Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women

Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women

Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women

Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women


The fifteen Native women writers in Reckonings document transgenerational trauma, yet they also celebrate survival. Their stories are vital testaments of our times. Unlike most anthologies that present a single story from many writers, this volume offers a sampling of two to three stories by a select number of both famous and lesser known Native women writers in what is now the United States. Here you will find much-loved stories, many made easily accessible for the first time, and vibrant new stories by well-known contemporary Native American writers as well as fresh emergent voices. These stories share an understanding of Native women's lives in their various modes of loss and struggle, resistance and acceptance, and rage and compassion, ultimately highlighting the individual and collective will to endure against all odds. Reckonings features short stories by: Paula Gunn Allen, Kimberly M. Blaeser, Beth E. Brant, Anita Endrezze, Louise Erdrich, Diane Glancy, Reid Gomez, Janet Campbell Hale, Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, Misha Nogha, Beth H. Piatote, Patricia Riley, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Anna Lee Walters.


Stories create us. We create ourselves with
stories. Stories that our parents tell us
that our grandparents tell us, or that our
great-grandparents told us, stories that
reverberate through the web

Joy Harjo, interview with Angels Carabi
in The Spiral of Memory

The stories we hear and tell, those we inherit and those we generate, all shape who we are and who we might become. The stories in this collection will delight, confound, excite, and disturb you, fool you repeatedly, then coax you on. Grappling with Native American histories and contemporary realities, these stories document intergenerational suffering and celebrate survival. The protagonists, though inevitably wounded, do not fear struggle. Whether tracking a panther in hurricane country or escaping pursuers across an icy glacier, swimming upstream through grief or diving into the mysterious depths of a lake, their journeys traverse the depths of memory and the expanses of the heart. When Paula Gunn Allen’s character Joseph Joe riffs about the blues in the San Francisco Bay Area, we remember the Relocation Act of the 1950s that, with promises of employment and housing, displaced Native people from homelands to urban centers. When Patricia Riley’s Eddie T. surreptitiously teaches her granddaughter the old Tsalgi (Cherokee) ways in order not to offend her Christian daughter-in-law, we remember the missionary boarding school officials who stole Native children and force-fed them English, Christianity, and European American epistemologies so that when they returned home, they were strangers to their own families. When Louise Erdrich’s mysterious Fleur Pillager, betrayed by the selfishly brutal actions of yet another white man, is launched into radical trickster resistance, we remember the long trail of broken treaties. As these stories show, the past is alive in the present, carried on by memory, grit, and story.

What is it about these stories that is characteristic of Native American experiences? A way of perceiving the natural world, feeling connected to the land, rather than assuming dominion over it? Whether rejoicing or grieving, intuiting a small but meaningful place in the web of life? Affirming a connection to a home/land, a first language . . .

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