The Old Lady Trill, the Victory Yell: The Power of Women in Native American Literature

Synopsis

From warrior women to female deities who control the cycle of live, female characters in Native American literature exhibit a social and spiritual empowerment that is quite different from the average Pocahontas or squaw we are used to seeing in mainstream literature. This work argues that a tribal construct of gender relations, where the relationship between male and female roles is complementary rather than hierarchical, accounts for the existence of these empowered female characters in Native American literature. Focusing on the work of four of the twentieth century's most famous Native American authors, Zitkala-Sa, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdich and Sherman Alexie, Hollrah suggests that is important to evaluate Native American literary female characters in a cultural paradigm that is less Euro-American and more compatible to the complementary of Native American culture.