Native Americans - Lost and Found ; Books by and about Native Americans Measure What Has Been Lost - and Detail the Signs of a Revival

By Knickerbocker, Brad | The Christian Science Monitor, August 23, 2005 | Go to article overview

Native Americans - Lost and Found ; Books by and about Native Americans Measure What Has Been Lost - and Detail the Signs of a Revival


Knickerbocker, Brad, The Christian Science Monitor


In recent years, there has been a growing body of exceptional literature and other works written by native Americans. In his novel "Fools Crow," novelist James Welch (of Blackfoot and Gros Ventre descent) depicted the history and heart of Indian life in the 1870s as "Dances With Wolves" never could.

Leslie Marmon Silko (who grew up on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation and won a MacArthur "genius" grant for "Ceremony," her first work) told a haunting, mythic tale of North American history - past and future - in "Almanac of the Dead."

In "Medicine River" and "Green Grass, Running Water," Thomas King portrayed contemporary Indian characters - especially their wry humor - with exceptional skill.

Not yet 40, Sherman Alexie Jr., a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, has published 16 books of award-winning poetry and short stories, one of which ("Smoke Signals") became a film featured at the Sundance Film Festival.

Like most of those who identify themselves as native American, Mr. King, a professor of English at the University of Guelph in Ontario, is of mixed heritage. His father was Cherokee, his mother Greek and German. But his stories - and especially his way of telling stories - are distinctly native American.

Does the Adam and Eve story in Genesis make any more sense than "The Woman Who Fell From the Sky?" Is it any more legitimate as a creation story? Listening to King tell it - and here one feels that one is listening, not reading - one can only answer, "Who cares?"

For, as he writes, "contained within creation stories are relationships that help to define the nature of the universe and how cultures understand the world in which they exist." Those stories aren't all traditional, involving the trickster "Coyote" and other animal characters.

They include, as King notes, "stories about broken treaties, residential schools, culturally offensive movies, the appropriation of Native names, symbols, and motifs."

But in the end, the main story in his latest work, "The Truth About Stories," is King's own story: what it's like and what it means to be an Indian (or more accurately, choosing to identify most closely with one's Indian lineage) in a place where that still is not a very easy thing.

Fortunately, King tells his story with the same soulful wit he employs in his fiction - moving within sight of cynicism sometimes but not dwelling there.

Likewise with Winona LaDuke, whose father was Ojibwe. With a degree from Harvard in economic development, she moved some 20 years ago to the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota where she's been a writer, activist, and mother of three children.

(She was also Ralph Nader's running mate in the 1996 and 2000 presidential election.)

Her most recent book, "Recovering the Sacred," explores the connection between the loss of what had been considered "holy land" by Indian groups and the environmental degradation that ensued. Along with the plundering of Indian human remains and funerary items by museums and private collectors, there's been the slaughter of buffalo, the decimation of salmon runs, the strip mining of coal and drilling for oil.

To be sure, there's been economic poverty as a result. But the loss of cultural and spiritual identity may have brought a deeper sort of poverty.

"We have a problem of two separate spiritual paradigms and one dominant culture," she writes. "Make that a dominant culture with an immense appetite for natural resources. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Native Americans - Lost and Found ; Books by and about Native Americans Measure What Has Been Lost - and Detail the Signs of a Revival
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.