Native American Writing  book cover
1st Edition

Native American Writing

Edited By

A. Robert Lee

ISBN 9780415588959
Published June 12, 2011 by Routledge
1736 Pages

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Book Description

Co-published by Routledge and Edition Synapse

If white settlers landing in the New World brought with them smallpox, oppression, and Christianity, they also conveyed the cultural practice of writing. Adopters of this technology from within Native America and First Nations Canada began to adapt their own vast resources of spoken tribal literatures to this new mode—novels, stories, poetry, and drama, as well as autobiography. How did this sumptuous oral tradition, creation stories, coyote, and other trickster mythologies, a whole fund of story-telling humour, become scriptural, generating a proliferation of texts whose luminous modern authors include N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, Louise Erdrich, James Welch, Luci Tapahonso, Tom King and Beth Brant? More particularly, how have Native American writers understood and addressed fundamental issues such as: tribal identity; the politics of sovereignty and land claims; mixed-blood heritage; memory; and the issue of what Gerald Vizenor has notably called ‘survivance’? How, crucially, have they dealt with modernity? And how to account for their recent literary efflorescence?

As research on and around the literary output of Native Americans flourishes as never before, this new four-volume collection meets the need for an authoritative reference work to help users answer these and other questions, and generally to make sense of the subject’s vast literature and a continuing explosion in research output. Native American Writing is edited by a leading expert in Native and multicultural writing, A. Robert Lee, Professor of American Literature at Nihon University, Tokyo. His eagerly awaited collection is a wide-ranging compendium which brings together hard-to-find original works by Native writers themselves, as well as critical and learned analyses of their creative productions. Volume I opens with a sequence of Native American overviews (‘Momaday to Louis Owen’), followed by the most important critical theory dealing with ideology and custodianship. The volume also considers key notions such as the idea of the spoken inside the written word. Volume II looks first to accounts of Native autobiography, from the Pequot William Apess onwards, and also explores early modern writing, from the Paiute-raised Sarah Winnemucca and Creek poet and satirist, Alex Posey, to the Sioux Luther Standing Bear. Volume III focuses on modern Native fiction. The final volume in the collection addresses Native poetry and drama and First Nations authorship.

Native American Writing includes a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, which places the collected material in its historical and intellectual context, as well as detailed bibliographies, timelines, and lists of tribal groupings. It is an essential work of reference, destined to be especially valued by those with an interest in how indigenous writers have given literary imagination to their history in North America, Canada, and beyond.

Table of Contents

Volume I

Part 1: Native Literary Statements

1. N. Scott Momaday, ‘Man Made of Words’, in Abraham Chapman (ed.), American Indian Literature (New American Library, 1975), pp. 96–110.

2. Simon Ortiz, ‘Towards a National Indian Literature: Cultural Authenticity in Nationalism’, Melus, 1981, 8, 2, 7–12.

3. Leslie Marmon Silko, ‘Language and Literature From A Pueblo Indian Perspective’, in Philomena Mariani (ed.), Critical Fictions: The Politics of Imaginative Writing (Bay Press, 1991), pp. 83–93.

4. Louise Erdich, ‘Where I Ought To Be: A Writer’s Sense of Place’, New York Times Book Review, 28 July 1985.

5. Joy Harjo, ‘Ordinary Spirit’, in Brian Swann and Arnold Krupat (eds.), I Tell You Now: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers (University of Nebraska Press, 1987), pp. 265–70.

6. Gerald Vizenor, ‘Native American Indian Literature: Critical Metaphors of the Ghost Dance’, World Literature Today, 1992, 66, 2, 223–7.

7. Elizabeth Cook Lynn, ‘The American Indian Fiction Writer: Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, The Third World, and First Nation Sovereignty’, Wicazo Sa Review, 1993, 9, 2, 26–36.

8. Jack D. Forbes, ‘Intellectual Self-Determination and Sovereignty: Implications for Native Studies and Native Intellectuals’, Wicazo Sa Review, 1998, 13, 1, 11–23.

Part 2: Overviews

9. William Bevis, ‘Native American Novels: Homing In’, in Brian Swann and Arnold Krupat (eds.), Recovering the Word: Essays in Native American Literature (University of California Press, 1987), pp. 580–620.

10. Daniel F. Littlefield Jr., ‘American Indians, American Scholars and the American Literary Canon’, American Studies, 1992, 33, 65.

11. Arnold Krupat, ‘Postcolonialism, Ideology, and Native American Literature’, The Turn to the Native: Studies in Criticism and Culture (University of Nebraska Press, 1996), pp. 30–55.

12. Joe Lockard, ‘The Universal Hiawatha’, American Indian Quarterly, 2000, 24, 1, 110–25.

13. Sam Corrigan, ‘One People, Two Paths: Native Literature in the USA and Canada’, 2002 Sequoyah Research Center Symposium.

Part 3: Theory Perspectives

14. Arnold Krupat, ‘Local, National, Cosmopolitan Literature’, The Voice in the Margin: Native American Literature and the Canon (University of California Press, 1989), pp. 202–32.

15. Craig S. Womack, ‘Reading the Oral Tradition for Nationalist Themes: Beyond Ethnography’, Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism (University of Minnesota Press, 1999), pp. 51–67.

16. Elvira Pulitano, ‘Towards a Native American Critical Theory’, revised from ‘Introduction’, Toward a Native American Critical Theory (University of Nebraska Press, 2003).

Part 4: Oral Traditions and Legacies

17. Dell Hymes, ‘Discovering Oral Performance and Measured Verse in American Indian Narrative’, New Literary History, 1977, 8, 3, 431–57.

18. Kimberly M. Blaeser, ‘Trickster: A Compendium’, in Mark A. Lindquist and Martin Zanger (eds.), Buried Roots and Indestructible Seeds (University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), pp. 47–65.

Volume II

Part 5: Selected Autobiographical Studies

19. William F. Smith Jr., ‘American Indian Autobiographies’, American Indian Quarterly, 1975, 2, 3, 237–45.

20. David Murray, ‘From Speech to Text: The Making of American Indian Autobiographies’, in Ian F. A. Bell and D. K. Adams (eds.), American Literary Landscapes: The Fiction and the Fact (Vision Press, 1988), pp. 29–43.

21. A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff, ‘Three Nineteenth-Century American Indian Autobiographers: William Apes, George Copway, and Sarah Winnemucca’, in A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff and Jerry W. Ward, Jr. (eds.), Redefining American Literary History (Modern Language Association, 1990), pp. 251–69.

22. Helen Jaskoski, ‘Andrew Blackbird’s Smallpox Story’, in Alan R. Velie (ed.), Native American Perspectives on Literature and History (University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), pp. 26–35.

23. Donald B. Smith, ‘The Life of George Copway or Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh (1818–69)—And a Review of his Writings’, Journal of Canadian Studies, 1988, 23, 3, 5–38.

24. Malea Powell, ‘Imagining a New Indian: Listening to the Rhetoric of Survivance in Charles Eastman’s From Deep Woods to Civilization’, Paradoxa, 2001, 15, 211–26.

25. Bernd Peyer, ‘Samson Occom; Mohegan Missionary and Writer of the 18th Century’, American Indian Quarterly, 1982, 6, 208–17.

26. Ruth J. Heflin, ‘"As Long as You Think I Can’t, I Will Show You that I Can": Luther Standing Bear’s Quest for Honor’, ‘I Remain Alive’: The Sioux Literary Renaissance (Syracuse University Press, 2000), pp. 79–103.

Part 6: Modern Native Autobiographies

27. Matthias Schubnell, ‘Myths to Live By: The Names: A Memoir’, N. Scott Momaday: The Cultural and Literary Background (University of Oklahoma Press, 1985), pp. 167–88.

28. Kenneth Lincoln, ‘Grandmother Storyteller: Leslie Silko’, Native American Renaissance (University of California Press, 1983), pp. 222–84.

29. Richard Hutson, ‘"A Crossblood at the Scratch Line": Interior Landscapes’, in A. Robert Lee (ed.), Loosening the Seams: Interpretations of Gerald Vizenor (Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 2000), pp. 109–25.

Part 7: Early Modern Native American Writing

30. A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff, ‘Justice for Indians and Women: The Protest Fiction of Alice Callahan and Pauline Johnson’, World Literature Today, 1992, 66, 2, 249–55.

31. Susan Kalter, ‘John Joseph Mathews’ Reverse Ethnography: The Literary Dimensions of Wah’Kon-Tah’, SAIL, 2002, 14, 1, 26–50.

32. James Ruppert, ‘Textual Perspectives and the Reader in The Surrounded’, in Gerald Vizenor (ed.), Narrative Chance: Postmodern Discourse on Native American Indian Literatures (University of New Mexico Press, 1989), pp. 91–100.

33. Margaret A. Lukens, ‘Mourning Dove and Mixed Blood: Cultural and Historical Pressures on Aesthetic Choice and Authorial Identity’, American Indian Quarterly, 1997, 21, 3, 409–22.

34. Daniel F. Littlefield Jr., ‘Evolution of Alex Posey’s Fus Fixico Persona’, SAIL, 1992, 4, 136–44.

35. John Lowe, ‘"I AM JOAQUIN!": Space and Freedom in Yellow Bird’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, The Celebrated California Bandit’, in Helen Jaskoski (ed.), Native American Writing: New Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 104–21.

36. Jack L. Davis and June H. Davis, ‘Frank Waters and the Native American Consciousness’, Western American Literature, 1974, 9, 1, 33–44.

37. Andrew S. McClure, ‘Sarah Winnemucca: [Post]Indian Princess and Voice of the Paiutes’, MELUS, 1999, 24, 2, 29–51.

38. Dorothea M. Susag, ‘Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin): A Power(full) Literary Voice’, SAIL, 1993, 5, 4, 3–24.

Volume III

Part 8: Modern Native American Fiction

39. James H. Cox, ‘Muting White Noise: The Subversion of Popular Culture Narratives of Conquest in Sherman Alexie’s Fiction’, SAIL, 1997, 9, 4, 52–70.

40. Analouise Keating, ‘Back to the Mother? Paula Gunn Allen’s Origin Myths’, Women Reading Women Writing: Self-Invention in Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde (Temple University Press, 1996), pp. 93–117.

41. Ron Welburn, ‘The Indigenous Fiction of Joseph Bruchac and Robert J. Conley’, Roanoke and Wampum: Topics in Native American Heritage and Literature (Peter Lang, 2001), pp. 187–222.

42. Jesse Peters, ‘A Multitude of Routes, Roads and Paths: Transcultural Healing in A. A. Carr’s Eye Killers’, Paradoxa, 2001, 15, 184–97.

43. Page Rozelle, ‘The Teller and the Tale: History and Oral Tradition in Elizabeth Cook-Lynn’s Aurelia: A Crow Creek Trilogy’, American Indian Quarterly, 2001, 25, 2, 203–15.

44. Gordon Slethaug, ‘Multivocal Narration and Cultural Negotiation: Dorris’s A Yellow Raft in Blue Water and Cloud Chamber’, SAIL, 1999, 2, 1, 18–29.

45. Peter G. Beidler and Gay Barton, ‘Geography, Genealogy, and Chronology’, A Reader’s Guide to the Novels of Louise Erdrich (University of Missouri Press, 1999), pp. 9–46.

46. Amy Elias, ‘Fragments that Rune Up the Shores: Pushing The Bear, Coyote Aesthetics, and Recovered History’, Modern Fiction Studies, 1999, 45, 1, 185–211.

47. Catherine Rainwater, ‘Intertextual Twins and their Relations: Linda Hogan’s Mean Spirit and Solar Storms’, Modern Fiction Studies, 1999, 45, 1, 93–113.

48. James Ruppert, ‘Intricate Patterns of the Universe: House Made of Dawn’, Mediation in Contemporary Native Fiction (University of Oklahoma Press, 1995), pp. 36–55.

49. Jane Haladay, ‘Solemn Laughter: Humor as Subversion and Resistance in the Literature of Simon Ortiz and Carter Revard’, Paradoxa, 2001, 15, 114–31.

50. David Brande, ‘Not the Call of the Wild: Louis Owens’s Wolfsong and Mixedblood Messages’, American Indian Quarterly, 2000, 24, 2, 247–63.

51. Michelle Burnham, ‘Pomo Basketweaving, Poison, and the Politics of Restoration in Greg Sarris’s Grand Avenue’, SAIL, 2002, 14, 4, 18–36.

52. Denise K. Cimmings, ‘"Settling History": Understanding Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Storyteller, Almanac of the Dead, and Garden in the Dunes’, SAIL, 2000, 12, 4, 65.

53. Robert Dale Parker, ‘The Reinvention of Restless Young Men: Storytelling and Poetry in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony and Thomas King’s Medicine River’, The Invention of Native American Literature (Cornell University Press, 2003), pp. 128–67.

54. Sherry Cook Stanforth, ‘Orature and Whole Vision in Seven Arrows’, MELUS, 1996, 21, 2, 107–22.

55. A. Robert Lee, ‘Gerald Vizenor: Postindian Gamester’, in David Seed (ed.), A Companion to Twentieth-Century Fiction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 505–13.

56. Rebecca Tillett, ‘"Resting in Peace, Not Pieces": The Concerns of the Living Dead in Anna Lee Walters’s Ghost Singer’ (new for this collection).

57. Robert Franklin Gish, ‘The Word Medicine of James Welch’, Beyond Bounds: Cross-Cultural Essays on Anglo, American Indian, and Chicano Literature (University of New Mexico Press, 1996), pp. 56–85.

Volume IV

Part 9: Native American Poetry

58. Brian Swann, ‘Introduction: Only the Beginning’, in Duane Niatum (ed.), Harper’s Anthology of 20th-Century Native American Poetry (Harper & Row, 1988), pp. xiii–xxxii.

59. Elizabeth Hanson, ‘Shadows in Paula Gunn Allen’s "Shadow Country"’, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, 1994, 25, 2, 49–55.

60. A. Robert Lee, ‘Oklahoma International: Jim Barnes, Poetry, and the Sites of Imagination’, in A. Robert Lee (ed.), The Salt Companion to Jim Barnes (Salt Publishing, 2010), pp. 268–88.

61. Hans Bak, ‘Circles Blaze in Ordinary Days: Louise Erdrich’s Jacklight’, in Susan Castillo and Victor M. P. Da Rosa (eds.), Native American Women in Literature and Culture (Fernando Pessoa University Press, 1997), pp. 11–27.

62. Jennifer Andrews, ‘In the Belly of a Laughing God: Reading Humor and Irony in the Poetry of Joy Harjo’, American Indian Quarterly, 2000, 24, 2, 200–18.

63. Norma C. Wilson, ‘Translating the World: The Poetry of Linda Hogan’, The Nature of Native American Poetry (University of New Mexico Press, 2001), pp. 87–97.

64. Patrick Barron, ‘Maurice Kenny’s Tekonwatonti, Molly Brant: Poetic Memory and History’, MELUS, 2000, 25, 3/4, 31–64.

65. Carter Revard, ‘Does the Crow Fly? The Poems of Duane Niatum’, SAIL, 1983, 7, 1, 20–6.

66. Patricia Clark Smith, ‘Coyote Ortiz: Canis latrans latrans in the Poetry of Simon Ortiz’, in Paula Gunn Allen (ed.), Studies in American Indian Literature: Critical Essays and Course Designs (Modern Language Association, 1983), pp. 192–209.

67. A. Robert Lee, ‘Survivance Memories: The Poetry of Carter Revard’, in Gerald Vizenor (ed.), Survivance: Narratives of Native Presence (University of Nebraska Press, 2007), pp. 333–54.

68. Norma C. Wilson, ‘Nesting in the Ruins: The Poetry of Wendy Rose’, The Nature of Native American Poetry (University of New Mexico Press, 2001), pp. 99–107.

69. Gabrielle Welford, ‘Mary Tall Mountain’s Writing: Healing the Heart: Going Home’, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, 1994, 25, 1, 136–53.

70. Gretchen M. Bataille, ‘Luci Tapahonso A Navajo Voice in the Midwest’, in Susan Castillo and Victor M. P. Da Rosa (eds.), Native American Women in Literature and Culture (Fernando Pessoa University Press, 1997), pp. 77–86.

71. Robert Franklin Gish, ‘Listening to Ray A. Young Bear’, Beyond Bounds: Cross-Cultural Essays on Anglo, American Indian, and Chicano Literature (University of New Mexico Press, 1996), pp. 86–106.

72. Tom Lynch, ‘To Honor Impermanence: The Haiku and Other Poems of Gerald Vizenor’, in A. Robert Lee (ed.), Loosening The Seams: Interpretations of Gerald Vizenor (Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 2000), pp. 203–24.

73. Kenneth Lincoln, ‘Blackfeet Winter Blues’, in Ron McFarland (ed.), James Welch (Confluence Press, 1986), pp. 95–106.

Part 10: Native American Drama

74. Hanay L. Geiogamah, ‘The New Native American Theater’, in Andrew Wiget (ed.), Handbook of Native American Literature (Garland Publishing, 1994–6), pp. 377–81.

75. Jeffrey Huntsman, ‘Introduction’, in Hanay Geiogamah, New Native American Drama: Three Plays (University of Oklahoma Press, 1980), pp. ix–xxiv.

76. Phyllis Cole Braunlich, ‘The Oklahoma Plays of Lynn Riggs’, World Literature Today, 1990, 64, 3, 390–4.

Part 11: Selected First Nations/Canadian Writing

77. Robin McGrath and Penny Petrone, ‘Native Canadian Literature’, in Arnold E. Davidson (ed.), Studies on Canadian Literature: Introductory and Critical Essays (Modern Language Association, 1990), pp. 309–22.

78. Thomas King, ‘Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial’, World Literature Written in English, 1990, 30, 2, 10–16.

79. Noel Elizabeth Currie, ‘Jeannette Armstrong and the Colonial Legacy’, in W. H. New (ed.), Canadian Literature: Native Writers and Canadian Writing (University of British Columbia Press, 1990), pp. 138–52.

80. Margery Fee, ‘Upsetting Fake Ideas: Jeanette Armstrong’s "Slash" and Beatrice Culleton’s "April Raintree"’, in W. H. New (ed.), Canadian Literature: Native Writers and Canadian Writing (University of British Columbia Press, 1990), pp. 168–80.

81. Beth Brant, ‘Writing Life’, Writing as Witness: Essay and Talk (Women’s Press, 1994), pp. 105–38.

82. Helen Hoy, ‘"Nothing but the Truth": Discursive Transparency in Beatrice Culleton’, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, 1994, 25, 1, 155–84.

83. Denis W. Johnston, ‘Lines and Circles: The "Rez" Plays of Tomson Highway’, in W. H. New (ed.), Canadian Literature: Native Writers and Canadian Writing (University of British Columbia Press, 1990), pp. 254–64.

84. Stuart Christie, ‘"Time-Out": (Slam)Dunking Photographic Realism in Thomas King’s Medicine River’, SAIL, 1999, 11, 2, 51–65.

85. Dee Horne, ‘Listening to Silences’, Contemporary American Indian Writing: Unsettling Literature (Peter Lang, 1999), pp. 51–70.

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The Editor of this collection, A. Robert Lee, is a leading expert in the field. He is Professor of American Literature at Nihon University, Tokyo. His Multicultural American Literature: Comparative Black, Native, Latino/a and Asian American Fictions (2003) won the American Book Award in 2001 and his recent works include Modern American Counter Writing: Beats, Outriders, Ethnics (Routledge, 2010)


'Native American Writing by A. Robert Lee presents the creative, critical, and historical essence of contemporary continental literature, a generous, learned tour de force, and the very first comprehensive tour d'horizon of the literature of Native American Indians.'- Gerald Vizenor

'This is an outstanding collection of examples and discussions of Indigenous American literature in all its forms, from poetry to prose, life-writing to critical theory, Canada to Mexico and all points in between. Few scholars, if any, can match the breadth and depth of A. Robert Lee’s understanding of the Native American literary canon: the introductory essay on its own is a map that guides newcomers surefootedly through an often complex field. The selections include an impressive number of the most important essays from the past forty years of critical study in this area, and cover every major Native American and First Nations writer. This volume will be an essential component of any collection of Indigenous literary expression for a long time to come.'-James Mackay, European University, Cyprus