Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita Gonzaalez, and the Poetics of Culture

By MarÍa Eugenia Cotera | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

“All My Relatives Are Noble”
Recovering the Feminine in Waterlily

Deloria knew perfectly well what was expected of ethnographic writing,
and produced reams of it. But she was not at ease with it, and rebelled in
letter after letter. What a relaxation it must have been to speak of
Water-
lily and her family rather than of “Ego” and “his affines.” To be the om-
niscient author about and within her culture! … In
Waterlily, Deloria’s
presence could disappear among the People, an omniscient author within
and concealed by her culture, everywhere and nowhere.

SUSAN GARDNER, “THOUGH IT BROKE MY HEART …”

Through all the centuries of war and death and cultural and psychic de-
struction have endured the women who raise the children and tend the
fires, who pass along the tales and the traditions, who weep and bury the
dead, and who never forget. There are always the women, who make pots
and weave baskets, who fashion clothes and cheer their children on at pow-
wow, who make fry bread and piki bread, and corn soup and chili stew,
who dance and sing and remember and hold within their hearts the dream
of their ancient peoples—that one day the woman who thinks will speak to
us again, and everywhere there will be peace. Meanwhile we tell the stories
and write the books and trade tales of anger and woe and stories of fun and
scandal and laugh over all manner of things that happen every day. We
watch and we wait.

PAULA GUNN ALLEN, THE SACRED HOOP

In the summer of 1940, just six months before she began the process of transforming ten years of field notes into three separate manuscripts— The Dakota Way of Life, Speaking of Indians, and Waterlily—Ella Deloria found herself in Pembroke, North Carolina. She had been drawn there by the promise of six months of steady pay. Her assignment—under the joint

-145-

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Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita Gonzaalez, and the Poetics of Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Para Juan Javier v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Native Speakers xiii
  • Introduction - Writing in the Margins of the Twentieth Century 1
  • Part One - Ethnographic Meaning Making and the Politics of Differencee 23
  • Chapter 1 - Standing on the Middle Ground 41
  • Chapter 2 - "Lyin'' Up a Nation" 71
  • Chapter 3 - A Romance of the Border 103
  • Part Two - Re-Writing Culture 133
  • Chapter 4 - "All My Relatives Are Noble" 145
  • Chapter 5 171
  • Chapter 6 - Feminism on the Border 199
  • Epilogue - "What''s Love Got to Do with It?" toward a Passionate Praxis 225
  • Notes 233
  • Bibliography 259
  • Index 275
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