Magazine article World Literature Today

A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast

Magazine article World Literature Today

A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast

Article excerpt

A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast. Ed. Marcia Haag. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. 2016. 327 pages.

In the introduction to this collection, editor Marcia Haag displays intimate awareness while skillfully articulating the complexities of Native American survivance in the southeastern US. Including work from the Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw, Yuchi, Cherokee, Koasati (Coushatta), Atakapa-Ishak, Catawba, and Houma, this comprehensive collection contains essays, folktales, hymns, creation myths, prophecies, and more-both from members of tribes forcibly displaced by relocation and those who remained hidden within their ancestral homelands. The editor explains, "In apprehending the literary traditions of the Southeast peoples, we need to take account of the long shared history of these peoples with European and later American whites, beginning before whites represented as profound a threat as they would prove to be."

The book does not follow a template; storytellers and essayists were not given a theme or prompt. Each included tribe followed its own criteria, editing and deciding which works would be included. The introductions are deeply thoughtful and firmly rooted in the present, written by scholars and community members. These are stories told among the people; they were not conceived for publication of any kind. The author acknowledges this may challenge some readers' preconceptions, describing her collection by quoting Craig Womack, who argued for Native literature to allow for "Indians doing it their own way."

Offering a careful balance of traditional and new work, the text is enriched by English and Native-language versions for five of the seven language bases included. …

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