Tribal Theory in Native American Literature: Dakota and Haudenosaunee Writing and Indigenous Worldviews

Tribal Theory in Native American Literature: Dakota and Haudenosaunee Writing and Indigenous Worldviews

Tribal Theory in Native American Literature: Dakota and Haudenosaunee Writing and Indigenous Worldviews

Tribal Theory in Native American Literature: Dakota and Haudenosaunee Writing and Indigenous Worldviews

Synopsis

Scholars and readers continue to wrestle with how best to understand and appreciate the wealth of oral and written literatures created by the Native communities of North America. Are critical frameworks developed by non-Natives applicable across cultures, or do they reinforce colonialist power and perspectives? Is it appropriate and useful to downplay tribal differences and instead generalize about Native writing and storytelling as a whole? Focusing on Dakota writers and storytellers, Seneca critic Penelope Myrtle Kelsey offers a penetrating assessment of theory and interpretation in indigenous literary criticism in the twenty-first century. Tribal Theory in Native American Literature delineates a method for formulating a Native-centered theory or, more specifically, a use of tribal languages and their concomitant knowledges to derive a worldview or an equivalent to Western theory that is emic to indigenous worldviews. These theoretical frameworks can then be deployed to create insightful readings of Native American texts. Kelsey demonstrates this approach with a fresh look at early Dakota writers, including Marie McLaughlin, Charles Eastman, and Zitkala-Ša and later storytellers such as Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Ella Deloria, and Philip Red Eagle. This book raises the provocative issue of how Native languages and knowledges were historically excluded from the study of Native American literature and how their encoding in early Native American texts destabilized colonial processes. Cogently argued and well researched, Tribal Theory in Native American Literature sets an agenda for indigenous literary criticism and invites scholars to confront the worlds behind the literatures that they analyze.

Excerpt

Language lies at the core of the study of all literatures, and Indigenous languages—whether visibly present or no—influence the composition and worldviews of all tribal texts. Historian Angela Cavender Wilson observes that “our language and the stories perpetuated within that language are not only about telling stories that have some historical data, they are about the perpetuation of a worldview that has its own distinct theories about the past and its significance to the Dakota of today and tomorrow…. Language, stories, and epistemology are connected to who we are and where we will go in the future.” Underpinning these languages are unique tribal knowledges, epistemology, and philosophy, and Indigenous writers repeatedly and mindfully invoke and deploy these tribal worldviews in their English, French, Spanish, and tribal language publications. These worldviews and their theoretical bases become vehicles for Indigenous resurgence, resistance, and survival; they are tribal theory.

In her 1992 novel Almanac of the Dead, Laguna Pueblo author Leslie Marmon Silko places the story of a book, an almanac in the tradition of the Mayan codices, its prophecies, and its tribal . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.