Dreams of Fiery Stars: The Transformations of Native American Fiction

Dreams of Fiery Stars: The Transformations of Native American Fiction

Dreams of Fiery Stars: The Transformations of Native American Fiction

Dreams of Fiery Stars: The Transformations of Native American Fiction

Synopsis

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Book for 1999

The book focuses on the agenda of social and cultural regeneration encoded in contemporary Native American narrative, and addresses key questions about how these works achieve their overtly stated political and revisionary aims. Rainwater explores the ways in which the writers "create" readers who understand the connection between storytelling and personal and social transformation; considers how contemporary Native American narrative rewrites Western notions of space and time; examines the existence of intertextual connections between Native American works; and looks at the vital role of Native American literature in mainstream society today.

Excerpt

Ruth Tate … had also visited Horse and said she remembered
a dream of fiery stars that fell to earth and when they landed,
everything burned.

In Linda Hogan’s novel, Mean Spirit (1990), a character dreams of “fiery stars” that fall to earth and terminate more than five hundred years of Euro-American domination. Other contemporary Indian authors, perhaps most notably Leslie Marmon Silko in Almanac of the Dead (1991), refer frequently to various tribal prophecies predicting the restoration of the “old world.” I borrow Hogan’s phrase for the title of this study—Dreams of Fiery Stars: The Transformations of Native American Fiction—because it concerns the counter-colonial, world-transformative efforts of writers such as Hogan. Over the past three decades, an ever-increasing number of American Indian authors have written themselves into the discourse of the dominant society and encoded it with alternative notions of what it means to inhabit the earth as human beings. These writers dream of nothing less than revision of contemporary reality, beginning with its representation in art. I will argue that in their semiotic re-creation of the world, Native American artists are also “reinventing” tribal people following their long consignment to silence and stereotypical representation within mainstream culture.

According to anthropologist Michael J. Fischer, “the newer works” of American ethnic literature lead us to see that “ethnicity is … reinvented and reinterpreted in each generation by each individual.” Likewise, in the introduction to a collection of essays on ethnicity and identity, Werner Sollors notes the frequent use of the . . .

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