Earthdivers was first published in 1981. In traditional tribal creation myths, the earthdiver brings up dirt from the primal water to form the earth. The contemporary earthdivers in this collection of stories are mixed bloods, in the author’s words “the mournful and whimsical heirs and survivors from that premier union between the daughters of the woodland shamans and white fur traders.” Now they dive in unknown urban areas connecting dreams to earth in the same way that these stories connect metaphor to realities. The characters presented here are funny, bawdy, charming, and sad. Mouse Proof Martin earned his name from the first words of English he learned sitting under the organ in a federal boarding school; Captain Shammer, a larger-than-life tribal trickster, served as chairman of, then auctioned off, the department of American Indian studies at a large university; Touch Tone is best known for his long-distance phone calls back to the reservation; thirteen-year-old Dane Michael White was held in jail for 41 days before hanging himself on a shower rod. Characters and events, real and imagined, float across time and space. Puns, word plays, and a wild imagination in the tradition of the tribal trickster creates a magical world that defies analysis but offers perceptive insights into modern tribal culture. Scholars have defined Indian identities that are meaningful to outsiders but they are unable to explain the intuitive oral tradition of tribal consciousness. These stories attempt to convey a sense of that tradition.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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