The Columbia Guide to American Indian Literatures of the United States Since
1945

The Columbia Guide to American Indian Literatures of the United States Since 1945

Edited by Eric Cheyfitz
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 448
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/chey11764
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  • Book Info
    The Columbia Guide to American Indian Literatures of the United States Since 1945
    Book Description:

    The Columbia Guide to American Indian Literatures of the United States Since 1945 is the first major volume of its kind to focus on Native literatures in a postcolonial context. Written by a team of noted Native and non-Native scholars, these essays consider the complex social and political influences that have shaped American Indian literatures in the second half of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on core themes of identity, sovereignty, and land.

    In his essay comprising part I of the volume, Eric Cheyfitz argues persuasively for the necessary conjunction of Indian literatures and federal Indian law from Apess to Alexie. Part II is a comprehensive survey of five genres of literature: fiction (Arnold Krupat and Michael Elliott), poetry (Kimberly Blaeser), drama (Shari Huhndorf), nonfiction (David Murray), and autobiography (Kendall Johnson), and discusses the work of Vine Deloria Jr., N. Scott Momaday, Joy Harjo, Simon Ortiz, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Sherman Alexie, among many others. Drawing on historical and theoretical frameworks, the contributors examine how American Indian writers and critics have responded to major developments in American Indian life and how recent trends in Native writing build upon and integrate traditional modes of storytelling.

    Sure to be considered a groundbreaking contribution to the field, The Columbia Guide to American Indian Literatures of the United States Since 1945 offers both a rich critique of history and a wealth of new information and insight.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51102-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editor’s Introduction
    (pp. vii-x)

    European settlers built the post–1492 Americas on stolen Indian land with stolen African and Indian labor. The very European name “Americas” marks the moment of the beginning of this institutional theft. The United States is no exception. Where the Spanish invaded and settled in North America, stolen Native land and labor were part and parcel of the same violent movement to dominate Native territory and labor through a system of encomiendas and repartimiento (Weber 124–26; citations in this introduction can be found in “Works Cited” at the end of part I).¹ The Catholic Church joined the state in...

  4. Part I
    • The (Post)Colonial Construction of Indian Country: U.S. American Indian Literatures and Federal Indian Law
      (pp. 1-124)
      Eric Cheyfitz

      This essay proposes to articulate the field of American Indian literatures of the United States within a political-historical context that could be termed “(post)colonial.” I place the “post” in parentheses to register the particularity of the ongoing colonial regime in Indian country, where Native citizens of the United States are simultaneously colonized citizens of Indian nations.

      In my understanding, postcolonial studies, operating for the most part within the theoretical sphere of postmodernism/poststructuralism, take as their proper field the histories of European imperialisms, manifested both in colonial situations since the onset of modern globalization in 1492 and, where applicable, in the...

  5. Part II
    • 1. American Indian Fiction and Anticolonial Resistance
      (pp. 127-182)
      Arnold Krupat and Michael A. Elliott

      Just as the usual dates (1620, 1776, 1865, 1914, etc.) and categories (Colonial Era, Age of Revolution, Transcendentalism, Age of Realism, etc.) conventionally used to periodize the literature of the United States are not particularly useful for framing Native American literature, so too 1945 is not a date especially important to Native American fiction—if taken as opening a period labeled “Fiction Since World War II.” Considered, however, as a benchmark for acts of resistance on the part of colonized peoples, particularly in Africa and South Asia, that would lead to national independence and an end to direct colonial oppression,...

    • 2. Cannons and Canonization: American Indian Poetries Through Autonomy, Colonization, Nationalism, and Decolonization
      (pp. 183-287)
      Kimberly M. Blaeser

      As this quote from Maori educator Linda Tuhiwai Smith implies, the political reality of a people cannot but inform their art. It attests to the way any colonized people’s experience of imperialism and colonialism ultimately bleeds into the literature until the literature embodies each infected wound of truth. In the twentieth- and twenty-first-century “word wars” that Anishinaabe writer and scholar Gerald Vizenor claims have replaced military conflicts, Smith sees how the awareness of the colonial intention enacted in “research” inevitably gives rise to poetry.¹ The poetry of Native America has long been linked to the history of this continent, and...

    • 3. American Indian Drama and the Politics of Performance
      (pp. 288-318)
      Shari Huhndorf

      In December 1829, John Augustus Stone’s Metamora; or, the Last of the Wampanoags made its debut at the Park Theatre in New York, and its opening constituted a watershed in the history of the American stage. Metamora became the most celebrated melodrama about Indians in the nineteenth century; within a few years, it had been produced hundreds of times in major cities across the United States, and its success created a theatrical trend that generated dozens of plays with Indian themes in the following decades. Metamora popularized the tragedy of the “vanishing race,” of Indians’ euphemistic “disappearance” from the U.S....

    • 4. Sovereignty and the Struggle for Representation in American Indian Nonfiction
      (pp. 319-356)
      David Murray

      “In the early days we bent over backwards to accommodate the whites. Ultimately, however, our efforts proved dista yohi, because tlunh tlunh yunh. Ani yosgi unaduli squatsi, ola yadi! Da n’tunh sga, na?” So begins an essay by the contemporary Cherokee artist and writer Jimmie Durham. “Don’t worry,” he continues, “I’m a good Indian. I’m from the West, love nature and have a special intimate connection with the environment.”¹ Durham is addressing and acting out a major theme in American Indian nonfiction writings, which is the difficulty of audience, and of speaking or writing in a context in which presuppositions...

    • 5. Imagining Self and Community in American Indian Autobiography
      (pp. 357-410)
      Kendall Johnson

      Because autobiography wrestles with how to represent the self through writing, it is a particularly apt genre through which to understand the dynamics of Native peoples’ resistance to the powerful legal fictions of U.S. colonialism. From its inception, the United States has attempted to define “the Indian” in order to control land and natural resources through the jurisdictional cornerstone of property, denying legibility to Native communities or overseeing tribal governance through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Native autobiographers have responded by manipulating rhetorics of blood and nation, of land and property, and of literacy and law, presenting their lives...

  6. Contributors
    (pp. 411-412)
  7. Index
    (pp. 413-438)