: co-creating the stories by participating in them as listener-readers and recognizing orally informed elements in the stories such as verbal minimalism and episodic narrative structures.
Because this methodology is rooted in American Indian oral storytelling traditions, Native voices from these literary works are able to more directly inform the scholarly process than is the case in more textually based critical strategies. Through this innovative approach, Brill de Ramírez shows that literature is not a static text but an interactive and potentially transforming conversation between listener-readers, storyteller-writers, and the story characters as well. Her book furthers the discussion of how to read American Indian and other orally informed literatures with greater sensitivity to their respective cultural traditions and shows that the immediacy of the relationship between teller, story, and listener can also be experienced in the relationships between writers, literary works, and their listener-readers.
Examines the prehistory of the American struggle to address cultural difference.
"Culture" is a term we commonly use to explain the differences in our ways of living. In this book Michael A. Elliott returns to the moment this usage was first articulated, tracing the concept of culture to the writings-folktales, dialect literature, local color sketches, and ethnographies-that provided its intellectual underpinnings in turn-of-the-century America.
The Culture Concept explains how this now-familiar definition of "culture" emerged during the late nineteenth century through the intersection of two separate endeavors that shared a commitment to recording group-based difference-American literary realism and scientific ethnography. Elliott looks at early works of cultural studies as diverse as the conjure tales of Charles Chesnutt, the Ghost Dance ethnography of James Mooney, and the prose narrative of the Omaha anthropologist-turned-author Francis La Flesche. His reading of these works-which struggle to find appropriate theoretical and textual tools for articulating a less chauvinistic understanding of human difference-is at once a recovery of a lost connection between American literary realism and ethnography and a productive inquiry into the usefulness of the culture concept as a critical tool in our time and times to come.
Michael A. Elliott is assistant professor of English at Emory University.
A significant and innovative contribution to Austin studies. How did an Illinois Methodist homesteader in the West come to create one of the most significant cosmological syntheses in American literature? In this study, Hoyer draws on his own knowledge of biblical religion and Native American cultures to explore Austin's creation of the "mythology of the American continent" she so valued. Austin lived in and wrote about "the land of little rain," semiarid and arid parts of California and Nevada that were home to the Northern Paiute, Shoshone, Interior Chumash, and Yokut peoples. Hoyer makes new and provocative connections between Austin and spiritual figures like Wovoka, the prophet of the Ghost Dance religion, and writers like Zitkala-sa and Mourning Dove, and he provides a particularly fine reading of Cogowea.
Colonial discourse in the United States has tended to criminalize, pathologize, and depict as savage not only Native Americans but Mexican immigrants, indigenous peoples in Mexico, and Chicanas/os as well. While postcolonial studies of the past few decades have focused on how these ethnicities have been constructed by others, Disrupting Savagism reveals how each group, in turn, has actively attempted to create for itself a social and textual space in which certain negative prevailing discourses are neutralized and rendered ineffective. Arturo J. Aldama begins by presenting a genealogy of the term “savage,” looking in particular at the work of American ethnologist Lewis Henry Morgan and a sixteenth-century debate between Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda and Bartolomé de las Casas. Aldama then turns to more contemporary narratives, examining ethnography, fiction, autobiography, and film to illuminate the historical ideologies and ethnic perspectives that contributed to identity formation over the centuries. These works include anthropologist Manuel Gamio’s The Mexican Immigrant: His Life Story, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, and Miguel Arteta’s film Star Maps. By using these varied genres to investigate the complex politics of racialized, subaltern, feminist, and diasporic identities, Aldama reveals the unique epistemic logic of hybrid and mestiza/o cultural productions. The transcultural perspective of Disrupting Savagism will interest scholars of feminist postcolonial processes in the United States, as well as students of Latin American, Native American, and literary studies.
How Faulkner, Welty, Lytle, and Gordon reimagined and reconstructed the Native American past in their work.
In this book, Annette Trefzer argues that not only have Native Americans played an active role in the construction of the South’s cultural landscape—despite a history of colonization, dispossession, and removal aimed at rendering them invisible—but that their under-examined presence in southern literature also provides a crucial avenue for a post-regional understanding of the American South. William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Andrew Lytle, and Caroline Gordon created works about the Spanish conquest of the New World, the Cherokee frontier during the Revolution, the expansion into the Mississippi Territory, and the slaveholding societies of the American southeast. They wrote 100 years after the forceful removal of Native Americans from the southeast but consistently returned to the idea of an "Indian frontier," each articulating a different vision and discourse about Native Americans—wholesome and pure in the vision of some, symptomatic of hybridity and universality for others.
Trefzer contends that these writers engage in a double discourse about the region and nation: fabricating regional identity by invoking the South’s "native" heritage and pointing to issues of national guilt, colonization, westward expansion, and imperialism in a period that saw the US sphere of influence widen dramatically. In both cases, the "Indian" signifies regional and national self-definitions and contributes to the shaping of cultural, racial, and national "others." Trefzer employs the idea of archeology in two senses: quite literally the excavation of artifacts in the South during the New Deal administration of the 1930s (a surfacing of material culture to which each writer responded) and archeology as a method for exploring texts she addresses (literary digs into the textual strata of America’s literature and its cultural history).
Who in a society can speak, and under what circumstances? These questions are at the heart of both Native American literature and feminist literary and cultural theory. Despite the recent explosion of publication in each of these fields, almost nothing has been written to date that explores the links between the two. With Feminist Readings of Native American Literature, Kathleen Donovan takes an important first step in examining how studies in these two fields inform and influence one another. Focusing on the works of N. Scott Momaday, Joy Harjo, Paula Gunn Allen, and others, Donovan analyzes the texts of these well-known writers, weaving a supporting web of feminist criticism throughout. With careful and gracefully offered insights, the book explores the reciprocally illuminating nature of culture and gender issues.
The author demonstrates how Canadian women of mixed-blood ancestry achieve a voice through autobiographies and autobiographical novels. Using a framework of feminist reader response theory, she considers an underlying misogyny in the writings of N. Scott Momaday. And in examining commonalities between specific cultures, she discusses how two women of color, Paula Gunn Allen and Toni Morrison, explore representations of femaleness in their respective cultures. By synthesizing a broad spectrum of critical writing that overlaps women's voices and Native American literature, Donovan expands on the frame of dialogue within feminist literary and cultural theory. Drawing on the related fields of ethnography, ethnopoetics, ecofeminism, and post-colonialism, Feminist Readings of Native American Literature offers the first systematic study of the intersection between two dynamic arenas in literary studies today.
Borrowing from the old adage, we might say that to the victor belongs the history. One of the privileges gained in colonizing the New World was the power to tell the definitive stories of the struggle. The heroic texts depicting the discovery of territories, early encounters with indigenous peoples, and the ultimate subjection of land and cultures to European nation-states all but erase the vanquished. In Forgotten Conquests, Gustavo Verdesio argues that these master narratives represent only one of many possible histories and suggests a way of reading them in order to discover the colonial subjects who did not produce documents.
Verdesio read the key texts relating to the struggles for possession of River Plate's northern shore -- present-day Uruguay. He probes them for traces of conflicts in meaning and the agency of Amerindians, gauchos, Africans, and women -- the subjected peoples that the texts try to silence. The narrators, speaking for their culture, assume the role of knowing subject, repressing all other voices, epistemologies, and acts of resistance. Verdesio's tasks are to listen for those that the Europeans represented as an unintelligible Other, to draw them into the foreground, and to decolonize their histories.
By unpacking these texts, Verdesio shows that from the European point of view, the colonial encounter draws the New World into historical time and ushers in a new concept of knowledge. For the first time, the historian's role is to discover, to interpret eyewitness testimonies and first-hand experience, to write 'a new history of admirable things.' Even in this reconstruction of historical truth, Old World ideology drives the narratives, whose chief purpose is to justify conquest. Forgotten Conquests lays bare the discursive strategies that generated the founding texts of Latin American history and engulfed its subjected peoples in silence for 500 years.
From The Center Of Tradition
Barbara J. Cook University Press of Colorado, 2003 Library of Congress PS3558.O34726Z66 2003 | Dewey Decimal 818.5409
Linda Hogan, a Chickasaw poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and activist, is widely considered to be one of the most influential and provocative Native American figures on the contemporary literary landscape. Although her work has been the focus of num
Although the myth of the American frontier is largely the product of writings by men, a substantial body of writings by women exists that casts the era of western expansion in a different light. In this study of American women's writings about the West between 1830 and 1930, a European scholar provides a reconstruction and new vision of frontier narrative from a perspective that has frequently been overlooked or taken for granted in discussions of the frontier. Brigitte Georgi-Findlay presents a range of writings that reflects the diversity of the western experience. Beginning with the narratives of Caroline Kirkland and other women of the early frontier, she reviews the diaries of the overland trails; letters and journals of the wives of army officers during the Indian wars; professional writings, focusing largely on travel, by women such as Caroline Leighton from the regional publishing cultures that emerged in the Far West during the last quarter of the century; and late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century accounts of missionaries and teachers on Indian reservations. Most of the writers were white, literate women who asserted their own kind of cultural authority over the lands and people they encountered. Their accounts are not only set in relation to a masculine frontier myth but also investigated for clues about their own involvement with territorial expansion. By exploring the various ways in which women writers actively contributed to and at times rejected the development of a national narrative of territorial expansion based on empire building and colonization, the author shows how their accounts are implicated in expansionist processes at the same time that they formulate positions of innocence and detachment. Georgi-Findlay has drawn on American studies scholarship, feminist criticism, and studies of colonial discourse to examine the strategies of women's representation in writing about the West in ways that most theorists have not. She critiques generally accepted stereotypes and assumptions--both about women's writing and its difference of view in particular, and about frontier discourse and the rhetoric of westward expansion in general--as she offers a significant contribution to literary studies of the West that will challenge scholars across a wide range of disciplines.
The Heart as a Drum celebrates poetry by a range of contemporary Native American writers, illuminating the poets' shared commitments and distinctive approaches to political resistance and cultural survival. The poetry reflects an awareness of the divisions and conflicts inherited from colonization and a commitment to traditional beliefs about the relatedness of all beings. This double perception engenders poetry that emphasizes resistance and continuance and poetry that makes creative and unique use of language. The book elucidates these aspects of the work through cultural and historical readings of poetry written by both urban- and reservation-identified Indians from varied geographic and tribal origins.
The book's focus is on the major themes in contemporary Native American literature: community and audience, the meanings of place and history, spiritual experiences, the nature of language, and the roles and varieties of storytelling. The poets whose works are discussed include Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Maurice Kenny, Simon J. Ortiz, Wendy Rose, Elizabeth Woody, and Ray Young Bear.
The first critical book dedicated to contemporary Native American poetry, The Heart as a Drum will be useful to students, teachers, and critics of American Indian cultures and literatures, and to all readers of contemporary American poetry.
Robin Riley Fast is Associate Professor of Literature, Emerson College.
More than twenty years after its publication in 1991, Leslie Marmon Silko’s monumental novel Almanac of the Dead continues to disconcert, move, provoke, and outrage readers. In a work that is overtly and often uncomfortably political, Silko’s overflowing cast of characters includes representatives from a range of cultures and communities who are united by common experiences of dispossession, disenfranchisement, exploitation, and poverty. Clearly, Silko’s depiction of a social uprising that draws together the indigenous People’s Army of the Americas and the American Army of the Homeless triggered—and was designed to trigger—a range of reactions among readers and critics alike.
Howling for Justice actively engages with both the literary achievements and the politics of Silko’s text. It brings together essays by international scholars reacting to the novel while keeping in mind its larger concern with issues of social justice, both local and transnational. Aiming both to refocus critical attention and open the book to a broader array of readers, this collection offers fresh perspectives on its transnational vision, on its sociocultural, historical, and political ambitions, and on its continued relevance in the twenty-first century. The essays examine and explain some of the key points that readers and critics have identified as confusing, problematic, and divisive. Together, they offer new ways to approach and appreciate the text.
The book concludes with a new, never-before-published interview in which Silko reflects on the twenty years since the novel’s publication and relates the concerns of Almanac to her current work.
Indian Nation documents the contributions of Native Americans to the notion of American nationhood and to concepts of American identity at a crucial, defining time in U.S. history. Departing from previous scholarship, Cheryl Walker turns the "usual" questions on their heads, asking not how whites experienced indigenous peoples, but how Native Americans envisioned the United States as a nation. This project unfolds a narrative of participatory resistance in which Indians themselves sought to transform the discourse of nationhood. Walker examines the rhetoric and writings of nineteenth-century Native Americans, including William Apess, Black Hawk, George Copway, John Rollin Ridge, and Sarah Winnemucca. Demonstrating with unique detail how these authors worked to transform venerable myths and icons of American identity, Indian Nation chronicles Native American participation in the forming of an American nationalism in both published texts and speeches that were delivered throughout the United States. Pottawattomie Chief Simon Pokagon’s "The Red Man’s Rebuke," an important document of Indian oratory, is published here in its entirety for the first time since 1893. By looking at this writing through the lens of the best theoretical work on nationality, postcoloniality, and the subaltern, Walker creates a new and encompassing picture of the relationship between Native Americans and whites. She shows that, contrary to previous studies, America in the nineteenth century was intercultural in significant ways.
Spanning the 1870s to the present, Individuality Incorporated demonstrates how crucial a knowledge of Native American-White history is to rethinking key issues in American studies, cultural studies, and the history of subjectivity. Joel Pfister proposes an ingenious critical and historical reinterpretation of constructions of “Indians” and “individuals.” Native Americans have long contemplated the irony that the government used its schools to coerce children from diverse tribes to view themselves first as “Indians”—encoded as the evolutionary problem—and then as “individuals”—defined as the civilized industrial solution. As Luther Standing Bear, Charles Eastman, and Black Elk attest, tribal cultures had their own complex ways of imagining, enhancing, motivating, and performing the self that did not conform to federal blueprints labeled “individuality.” Enlarging the scope of this history of “individuality,” Pfister elaborates the implications of state, corporate, and aesthetic experiments that moved beyond the tactics of an older melting pot hegemony to impose a modern protomulticultural rule on Natives. The argument focuses on the famous Carlisle Indian School; assimilationist novels; Native literature and cultural critique from Zitkala-Sa to Leslie Marmon Silko; Taos and Santa Fe bohemians (Mabel Dodge Luhan, D. H. Lawrence, Mary Austin); multicultural modernisms (Fred Kabotie, Oliver La Farge, John Sloan, D’Arcy McNickle); the Southwestern tourism industry’s development of corporate multiculturalism; the diversity management schemes that John Collier implemented as head of the Indian New Deal; and early formulations of ethnic studies. Pfister’s unique analysis moves from Gilded Age incorporations of individuality to postmodern incorporations of multicultural reworkings of individuality to unpack what is at stake in producing subjectivity in World America.
What does it mean to be a “mixed-blood,” and how has our understanding of this term changed over the last two centuries? What processes have shaped American thinking on racial blending? Why has the figure of the mixed-blood, thought too offensive for polite conversation in the nineteenth century, become a major representative of twentieth-century native consciousness?
In Injun Joe’s Ghost, Harry J. Brown addresses these questions within the interrelated contexts of anthropology, U.S. Indian policy, and popular fiction by white and mixed-blood writers, mapping the evolution of “hybridity” from a biological to a cultural category. Brown traces the processes that once mandated the mixed-blood’s exile as a grotesque or criminal outcast and that have recently brought about his ascendance as a cultural hero in contemporary Native American writing.
Because the myth of the demise of the Indian and the ascendance of the Anglo-Saxon is traditionally tied to America’s national idea, nationalist literature depicts Indian-white hybrids in images of degeneracy, atavism, madness, and even criminality. A competing tradition of popular writing, however, often created by mixed-blood writers themselves, contests these images of the outcast half-breed by envisioning “hybrid vigor,” both biologically and linguistically, as a model for a culturally heterogeneous nation.
Injun Joe’s Ghost focuses on a significant figure in American history and culture that has, until now, remained on the periphery of academic discourse. Brown offers an in-depth discussion of many texts, including dime novels and Depression-era magazine fiction, that have been almost entirely neglected by scholars. This volume also covers texts such as the historical romances of the 1820s and the novels of the twentieth-century “Native American Renaissance” from a fresh perspective. Investigating a broad range of genres and subject over two hundred year of American writing, Injun Joe’s Ghost will be useful to students and professionals in the fields of American literature, popular culture, and native studies.
Native America can look to few more inventive or prolific contemporary writers than Gerald Vizenor. He is the author of Bearheart, Griever: An American Monkey King in China, The Trickster of Liberty, The Heirs of Columbus, Dead Voices, and Hotline Healers. Add to these his poetry, stories, plays, anthologies, screenplays, and his autobiography Interior Landscapes, and one has a voice at once full of Native irony and the postmodern turn.
The seventeen essays gathered in this volume take the measure of Vizenor’s achievement. Among the contributors are leading Native American writers Louis Owens, Arnold Krupat, Elaine A. Jahner, and Barry O’Connell.
The legacy of the residential school system ripples throughout Native Canada, its fingerprints on the domestic violence, poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide rates that continue to cripple many Native communities. Magic Weapons is the first major survey of Indigenous writings on the residential school system, and provides groundbreaking readings of life writings by Rita Joe (Mi’kmaq) and Anthony Apakark Thrasher (Inuit) as well as in-depth critical studies of better known life writings by Basil Johnston (Ojibway) and Tomson Highway (Cree). Magic Weapons examines the ways in which Indigenous survivors of residential school mobilize narrative in their struggles for personal and communal empowerment in the shadow of attempted cultural genocide. By treating Indigenous life-writings as carefully crafted aesthetic creations and interrogating their relationship to more overtly politicized historical discourses, Sam McKegney argues that Indigenous life-writings are culturally generative in ways that go beyond disclosure and recompense, re-envisioning what it means to live and write as Indigenous individuals in post-residential school Canada.
In Mark Twain and the American West, Joseph Coulombe explores how Mark Twain deliberately manipulated contemporary conceptions of the American West to create and then modify a public image that eventually won worldwide fame. He establishes the central role of the western region in the development of a persona that not only helped redefine American manhood and literary celebrity in the late nineteenth century, but also produced some of the most complex and challenging writings in the American canon.
Coulombe sheds new light on previously underappreciated components of Twain’s distinctly western persona. Gathering evidence from contemporary newspapers, letters, literature, and advice manuals, Coulombe shows how Twain’s persona in the early 1860s as a hard-drinking, low-living straight-talker was an implicit response to western conventions of manhood. He then traces the author’s movement toward a more sophisticated public image, arguing that Twain characterized language and authorship in the same manner that he described western men: direct, bold, physical, even violent. In this way, Twain capitalized upon common images of the West to create himself as a new sort of western outlaw—one who wrote.
Coulombe outlines Twain’s struggle to find the proper balance between changing cultural attitudes toward male respectability and rebellion and his own shifting perceptions of the East and the West. Focusing on the tension between these goals, Coulombe explores Twain’s emergence as the moneyed and masculine man-of-letters, his treatment of American Indians in its relation to his depiction of Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the enigmatic connection of Huck Finn to the natural world, and Twain’s profound influence on Willa Cather’s western novels.
Mark Twain and the American West is sure to generate new interest and discussion about Mark Twain and his influence. By understanding how conventions of the region, conceptions of money and class, and constructions of manhood intersect with the creation of Twain’s persona, Coulombe helps us better appreciate the writer’s lasting effect on American thought and literature through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.
An old Indian woman comforts two young white children she finds lost in the woods and lovingly carries them back to their eager parents. A frontiersman sheds tears over the grave of a Mohican youth, holding hands with the mourning father. According to Laura L. Mielke, such emotionally charged scenes between whites and Indians paradoxically flourished in American literature from 1820 to 1850, a time when the United States government developed and applied a policy of Indian removal. Although these “moving encounters,” as Mielke terms them, often promoted the possibility of mutual sympathy between Native Americans and Euro-Americans, they also suggested that these emotional links were inherently unstable, potentially dangerous, and ultimately doomed. At the same time, the emphasis on Indian-white sympathy provided an opportunity for Indians and non-Native activists to voice an alternative to removal and acculturation, turning the language of a sentimental U.S. culture against its own imperial impulse. Mielke details not only how such writers as James Fenimore Cooper and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft forecast the inevitable demise of Indian-white sympathy, but also how authors like Lydia Maria Child and William Apess insisted that a language of feeling could be used to create shared community or defend American Indian sovereignty. In this way, Moving Encounters sheds new light on a wide range of texts concerning the “Indian Question” by emphasizing their engagement with popular sentimental forms and by challenging the commonly held belief that all Euro-American expressions of sympathy for American Indians in this period were fundamentally insincere. While portraits of Indian-white sympathy often prompted cynical rejoinders from parodists, many never lost faith in the power of emotion to overcome the greed and prejudice fueling the dispossession of American Indians.
In Murder on the Reservation, Ray B. Browne surveys the work of several of the best-known writers of crime fiction involving Indian characters and references virtually every book that qualifies as an Indian-related mystery. Browne believes that within the genre of crime fiction all people are equal, and the increasing role of Indian characters in criminal fiction proves what an important role this genre plays as a powerful democratizing force in American society. He endeavors to both analyze and evaluate the individual work of the authors, and at the same time, provide a commentary on the various attitudes towards race relations in the United States that each author presents. Some Indian fiction is intended to right the wrongs the authors feel have been leveled against Indians. Other authors use Indian lore and Indian locales as exotic elements and locations for the entertaining and commercially successful stories they want to write. Browne’s analysis includes authors and works of all backgrounds, with mysteries of first-class murder both on and off the reservation.
Although spectral Indians appear with startling frequency in US literary works, until now the implications of describing them as ghosts have not been thoroughly investigated. In the first years of nationhood, Philip Freneau and Sarah Wentworth Morton peopled their works with Indian phantoms, as did Charles Brocken Brown, Washington Irving, Samuel Woodworth, Lydia Maria Child, James Fenimore Cooper, William Apess, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others who followed. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Native American ghosts figured prominently in speeches attributed to Chief Seattle, Black Elk, and Kicking Bear. Today, Stephen King and Leslie Marmon Silko plot best-selling novels around ghostly Indians and haunted Indian burial grounds. Renée L. Bergland argues that representing Indians as ghosts internalizes them as ghostly figures within the white imagination. Spectralization allows white Americans to construct a concept of American nationhood haunted by Native Americans, in which Indians become sharers in an idealized national imagination. However, the problems of spectralization are clear, since the discourse questions the very nationalism it constructs. Indians who are transformed into ghosts cannot be buried or evaded, and the specter of their forced disappearance haunts the American imagination. Indian ghosts personify national guilt and horror, as well as national pride and pleasure. Bergland tells the story of a terrifying and triumphant American aesthetic that repeatedly transforms horror into glory, national dishonor into national pride.
Native performance is a multifaceted and changing art form as well as a swiftly growing field of research. Native American Performance and Representation provides a wider and more comprehensive study of Native performance, not only its past but also its present and future. Contributors use multiple perspectives to look at the varying nature of Native performance strategies. They consider the combination and balance of the traditional and modern techniques of performers in a multicultural world. This collection presents diverse viewpoints from both scholars and performers in this field, both Natives and non-Natives. Important and well-respected researchers and performers such as Bruce McConachie, Jorge Huerta, and Daystar/Rosalie Jones offer much-needed insight into this quickly expanding field of study.
This volume examines Native performance using a variety of lenses, such as feminism, literary and film theory, and postcolonial discourse. Through the many unique voices of the contributors, major themes are explored, such as indigenous self-representations in performance, representations by nonindigenous people, cultural authenticity in performance and representation, and cross-fertilization between cultures. Authors introduce important, though sometimes controversial, issues as they consider the effects of miscegenation on traditional customs, racial discrimination, Native women’s position in a multicultural society, and the relationship between authenticity and hybridity in Native performance.
An important addition to the new and growing field of Native performance, Wilmer’s book cuts across disciplines and areas of study in a way no other book in the field does. It will appeal not only to those interested in Native American studies but also to those concerned with women’s and gender studies, literary and film studies, and cultural studies.
Much literary scholarship has been devoted to the flowering of Native American fiction and poetry in the mid-twentieth century. Yet, Robert Warrior argues, nonfiction has been the primary form used by American Indians in developing a relationship with the written word, one that reaches back much further in Native history and culture.
Focusing on autobiographical writings and critical essays, as well as communally authored and political documents, The People and the Word explores how the Native tradition of nonfiction has both encompassed and dissected Native experiences. Warrior begins by tracing a history of American Indian writing from the eighteenth century to the late twentieth century, then considers four particular moments: Pequot intellectual William Apess’s autobiographical writings from the 1820s and 1830s; the Osage Constitution of 1881; narratives from American Indian student experiences, including accounts of boarding school in the late 1880s; and modern Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday’s essay “The Man Made of Words,” penned during the politically charged 1970s. Warrior’s discussion of Apess’s work looks unflinchingly at his unconventional life and death; he recognizes resistance to assimilation in the products of the student print shop at the Santee Normal Training School; and in the Osage Constitution, as well as in Momaday’s writing, Warrior sees reflections of their turbulent times as well as guidance for our own.
Taking a cue from Momaday’s essay, which gives voice to an imaginary female ancestor, Ko-Sahn, Warrior applies both critical skills and literary imagination to the texts. In doing so, The People and the Word provides a rich foundation for Native intellectuals’ critical work, deeply entwined with their unique experiences.
Robert Warrior is professor of English and Native American studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is author of Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions (Minnesota, 1994) and coauthor, with Paul Chaat Smith, of Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee.
A Pillar of Fire to Follow concerns the Indian dramas, a series of popular, nineteenth-century American melodramas that deal with the interaction of Indians and Anglo-Europeans. Priscilla Sears has analyzed these works from a mythological point of view, concentrating on the myths of Indian and Anglo-European identity and destiny and the ways in which they relieve the guilt emanating from contemporary Indian policy and the symbolic betrayal of fathers.
This revised and expanded edition of Beidler and Barton’s indispensable A Reader’s Guide to the Novels of Louise Erdrich builds on the sellout success of the first edition. Every serious reader of Erdrich’s fiction will want access to this comprehensive new edition, which includes valuable new material.
• Completely updated with information on four new novels published since the first edition: The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, The Master Butchers Singing Club, Four Souls, and The Painted Drum
• Easy-to-use genealogical charts for the various families
• A map and geographical details about the settings for the novels
• A detailed composite dictionary of characters (even including the minor characters)
• A glossary of all of the Ojibwe words, phrases, and sentences that Erdrich, an astoundingly versatile and energetic Native American author, uses in her panoply of novels
The forty years of American Indian literature taken up by James H. Cox—the decades between 1920 and 1960—have been called politically and intellectually moribund. On the contrary, Cox identifies a group of American Indian writers who share an interest in the revolutionary potential of the indigenous peoples of Mexico—and whose work demonstrates a surprisingly assertive literary politics in the era.
By contextualizing this group of American Indian authors in the work of their contemporaries, Cox reveals how the literary history of this period is far more rich and nuanced than is generally acknowledged. The writers he focuses on—Todd Downing (Choctaw), Lynn Riggs (Cherokee), and D’Arcy McNickle (Confederated Salish and Kootenai)—are shown to be on par with writers of the preceding Progressive and the succeeding Red Power and Native American literary renaissance eras.
Arguing that American Indian literary history of this period actually coheres in exciting ways with the literature of the Native American literary renaissance, Cox repudiates the intellectual and political border that has emerged between the two eras.
In Seeing Red, Cari M. Carpenter examines anger in the poetry and prose of three early American Indian writers: S. Alice Callahan, Pauline Johnson, and Sarah Winnemucca. In articulating a legitimate anger in the late nineteenth century, the first published indigenous women writers were met not only with stereotypes of “savage” rage but with social proscriptions against female anger. While the loss of land, life, and cultural traditions is central to the Native American literature of the period, this dispossession is only one side of the story. Its counterpart, indigenous claims to that which is threatened, is just as essential to these narratives. The first published American Indian women writers used a variety of tactics to protest such dispossession. Seeing Red argues that one of the most pervasive and intriguing of these is sentimentality.
Carpenter argues that while anger is a neglected element of a broad range of sentimental texts, it should be recognized as a particularly salient subject in early literature written by Native American women. To date, most literary scholars—whether they understand sentimentality in terms of sympathetic relations or of manipulative influence—have viewed anger as an obstacle to the genre. Placing anger and sentimentality in opposition, however, neglects their complex and often intimate relationship. This case study of three Native American women writers is not meant to fall easily into either the “pro” or “anti” sentimentality camp, but to acknowledge sentimentality as a fraught, yet potentially useful, mode for articulating indigenous women’s anger.
The first book of its kind, Self-Determined Stories: The Indigenous Reinvention of Young Adult Literature reads Indigenous-authored YA—from school stories to speculative fiction— not only as a vital challenge to stereotypes but also as a rich intellectual resource for theorizing Indigenous sovereignty in the contemporary era. Building on scholarship from Indigenous studies, children’s literature, and cultural studies, Suhr-Sytsma delves deep in close readings of works by Sherman Alexie, Jeannette Armstrong, Joseph Bruchac, Drew Hayden Taylor, Susan Power, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel. Together, Suhr-Sytsma contends, these works constitute a unique Indigenous YA genre. This genre radically revises typical YA conventions while offering a fresh portrayal of Indigenous self-determination and a fresh critique of multiculturalism, heteropatriarchy, and hybridity. This literature, moreover, imagines compelling alternative ways to navigate cultural dynamism, intersectionality, and alliance-formation. Self-Determined Stories invites readers from a range of contexts to engage with Indigenous YA and convincingly demonstrates the centrality of Indigenous stories, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous people to the flourishing of everyone in every place.
For more than a hundred years, outsiders enamored of the perceived strengths of American Indian cultures have appropriated and distorted elements of them for their own purposes—more often than not ignoring the impact of the process on the Indians themselves. This book contains eight original contributions that consider the selling of American Indian culture and how it affects the Native community. It goes beyond studies of “white shamanism” to focus on commercial ventures, challenging readers to reconsider how Indian cultures have been commercialized in the twentieth century.
Some selections examine how Indians have been displayed to the public, beginning with a “living exhibit” of Cocopa Indians at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and extending to contemporary stagings of Indian culture for tourists at Tillicum Village near Seattle. Other chapters range from the Cherokees to Puebloan peoples to Indians of Chiapas, Mexico, in an examination of the roles of both Indians and non-Indian reformers in marketing Native arts and crafts.
These articles show that the commercialization and appropriation of American Indian cultures have been persistent practices of American society over the last century and constitute a form of cultural imperialism that could contribute to the destruction of American Indian culture and identity. They offer a means toward understanding this complex process and provide a new window on Indian-white interactions.
Part I: Staging the Indian
1. The “Shy” Cocopa Go to the Fair, Nancy J. Parezo and John W. Troutman
2. Command Performances: Staging Native Americans at Tillicum Village, Katie N. Johnson and Tamara Underiner
3. Savage Desires: The Gendered Construction of the American Indian in Popular Media, S. Elizabeth Bird
4. “Beyond Feathers and Beads”: Interlocking Narratives in the Music and Dance of Tokeya Inajin (Kevin Locke), Pauline Tuttle
Part II: Marketing the Indian
5. “The Idea of Help”: White Women Reformers and the Commercialization of Native American Women’s Arts, Erik Trump
6. Saving the Pueblos: Commercialism and Indian Reform in the 1920s, Carter Jones Meyer
7. Marketing Traditions: Cherokee Basketry and Tourist Economies, Sarah H. Hill
8. Crafts, Tourism, and Traditional Life in Chiapas, Mexico: A Tale Related by a Pillowcase, Chris Goertzen
Sherman Alexie is, by many accounts, the most widely read American Indian writer in the United States and likely in the world. A literary polymath, Alexie's nineteen published books span a variety of genres and include his most recent National Book Award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Now, for the first time, a volume of critical essays is devoted to Alexie's work both in print and on the big screen. Editors Jeff Berglund and Jan Roush have assembled twelve leading scholars of American Indian literature to provide new perspectives on a writer with his finger on the pulse of America.
Interdisciplinary in their approach to Alexie's work, these essays cover the writer's entire career, and are insightful and accessible to scholars and lay readers alike. This volume is a worthy companion to the work of one of our nations's most recognized contemporary voices.
Although American Indian poetry is widely read and discussed, few resources have been available that focus on it critically. This book is the first collection of essays on the genre, bringing poetry out from under the shadow of fiction in the study of Native American literature.
Speak to Me Words is a stimulating blend of classic articles and original pieces that reflect the energy of modern American Indian literary studies. Highlighting various aspects of poetry written by American Indians since the 1960s, it is a wide-ranging collection that balances the insights of Natives and non-Natives, men and women, old and new voices. Included here are such landmark articles as "Answering the Deer" by Paula Gunn Allen, "Herbs of Healing" by Carter Revard, and "Song, Poetry and Language—Expression and Perception" by Simon Ortiz—all pieces that have shaped how we think about Native poetry. Among the contributions appearing for the first time are Elaine Jahner writing on Paula Gunn Allen's use of formal structures; Robert Nelson addressing pan-Indian tropes of emergence, survival, return, and renewal; and Janet McAdams focusing on Carter Revard's "angled mirrors." Although many Native writers may disregard distinctions between genres, together these writings help readers see the difference between American Indian poetry and other forms of Native literature.
These essays are as broad, encompassing, and provocative as Native poetry itself, branching off from and weaving back into one another. In showing how American Indian poetry redefines our social order and articulates how Indian communities think about themselves, these writers establish a new foundation for the study—and enjoyment—of this vital art.
With the recently-published The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, Joy Harjo has emerged as one of the most powerful Native American voices of her generation. Over the past two decades, Harjo has refined and perfected a unique poetic voice that speaks her multifaceted experience as Native American, woman and Westerner in twentieth-century society.
The Spiral of Memory gathers the conversations in which Harjo has articulated her singular yet universal perspective on the world and her poetry. She reflects upon the nuances and development of her art, the importance of her origins, the arduous reconstruction of the tribal past, the dramatic confrontation between Native American and Anglo civilizations, the existential and artistic itinerary through present-day America, and other provocative and profoundly human themes.
Joy Harjo is the author of several volumes of poetry. She received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Before Columbus Foundation, and the Poetry Society of America. She is Professor of English, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Laura Coltelli is Associate Professor of American Literature, University of Pisa.
Twenty-one leading American Indian poets discuss the role of Native American culture in their work, the forces that shape contemporary Native American poetry, and the prospects of that poetry's surviving as a form apart from the poetry of the dominant culture.
What might be gained from reading Native literatures from global rather than exclusively local perspectives of Indigenous struggle? In Trans-Indigenous, Chadwick Allen proposes methodologies for a global Native literary studies based on focused comparisons of diverse texts, contexts, and traditions in order to foreground the richness of Indigenous self-representation and the complexity of Indigenous agency.
Through demonstrations of distinct forms of juxtaposition—across historical periods and geographical borders, across tribes and nations, across the Indigenous–settler binary, across genre and media—Allen reclaims aspects of the Indigenous archive from North America, Hawaii, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Australia that have been largely left out of the scholarly conversation. He engages systems of Indigenous aesthetics—such as the pictographic discourse of Plains Indian winter counts, the semiotics of Navajo weaving, and Maori carving traditions, as well as Indigenous technologies like large-scale North American earthworks and Polynesian ocean-voyaging waka—for the interpretation of contemporary Indigenous texts. The result is a provocative reorienting of the call for Native intellectual, artistic, and literary sovereignty that fully prioritizes the global Indigenous.
Part historical narrative, part textual analysis, this book traces the development of American Indian literature from the seventeenth century to the eve of the Civil War. Bernd C. Peyer focuses on the lives and writings of four prominent Indian missionaries—Samson Occom of the Mohegans, William Apess of the Pequots, Elias Boudinot of the Cherokees, and George Copway of the Ojibwa—each of whom struggled to negotiate a secure place between the imperatives of colonial rule and the rights of native peoples. In the view of the English colonists and their descendants, Indian converts to Christianity were expected to repudiate native traditions and affirm the superiority of European civilization, to serve as role models, and to spread the gospel far into the wilderness. Yet as Bernd C. Peyer shows, Indian missionaries did not always fulfill the expectations of those who trained them. Once the Indians recognized that conversion alone did not guarantee protection from discrimination, they devised a variety of strategies, theological as well as practical, to resist assimilation into the dominant white culture. Making effective use of their literacy and education, they called attention to the discrepancy between the Protestant ideals they had been taught and the Anglo-American practices to which native people were subjected. By uncovering this subtext of dissent and resistance, Peyer at once alters and enriches our understanding of the evolution of the American Indian literary tradition.
Throughout the nineteenth century, Native and non-Native women writers protested U.S. government actions that threatened indigenous people’s existence. The conventional genres they sometimes adopted—the sensationalistic captivity narrative, sentimental Indian lament poetry, didactic assimilation fiction, and the mass-circulated commercial magazine—typically had been used to reinforce the oppressive policies of removal, war, and allotment.
But in Unconventional Politics Janet Dean explores how four authors, Sarah Wakefield, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, the Muscogee/Creek S. Alice Callahan, and the Cherokee Ora V. Eddleman, converted these frameworks to serve a politics of dissent. Intervening in current debates in feminist and Native American literary criticism, Dean shows how these women advocated for Native Americans by both politicizing conventional literature and employing literary skill to respond to national policy. Dean argues that in protesting U.S. Indian policy through popular genres, Wakefield, Sigourney, Callahan, and Eddleman also critiqued cultural protocols and stretched the contours of accepted modes of feminine discourse. Their acts of improvisation and reinvention tell a new story about the development of American women’s writing and political expression.
An exploration of the literature, history, and culture of people of mixed African American and Native American descent, When Brer Rabbit Meets Coyote is the first book to theorize an African-Native American literary tradition. In examining this overlooked tradition, the book prompts a reconsideration of interracial relations in American history and literature.
Jonathan Brennan, in a sweeping historical and analytical introduction to this collection of essays, surveys several centuries of literature in the context of the historical and cultural exchange and development of distinct African-Native American traditions. Positing a new African-Native American literary theory, he illuminates the roles subjectivity, situational identities, and strategic discourse play in defining African-Native American literatures.
Brennan provides a thorough background to the literary tradition and a valuable overview to topics discussed in the essays. He examines African-Native American political and historical texts, travel narratives, and the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, suggesting that this evolving oral tradition parallels the development of numerous Black Indian literary traditions in the United States and Latin America.
This provocative collection of essays reveals the passionate voice of a Native American feminist intellectual. Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, a poet and literary scholar, grapples with issues she encountered as a Native American in academia. She asks questions of critical importance to tribal people: who is telling their stories, where does cultural authority lie, and most important, how is it possible to develop an authentic tribal literary voice within the academic community?
In the title essay, “Why I Can’t Read Wallace Stegner,” Cook-Lynn objects to Stegner’s portrayal of the American West in his fiction, contending that no other author has been more successful in serving the interests of the nation’s fantasy about itself. When Stegner writes that “Western history sort of stopped at 1890,” and when he claims the American West as his native land, Cook-Lynn argues, he negates the whole past, present, and future of the native peoples of the continent. Her other essays include discussion of such Native American writers as Michael Dorris, Ray Young Bear, and N. Scott Momaday; the importance of a tribal voice in academia, the risks to American Indian women in current law practices, the future of Indian Nationalism, and the defense of the land.
Cook-Lynn emphasizes that her essays move beyond the narrowly autobiographical, not just about gender and power, not just focused on multiculturalism and diversity, but are about intellectual and political issues that engage readers and writers in Native American studies. Studying the “Indian,” Cook-Lynn reminds us, is not just an academic exercise but a matter of survival for the lifeways of tribal peoples. Her goal in these essays is to open conversations that can make tribal life and academic life more responsive to one another.
In Writing Home, Michael Wilson demonstrates that the use of acceptable Western literary forms by indigenous peoples, while sometimes effective, has frequently distorted essential truths about their cultures. Sermons, for instance, have provided some indigenous authors with a means to criticize colonialism; but ultimately this institutional form, by its very nature, expresses a hierarchical relationship between Christian religions and indigenous beliefs and practices. Similarly, autobiographies are useful vehicles for explaining the cultural practices of a particular tribal group—or personalizing the destructive forces of colonialism—yet the autobiographical form itself suggests an ethos of individualism entirely contrary to a vision of communal identity central to many indigenous groups. Short fiction and novels are often built around conflict. Although indigenous writers have used this thematic approach with considerable artistry to express the clash between indigenous societies and the forces of colonialism, for many indigenous people the idea of conflict as the basis of cultural expression may be antithetical to a relational, perhaps familial, attitude toward the world and other people.
Writing Home explores the ways that indigenous writers use ideas and structures from primarily oral traditions to resist, for example, colonial metanarratives that legitimize and even demand the disappearance of indigenous peoples—Manifest Destiny, Social Darwinism, and the inevitable plight of the tragic "mixed blood." To this end, Wilson examines selected works by Mourning Dove (Humishuma), Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, Louise Erdrich, and Ray Young Bear. In the effort to create a mimetic form of representation that is appropriate to their cultures, these writers, Wilson finds, confront issues of authenticity, identity, and society. Ultimately, Wilson’s investigation reminds us of the difficulty and ingenuity required to rescue an authentic written representation of a culture from the distortions caused by the colonialist’s "accepted" representational structures.
The Yaqui warrior is a persistent trope of the Mexican nation. But using fresh eyes to examine Yoeme indigeneity constructs, appropriations, and efforts at reclamation in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Mexican and Chicana/o literature provides important and vivid new opportunities for understanding. In Yaqui Indigeneity, Ariel Zatarain Tumbaga offers an interdisciplinary approach to examining representations of the transborder Yaqui nation as interpreted through the Mexican and Chicana/o imaginary.
Tumbaga examines colonial documents and nineteenth-century political literature that produce a Yaqui warrior mystique and reexamines the Mexican Revolution through indigenous culture. He delves into literary depictions of Yaqui battalions by writers like Martín Luis Guzmán and Carlos Fuentes and concludes that they conceal Yaqui politics and stigmatize Yaqui warriorhood, as well as misrepresent frequently performed deer dances as isolated exotic events.
Yaqui Indigeneity draws attention to a community of Chicana/o writers of Yaqui descent: Chicano-Yaqui authors such as Luis Valdez, Alma Luz Villanueva, Miguel Méndez, Alfredo Véa Jr., and Michael Nava, who possess a diaspora-based indigenous identity. Their writings rebut prior colonial and Mexican depictions of Yaquis—in particular, Véa’s La Maravilla exemplifies the new literary tradition that looks to indigenous oral tradition, religion, and history to address questions of cultural memory and immigration.
Using indigenous forms of knowledge, Tumbaga shows the important and growing body of literary work on Yaqui culture and history that demonstrates the historical and contemporary importance of the Yaqui nation in Mexican and Chicana/o history, politics, and culture.