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VOLUME 17    NUMBER 3    FALL 2005

Studies in American Indian Literatures

EDITOR MALEA POWELL Michigan State University
Published by The University of Nebraska Press



vii From the Editor

1 Deflected Missives: Zitkala-Ša's Resistance and Its
27 (Re)Claiming America: Ortiz's After and Before the Lightning
48 The Trickster and World Maintenance: An Anishinaabe Reading
of Louise Erdrich's Tracks
67 Fighting for the Mother/Land: An Ecofeminist Reading of Linda
Hogan's Solar Storms
85 "Resting in Peace, Not in Pieces": The Concerns of the Living
Dead in Anna Lee Walters's Ghost Singer

115 Chinook Sad Song in Alaska
116 Mountain Islands from Sitka Shores


118 Joel Pfister. Individuality Incorporated: Indians and the
Multicultural Modern

120 Joy Porter. To Be Indian: The Life of Iroquois-Seneca Arthur
Caswell Parker

123 Rebecca C. Benes. Native American Picture Books of Change: The
Art of Historic Children's Edition

127 Judith A. Ranta. The Life and Writings of Betsey Chamberlain:
Native American Mill Worker

128 Chadwick Allen. Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American
Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts

133 Contributor Biographies
135 Major Tribal Nations and Bands


from the editor

aya aya niihkaania!

Every once in a while the degree to which those of us who work on sail are human, prone to errors and mistakes, shines more brightly than makes us comfortable. That was true in SAIL 17.1 (Spring 2005) when editors and copy-editors missed a glaring error in Scott Andrews's review of D. L. Birchfield's Field of Honor in which "Hirschfield" is substituted for "Birchfield" throughout the review. We deeply regret the error and apologize to both Dr. Andrews and Dr. Birchfield for any problems this may have caused.

Newii, Malea Powell


We are currently accepting applications for the position of Editor of SAIL. The duties of the editor are:

to oversee the content, production, and design of the journal;
to make decisions about the Editorial structure of the journal;
to appoint a new General Editor and new members of the Editorial Staff;
to negotiate with the University of Nebraska Press on behalf of the journal; and,


to represent the journal at professional conferences and in professional organizations affiliated with the study of American Indian literatures.
SAIL editors serve an initial five-year term (measured by journal issue/volume dates) with an option to an additional three-year term upon their request.
     Qualified candidates for the position will have a record of successful editorial experience (either with SAIL or in another scholarly capacity), a record of significant scholarly publications & presentations in the area of American Indian literatures, appropriate financial support from the their home institution (a letter of commitment to provide resources will be requested from all finalists), and other personal and professional qualities appropriate to the Editor of a scholarly journal.
     Application materials should include:
a letter of application detailing the candidate's experience and qualifications for the position,
a current curriculum vitae, and
contact information for two professional references (other than the current Editor and Editorial Staff) who can attest to the candidate's editorial qualifications.

Application materials should be clearly marked as "application for Editor" and sent directly to Malea Powell, Editor, Studies in American Indian Literatures, MSU-WRAC, 235 Bessey Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824-1033.
     Candidates will be screened by the current Editor with advice from the Editorial Staff; finalists for the position will be selected from this candidate pool. The new Editor will be appointed by the current Editor with advice from the entire Editorial staff of the journal, in consultation with the Executive Committee of ASAIL; however, the final appointment decision rests with the current Editor.
     Please direct questions about this position to Malea Powell at

*        *   ;       *



We are currently accepting applications for the position of Editorial Board Member for SAIL. The duties of an editorial board member are:

to assist the Editor in decisions about content, production and design of the journal;
to advise the Editor on Editorial Staff appointments;
to advise the Editor about Editorial structure changes for the journal;
to advise the Editor as s/he negotiates with the University of Nebraska Press;
and, to represent the journal at professional conferences and in professional organizations affiliated with the study of American Indian literatures.
Additionally, Editorial Board Members serve as regular manuscript reviewers for submissions to SAIL.
The Editorial Board meets with the Editor and the other Editorial Staff at least once a year, usually either at the MLA Convention or before the annual spring meeting of ASAIL.
     SAIL Editorial Board Members serve an initial five-year term (measured by journal issue/volume dates) with an option to an additional three-year term if desired by the Editor and the Editorial Staff.
     Qualified candidates for the position will have a record of editorial experience (either with SAIL or in another scholarly capacity) and/or a record of significant scholarly publications & presentations in the area of American Indian literatures as well as appropriate support from the their home institution (assurance that editorial board work will count for merit and promotion) and other personal and professional qualities appropriate to the Editor of a scholarly journal.
     Application materials should include:
a letter of application, detailing the candidate's experience and qualifications for the position,
a current curriculum vitae, and
contact information for two professional references (other than the current Editor and Editorial Staff) who can attest to the candidate's editorial/scholarly abilities.

Application materials should be clearly marked as "application for Editorial Board" and sent directly to Malea Powell, Editor, Studies in American Indian Literatures, MSU-WRAC, 235 Bessey Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824-1033.
     Candidates will be screened by the current Editor in consultation with the Editorial Staff and the Executive Committee of ASAIL; however, the final appointment decision rests with the current Editor.
     Please direct questions about this position to Malea Powell at

*        *   ;       *

  1.) Honoring the life and work of James Welch

Guest Editor: Kathryn Shanley
Deadline for submissions: November 15, 2005

Please send all queries and submissions (as per SAIL submission guidelines) to:
     Kathryn Shanley
     Dept. of English
     University of Montana-Missoula
     600 University Ave.,
     NAS 106 Missoula, MT 59812

     2.) On Indigenous Rhetorics

Guest Editors: Amanda Cobb and Scott R. Lyons
Deadline for submissions: December 1, 2005
We seek essays that examine the wide array of rhetorical practices in Native life and culture today, including rhetorical approaches to Native language use. How have Native peoples used language (even the "enemy's language") to promote their own sovereignty? How has Indian rhetoric enacted the larger goal of "self-determination"? How do Indigenous people work with, appropriate, resist, or redefine the descriptive language of others in order to construct their own identities, communities, cultures, and self-respect? What are the most important or contested rhetorical sites of power today, and how do they work? In short, how is tribal sovereignty made through discourse?
        Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • the writing of tribal law and traditional governance structures
  • the Native press
  • Indigenous philosophy and criticism
  • Indian civil rights discourse
  • rhetorics of "race," identity, and national citizenship in Indian country
  • film and popular culture
  • political speech and writing
  • rhetorics of the "everyday" (e.g., "rez life")
  • Indigenous feminist discourse
  • Native environmentalist rhetoric
  • nationalism and transnationalism

Please send all queries and submissions (as per SAIL submission guidelines) to:
     Amanda J. Cobb, Director
     Institute for American Indian Research
     Department of American Studies
     University of New Mexico
     Ortega Hall #310
     Albuquerque, NM 87131

     3.) On Pedagogy and American Indian Literatures

Guest Editors: Lynn Domina, Susan Gardner, Barbara J. Cook
Deadline for submissions: December 1, 2005

We invite submissions that directly address pedagogical questions in the teaching of Native American literatures.
     Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • methods of teaching individual texts, including recently published and other "less canonical" texts
  • teaching from oral traditions
  • strategies for inclusion of non-literary cultural and historical background materials, information, and resources
  • gender issues in the content and reception of particular texts;
  • religious identity and ceremony, including student response to critiques of Christianity
  • interdisciplinary courses with Native American content
  • teaching Native literatures in classrooms that include both Native and non-Native students
  • teaching Native literatures at colleges or universities that lack Native American Studies programs
  • meeting the particular needs of Native students
  • teaching Native American literatures internationally
  • research projects, student internships, and community-based learning projects that benefit Native communities
  • public school programs in Native American literatures

Please send all queries and submissions (as per SAIL submission guidelines) to all three editors:
     Lynn Domina,
     Susan Gardner,
     Barbara J. Cook,


Deflected Missives

Zitkala-Ša's Resistance and Its (Un)Containment


When Zitkala-Ša ascended the stage of the Indianapolis opera house to compete in the 1896 statewide oratorical contest, she may still have been questioning the good fortune that would soon allow her to argue for Indian rights in front of a large audience. The twenty-yearold Yankton Sioux might also have been exhausted from rewriting the speech that had unexpectedly won first place in Earlham College's oratorical contest about a month before. This first speech, entitled "Side by Side," supported women's suffrage, but Zitkala-Ša "rewrote her entire oration because she wished to talk upon the Indian question in the State Contest, and she had not expected to win in the College Contest her first year" (Dennis). According to American Indian scholar Deborah Welch, it was the second version of "Side by Side" that represented the start of Zitkala-Ša's political career. The "seeds of Zitkala-Ša, the fighter for Indian rights, are to be found in this early address on the essential humanity of Indian peoples" (Welch 11). Zitkala-Ša's career as an outspoken advocate may have begun in Indianapolis, but it was also here that her words were hobbled, first by an antagonistic crowd, then by an offended judge, and, still later, by biased reporting in the mainstream press.
         As Zitkala-Ša spoke, alternately praising and condemning Anglo-American civilization, several college students in attendance mocked her request for equality. She may have been too focused on her text, which reestablished the merit of her culture, to notice the banner raised by a rival university until after she delivered her speech. Perhaps it was when she lifted her eyes, about to let out a sigh of relief, {2} that she noticed "a large white flag, with a drawing of a most forlorn Indian girl [above] bold black letters [comprising] words that ridiculed . . . [her] college which was represented by a 'squaw'" (American Indian Stories 79). Earlham's newspaper records that the banner actually appeared before the contest began, suspended from a wire above an upper tier of boxes. While the students had prominently scrawled "conceit" across their depiction of frequent winner DePauw University, "Earlham was represented by an overdrawn caricature and 'Humility' [was] painted in large letters" ("Oratorical" 183).
         Her withdrawal from an audience she had sensed as hostile may have caused Zitkala-Ša not to see the disparaging caricature: "The slurs against the Indian that stained the lips of our opponents were already burning like a dry fever within my breast" (AIS 79). Now both visually and verbally assaulted, Zitkala-Ša reacted viscerally: "Such worse than barbarian rudeness embittered me. While we waited for the verdict of the judges, I gleamed fiercely upon the throngs of palefaces. My teeth were hard set, as I saw the white flag still floating insolently in the air" (AIS 79). Only after her name was read as the second-place winner did "the white flag . . . [drop] out of sight, and the hands which hurled it . . . [hang] limp in defeat" (AIS 80). But this defeat was short-lived; her tormentors, since they let the flag drop, could raise it again. Just as not a single contest official legitimized Zitkala-Ša's presence and words by demanding that the students remove the banner that falsely defined her, so, too, would a complicit mainstream press soon allow Butler's assault to remain unchallenged. Although The Earlhamite chastised Butler for "devot[ing] her energy and ingenuity . . . in attempting to belittle visitors to her city and the contestants, especially when a lady was among the latter" ("Oratorical" 183), Zitkala-Ša's college paper not only trivialized the incident by gendering it, but this potentially powerful advocate never addressed the obvious insult to American Indians. Similarly, while a crowd of students greeted Zitkala-Ša, returning in a carriage festooned with the college's colors and bearing mounted attendants, at the reception that followed, one student described "the part the word 'Humility' played at Indianapolis and how it became a watchword of {3} the Earlham delegation" without mentioning that this word was intimately connected to the caricature of an Indian woman ("At the College" 186). Again and again Zitkala-Ša's Indianness was either dishonored or disregarded by prominent members and institutions of the dominant society.
         Years later, after Zitkala-Ša's death, an Earlham student, who was one of those seniors surprised that "this little Indian girl in the Freshman class beat our best," dismissed Zitkala-Ša's recollections as not being "altogether fair . . . in that she gave the impression that she was being put upon . . . as if the students of the other colleges were attempting to persecute her because she was an Indian, when I think it was all good fun and just done to her as a contestant from a rival college" (Dennis). While it is tempting to ask whether the banner was "good fun," the more pertinent question is whose version eventually prevails, for it is on this site of exchange that statements are ranked, not according to their veracity, but according to the power of those who made them. This place, where the marginalized struggle to gain influence, becomes contested territory. Therefore a close analysis of the content and contemporaneous reception of Zitkala-Ša's prizewinning speech and her autobiographical articles in the Atlantic illuminate the complex strategies both the mainstream and the marginalized employ as they struggle to (re)write America's ideology. The Indianapolis Journal summarized Zitkala-Ša's speech and, under the headline "How Grades Were Fixed," attributed her defeat to a low ranking by a Southern judge based on her "reference to slavery as one of the blots of modern civilization" (3), but the paper also subverted her words under the subhead "The Indian Maiden's Effort." Another newspaper, The Indianapolis News overlooked Zitkala-Ša's feelings by describing the contest as "a wild but cheerful scene, made bright with . . . smiling college girls" (6), and then incorrectly paraphrased her speech. Marginalized writers must not become complacent once they are heard nor discouraged when their words are depoliticized or ignored. This essay, far from arguing that resistance is futile, asserts that political impact requires creative persistence in the face of the mainstream's nuanced responses to attacks on the status quo.


By couching stinging accusations amid words of praise, Zitkala-Ša's oration employs the tactics of a trickster. Welch seems to ignore the sarcastic subtext since she dismisses the barbs by describing the speech as "[d]isplaying a remarkable knowledge of history" (10-11). Yet if one reads the opening paragraphs of "Side by Side" the way contemporary cultural scholar Mary Louise Pratt read the colonized Guaman Poma's New Chronicle -- as a revisionist account -- it seems more likely that Zitkala-Ša was "using the conqueror's language to construct a parodic, oppositional representation of the conqueror's own speech" (587).
        The speech opens by celebrating the dominant society in its own terms, lauding progress that springs from "the religious and humanitarian zeal of a great people" (177). Zitkala-Ša seemingly assumes the position of a sycophant: "[T]hought is lost in admiration of this matchless scene over which floats in majesty the starry emblem of liberty" (177). But after lulling her mainstream audience into a narcissistic trance, she aggressively counters what Ngugi wa Thiong'o will later call the cultural bomb,

the biggest weapon wielded and actually daily unleashed by imperialism against . . . collective defiance. . . . [Its] effect . . . is to annihilate a people's belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland. It makes them want to identify with that which is furthest removed from themselves. . . . It . . . plants serious doubts about the moral rightness of struggle. Possibilities of triumph or victory are seen as remote, ridiculous dreams. The intended results are despair, despondency and a collective death-wish. (Ngugi 3)

        Zitkala-Ša restores hope by retelling the history of the Euro-American invasion from the American Indians' point of view. She linguistically eradicates the invaders' presence as Leslie Marmon Silko would do in Ceremony: "But see! At the bidding of thought the tide of time {5} rolls back four hundred years. . . . The fleet of discovery, bearing under the flag of Spain the figure of Columbus, recedes beyond a trackless sea" (177). Far from being the wasteland Ngugi describes, "America is one great wilderness again. Over the trees of the primeval forest curls the smoke of the wigwam" (177). Zitkala-Ša reminds her audience that the Indians have always been religious and acted righteously, a theme she will develop in her essay "Why I am a Pagan":

The reverent and poetic natures of these forest children feel the benign influence of the Great Spirit. . . . Quick to string his bow for vengeance; ready to bury the hatchet or smoke the pipe of peace; never was he first to break a treaty or known to betray a friend with whom he had eaten salt. (177-8)

        Welch erroneously reads the following section as Zitkala-Ša's "urg[ing] her audience to . . . live the Christian message of brotherhood" (11), and even Robert Allen Warrior calls her writing "Christian and secular assimilationist" (Tribal Secrets 4), but the speech argues the opposite. Only the Indian knows what brotherhood is.

The invasion of his broad dominions by a paler race brought no dismay to the hospitable Indian. . . . To Jesuit, to Quaker, to all who kept their faith with him, his loyalty never failed. Unfortunately civilization is not an unmixed blessing [since it brought] European liquid fire . . . [b]roken treaties . . . desperation. (178)

Zitkala-Ša defends anyone who fought back and reasserted the moral rightness of the struggle: "He loved the fair land of which he was rightful owner . . . the inheritance of his fathers, their traditions, their graves; he held them in priceless legacy to be sacredly kept. . . . Is patriotism a virtue only in Anglo-Saxon hearts?" (178). Far from assimilationist, Zitkala-Ša's words illustrate what Warrior calls a "traditionalist-nationalist vision" (5), although he claims such a vision did not emerge until recently. Indeed, the last words of the speech, echoing the title, demand equal sovereignty.
        Warrior claims that Zitkala-Ša, like Charles Eastman and Carlos Montezuma, wanted "to gain sympathy from white audiences for the {6}
difficult, but . . . necessary process of becoming American citizens" (8), yet the last sentence of her autobiographical essays suggests that Zitkala-Ša was lobbing yet another volley at the sanctimonious conquerors. Entrusting the education of young Indians -- "the small forest of Indian timber" (98) -- to the palefaces, she wrote, is merely a "semblance of civilization" that results in "long-lasting death" (99). Warrior also notes that these three early activists knew each other and that Zitkala-Ša and Montezuma were engaged, but he fails to point out that Zitkala-Ša broke the engagement because Montezuma wanted to practice medicine in Chicago and "would ultimately align himself with Pratt-style rapid assimilation" (Davidson xix). Her "tribal connections led her to return to the Yanktons" (Hafen xviii). Warrior dismisses William Willard's praise of "her critique of . . . the paternalism of Pratt" by mentioning her opposition to peyote and "other forms of Native existence" that he does not detail (10). Later Warrior mentions that Zitkala-Ša supported John Collier's politics, including "his protribal position" to such an extent "that in 1926 she founded . . . the National Council of American Indians" (20). These assessments suggest that however much one might speculate on Zitkala-Ša's conscious intentions, it may be fruitful to reassess her earlier works and the response from those she criticized. This shifts the focus from Zitkala-Ša's life to the ongoing battle for legitimacy in the public forum.
        The subversive messages embedded in her speech would soon be printed unabridged in The Earlhamite and the Santee Agency school newspaper, The Word Carrier, but not in such mainstream papers as The Indianapolis News or The Indianapolis Journal. Under the subhead "Cheers for the Indian Maiden," The Indianapolis News spoke of "[t]he slight dark-skinned girl . . . [whose] face showed in delicate but firm lines the cut of the Indian face . . . [and whose] well-shaped hands at her side were of deep copper color" (6). Noting that her oration on behalf of the Indian held the audience's attention, the paper described her delivery before misrepresenting the intent of her speech: "Her voice was clear and sweet; her language was that of a cultivated young woman, and her pronunciation was without trace {7} of a tongue unfamiliar with English. Her manner was real, womanly and refined" (8). Her manner may have been refined, but her speech bluntly blames "two centuries of contact with the foremost wave of Anglo-Saxon civilization" for "brutalizing [the Indians'] nobler instincts until sin and corruption have well nigh swept them from the Earth" (Earlhamite 178). The Indianapolis News turns Zitkala-Ša's strong critique into an excuse -- Indians were cruel toward the white man since they were "barbarous and without the advantages of civilization and Christian teaching" (8).
        The Indianapolis Journal persistently marks Zitkala-Ša as "the Sioux Indian maiden," "the pretty young Indian woman . . . who is much better looking than the pictures of the average Indian," and "praises her tone that was wonderfully pleasing, being musical" in a patronizing manner not employed with the other contestants. The paper dismisses Zitkala-Ša's "pleading for her people . . . [as] dramatic . . . [and] the result of excellent elocutionary training." This treatment aestheticizes her as an object to be admired, not as a voice to be heard, encouraging the audience to interpret her arguments as performance rather than a call to change. This pattern of diluting Zitkala-Ša's pro-Indian agenda by complimenting her appearance and delivery, while alternately praising and undermining her words, would continue to be a strategy of containment exemplified by the mainstream's reaction to her stinging autobiographical essays in the Atlantic.


Four years after the statewide oratorical contest, when the Atlantic serialized Zitkala-Ša's autobiographical essays, this prestigious magazine reverberated with slights against the Indian. Here supposedly neutral articles functioned in the same way as the officials at the contest who ignored the scorn that Zitkala-Ša faced. Stories including To Have and To Hold, a popular novel replete with stereotypes of cruel savages, now replaced the derogatory banner. Agency again seemed to rest with Zitkala-Ša's adversaries who could insult her in the very forum where they had invited her to appear. Described by Dorothea {8} M. Susag as "power(ful) works that celebrate a feminine Dakota heritage, challenge some of the most sacred Judeo-Christian attitudes and values, and accuse and further condemn those who would victimize Indian peoples" (8), Zitkala-Ša's essays collided with American justifications for colonization of the Indian. These discourses, like others that contest core assumptions, must find a way to connect to mainstream foundational beliefs before embroidering a new design upon them. Decades later Michael Riffaterre's concept of intertextuality suggests that Zitkala-Ša's words were an attempt to disrupt mainstream depictions that recycled negative images of the Indian. This strategy acknowledges that mimesis is no longer based on the "reference . . . from words to things . . . [but] that intertextuality is the agent both of the mimesis and of the hermeneutic constructions on that mimesis" (142). In other words, it may be futile for resistance writers to challenge disempowering stereotypes by focusing on any sort of "objective exteriority" (141) when interpretation depends more on the conversation between representations of a supposedly neutral reality -- that is, "a system of signs" (159) -- than on the words that refer to that "reality."
        It was not until 1924, when Zitkala-Ša co-authored "Oklahoma's Poor Rich Indians: An Orgy of Graft and Exploitation of the Five Civilized Tribes -- Legalized Robbery," that her words could carry sufficient weight to effect political change. Dexter Fisher, a scholar of Native literature, writes that the report, with Zitkala-Ša representing the Indian Welfare Committee of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, Charles H. Fabens of the American Indian Defense Association, and Matthew K. Sniffen of the Indian Rights Association, led to the formation of the Meriam Commission (xv), through which the government substantially altered its Indian policy. The price that Zitkala-Ša may have paid for a lifetime of trying to use the master's tools to refashion the master's house, a tactic decried by Audre Lourde, was "spotty Native support" (Warrior 20). Resistance that hopes to be more than a momentary flash may require this strategy, at least as part of its arsenal, since the mainstream is supported by a web of intricately interconnected institutions that marginalized voices may have to enter in order to transform.
        By appearing in the Atlantic, a respected journal that reflected and (re)produced American ideologies, Zitkala-Ša's essays may have done just that. Around the turn of the twentieth century, distinguished Americans openly acknowledged racial motivations for the country's colonizing imperative. Nine days before the December 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, Frank Baum, editor of South Dakota's The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, wrote: "The whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent and the best safety of the frontier settlers will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians" (qtd. in Venables). Five days after the massacre, the man many know for authoring an endearing children's series that included The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, added,

The PIONEER has before declared that our safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. (qtd. in Venables)

        One may be tempted to dismiss such vitriol as self-indulgent frontier raving. However, Theodore Roosevelt canonized these ideologies in a series of books written shortly before he became president following William McKinley's assassination. In 1900, the same year that the Atlantic published Zitkala-Ša's essays, the G. P. Putnam's Sons limited Daniel Boone edition of Roosevelt's The Winning of the West, 1769-1807 mirrored Baum's call for Indian genocide. Although the four-volume set had originally appeared between 1889 and 1896, the collector's series now enshrined Roosevelt's account of the United States "expansion" in fully decorated morocco leather. Other regal embellishments included the ornamental leather that lined the book's cover, suede endpapers, and gilt top edges.
        Roosevelt rejected American Indian claims to the land as "vague and shadowy" by placing the Indians close to animals on a continuum from beast to man.

All men of sane and wholesome thought must dismiss with impatient contempt the plea that these continents should be reserved for the use of scattered savage tribes, whose life was but a few degrees less meaningless, squalid, and ferocious than that of the wild beasts with whom they held joint ownership. . . . The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages, though it is apt to be also the most terrible and inhuman. The rude, fierce settler who drives the savage from the land lays all civilized mankind under a debt to him. American and Indian, Boer and Zulu . . . in each case the victor . . . has laid deep the foundations for the future greatness of a mighty people. (qtd. in Jacobson 218)

Roosevelt spoke for many Americans when he draped the banner of civilization over the acquisition of land even if the means included mass murder. He dehumanized the Indians in order to not merely justify killing them, but to declare such extermination politically holy. In an Oxford lecture Roosevelt unequivocally delineated the makeup of a "mighty people" who deserved future greatness when he "defined the so-called 'white races' as 'the group of peoples living in Europe, who undoubtedly have a certain kinship of blood, who profess the Christian religion, and trace back their culture to Greek and Rome'" (Howard K. Beale qtd. in Cheyfitz 5).
        Zitkala-Ša's words struggled to present an alternative reality within the constraints imposed by the mainstream press, an institution that Antonio Gramsci would later place firmly in what he called the civil society, structures that uphold the status quo without resorting to violence. The publication of what can be read as Zitkala-Ša's response to the position enunciated by Baum and Roosevelt was a sign that voices opposing the country's declaration of a holy war against the Indians would now be heard, at least by influential readers of the Atlantic. Hearing Zitkala-Ša would require a new way of listening that included a willingness to question popular assumptions. Although Atlantic's editor Bliss Perry did not edit for those "who sought constant affirmation of their own creeds but for the intellectually vigorous who wished to hear a range of rationally ar-{11}gued views" (Sedgwick 282-3), the magazine articles surrounding Zitkala-Ša's text did not respond to them. While "Impressions of an Indian Childhood" appeared in January 1900, "The Schooldays of an Indian Girl" a month later, and "An Indian Teacher Among Indians" the following month, in terms of genre and topic these essays merely occupied a liminal space. Discordant, since they clash philosophically with all the other articles, and encapsulated, since they cannot ideologically connect to any other text, Zitkala-Ša's words might have floated away. Even though some readers may have shared her perspective and others may have noticed her essays for their markedly different point of view, all of the Atlantic's staff-written editorial sections, like the surrounding articles, ignored their provocative content.
        Other voices seem welcomed. A. J. Stillman's stodgy autobiography with its European artistic treasure hunts overwhelmed Zitkala-Ša's biting commentary in several areas, including preferential placement, length per issue, and number of issues it ran. Stillman's autobiography opened the January 1900 issue; it always appeared before Zitkala-Ša's work, it was at least 50 percent longer, and it ran in twice as many issues. Like "most Atlantic writers [who still] represented a cultural elite" (Sedgwick 13), the 72-year-old Stillman begins by carefully tracing his pedigree back to very English roots (1). His mother, in typical middle-class fashion,"seemed to have but one care in her life . . . to know and to do her duty" (4). Unlike Zitkala-Ša's mother who saved her daughter in a dream by not knowing the devil's language (AIS 64), an open challenge to Christian doctrine, Stillman's made so sure that "[h]ell and its terrors were always present" that her son "fear[ed] seeing the Devil" at night (11-12).
        Stillman's autobiography challenged the broad outlines of Zitkala-Ša's essays by asserting European -- and Christian -- superiority, but Mary Johnston's serialized novel, To Have and to Hold, trivialized Zitkala-Ša's arguments since it portrayed American Indians as either bloodthirsty savages or saviors willing to risk their fellow Indians in order to rescue the white man. Although Patricia Okker points out that most of Zitkala-Ša's early published works "appeared alongside literature by whites about Native Americans," she asserts that the most "jarring is the context of . . . [her] three autobiographical essays . . . which {12} first appeared . . . while the Atlantic was publishing Mary Johnston's romantic novel" (89). It may be merely coincidental that Johnston's fictionalized version of the Indian uprising under Opechancanough concluded in the same issue that Zitkala-Ša's final essay ran. On the other hand, Perry may not have wanted Johnston to go unanswered since it was his predecessor, Walter Hines Page, who had decided to publish To Have And to Hold (Sedgwick 284).
        Like the judges who awarded her second place, the Atlantic's editor could not prevent the appearance of Indian stereotypes from "floating insolently in the air" (AIS 79). Although Perry recast the Atlantic's image, his actions alone could not force mainstream America to question its justification of Indian colonization. Before Walter Hines Page became editor in 1898, the Atlantic maintained "a high character and a reputation for conservatism" (Mott 2: 511), a position it would never entirely reject even though Mott later asserts that Page and Perry, his successor, "broke the literary calm of the Atlantic" (Mott 4: 44). Page boosted the magazine's circulation and prestige by enlisting "famous and expert writers to comment on significant affairs in a balanced debate format" (Mott 4: 515). Perry followed this pattern. Both editors "insistently raised issues of racial equity at a time when this was not a popular topic and solicited well-documented essays exposing social . . . abuses . . . [as well as] broaden[ing] the ideological, social and ethnic diversity of [its] contributors," including works by Jewish authors such as Abraham Cahan and Mary Antin as well as Booker T. Washington and W. E .B. DuBois (Sedgwick 18). Accepting Zitkala-Ša's autobiographical series was "[o]ne of Perry's earliest decisions. Although he knew that he had a sizable missionary audience that might take offense, Perry, far from trying to blunt . . . [Zitkala-Ša's] criticism, heartily encouraged . . . [her] to expand the series into a full autobiography, offering his editorial assistance" (Sedgwick 310).
        Yet the issues in which Zitkala-Ša's autobiographical installments appeared shows that even under Perry's leadership, the Atlantic retained its "retrospective, idealistic genteel tradition . . . [which included] some refusal to acknowledge disturbing social realities"{13} (Sedgwick 11). Given the conservative nature of the Atlantic, Perry may not have had a choice but to publish her subversive texts amid anti-Indian texts. "Perry . . . sometimes consciously capitulated both to genteel squeamishness and to the lure of popular commercial success in the selection of popular fiction . . . [perhaps so that he could] carry other material for smaller groups of readers" (Sedgwick 310). In other words, To Have and to Hold may have intrigued the Atlantic's mainstream audience enough to increase circulation and thereby provided room for less salacious, but more realistically troubling fare. Eventually Perry left to chair Harvard's literature department under the "pressure to publish fiction that his academic training told him was third-rate. . . [and] the public's coolness to . . . discussions . . . of racial issues" (Sedgwick 311-12).
        Perry, like Zitkala-Ša, could not single-handedly create an audience that would be receptive to texts that challenged their comfortable worldviews, but together they may have begun the process. Zitkala-Ša's first essay was published along with Chapter 31 of To Have and to Hold. In the chapter's opening scene, the protagonist, Ralph Perry, and his friend Diccon have been captured by sexist and barbaric Indians. When the Indians untie their prisoners so they can eat, "Diccon . . . seized the Indian girl who brought him his platter of fish, and pulling her down beside him kissed her soundly, whereat the maid seemed not ill pleased and the [Indian] warriors laughed" (55). The chief is "a savage cruel and crafty beyond measure. Over his breast, stained with strange figures, hung a chain of small bones and the scalp locks of his enemies fringed his moccasins" (55). Their priests were "hideous . . . painted over with strange devices, the stuffed skins of snakes knotted about their heads" (55). Ironically, Zitkala-Ša's "Impressions of an Indian Childhood" appropriately concludes by describing her feelings after the first day at the missionary-run boarding school: "Trembling with fear and distrust of the palefaces, . . . I crept noiselessly in . . . my soft moccasins along the narrow hall, keeping very close to the bare wall" (47). This image of a young Indian girl who wishes to avoid being heard or seen, except on her own terms, forcefully contrasts with the Indian maid who wel-{14}comes Diccon's sexual advances. Zitkala-Ša's narration might have moved its Anglo readers to empathy with its subdued style and realistic setting; Johnston's account capitalized on the dominant society's sexualized fascination with subduing the feared exotic.
        Given the popularity of To Have and to Hold, -- it "almost doubled" the magazine's circulation (Okker 90), if only for a while, (Sedgwick 284) -- one may speculate that most Atlantic readers probably read Johnston's account before Zitkala-Ša's, if they bothered to read Zitkala-Ša's at all. The magazine had clearly established an audience for Johnston's novel. It ran Zitkala-Ša's first essay after thirty chapters of To Have and To Hold. Furthermore, the Atlantic seemed ready to capitalize on the romance genre. Lacking drawings at least from January 1899 to August 1900, the magazine ran a full-page illustration to announce the serialization of "The Helmet of Navarre," "the new romance beginning in The Century Magazine" (86: opposite page 289). In addition, Zitkala-Ša debuted in an issue that featured a short story by Jack London in which an assimilated Indian woman prefers to die with her white abductor rather than return with her Indian husband, again titillating the mainstream reader with safe, exoticized romance.
        Sedgwick offers other reasons to explain the magazine's apparent schizophrenia. On the one hand, Zitkala-Ša's texts satisfied the publication's new policy to value in "style, as in subject, . . . journalistic immediacy, directness, relevance, and impact . . . [as it] correspondingly devalued leisurely reflection, philosophizing, aesthetic elegance" (Sedgwick 16), since autobiographical essays took place centuries ahead of the historical fiction written by Johnston and were less polished than To Have and To Hold. On the other hand, neither Page nor Perry could "afford to alienate . . . [their] traditional readers . . . attached to the cultural past" (Sedgwick 16). Financial considerations may have discouraged the Atlantic from addressing the challenging issues presented in Zitkala-Ša's text. Meanwhile, serialized historical romances like To Have and To Hold -- unlike deterministic naturalism and proletarian realism -- increased the magazine's popularity without "offending genteel sensibilities" (Sedgwick 17) and thus literally earned, in a fiscal sense, their position of prominence. {15} Those with "genteel sensibilities" might refuse to purchase a journal that opens their eyes to America's decidedly indelicate Indian policy. Thus, in the February issue, Zitkala-Ša's delineation of the ongoing cultural denigration she faced at White's Manual Labor School, which included having her hair shingled like a coward (AIS 54), can be neutralized by, as well as respond to, Stillman's protestations at having to stay home since he was now deprived of enjoying such pranks as "getting a horse or cow into a recitation room, fastening the tutors in their rooms just before class hours, tying up or stealing the bell which used to wake up the students and call them to prayers . . . [or] setting fire to the outhouses" (175). In fact, Zitkala-Ša's account, written from the perspective of a young girl who is dealing with feelings of abandonment, might have evoked more sympathy than a factual account written by a stodgy male. "She found an eloquence to articulate historical injustices with an emotional rhetoric that enchanted [and perhaps created] sympathetic readers and audiences . . . [and] gained attention of supporters and reformers" (Hafen xxiii- xxiv). In this installment Zitkala-Ša reflects on the effects of her boarding school experience:

The melancholy of those black days has left so long a shadow that it darkens the path of years that have gone by. . . . Perhaps my Indian nature is the moaning wind which stirs them now for their present record. But, however tempestuous this is within me, it comes out as the low moan of a curiously colored seashell, which is only for those ears that are bent with compassion to hear it. (AIS 67-8)

        Popular contemporaneous writers, like Johnston, may acknowledge the Indians' pain for a brief moment before deafness returns. In that issue's installment of To Have and To Hold, Nantauquas warns the protagonist of an upcoming raid on Jamestown. The son of Powhatan had learned this from an Indian who may appear cannibalistic to a white audience since in his youth he had "worshiped a great and fierce god, giving him blood to drink and flesh to eat" (206) even though some Christian denominations claim to eat the body and blood of Christ. Despite his disloyalty, Nantauquas does chastise the {16} people he has just saved for "not do[ing] like the great white God who, you say, loves you so. You are wiser and stronger than we, but your strength and wisdom help us not . . . Ill gifts have you brought us, evil have you wrought us" (207). But the story quickly moves past Nantauquas' somewhat obsequious denunciation which strangely echoes Zitkala-Ša's speech in Indianapolis, to focus on the white protagonists. The wounded Diccon utters his dying wish: "When the red imps come against you . . . and you open fire on them, name a bullet for me" (214). Johnston's portrayals of American Indians speak to the popular imagination in a way Zitkala-Ša's characterizations cannot. Having opposed Zitkala-Ša's text fictionally, the Atlantic continues to undermine Zitkala-Ša's position with an account of the Oklahoma land rush. Provocatively entitled "A Clear Title," this essay presents what it calls opening Oklahoma for settlement (Piercy 241) without mentioning the land's rightful owners. The February "Contributors' Club" spoke about a visit to the city in the summer. These writings coalesce to repel Zitkala-Ša's arguments against a "civilization" that continues to characterize her people as "red imps."
        In the March 1900 issue, Stillman describes his trip to Paris where he studied Delacroix's art and his trip to London where he met Turner. The final installment of To Have and To Hold, which directly follows Stillman's European travel diary, presents the Indians as immoral, cowardly fighters as if Zitkala-Ša's rhetorical question -- "Is patriotism a virtue only in Anglo-Saxon hearts?" ("Side by Side" 178) -- had never been uttered. "They used ambuscade, surprise, and massacre; when withstood in force and with determination they withdrew to their stronghold the forest, there to bide their time until, in the blackness of some night, they could again swoop down upon a sleeping foe" (335). When Nantauquas disappears, Perry concludes that "[a]fter saving our lives like one of us, [he] is turned Indian again" (336) until he discovers that Nantauquas saved his wife and the minister from the heathen who came, according to the minister, "stealing like serpents this way and that into the depths of the forest" (338). "They saw us not in the thick bushes; maybe it was because of the prayers I said with might and main" (351). About thirty pages later, Zitkala-Ša's words respond by questioning the goodness of {17} those prayers. She chastises herself for ever having sacrificed her religion and her mother "for the white man's papers" (386).
        Indeed, Zitkala-Ša's sacrifice seems in vain. Although her series of articles raise disturbing issues, the Atlantic only reviews To Have and to Hold. William E. Simonds lauds Johnston's portrayal of Captain Percy -- "[a]dventurous, resourceful, finely tempered gentleman, courteous, gallant, and genuine to the core" -- and that of his wife -- "an imperial beauty, insistent on her rights, her high mettle and pure mind . . . never cowed by force nor soiled by vice" (413). Simonds finds the Indian characters interesting and comfortably stereotypical. An

idealization of romance, . . . Nantauquas belongs to that shadowy type born from the romance of the forest which Cooper gave us long ago. The author's rare descriptive power does not fail her . . . [with] the picture of the wily Openchancanough, his body sleek with oil, glistening all over in the sunshine with powdered antimony, speaking fair words with a smiling face, while the inner devil looks through his cold snake eyes -- this is very fine. (414)

Simonds underscores Johnston's warnings against trusting the Indian, who may speak "fair words" in order to cover over evil designs. This acceptance of nefarious ulterior motives may explain the dismissal, or fear, of Zitkala-Ša's text.


According to Slavoj Zizek's analysis of ideological fantasy, America's sanctimonious mythology depends on a nightmarish rendering of its Others. To Have and to Hold presents the Indian as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The novel's upright minister describes Indians as the heathen who came "stealing like serpents this way and that into the depths of the forest" (351). The Atlantic's book reviewer, William E. Simonds, savors the description of the wily Openchancanough, whose "inner devil looks through his cold snake eyes" (414). Zizek's {18} work clarifies the necessity of hellish creatures in otherwise paradisiacal settings.

On the one hand, fantasy has a beatific side, a stabilizing dimension, which is governed by the dream of a state without disturbances, out of reach of human depravity. On the other had, fantasy has a destabilizing dimension . . . [that] encompasses all that "irritates" me about the Other, images that haunt me about what he or she is doing when out of my sight, about how he or she deceives me and plots against me, about how he or she ignores me and indulges in an enjoyment that is intensive beyond my capacity of representation. ("Fantasy" 192)

Therefore, America's denigrating portrayal of its Others cannot exist separate from its idyllic self-portrayal as the biblical Promised Land. Zizek calls this the "front and back of the same coin" ("Fantasy" 192). This underside of the American dream must be excavated, not because it is hidden, but because it is essential to the country's tales of glory. Destabilizing the status quo depends upon acknowledging this connection.
        Several of the strong reactions to Zitkala-Ša's attempts at such an excavation testify to their efficacy. Capt. Richard Pratt, who founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, did not consider the Indians racially inferior, but he did share the "common conviction that their cultures were worthless relics from an earlier stage of development which must be destroyed" (Wilson 311). Pratt probably hoped that Zitkala-Ša, who taught at Carlisle from 1887 to 1889 and also recruited students, would be a model acculturated Indian. He was ambivalent over "Impressions of an Indian Childhood."

On the one hand, it demonstrated the truth of what he had long preached to the American public -- that Indian peoples, once educated and acculturated, could make responsible contributions . . . [but her] pride in being an Indian [was] a concept totally alien to . . . [his] vision of total assimilation. (Welch 19)

Robert Trennert asserts that Pratt's reaction was straightforward: Zitkala-Ša was acting like the Indian women "Pratt charged . . . with clinging 'to heathen rites and superstitions' and passing them on" (277). After Atlantic published Zitkala-Ša's next two autobiographical essays, Pratt was "thoroughly alarmed" (Welch 19). He called her "worse than pagan" and labeled her stories "trash" (qtd. in Lukens "Zitkala" 332).
        The religious undertone to Pratt's objections, evidenced by his desire to annihilate all "pagan" influences, cannot be denied. Nonetheless most critics avoided such a frontal assault by focusing more on Zitkala-Ša the person than on her words, much as the mainstream press did after her second-place finish in Indiana's oratorical contest. Her articles in the Atlantic received sporadic notice, even though Welch writes that the "response to this new author proved overwhelming" (18). A month after the Atlantic series ended, Harper's Bazaar singled out Zitkala-Ša in a column entitled "Persons Who Interest Us"; the following month The Outlook called the outspoken Zitkala-Ša one of "the quiet men and women of Indian blood who are a power among us" (Cook 81). Again celebrating Zitkala-Ša's presence while silencing her voice, Harper's placed her portrait, captioned "The Girl Violinist of the Carlisle Indian Band" (330), opposite that of the Marchioness of Blandford, identified as the mother of the Duke of Marlborough. The magazine, founded as a periodical for women, gushed over Zitkala-Ša's "beauty and many talents . . . [who] until her ninth year was a veritable little savage, running wild over the prairie and speaking no language but her own" (330). It dismissed what Margo Lukens later termed Zitkala-Ša's "strident [words] . . . directing accusations against white oppression of Indians" ("Zitkala" 331) by focusing on their "rare command of English and much artistic feeling" (330), an echo of The Indianapolis News praising her pronunciation as indistinguishable from that of a native speaker. This mainstream tactic not only deflects criticism but can also be seen as reestablishing the hierarchical binary opposition between the colonizer and the colonized. Frantz Fanon asserts that "registering in various forms a kind of surprise [to a native's linguistic achievement {20} is] a mode of condescending praise, that a native has achieved this mastery" (Cheyfitz 126).
        The Outlook, founded as a Baptist paper, Church Union, in 1867, flourished by publishing Henry Ward Beecher, who was named editor in 1870. In 1884, the paper serialized Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona, a romance novel that aroused sympathy for Indians.1 In 1893 the magazine decided to become a "journal of opinion" rather than a religious publication and changed its name to The Outlook (Mott 3: 428). At the turn of the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt, Jacob Riis, and Booker T. Washington were contributors and the magazine serialized Up From Slavery. These editorial decisions suggest an attitude of tolerance toward the nation's marginalized groups. But the article that featured a large picture of Zitkala-Ša wearing Euro-American clothing and holding a violin merely named her "a young girl numbered among the contributors to the 'Atlantic Monthly,' and gifted with unusual musical genius" (Cook 82). Of course, praising Zitkala-Ša's musical genius deflects attention from her unusual gift with words. Jessie W. Cook probably refrained from commenting on the latter since Zitkala-Ša's essays celebrate the very reservation system that he advocates destroying in order to eliminate "this undigested, unassimilated part of the body politic" (80). From her portrait on the facing page, Zitkala-Ša looks defiantly at the reader as if she can hear Cook describing the reservation as a place of "paint and feathers and quaint costumes" (80). Cook concludes that the "one hope for the Indians . . . is to live with the people whose ways they must adopt . . . [in order to] attain a higher order of civilization" (83).
        Once again, the dominant society does not simply print Zitkala Ša's words in an ideological vacuum, but like the stereotypes embedded in To Have and To Hold, attempts to actively repel them. Perhaps essays, even those published in prestigious magazines, never attract as much attention as books. Perhaps works by those easily cast as exotics can be dismissed as being as quaint as their costumes. Ngugi's scholarship offers another explanation for the lack of attention paid to Zitkala-Ša's autobiographical essays: "In criticism, as in creative writing, there is an ideological struggle. A critic's world outlook, his or her class sympathies and values, will affect [his] evaluations" (105).
        The critic's world view is apparent in Scribner's Book Buyer's review entitled "Recent Writings by American Indians." Much more than a bookseller's house organ, this periodical "furnish[ed] reliable information about book publication" (Mott 4: 126). Elisabeth Luther Cary included Eastman and Francis La Flesche in her survey. Cary simply finds it "interesting" that Eastman and Zitkala-Ša "emphasized the finer aspects of the old order -- which, for them, has changed forever -- with a pride that cannot fail to be recognized by the casual reader, even where it is accompanied by the most courteous acknowledgment of the merits and advantages of civilization" (21).
        Cary later contradicts her own placid assessment by commenting on Zitkala-Ša's "poignant and utterly despairing note of revolt against . . . 'the dingy, ungentlemanly business of civilization'" (24). She continues to dismiss Zitkala-Ša's ongoing attack of white culture by attributing it to "a kind of melancholy that forces sympathy, even where it is not admitted to be rational. Many of the grievances, set forth with truly compelling eloquence, are those which only an intensively sensitive nature would nurse and remember, and, after many years, record" (24). Having discredited Zitkala-Ša as irrational and overly sensitive, Cary can then list Zitkala-Ša's indictments against her oppressors without comment, including the following passage: "[A]s it was inbred in me to suffer in silence rather than to appeal to the ears of one whose open eyes could not see my pain, I have many times trudged in the day's harness heavy-footed, like a dumb, sick brute" (24). Here, again, Zitkala-Ša, by addressing the unsympathetic reader, begins to form an audience that can see and hear her pain.
        Zitkala-Ša broke her self-imposed silence with "Impressions," but some in her white audience remained deaf and blind. Cary could not see herself as a member of the "cold race" Zitkala-Ša described, their hearts "frozen hard with prejudice" (24). Instead, her review turns to a formalist reading of Zitkala-Ša's articles, praising them for a "richness of style" while dismissing the turnip episode as "absurd" (25). The turnip episode, however, is pivotal to understanding Zitkala-Ša's subversive tactics. Once the now imprisoned young child determined that she could not literally run away from her tormentors, she {22} found formidable weapons in the folds of their language. Having "disregarded a rule which seemed . . . very needlessly binding" (AIS 59), Zitkala-Ša was ordered to mash turnips. Punished for exercising her judgment, she retaliated by over zealously obeying her superiors' commands. "I renewed my energy; and as I sent the masher into the bottom of the jar, I felt a satisfying sensation that the weight of my body had gone into it" (AIS 60). Zitkala-Ša rejoiced when a kitchen worker picked up the jar and "the pulpy contents fell through the crumbled bottom to the floor!" (AIS 60). By breaking the borders, shattering the container itself, she deprived her captors of both sustenance and the moral grounds for punishing her. This act of defiance can be seen as the template for reading Native American literary resistance. Writers who seem to be enthusiastically carrying out the wishes of their "betters" may in fact be pushing past the categories delineated by their oppressors.
        Although this would not be the last time Zitkala-Ša destroyed linguistic boundaries that were meant to restrain her, the contemporaneous reception of her autobiographical essays demonstrates the mainstream's power to rebuild borders without allowing outsiders to object to any breaches of logic. Again Cary contradicts herself, now seeing Zitkala-Ša's suffering as a tremendous boost to her career."Her work is nine times heated by the cruelty of her mental and moral experience. If she continues it she can hardly fail to make an impression in a field where differences of race count for nothing and greatness of achievement counts for everything" (25). Incredibly, Cary lauds Zitkala-Ša's wounds without considering their cause, thus allowing the dominant society to remain pure and holy.

Brodhead argues that "American literary history should be rethought as the history of the relation between literary writing and the changing meanings and places made for such work in American social history -- a history not of texts or contexts alone but of the multiform transactions that have taken place between them" (8). Analyzing the dominant society's reception of Zitkala-Ša's texts over almost three decades exposes the colonizing agenda that drives these transactions. {23} When Zitkala-Ša spoke in Indianapolis, she had already heard the slurs and was soon to face an unflattering caricature of herself. But even if some in the audience missed the speech's brilliantly couched attack against American imperialism, they were forced to question their image of ignorant "savages." The judges certainly heard her words, even -- one could say especially -- the Southern judge who protested the criticism of slavery by denying the speech first place.
        The dominant society is defined by an ability to enforce its version of the truth, but this task becomes difficult when the marginalized are allowed to speak. Although the college banner and its metaphoric equivalents seemed to silence Zitkala-Ša's texts, their presence in her school newspaper, an American Indian magazine, and sporadically in the mainstream press makes them part of the exchange and thus modified America's definition of itself. Even if this modification were slight, four years later, when Zitkala-Ša's autobiographical essays appeared in the Atlantic, they spoke to audiences already changed by her speech and the attention it received. Resistance literature functions like a virus. The very act of mounting a defense has the desired effect of altering mainstream institutions. By the midtwenties, perhaps as a result of challenges to its fantasy, America was no longer as uniformly sanctimonious as it was when Frank Baum and Theodore Roosevelt presented their one-sided diatribes against the "heathens." Mainstream political activists now enlisted Zitkala-Ša's writing skills, and together they persuaded the American government to reassess its Indian policy. Perhaps Zitkala-Ša's "work is not easily characterized by one or another political position" (Davidson xiii) because it became part of the dynamic exchange between the marginalized and the mainstream and can only be studied in terms of shifting contexts over time. When "Oklahoma's Poor Rich Indians" report appeared in 1924, Zitkala-Ša no longer had to hide her criticism behind flattery.

Greed for the [dead Indian girl's] . . . land and rich oil property actuated the grafters and made them like beasts surrounding their prey, insensible to the grief and anguish of the white-haired grandmother. . . . She, too, will go the way of her grand-{24}child, as sheep for slaughter by ravenous wolves in men's forms, unless the good people of America intervene immediately by remedial Congressional action. (28)

Now her words did find "ears . . . bent with compassion to hear . . ." (AIS 67-8). If, as Craig Womack writes, American Indians "are not mere victims but active agents in history, innovators of new ways, of Indian ways, of thinking and being and speaking and authoring in this world created by colonial contact" (6), it is essential to honor them by reassessing their writing from the margin.


     1. Despite its contemporaneous reception as a pro-Indian novel, it is actually full of racial slurs. For example, when her Native American protagonist realizes how happy his new wife is, Jackson describes Alessandro as having "the insight of a lover added to the instinct of an Indian" (134). The novel also supports Ramona's assertion that she is happier living in Nature and away from civilization because she is an Indian (134). Genetically speaking, this is true since Ramona's mother was an Indian, but the statement completely discounts Ramona's aristocratic upbringing in a wealthy Spanish family.


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(Re)Claiming America

Ortiz's After and Before the Lightning


In After and Before the Lightning (1994), Acoma Pueblo writer Simon J. Ortiz recounts his struggles to find himself at home on the northern plains during a winter with the Lakota of the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He records and reflects on his confrontations with extreme cold, with a harsh landscape that challenges Indians and whites alike, with the consequences of colonization, with an America that is both his and alien. In his preface, Ortiz describes the process of writing this book as "putting together a map of where I was in the cosmos" (xiv); it is a cosmos persistently marked by extremes, of weather, landscape, and emotion, a cosmos often characterized by imagery of edges and margins, in which safety is always an issue. Safety is an issue, too, because this cosmos pointedly includes America, with its history of genocidal politics and multiple oppressions, a place that Ortiz claims, and a history that he insists his readers recognize.
        Ortiz dialogically engages with a particular place and climate, with himself and others, and with America -- the social-culturaleconomic-political entity that he both claims and criticizes. The book's dialogism is evident in its blend of poetry and prose and also in its simultaneously cyclical and linear structure as it takes us from November 18 to March 21 and from the last lightning of fall to the first lightning of spring. While the cyclic constitutes context, this structural doubleness allows Ortiz to show us that knowledge of cyclic nature alone doesn't resolve oppression or grief or answer the necessity for struggle, though by manifesting wholeness it may offer a kind {28}
of model for reclaiming or remaking America. This structural and conceptual complexity contributes to a dialogic tension that is foregrounded as Ortiz simultaneously addresses himself, cosmic forces, neighbors, history, and political conditions. He exposes the philosophical and historical violence of Manifest Destiny while he acknowledges, even honors, the struggles of settlers, ranchers, and farmers. Such an acknowledgment reveals both the conflicts and some of the creative possibilities implicit in his act of reclaiming America. Before proceeding to my analysis of After and Before the Lightning, I will locate the book in relation to the one that precedes it, to the history and politics of American naming, and to Native peoples' empowering appropriations of colonizers' languages.
        In From Sand Creek (1981), his most recent earlier book, too, Ortiz responds to history, and speaks for change. Writing "from" the Fort Lyons Veterans' Administration Hospital, Ortiz exhorts America to remember the 1864 massacre at Sand Creek of a peaceful Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne encampment by troops from Fort Lyons. The very specific and painful necessity of remembering Sand Creek and memorializing the bleak, alienated lives of his fellow veteran-patients seems to push the book into abstraction and generalization when Ortiz wishes to connect these memories to American political and historical contexts. Ortiz's recollection and witness are dominated by desire and assertion: "There is a revolution going on" (54); "The future will not be mad with loss and waste" (86); a new dream "wealthy with love / and compassion / and knowledge / . . . will rise / in . . . our America" (95). While From Sand Creek both bears witness and prophesies, it doesn't imagine what might make the revolutionary dream possible
        After and Before the Lightning shares the earlier book's acute awareness of history -- indeed, it gains some of its power from Ortiz's history of remembering and witnessing throughout his many books. But After and Before the Lightning goes beyond From Sand Creek in at least two important ways: first, it more fully imagines connections across America's violent history and uneasy diversity (especially, but not only, with regard to European settlers and their descendants); second, it continuously evokes the natural cycles that are a major {29} context for politics and history. In these ways Ortiz gives nuanced density to the dream this book shares with From Sand Creek, suggests something of what might be required for its realization, and suggests, too, the slow, difficult process of creating change. After and Before the Lightning thus offers a vision that is both hopeful and chastened, though no less revolutionary.
        In the political/historical context Ortiz illuminates in this book, naming and claiming "America" as such is an act fraught with conflict and creativity. Ortiz highlights the inherent tensions by occasionally using Acoma and Lakota words and by drawing attention explicitly to the importance of names. Louis Owens, drawing on Bakhtin, calls attention to the conflicts inherent for Native writers in using English, with its unavoidable "history of assimilation" and its status as "authoritative discourse" that "strives . . . to determine the very basis of our behavior" (13). Owens and others often focus discussions of linguistic oppression on the highly contested word "Indian," but "America" has analogously problematic implications. If "Indian" represents outsiders' impositions on and erasures of Indigenous people, "America" and its associated ideologies -- because they represent and "justify" Europeans' taking of the land -- have similarly constituted efforts to determine and control, if not outright to destroy, the bases of Native behavior and identity. The history of the personal noun "American" also contributes to the potentially daunting blend of conflict and creative opportunity, for in (re)claiming America, Ortiz is also simultaneously claiming his identity as an American, and revising the meaning of such a claim. "American" was originally used by Europeans to designate the Native inhabitants of the "new world," but by the Revolutionary War, the term had been adopted, at least by English-speaking colonists, to define themselves and, explicitly or implicitly, to exclude the Indigenous peoples.1 No longer designating racial others ("Indians"), it became a name with which to claim political difference from Europe -- and to claim ownership of "American" land from the previously designated (but soon to be "Vanishing") Americans. (No wonder the Boston tea-partiers dressed up as Indians.)
        Ortiz himself has written of how Indigenous Americans in turn {30} have adopted and transformed the colonizers' languages and cultures to their own purposes and for their own empowerment. It is well to keep in mind his affirmation of such empowering appropriations, as we consider his reclamation of America:

Along with their native languages, Indian women and men have carried on their lives and their expression through the use of the newer languages, particularly Spanish, French, and English, and they have used these languages on their own terms. This is the crucial item that has to be understood, that it is entirely possible for a people to retain and maintain their lives through the use of any language. There is not a question of authenticity here; rather it is the way that Indian people have creatively responded to forced colonization. And this response has been one of resistance. ("Towards a National Indian Literature" 10)

Later in the same essay Ortiz outlines the political implications of the kind of resistant and liberatory claim he makes in After and Before the Lightning:

It is also because of the acknowledgment by Indian writers of a responsibility to advocate for their people's self-government, sovereignty, and control of land and natural resources; and to look also at racism, political and economic oppression, sexism, supremacism, and the needless and wasteful exploitation of land and people, especially in the U.S., that Indian literature is developing a character of nationalism which indeed it should have. It is this character which will prove to be the heart and fibre and story of an America which has heretofore too often feared its deepest and most honest emotions of love and compassion. It is this story, wealthy in being without an illusion of dominant power and capitalistic abundance, that is the most authentic. (12; emphasis added)

After and Before the Lightning may not represent the kind of direct advocacy of Indian sovereignty that we see, for example, in Ortiz's third collection of poetry, Fight Back: For the Sake of the People, For {31} the Sake of the Land (1980). However, this passage suggests how Ortiz's direct criticisms of America in After and Before the Lightning -- criticisms identified in the passages I have emphasized--can be consistent with claims of tribal sovereignty. At the same time, by identifying Native literature's "developing . . . nationalism" as the "heart" of the American story, Ortiz makes Indian claims and reclamations central to the health and survival of America itself.2 In these passages from "Towards a National Indian Literature," as in After and Before the Lightning, Ortiz demonstrates that survival depends both upon remembering and exposing history, and upon refusing to accept imposed definitions and oppressions. Instead he will uncover the potentially restorative and "compassionate" possibilities of America, and challenge all of his readers to reclaim and realize them.
        Claiming America means reclaiming life on and with the land, for personal and communal, Indian, survival; it means acknowledging land and place as a living, moving part of the universe, in contrast to the misapprehension of European colonizers and their descendants that land is simply real estate, a commodity to be acquired and owned. Most fundamentally Ortiz makes the kind of relational claim that Indigenous Americans have continuously made.3 This claim follows from a sense of identity like that described by Carter Revard as grounded in Indigenous traditions: a sense in which "notions of cosmos, country, self, and home are inseparable" (86). But while the traditions Revard describes embodied for earlier generations a sense of "the seamlessness of human life" (94), Ortiz cannot avoid making some seams visible, even as he strengthens them. For he is both confirming Indians' prior claims and affirming the possibility of claiming community with others, "strangers," the descendants of colonizers, via relationship to the land and via shared (though often contested) history. Obviously when Ortiz says "Our names are both Indian and American" (65), he is making a particular, necessary, restorative claim for Native peoples. In the context of the whole book, he suggests that analogously multiply-named identities, implying multiple self-recognitions, are necessary and possible, as well, for non-Native Americans.4 Equally he claims the right to criticize and redefine the American Dream of wealth and possession, and the vio-{32}lence with which that dream so often betrays both its non-Native dreamers and America's Indigenous peoples.5 In these many respects claiming America means reclaiming the possibility of life on this continent from the consequences of Manifest Destiny. At the core of this project is a complex and difficult, oppositional and relational dialogic process.6
        After and Before the Lightning as a whole and each of its four parts are characterized by dialogic engagement and by the continuity created by the book's complex structure and dialogism. The book is framed at the beginning by "Lightning I" and "Lightning II," representing the last thunder storms before winter, and at the end by "Lightning III" and "Lighting IV," signalling the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Read together these four poems convey the search for emotional and physical safety from the potentially destructive forces of cyclic nature. The four numbered and titled parts that make up the core of the book first anticipate winter and bring us into its earliest phase ("The Landscape: Prairie, Time, and Galaxy"), then immerse us in deepest winter ("Common Trials: Every Day" and "Buffalo Dawn Coming"), and finally bring us to the edge of spring ("Near and Evident Signs of Spring"). A number of threads and motifs interact dialogically within the linear/cyclical process of seasonal change and continuity to articulate Ortiz's relationship with and response to America as a complex of political, historical, and cultural realities. Seen from the perspective offered by this emphasis, continuity and survival aren't only a matter of finding reassurance in cyclical, seasonal recurrence, nor does the arrival of spring bring the end of all sorrows or the answer to all questions.
        Ortiz's need to come to terms with the weather parallels the need to deal with other threatening forces, which may be not only harsh but also oppressive -- most notably, the effects of Euro-American dominance. This engagement demands all of the strength he can derive from myth, memory, home, and nature, and from the possibility of recognizing relationships -- however painful or tenuous -- with "strangers" and settlers, as well as with nature, place, and other Indians. Such an engagement -- such a re-claiming of America -- such a vision of shared survival -- requires a continuous mutual acknowl-{33}edgment and a continuous negotiation among all "parties" to the relationship. In this book, then, recognizing the reality and power of the seasonal cycles becomes analogous to recognizing the need to be accountable to and for wholeness and relationality: "The dawn / on the prairie is ours. / And we, the dawn's own" (64). The American failings Ortiz emphasizes are failures to define ourselves in terms of relationality, failures to see and take responsibility for the complex, diverse, and often painful realities of the United States Redeeming such failures is essential to reclaiming America. Thus recognizing the cyclic can be part of a historical/political/cultural reorientation toward activism and change, away from the dominant American Dream's emphasis on individualism, acquisition, and conquest. The new American Dream Ortiz claimed in From Sand Creek can only be fulfilled within an American relationality symbolized by the cyclic. In After and Before the Lightning, Ortiz recognizes this, as he reintegrates his political concerns with the cyclic context that functioned only as background in From Sand Creek.
        In what follows I trace the process through which Ortiz interweaves cyclic and historical experience as he demonstrates the failings and dangers of the dominant American Dream and suggests both the grounds, and the difficulty, of hope for a new dream. Moving chronologically through the four parts of the book's core, my discussion follows the linear element of its dialogical structure. At the same time, within and across these four sections, as Ortiz's project "take[s] in more context," themes and even structural elements (repeated or echoing images, for example) are interwoven, recursive, resistant to linear patterning.7 My approach acknowledges this blending of the linear and the nonlinear, as it follows the text's movement both through and within the seasons. In this way my discussion seeks to honor and engage with the dialogism that not only moves the book both structurally and thematically but indeed is central to Ortiz's vision of a reclaimed America.

Part I of After and Before the Lightning establishes the book's two primary struggles: with weather and with human alienation and cruelty. It begins with weather. Driving snow and bitter temperatures put us {34} on edge, on the margins of survival, but Ortiz offers numerous sources of hope: friendship, story, beauty, faith. However, the early story of a settler husband and father closing the door against freezing Indian children (8-9) hits us with terrible evidence of how such hope can be destroyed. This first grim example of the meaning of Manifest Destiny begins with the words "I've forgotten," and those words serve as a warning and an incitement to remember. Later in Part I, in fact, Ortiz quotes his father telling him "we need memory to know our way," a truth the poet confirms: "Here across the snowy prairie hills, / we need this, the truest road" (22). One of the first memories to which this "truest road" brings us is this story of genocidal hatred: "It's just the Indians. They are used to the cold" (8). It is important that this is told as a white person's memory, which becomes a collective memory as Ortiz listens and retells it. In this context, the passage's terrible concluding question ("And again the children with ice clinging to their black hair, would they always be there?" [9]) becomes dialogically provocative, painfully indicative of the price of the settlers' claim, and the need to re-claim America.
        Near the end of Part I, in "Claiming Territory," Ortiz gives us what we might think of as the theory, the rationalizing context, for the story of the freezing children. It is the theory, in essence, of Manifest Destiny: "It is a magnificent idea. . . . Just climb the next hill, cross the river, / and say,'This is mine'" (26). Within this poem, the "simplicity" of a "stranger's" claim is contrasted to the dismay registered by creation itself. This contrast coincides with the contrast between the assumptions that underlie the Europeans' claim -- that territory is real estate to be, by whatever means, simply appropriated -- and the convictions that ground Indigenous claims, and Ortiz's reclamation: that "territory,"America, is part of a relational web, and that relationship must be based not on appropriation, but on recognition and responsiveness. In "Claiming Territory," no part of creation speaks its resistance, yet Ortiz knows "everything, / everything was awed, dismayed, dazed / by the incomprehensible idea" contained in the "stranger's" announcement, "This is mine" (27).
        Part I, then, introduces two manifestations of Manifest Destiny, the theory and practice that shaped the America that Ortiz now works to {35} reclaim. These two passages demonstrate the destructive effects of illusions of exclusionary ownership. They also prepare us not just to recognize a contrast but to choose between, on the one hand, claiming territory in the name of material gain, pretensions to cultural superiority, and the prerogatives of "progress" and, on the other hand, claiming America, in recognition of shared -- though still contested -- history, possibility, and vulnerability, and as an affirmation not of hierarchy or superiority but of relationship and wholeness.
        The complex dynamics of relationship with and within America are conveyed in the section dated November 27. A brief prose passage that evokes the silent light and "oneness" of the prairies is followed by the poem "Fields of Scars." Its title relates scarred Indian lives and bodies directly to the prairie; the poem itself affirms that Indians "endure" and "thrive," despite their loss of innocence, in "the sacred bond" with earth and spirit. In this context, the following prose passage identifies November 27 as Thanksgiving Day, and Ortiz thanks the Creator for all of life, "even for the televised parades from New York City and Philadelphia" (18). Then in "On this Day," he acknowledges wonder at electronic power and also at Indians' ability still to trust a need that is "beyond the wizards of computers and corporations," a need that is vital to survival, for it coincides with the knowledge of hunger, anger, and love. Another brief prose piece and the next poem, "Thanking the Pheasant Hens," again remind us of vital relationship. The final prose piece begins with a typical Thanksgiving impression, the smell of fresh bread and baking pies. Ortiz segues to a story from his home, Acoma, a story about the gathering of food in which he also reflects on storytelling, tradition, community, and continuity. Thus the November 27 segment, a demonstration of subtle dialogic engagement across cultures and histories, ends as it began, with a knowledge of oneness. In this segment of Part I the necessity of struggle and conflict with(in) America is quite understated. Ortiz never directly refers to Thanksgiving's glossy icons or the history that the holiday's mythology whitewashes; though he precedes the naming of the day with "scars," the scars bind him to flesh and earth. The quintessential colonists' holiday becomes an occasion for Ortiz to affirm relationship by reconnecting with his home and fam-{36}ily. By remaking this holiday on Indigenous people's terms, he offers a powerful example of the kind of appropriation of imposed cultural "gifts" that he describes in "Towards a National Indian literature."
        Ortiz more pointedly criticizes colonialist assumptions in "Foolish Believers," which contrasts recognition of cosmic and natural processes, in which humans are only a small part, to the presumptuousness of corporate scientists who exalt at their own accomplishments without ever "quite knowing what they have done" (26). Their failure to be appropriately "awed" not only confirms the limits of the "magnificent idea" of "Claiming Territory" but also marks these corporate employees as the direct descendants of the theorists and earlier protagonists of Manifest Destiny: the world (seemingly) waiting to be claimed by the forces of "progress" is no longer the American continent, or even the globe, but "process," the essence of life itself.
        In Part I Ortiz puts such presumptuousness, as well as the day-today indignities of poverty, into perspective by interweaving passages that evoke the facts of nature and weather on the prairies or the comforts of warmth and friendship. With his sympathetic observation of a rancher's grueling work, and acknowledgment of diverse dreams -- including the dream of a long-gone Norwegian farmer -- he also suggests the possibility of an ongoing, relational engagement, a dialogism not solely (though often necessarily) oppositional, the grounds for his claiming America.
        Part II begins bleakly with a poem entitled "Barren" in which, recognizing the poverty of the prairie and its people, Ortiz asks what he calls "a foolish question": "How . . . can? Can they . . . ? / the people get back . . . / their lives?" (33; Ortiz's ellipses). In the following prose piece, a friend tells a story that echoes that of the freezing children and recalls the New Testament story of the separation of the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25: 31-46), in which the unrighteous are condemned for failing to help the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the stranger. In response, Ortiz tells the story of Aliyosho, a poor boy aided in his quest by Caballo Pinto, a horse he has helped. Both the Aliyosho story and the Biblical allusion support relationality and reflect creative encounters of Indigenous and imported cultures. The Aliyosho story, further, responds to the questions asked in "Barren,"{37} and functions in dialogic relationship with the story of the freezing children and "Claiming Territory."
        In "Storm," the poem that immediately follows, references to young Indians "bargained" into "life years" in prison challenge the promise of the Aliyosho story and sharpen Part II's opening "foolish" question; as the weather warms slightly, "man's rage continues to storm" (35). Rather than moving immediately to answer or alleviate this rage, Ortiz next evokes, in successive, perspective-expanding pieces, the relationship of deer to the prairies, the effort to stay balanced on icy roads, the movement of light, the wind's snowy "finework," and a sense of oneness with the galaxy:

        The stars, planets, moons, comets
        are our beings, we are the reflection,
        and they are ours, no more, no less.
        Halley has nothing to do with it. (37)

        In this way he prepares all of his potentially diverse readers to be startled when, turning to television again, we hear American scientists anticipating the national prestige to be won by photographing Halley's Comet close up (38). The scientists' desire to "be the first to answer the unknown" and their complacent equation, "It costs as much as one B-1 bomber" (38), imply that space exploration is in part a continuation of "Claiming Territory," and reveal their failure to conceive of any vital relationship to the phenomena they would explore and control. In these ways the scientists represent the terrestrial and cosmic delusions from which Ortiz wishes to re-claim America.
        In "The Possibility," a poetic rendering of an incident from his story "Men on the Moon," he continues his critique of the scientists' view via the reaction of an Indian grandfather who cannot comprehend the scientists' and astronauts' need to find life's origins. As his grandson tries to explain, some readers will recall another grandchild's similar effort to explain the concept of right-of-way to his elders, at the end of Ortiz's "The State's Claim . . ." (Woven Stone 259-60).8 The issues are analogous: control of land, control of space and knowledge, and so is the complex dialogism. Here the voices {38} of astronauts, comet-watching scientists, grandson, grandfather, and the poet are all engaged in a contest over identity and relationship, which is simultaneously a contest over what America is, and how it can be claimed. The scientists' disregard of humans' relationships to (in this case) the moon, positions them to objectify the "outside" world, to see it as property. The old man's recognition that his grandson talks like the scientists bespeaks the loss of culturally-grounded relational knowledge, under the influence of colonialism. In the next prose passage, dated December 6, Ortiz admonishes human presumptions as he brings us back to earth: "Nothing is known beyond the limited scope of the car headlights." On the ground, traveling the prairie highway at night, we face the same issues: memory, history, identity, and "the constructions made by our hope" (39). What do our hopes construct? The answer will determine the ways in which we claim or re-claim America.
        Ortiz draws attention to the violent failure of the dominant construction of America when he reports the tragedy of a desperate farmer and the banker he murdered (53-54). "The newspaper cites a tragedy, what could it be called but that, this is America right in the midst of its self-made turmoil, anguish, loss, what could it be called but tragedy" (53). Here Ortiz both engages the language of American pride ("self-made") and, in the same phrase, evokes classical drama (the tragic hero's flaw makes him complicit in his own tragedy). He recounts with compelling sympathy the disastrous story of the end of one man's American Dream, "his despair finally wringing his wearied hands," his faith (in progress, in independent ownership) finally broken. Again Ortiz turns from the desperate edge, the margin of bare survival or defeat where this farmer's "American tragedy" plays out, to the hope for balance and continuance that he finds in memory and faith, in the vast mystery of the prairie night and daytime silence, and the comfort of friendship. Thus the final pages of Part II juxtapose conditions of desperate extremity and experiences of perhaps restorative paradox: mystery and certainty, distance and connectedness. But Ortiz makes no pretense of justifying or explaining the farmer "lost to wrath," his faith and hope broken or "whimper[ed] away," no pretense {39} of comforting the survivors or resolving "the question unanswered" (54).
        Though its title -- "Buffalo Dawn Coming" -- promises renewal, Part III suggests that hope can only follow from the continued critical and oppositional re-claiming of America. This section begins with self-confrontation: "We don't know what to do sometimes. Even with the dearest of friends, we mess up. . . . It's impossible it seems to explain what it is that throttles us, leaves us without compassion. . . . It's a kind of security, the ambiguity" (59). This ambiguity, almost humorously sardonic on the "purely" personal level, becomes complicated in the "Story of Courage" that follows, and dangerous in the grim consequences of the American Dream that Ortiz next exposes. "A Story of Courage" (59-60) recalls his earlier response to the long-gone Norwegian farmer's sagging barn; here he sees in a rusty tractor and an abandoned farmhouse an opportunity not for vindication, but for acknowledgment and connection:

        We don't know our own power to forgive.
        We don't really admit the land is stubborn
        and brutal at times but never in a final way.
        And, bereft of forgiveness, we don't know
        why we say, Okay, as if everything's over.
        On that highway south of Mission a few miles,
        we cannot fail that farmer's last promise.

        Okay, let's say, this is his courageous story (60-61).

Ortiz resolves to resist the belief that "everything's over," less in contradiction of the "failed" farmer, than in solidarity with him -- that is, he recognizes a commonality of spirit and desire across the divides by which culture and history might separate their experiences. However -- to recall the wise refrain of Silko's Ceremony -- it isn't easy.
        After a brief interlude in which he notes the promising light, Ortiz turns again, almost exactly in his book's center, to "the violent repeat of murder and suicide, . . . the acts of bewildered dreamers dismayed by the American Dream" (61). In "mid-America," the often idealized heartland (which of course includes the Rosebud Reservation, rarely {40} noticed by others), the dream "of hollow gold, . . . rich illusion," again engenders violence. "Two men killed their wives and children and then themselves." In the world of this American Dream, senators and ministers,"good neighbors" and the hungry, are all both perpetrators and victims of an illusion for which "no forgiveness will be their redemption" (61). Ortiz connects this literally murderous illusion directly to American imperialism and international looting -- an extension of "Claiming Territory" in which, again, the implications of Manifest Destiny extend beyond the North American continent. Yet as he works to find some strand of hope, he again implicitly affiliates himself with this desperately destructive America: "Now nothing is sure, not even the strangeness of becoming used to senseless deeds. But in that is a measure of our salvation" (62; emphasis added). As Ortiz extends his consideration of this news item that is "not 'news'" but "more like prophecy" (60) over several pages, he again interweaves references to violence and despair with meditative passages focused on cyclic phenomena. Doing so, he reminds us again of the necessary vision of wholeness and relationality that cyclic nature embodies and symbolizes. Further, this process of shifting focus and returning attention may be in part what enables him to contemplate and respond to such horrors. "There is no ambiguity in the light through the trees" (60). "What distance shows us," he says a little later, "is a closeness of vision. . . . 'Being' is necessary to know in a sacred way. We grasp it every second, every instant of awareness and we must be aware" (62-63). In "To Gather Them with Love" (63), this necessary awareness compels a potentially transformative response to the American Dream's disasters: "We must . . . gather those murdered women / and men back into the sacred life."
        As if first to continue and then to counterpoint this inclusive embrace, a series of reflections on the meanings of being human, of relation to land, and of love, brings Ortiz to a consideration of names and to a crucial affirmation of geographical and cultural particularity. Claiming or reclaiming America must not be construed as accepting homogenization or as denying the specific meanings of American history and places for particular peoples. Thus he reminds us,"This is not Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, or Rapid City. This is Rose-{41}bud, the Lakota homeland," making a claim that contains its own dialogic engagement, for "[o]ur names," which are "both Indian and American," are "our struggles,""our places," and "our stories" (65).
        This claim leads directly to several pieces that focus on poetry, song, and language, pieces that both contextualize the insistence on integrity and imply a dialogic recognition that inclusiveness is made meaningful by full acknowledgment of particularity and difference. And this recognition is key to how Ortiz wants to re-claim America. First, reading some (unidentified) poems by Alice Walker prompts an impatient resistance: "I'm tired of carrying your dead . . . Carry your own dead" (66). This rebuke may reflect the weariness brought on by a constant struggle for survival that is also an effort of commitment both to particular realities and to the possibilities of commonality across conflicting perceptions. It may be directed less at Walker (who might well express similar impatience) than at the non-Native readers, whose dead Ortiz has been carrying as he works to imagine connections. In "What is a Poem?" he affirms inclusivity while strongly implying that inclusivity must not permit us to avoid critical questioning and calling to account. The implied moral aesthetic, of a piece with all that has preceded it, moves Ortiz first, in "The Dreamer's Song" (67-68), to suggest that dreaming and activism are interdependent ("we must not quiet the dream"), and affirm that "[t]he dream is always 'we are everyone,'" and then, in the following prose piece, to celebrate the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this celebration, Ortiz is again brought to an ironic acknowledgment of television, which "even with . . . all its deadly . . . indoctrination and commercialism, ironically made it possible for people to dream impossibly of freedom too" (68). This perhaps quintessentially American medium potentially contributes to the subversion of the American Dream it so ruthlessly promotes, and thereby might advance Ortiz's dream of reclaiming America -- a dream, he implies, that he shares with King.
        Following this re-commitment to the power of dream, Ortiz reflects again on the weather, on the power of human connections and of the imagination, on continuity, change, and the struggle for balance. The latter is dramatized when, going outside to collect his fro-{42}zen laundry, Ortiz realizes that his presence is disruptive: "If I belonged, there would have been no need for the pheasants to be driven suddenly from their roost, terrified of the possible hunter I was" (76). Ortiz's sense of being out of place, an intruder, prepares us for the next eruption of the American Dream, the Challenger disaster. Now the violence inherent in the "savage" American Dream of "Claiming Territory" at least briefly claims the attention of all America (again via television), as it turns back on the dreamers themselves. Ortiz again acknowledges a shared complicity ("So we add only more deaths / to our side, the foolish / rending of our sacredness" -- 78); he also may imply that such communal grief has a particular resonance for Indians: "We are no stranger to loss certainly. It's been our relative forever" (79).
        He then turns from the disaster to the possibility of hope, the balance that makes for survival. Thus he gives us a memory of connection with a mare and her colt, retells the Aliyosho story, with its promise of regeneration through kindness, and describes a house-building project involving Indians and whites which may represent the realization of a more life-sustaining American Dream, based in relationship, a dream for which Ortiz claims America. Yet the cyclic movement toward spring is slowed by spells of deeper cold, more powerful darkness, death, and grief, and Part III ends near despair. Talk of congressional cutbacks leads to questions, which now are not characterized as "foolish": "'Was there a feeling of anger? Despair?' . . . Despair or anger? . . . Anger? Despair," and "When is it enough? . . . What has to happen? When is it enough . . . will it happen?" (90-91). Ortiz refuses to reassure us with the knowledge that spring will come; without social, political, and spiritual change moved by recognition of relationship, extremity will define the America he knows and insists we recognize. Thus he recounts a promise of solidarity from Black and Mexican workers: "We're ready to pick up guns any time you want us to. Any time" (91).
        In Part IV, Ortiz continues to interweave affirmation and questioning, the promise of light and spring with unsettling reminders of how he and his readers are implicated in history. In the third telling of their story, Aliyosho and Caballo Pinto reach their destination, a {43}"beautiful town lying in a little green valley," and the horse instructs the boy, "Just remember to always be kind and be humble, and you will be successful in your endeavors" (96). But almost immediately television news about distant dictators and freedom fighters reminds Ortiz "how ironic is the spare knowledge we're provided about ourselves" (96). Perhaps the irony and the "fault" lie in the fact that this knowledge doesn't prompt sufficient self-recognition: "South Africa is right here. / South Dakota is right there"; our "common," connected life demands "Hungry Questions" about the power of money in "the urgent civilization / we are driven by" (98). Evocations of light and visions of buffalo are succeeded by renewed awareness of living on the margins, on the edge, and by the recognition that "history . . . is insanity / for 'civilized men'" (106).
        Once again, Ortiz turns toward the natural cycle, as winter's grip lingers, then loosens, with the "winter sun so warm on my back" and the promise of cyclic continuity (113). The promise becomes difficult, however, in "After the Storm": "In California, lost children wander / around in the aftermath / of storms and floods," shelterless and separated from their parents, "facing their new history and ours" (114). Ortiz doesn't identify these children racially, leaving open many possibilities. They might be the emotional descendants of Part I's freezing Indian children locked out in the cold by white settlers. Equally, they might be the descendants of settlers and space explorers, discovering here, at the edge of the "frontier," their own vulnerability to powers beyond them. "Their new history and ours," a phrase that seems integral to Ortiz's project of claiming a more inclusive, life-sustaining America, may also imply an oppositional dialogism. Either way it reminds us, as the book moves more surely toward light, "redemption," "the precious balance of Creation" (122), and the first lightning of spring, that the difficult recognitions of history and of uneasy relationship do not fade. That they exist within the cyclic does not erase the memories and ongoing realities of loss, hunger, and dislocation, or the destruction still wrought by the American Dream of wealth and control.
        Indeed the book's final poems,"Lightning III" and "Lightning IV," undo any illusion of easy reassurance in cyclic continuity: "Absolute {44} assurance of natural event / is no assurance of safety at all." Though Ortiz first suggests that it's the "sheer power" of the storm that undoes "mere human value and morality," he suggests more when he exclaims "how terrible our emotional storms / must be to the creators who made us" (131), and in "Lightning IV," he again hands responsibility to humankind: "Our only certainty, when the horizon / is no longer clear, is our memory." Though we are held "fatefully" in the world, and "cannot free ourselves," Ortiz, I think, reaffirms the possibility of choice, including the responsibility of choosing how to relate to, how to claim or re-claim, America: "We do finally know why we don't turn / from danger or beauty or sadness and joy" (133-34). Not turning away -- from history, grief, or alternative dreams -- may be the crucial first choice toward reclaiming America. Ortiz doesn't allow us to believe that this choice, or the active engagement it must imply, will be easy. In After and Before the Lightning he repeatedly refuses to smooth things out. But the struggles to which this book bears witness are grounded in the "dream [that] is always 'we are everyone'" (68), a dream that imagines connections across acknowledged sorrows and wrongs. This dream, if we fight for it, offers change and hope.


I'm grateful for Carter Revard's response to an earlier version of this essay, and for Laurel Morrison's Biblical knowledge.
     1. The OED's first cited use of "American" to designate "a native of America of European descent" comes from 1765. When Crèvecoeur asked "What then is the American, this new man?" (39) in 1782, his use of "American" definitely excluded "Indian." William Boelhower is one of many scholars who have analyzed the development of "American" identity as excluding the Indigenous peoples.

The paradigm logic of Euro-American identity also produced the original interpretation of him who, through the same interpretative process, remained the continent's most blatant other self. . . . The game was (and is) one of presence and absence: but absence here means the Indians' removal from the communitary structure of the self as American. (44-45)

{45} Brian Swann puts this more bluntly: "The conquest of the Indians made the country uniquely American" (qtd in Boelhower 63). In this essay I use "America" more often than "the United States" or "the U.S.," in accordance with Ortiz's predominant usage.
     2. He makes this explicit at the end of his introduction to Woven Stone:

Native American writers must have an individual and communally unified commitment to their art and its relationship to their Indigenous culture and people, especially with regard to social, cultural, political-economic health and to progressive development. . . . In this, there is something more than survival and saving ourselves: it is continuance. The United States will not be able to survive unless it comes to truly know and accept its Indigenous reality, and this is its continuance. Through our poetry, prose, and other written works that evoke love, respect, and responsibility, Native Americans may be able to help the United States of America to go beyond survival. (32-33)

     3. Vine Deloria, Jr. contrasts such relational land claims to dominant Western concepts of ownership, in "Out of Chaos"; see especially pages 261-63. Boelhower argues that the European colonizers' "culture of the map" led them to see land and place in terms of abstraction, hence as separate from themselves; see especially pages 46-53. This argument suggests one source of the failure of relationality that makes land merely a commodity.
     4. Such a suggestion may tempt some readers to identify Ortiz as a postmodernist. A crucial difference from postmodernist assumptions is Ortiz's sense of grounded knowledge. He would surely agree with Nancy Hartsock that "we will not have the confidence to act if we believe that we do not know the world" (205), and his writing consistently bears witness to his conviction that land, place, the cosmos, can be known, if not entirely and unambiguously, at least with some degree of certainty. Louis Owens comments instructively on the limits of postmodernism as a template for reading contemporary Native writers; see especially pages 19-20.
     5. The American Dream, William Boelhower argues, "is to this day an unchanged narrative segment lifted from sixteenth-century cartographic logic," according to which "there was only one verb to express the process of building a homeland and it was an imperative: EXPAND!" (46, 73).
     6. Taken together Peter Hitchcock and David L. Moore's interpretations of dialogism illuminate the varied inflections that Ortiz and other Native writers give to this concept. For a fuller discussion of these possibilities in the
{46} context of contemporary American Indian poetry, see Fast, The Heart as a Drum, chapter 1.
     7. Arnold Krupat's ethnocriticism seeks "dialogical models whose claims to accuracy, systematicity, and knowledge would reside in their capacity to take in more context" (26). While Krupat is proposing a way of responding critically to Native American culture(s) and history, Ortiz directly contributes to both, with his multifaceted, creative critique of the Euro-American assumptions that have shaped the contemporary United States. Simultaneously he offers an example of a practice toward which theory and criticism might aspire. Consistent with such a critique, Ortiz's dialogism, unlike Krupat's, does not exclude the oppositional.
     8. The full title of this poem is indicative of the politics underlying the need for such explanations: "The State's Claim that it seeks in no way to deprive Indians of their rightful share of water, but only to define that share, falls on deaf ears." Ortiz attributes the quotation to "an April 1974 editorial comment in the Albuquerque Journal" (254).


Boelhower, William. Through a Glass Darkly: Ethnic Semiosis in American Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Crèvecoeur, J. Hector St. John. Letters from an American Farmer. New York:

E. P. Dutton, 1957.

Deloria, Vine, Jr. "Out of Chaos." I Become Part of it: Sacred Dimensions in Native American Life. Eds. D.M. Dooling and Paul Jordan-Smith. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989. 259-68. Rpt. from Parabola 10.2 (1985).

Fast, Robin Riley. The Heart as a Drum: Continuance and Resistance in American Indian Poetry. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Hartsock, Nancy. "Rethinking Modernism: Minority vs. Majority Theories." Cultural Critique 7 (1987): 187-206.

Hitchcock, Peter. Dialogics of the Oppressed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Krupat, Arnold. Ethnocriticism: Ethnography, History, Literature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Moore, David L. "De-Colonizing Criticism: Reading Dialectics and Dialogism in Native American Literatures." SAIL 6.4 (1994): 7-35.

Ortiz, Simon. After and Before the Lightning. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994.
------. From Sand Creek. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 1981.

------. "Men on the Moon." Fightin': New and Collected Stories. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1983. 18-26.

------."Towards a National Indian Literature: Cultural Authenticity in Nationalism." MELUS 8 (1981): 7-12.

------. Woven Stone. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1992.

Owens, Louis. Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

Revard, Carter. Family Matters, Tribal Affairs. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998. Rpt. of "History, Myth, and Identity Among Osages and Other Peoples." Denver Quarterly 14.4 (1980). 84-97.


The Trickster and World Maintenance

An Anishinaabe Reading of Louise Erdrich's Tracks


Catherine Rainwater developed one of the more insightful analyses of Louise Erdrich's writing, arguing that the cultural codes at conflict within the characters of her novels leave the reader with a sense of alienation (442). Reading her essay, however, it is evident she was addressing an audience that did not have personal knowledge of or experience with the social and political traumas presented in Erdrich's works, particularly the loss of land and genocide of a people. There is a group of individuals, however, who can relate firsthand to the events in Erdrich's writing: American Indians in general and the Anishinaabe in particular. If Erdrich's writing is supposed to generate a feeling of alienation on the part of the reader, what about those readers -- American Indians -- who already feel a sense of alienation? Is the expectation that Indians reading her works will become more alienated? Or, is it the assumption that Indians have no interest in written literature, do not participate in mainstream culture at all, and so will not read Erdrich in the first place?
        The challenge, then, is not to contradict Rainwater's interpretation; in fact, she makes a valuable contribution to understanding the writings of Erdrich. The analysis can be expanded, however, by providing a reading from an Anishinaabe point of view, a reading that generates within the reader a feeling of empowerment, not alienation. If there is one overriding characteristic of the characters in the corpus of Erdrich's works, it is that they are survivors. Despite all the attempts by the government and mainstream society to undermine Anishinaabe culture and, essentially, conduct genocide against the {49} Indians, the Anishinaabe survive. Nonetheless, as an Anishinaabe and a scholar of religion, one of the main issues I see at work in Erdrich is not simply the survival of the Anishinaabe, but the manner in which that survival occurs. Especially in the case of her novel Tracks, it is evident that those individuals best survive who adapt mainstream culture to Anishinaabe culture and their own personal interests.1 By the same token, they also adhere to traditional culture while adjusting themselves to broader society. In essence, these characters can be said to embody the personality of the trickster, Wenabozho, the hero of story and legend among the Anishinaabe of both yesterday and today.2 It is the tricksters who survive to build a new world on the ashes of the old.


We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.
         Louise Erdrich, Tracks

These are the first words of Tracks, spoken by Nanapush, the middle-aged man of some fifty years, who, because of the deaths in the tribe, is now seen as an old man. In fact, his words in the opening two pages of the work describe the Anishinaabe apocalypse. This was not simply a difficult time for the Anishinaabe; it is also not a description of a people being "marginalized," as the scholarship often describes genocide (Bak, Rainwater, Tidwell). It was the end of the world as the Anishinaabe had known it. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the word "last" is repeated so often. Nanapush speaks of the last buffalo, bear, beaver, and birch, all "other-than-human" relations who live with the Anishinaabe (T 2). From the Anishinaabe point of view, the earth, sun, moon, animals, and plants are all relations (Hallowell, Ojibwa Ontology 45). Nanapush tells of their dying. Instead of a world where the Anishinaabe live and work with their relations, a new world has come into existence, one dominated by outsiders, as represented by the "wind from the east, bringing exile in a storm of government papers" (T 1).
        The apocalypse also brought about the end of entire family groups. In the case of both Nanapush and Fleur, they were the sole surviving members of their respective families. Much like the loss of animal relatives, the end of the Anishinaabe world saw the loss of human relatives. So, not only was the world made void of animal relations, human relations disappeared as well, the emotional impact of which cannot be overstated.
        These devastating results are what I refer to as postapocalypse stress syndrome (PASS), which attempts to capture the profound psychological effects an apocalyptic event can have on a population. As both Nanapush in a fictional setting and Meyer in her study of the White Earth Anishinaabe indicate, early in the twentieth century, entire families died the most wretched deaths, coughing to death in a pool of their own blood, and there was absolutely nothing that could be done about it. The consequences of such loss can be overwhelming, as Myer reports in discussing the situation on White Earth: "In one home the diseased inhabitants just sat and stared" (220). Under these types of conditions, posttraumatic stress disorder becomes pandemic. However, because of the total devastation, social institutions, which normally would assist a society in recovery, are weakened or collapse, resulting in the larger, more problematic PASS. With the onset of PASS, a series of social dysfunctions occur to deal with the loss, which can include increased substance abuse, violence, unemployment, and suicide. These outward manifestations of dysfunction reflect a feeling of despair, loss of hope, and sense of survivor's guilt, and can lead to other types of behavior, such as the abandonment of established forms of religion and the adoption of fanatical forms of religious practice. As might be expected, though, increased rates of substance abuse is the most common result. As Nanapush stated, "Our trouble came from living, from liquor, and the dollar bill" (T 4).
        However, self-medicating with liquor was not the only strategy adopted by the characters in Tracks to deal with the effects of PASS. In fact, they exhibit a range of responses in line with those predicted by the theory as they attempt to survive in the wake of the apocalypse and build new lives.


Fleur is an extremely complicated character whose story weaves in and out of Erdrich's interconnected narratives. By the time she reaches old age in The Bingo Palace, she is a community elder, noted for having served as the midwife for many of the people in the senior citizen's center. Though treated with caution, she uses her healing powers for the common good (126). In fact, after her death, the people believe she still resides on Matchimanito island, watching over them, a fitting end for Fleur who started her life on the shores of Matchimanito Lake (273-74). In the end, Fleur is a successful survivor.
        However, long before this time period, Fleur uses her talents towards other ends. Fleur starts off as a strong figure with an abundance of powers and abilities. At the start of her career, Fleur is in a spiritual relationship with one of the most powerful manitous in Anishinaabe culture, Michibizhii, the water man (Smith 95-125).3 Yet instead of electing to use those blessings for good, she chooses to follow a path of fear and intimidation in order to survive. After all she has gone through, that might not be surprising. Her family dies, so she has no teachers to assist her in harnessing her powers for good. She is raped by white men while working in Argus. So, she cannot be blamed for being angry, as she initially isolates herself in the woods and uses her powers to make others fear her. Yet for all her strength, by the end of Tracks she is divested of what matters the most in Anishinaabe life: community, children, and land. Her ultimate failure speaks to the shortcomings of using great blessings to do great harm.
        One word best sums up Fleur at the beginning of the novel: confidence. This confidence runs through every endeavor she undertakes, and it provides her with the edge to claim one victory after another. Early in the story Fleur is working at Pete Kozka's meat store in Argus. The wolf-like grin she gives Pauline in asking for money to enter the card game with the male employees reveals the self-assurance of a hunter about to dispatch easy prey. And, indeed, Fleur's card playing ability is the first victory she scores and the initial evidence of her remarkable abilities (T 17-31). Fleur puts on an amazing {52}
display of skill at playing cards, which should have alerted the men to her schemes. As Pauline observed, Fleur always ended the card playing sessions with exactly one dollar (T 21). Fleur was so confident of herself and her abilities that she dared show the men their upcoming fate. That fate is reached soon enough when the men lose all of their hard-earned income for the summer to her in one, last dramatic game.
        The men then rape her, which merely sets the scene for Fleur to display her abilities at magic. Out of the hot August sky, Fleur draws a powerful wind that leaves most of the town intact, yet destroys the meat shop, where the three men freeze to death in the icehouse while seeking shelter from the storm.
        The source of Fleur's magic quickly becomes evident; it is the water monster, Michibizhii. It has incredible strength, but can be extremely dangerous. When going on a vision quest, children are especially advised to reject any offer of help from water creatures in general and Michibizhii in particular (Vecsey 125). Fleur is in a different position, though. Her family has had a long relationship with the waterman. It was her own father, after all, who, Nanabush says, brought the lake man with him from the east. She thus seeks out Michibizhii as part of her family's heritage. In doing so, she nearly drowns three times, but each time has somebody else take her place. This was the case with George Many Women, who avoided water at all costs, only to drown in his bathtub (T 10-11). The power Fleur derives from Michibizhii becomes clear in other ways as well, including hunting and sex.
        Fleur lives by herself deep in the woods, yet she manages to take care of herself quite well. Part of that has to do with the money she won in Argus. A bigger factor is her ability to hunt. However, it is not just this hunting prowess that is significant. More important is the manner in which she conducts her hunting. As Pauline relates, in following Fleur's tracks through the woods, the footsteps gradually alter in appearance, changing from a human to an ursine form (T 12). Fleur is what the Anishinaabe call a bearwalker, one of the most feared types of shamans (Vecsey 148).
        Her ability to hunt connects with her sexual power as well, and {53} both work together as she snares her future husband, Eli. Fleur is a known person in the community, and much feared. No man would go near her. Eli, though, is led to Fleur, and it is unclear if this was by accident or by design. While out tracking a deer, Eli eventually comes across Fleur, who had already taken the deer for herself. It soon becomes evident that she intends to take Eli for herself as well (T 41- 45). It is true that Nanapush helps Eli with some love medicine, much against the advice of the old man (T 45). Still, it can be questioned as to who was the real protagonist at work (T 48). In the end, Fleur and Eli get together, and their actions are simply scandalous. They engage in all manner of sexual activity, even shocking the old and experienced Nanapush, who, at his advanced age, presumably had seen enough over the years to be jaded to all but the most perverse sexual escapades (T 48).
        Fleur also uses her power to protect her land. Nanapush relates that the reservation agent who goes out to Fleur's land to collect fee money for the Pillager allotments suffers a grime fate, "living in the woods and eating roots, gambling with ghosts" (T 9). Other individuals who dare "come looking for profit" on Pillager land fall victim to the same curse, "betting with sticks and dice out near Matchimanito at night" (T 9).
        Because of her powers, Fleur becomes known and feared in the community. People shun her presence and do not dare tread on her land. She is a strong woman, and no one crosses her path. She gets her powers by turning to the water man for help. Thus, the strategy Fleur chooses to deal with the presence of non-Indians in the area is to fall back on the traditional worldview, but not traditional in a good way. She counts on the fear engendered in her association with Michibizhii to deal with the encroaching white men. Yet for all her power, her strength temporarily fades, as does she by the end of this phase of her life history.
        The most heartbreaking evidence for Fleur's loss of power occurs with the death of her second child (T 158-163). Pauline and Fleur are left alone in the woods when Fleur unexpectedly goes into labor. It could be argued that Pauline's clumsiness and ignorance doom the unborn child, but the narrative supports a different interpretation. {54} Fleur and Pauline travel the road of the dead towards the west, where they eventually enter the land of the deceased. In a dramatic encounter, Fleur meets her old enemies -- the men from the meat store in Argus -- and they gamble for the lives of Fleur's children, Lulu and the unborn. Fleur is able to save Lulu, but she has no luck with the second child. From this point on, Fleur enters a downward spiral from which she is unable to recover in this novel.
        As her powers begin to fade, she is reduced to desperate measures to save her land. Along with the other members of the household, Fleur begins collecting cranberry bark, hoping to raise enough money to pay the tax assessment (T 176). As Nanapush relates, Fleur works herself to exhaustion (T 177). One has to wonder why Fleur takes this difficult approach when she has other means at her disposal, such as her gambling abilities. The incident with her lost child drained Fleur of her confidence, however, and she is reduced to finding the most difficult means to carry on (T 177).
        For all her efforts, Fleur is unable to save her land. Through an act of duplicity, Nector uses the money raised by selling cranberry bark to pay the taxes on the Kashpaw allotment (T 207). At this juncture, Fleur makes one last stand (T 218-24). Spending time alone in the woods, she very carefully saws the trees partway through the trunks. On the day the lumberjacks arrive to begin taking the timber, Fleur leaves with her belongings on a cart she pulls herself. The wind storm which rears up and knocks down the trees around the frightened workers makes for a dramatic finish to the story (T 223-4). However, the irony of the situation should not be lost. In contrasting this event with the wind Fleur conjured up in the beginning of the story, the differences are telling. At the start of the novel, Fleur's powers are strong, and she is an overwhelmingly confident woman. By the end of the tale, her abilities have almost entirely deserted her. She chose to use her power to inspire fear and intimidation, and it did not work. As a strategy for survival, using her blessings to do harm proved to be a losing gamble. For now, Fleur loses her land and fades away. She has to go into a period of exile before she can again have a serious impact on her people, including her own child.
        Nonetheless Fleur remains a sympathetic character. The descent {55} of Anishinaabe society into PASS made her life extremely difficult. Most likely she suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder. She watched her entire family die before her eyes. She was raped. She had every reason to be angry at the world. The theory of PASS also predicts that in the wake of societal collapse, cultural institutions will come under stress as well. That very situation affected Fleur. She did not have the strong family and religious leadership available to help channel her powers toward the good. Overwhelmed by her circumstances without a loving, guiding hand, it is little wonder she would lash out, using her powers as best she knew to somehow survive in a world turned upside down. It would take years before she recovered enough to find the good in her heart and use her powers to assist others. The length of time it took Fleur to turn to the good was a tragedy for herself and her community, and is but one example of the deep and abiding negative effects of PASS.


In the wake of the Anishinaabe apocalypse, Pauline takes an approach that, while similar to Fleur's in some ways, is dramatically different as well. Like Fleur, Pauline turns to religion. Pauline's strategy for survival, however, is to deny and turn against her Indian heritage. While this approach works in the sense that Pauline is eventually able to find a community she can call home, from the Anishinaabe point of view it is a failure.
        Perhaps the most important aspect of Pauline's personality is that she does not want to be Indian; she wants to be white. In fact, that is the very first declaration she makes about herself."I wanted to be like my mother," she narrates, "who showed her half-white. I wanted to be like my grandfather, pure Canadian" (T 14). And, to her father she says in regards to the Indian way of life, "I was made for better" (T 14). Part of her decision may have been influenced by how she sees the changing face of the world and her interpretation of it. For her, the world was becoming white and,"even as a child I saw that to hang back was to perish" (T 14). She credits the superiority of whites for this state of affairs,"It was like that with Him, too, Our Lord, who had {56} obviously made the whites more shrewd, as they grew in number, all around, some even owning automobiles, while the Indians receded and coughed to death and drank" (T 139). Her desire to be white eventually leads her to have visions, which allow her to deny her Indian heritage in its entirety. While at the convent, Pauline envisions Christ visiting her and revealing that,"I was not one speck of Indian, but wholly white" (T 137).
        Pauline also suffers from some form of mental illness (Cornell, Hessler, Sergi, Sloboda, Rainwater). The key features of her illness are extreme self-absorption, narcissism, and delusions of grandeur. Pauline recognizes that she is not an attractive woman, but that does not stop her from being completely self-absorbed and narcissistic. The most extreme example of this concerns her feelings about Jesus Christ. She believes Christ is a weak figure, unable to defeat the Anishinaabe spirits on his own. So, she takes it upon herself to battle the monster in the lake, Michibizhii. Pauline's claim that Christ is weak and she is strong has to be the ultimate form of hubris. This calls into question Pauline's religious practices as well, which will be discussed in more detail below. In trying to become a saint, which even the community of nuns recognizes she is working towards, it becomes evident that she is not doing so for the greater glory of Christ, but instead to satisfy her own feelings of superiority. As she herself states, "I knew there was never a martyr like me" (T 192).
        Pauline's mental illness becomes coupled with a fanatical form of religious expression, one manifestation of PASS. From the point of view of the social dysfunctions that occur in the wake of an apocalypse, Pauline's fanaticism comes as no surprise. Perhaps the most important feature of her practices is that she keeps looking for more and more radical forms of self-torture (T 143-46). Wearing undergarments made of course cloth and wearing her shoes on the wrong feet are not sufficient for her. Instead she keeps driving herself to greater levels of masochistic behavior, finally settling on refusing to relieve herself during the daylight hours, upon the hint that doing so would ensure her sainthood. Of course, Nanapush, in his trickster fashion, undoes all her efforts (T 147-51). The pattern is established, however, and Pauline insists on maintaining a regimen of self-torture.
        Her desire to be white, her continuing mental illness, and her fanatical religious practice drive her towards internalizing racism against Indians. Pauline makes the decision to become a full participant in the destruction of Indian culture. In fact, she sees it as her mission. Of course, her efforts take on grandiloquent proportions, fighting devils Christ himself would dare not approach. It takes on other forms, too, as when she disrupts the healing ceremony Nanapush is performing for Fleur (T 187-91). But perhaps most insidious of all is the assimilation of Anishinaabe children in the Catholic schools. As Pauline recognizes, the old will die off, and the young "return from the government schools blinded and deafened" (T 205). Pauline, now Sister Leopolda, the lion of God, is assigned to teach in one of these schools, where she vows "to use my influence to guide them, to purify their minds, to mold them in my own image" (T 205). Pauline, in effect, has become the worst enemy of her own people, striving in every way imaginable to wipe out her own Native culture.
        Oddly enough, she uses Anishinaabe culture, especially visions, in her efforts to destroy the culture. Her spiritual career begins with a vision of herself as a winged animal, "my wings raked the air, and I rose in three powerful beats" (T 68). She remembers the details of her flight as well: "I knew that after I circled, studied, saw all, I touched down on my favorite branch and tucked my head beneath the shelter of my wing" (T 68-9). She continues to have visions, especially at the convent, and her visions push her to attack Anishinaabe culture. At one point or another, she identifies any number of enemies of Christ, including Fleur, Nanapush, and, of course, her final enemy, Michibizhii. And, in a vision-induced frenzy, she believes she succeeds in subduing Michibizhii. After murdering Napoleon, whom she mistakes for Michibizhii, Pauline believes she has succeeded in ending Anishinaabe culture (T 202-4). From her point of view, it is simply a matter of time before the culture dies out completely. In that sense, her actions are ironic in that she uses her own culture to destroy it. This is but one more manifestation of the degree to which she has internalized racism against her own people.
        In the end, Pauline is rewarded for being a traitor. From a white point of view, she is a success. Despite the prohibition against accepting Indian girls into the convent, the community of nuns takes in Pauline. It would be foolish to think the Mother Superior is not aware of Pauline's background. Sister Saint Anne, however, is willing to overlook Pauline's heritage in the face of Pauline's insistence that she is not Indian (T 138). Once in the convent, her obvious mental illness is overlooked, and, to a certain degree, encouraged (T 164). Her superiors recognize she has the potential to become a saint, and, by the time of The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, she is nominated for beatification.
        From an Anishinaabe point of view, however, she is a failure. She is no longer part of the Anishinaabe community; it is clear that her loyalty is to the white establishment. Although she tries to deny and hide her pregnancy, it is well known in the community. Yet she disclaims her child, and so loses her daughter (T 131-36). And, of course, she has no land. As a strategy for adaptation in the face of PASS, the approach followed by Pauline -- denying her Indian heritage and working to subvert it -- is not to be recommended.


Nanapush and Margaret need to be considered together. Both follow the same strategy for adaptation and survival, participating in the new ways of the white world, but maintaining Anishinaabe culture as well. This is the most successful approach in dealing with PASS since they are able to keep their land and their "child" in the person of Lulu, and remain members of the community.
        Both Nanapush and Margaret are tricksters. Between the two, Nanapush is the more obvious trickster figure. In the case of Nanapush, Erdrich clearly intended him to be a trickster. In discussing his name, Nanapush relates how, "My father said, 'Nanapush. That's what you'll be called. Because it's got to do with trickery and living in the bush. Because it's got to do with something a girl can't resist. The first Nanapush stole fire. You will steal hearts' " (T 33). The first Nanapush referred to here is the Anishinaabe trickster figure. Throughout the course of the novel, the character Nanapush acts in typical trickster fashion as well.
        Most especially, he directs his efforts at tricking people into revealing their weaknesses and trapping his enemies. As discussed above, Nanapush is able to determine the secret Pauline, now a novice, is trying to hide from everyone, including her superiors at the convent. Pauline has received a hint that if she does not relieve herself during the day, she may expect eternal life (T 148). Having discerned her secret, Nanapush lays a trap, offering Pauline tea and telling a story about water, which "in the old language there are a hundred ways to describe" (T 149). Eventually, Pauline cannot restrain herself, and she rushes to relieve herself (T 151). Nanapush is also able to get revenge on Clarence Morrissey for kidnapping him and Margaret and shaving off Margaret's hair. He and Eli decide to snare Clarence. Nanapush steals a piano wire from the church's piano, and sets a trap outside of the Morrissey house. While the snare fails to dispatch Clarence, who is able to save himself at the last second by spreading his legs and catching them on the sides of the pit, the trap has nonetheless done its work of satisfying both his and Margaret's desire for revenge (T 119-22). Finally, he embarrasses George Pukwan, Jr., who is investigating the death of Napoleon Morrissey. While at confession, he relates to Father Damien -- in a voice loud enough for the eavesdropping Pukwan and the rest of the congregation to hear -- that he has seen Pukwan making "love with himself " (T 216). The humiliated Pukwan can only creep away.
        While the examples of Margaret playing the role of the trickster are much less numerous, they can be found. Once it becomes apparent that Fleur is pregnant, Margaret sets out to determine who the father might be, hoping to exonerate her son, Eli. In comparing Margaret's efforts to Eli's trapping, Nanapush says, "Margaret set her own trapline, too. Hers was just as carefully laid out, around the kitchen table" (T 52). Eventually Pauline takes the bait, and she relates all she knows about what happened to Fleur in Argus. Margaret's trickery had worked: "She had the story of Fleur and Argus, in the words of a firsthand witness" (T 53).
        Both Nanapush and Margaret follow the old ways. The manner in which Nanapush adheres to traditional life, values, and customs is obvious enough. At the beginning of the novel, he makes love medi-{60}cine for Eli. Determined to have Fleur for his own, Eli implores Nanapush for love medicine. Although the old man is hesitant at first, he eventually succumbs and gives in to Eli's request (T 45). The charm works, and Eli is able to take Fleur as his own. Later, when Eli and Nanapush are living together after Fleur and Eli have their falling out, Nanapush dreams Eli's hunting success so that Eli cannot only take down a moose, but safely bring it back to their cabin (T 101-05). Nanapush is able to make other kinds of medicine besides love medicine. After Fleur loses her baby in childbirth, her powers start to fade. In response, Nanapush attempts an old-time cure for her. Of course, the ceremony is disrupted by Pauline. Nonetheless, he did have his sources of medicine (T 187-91). Nanapush was not a treaty Indian, either. From the very beginning, he was opposed to the government treaties (T 2). He further advised his people to not sign the "Beauchamp Treaty," even though he was a government translator (T 100). He saw himself as a holdout and absolutely refused to give the government his name (T 32). The land, he recognized, is the only thing that lasts from life to life, and in the end, even though he had a Jesuit education, he says of himself, "I ran back to the woods and forgot all my prayers" (T 33). In fact, he even concludes, right in the middle of Catholic Mass, that "the old gods were better" (T 110).
        It might be suspected that Margaret had turned away from the old ways since she insists that Nanapush and Lulu attend Mass. However, she follows traditional ways as well. While crossing Matchimanito Lake after visiting Fleur, the water becomes rough, and Margaret is forced to bail water. She begins praying to the Virgin Mary, but she prays to the manitous as well. In fact, even before they set out on the water, she makes an offering of tobacco (T 51). Of particular interest is the kidnapping scene of Nanapush and Margaret (T 111-115). Margaret and Nanapush fight their assailants as if they were Sioux enemies, with Margaret uttering "a war cry that had not been heard for fifty years" (T 112). After they are tied up, Margaret speaks to them in the old language, saying to Clarence and Boy Lazarre, "Let me teach you how to die" (T 114). Finally, as they attack her, she sings her death song over and over. Clarence and Boy, of course, cut off her hair, which had never been cut "in this life before" (T 115). Clearly, in her {61} most desperate times, Margaret acts like an Indian. She also holds on to Indian values. Margaret talks against selling the land, holding it just as dear as Nanapush (T 111). In the end, it is no wonder Nanapush described her as "no treaty Indian" (T 100).
        One thing that especially marks Nanapush and Margaret as old-time Indians is that they engage in sexual teasing. In just about every scene in which Margaret and Nanapush appear together, they sexually tease each other. Their teasing is also extremely bawdy and graphic. One example from the start of the story will suffice to illustrate this point. In their first scene together, Margaret wants to know who taught Eli about sex. She asks:

"Who'd he learn that from?"
"Maybe my late partner Kaspaw," I pondered.
She puffed her cheeks out, fumed, "Not from him!"
"Not that you knew." . . .
"Old man," she scorned, "two wrinkled berries and a twig."
"A twig can grow," I offered.
"But only in the spring." (T 48)

        Other examples follow this same pattern (T 50, 51, 53, 125, 128, 144, 169, and 226). This type of teasing is a long-time character trait of the Anishinaabe. In the old days, potential mates were referred to ninam, or ninamak in the plural. Sexual teasing was not only expected but encouraged between people in this type of relationship. Cross cousins were considered the ideal mate, and sexually teasing between this class of cousins was the rule. Hallowell provides an example of the sexual teasing common in Anishinaabe society:

On one occasion when old Chief Berens and I were making a trip together we had barely stepped out of the canoe at one encampment when he began bantering an old woman about sneaking into her tent at night. She was one of his ninamak whom he had not seen for perhaps twenty-five years. On another occasion, a married woman much younger than himself said to him, "Do you think you can make your way through?" The answer was, "The older you get the stiffer the horn." I have {62} heard such talk again and again, by people of all ages. ("Psychosexual Adjustment" 296)

        Margaret and Nanapush exactly fit this pattern. Sexual teasing is a major component of their relationship, and it identifies them as old-time Indians. Along with the other ways they maintain their loyalty to Anishinaabe customs, the two adhere to traditional culture.
        They also make adaptations to the new ways as well. Nanapush was educated at a Jesuit school, in "the halls of St. John" (T 33), and on more than one occasion he makes reference to the fact that he can read and write (T 2, 33, 47-48). He does not seem to be much of a practicing Christian, but he respects and participates in the Church. For example, he attends the Benediction Mass on a cold winter night with Margaret, bringing Lulu along with him (T 109). He even goes to confession, although his motives for doing so are questionable -- to embarrass and humiliate George Pukwan, Jr., who is being overzealous in his investigation of the murder of Napoleon Morrissey (T 216). Most importantly, by the end of the novel, despite his suspicions of the government, he becomes the tribal chairman. His purpose is to bring Lulu home (T 225). Still, without making some compromise with the new world order, he never would have been able to get her back at all.
        Margaret makes her own adaptations as well. She is the more devout of the two. Thus, as mentioned above, even though she prays to the manitous while on the lake, she also prays to the Virgin Mary (T 51). In relating this episode, Nanapush mentions that Margaret keeps a picture of the Virgin nailed to her wall. Margaret is the one who pushes Nanapush to go to Church (T 109). If Nanapush had his way, he probably would not attend church because he does not like "sitting on hard planks" (T 110). Overall, then, Margaret has a deeper faith in Christianity. Even though she never learned to read or write, in some regards she more readily adapts to the new way of life.
        In the end Nanapush and Margaret survive the best. They remain members of the Anishinaabe community. In fact, Nanapush, obviously a man of good standing, becomes chairman of the tribe. They are able to secure the return of Lulu from the boarding school, and {63} from the narrative, it becomes evident that Nanapush plays a strong parental role in her life. In addition, Margaret is able to keep her land, even if it is by underhanded means.

As can be seen, only the tricksters survive. Those who followed other paths towards the dark side of Anishinaabe religion or away from the embrace of the Anishinaabe people met with failure, here being described as loss of land, community, and children. So, why is it that the trickster endures when the world crumbles?
        One reason human beings build worlds, according to Peter Berger, is to fend off chaos. I would argue this includes the chaos represented by PASS. Berger writes "nomos," or established order, is a shield against terror, "Seen in the perspective of society, every nomos is an area of meaning carved out of a vast mass of meaninglessness, a small clearing of lucidity in a formless, dark, always ominous jungle" (24). As Susanne Langer has argued in another context, chaos is the one thing human beings cannot stand (287). The emphasis here is on the horror supposedly inherent outside of social control.
        However, there is another approach to chaos as represented by the comic vision of the Anishinaabe (Gross). As discussed by Morreall, some of the characteristics of the comic vision include: a high tolerance for disorder, seeking out the unfamiliar, and a high tolerance for ambiguity (44-45). Stated another way, the trickster is comfortable with chaos. Thus, for the trickster, chaos is not just a thing of terror, as argued by Berger, or something that humans cannot tolerate, as Langer claims. Instead, chaos, to borrow from Rudolph Otto, becomes a mysterious tremendum, something which simultaneously attracts and repulses human beings (12-40). Another way to phrase this is that the trickster keeps the wall between social order and chaos permeable. Chaos, then, remains accessible to human beings; in addition to being a thing of terror, chaos also becomes a treasure trove of possibility to be accessed when need be.
        Working from within the comic vision, the Anishinaabe writer Erdrich reinforces the above points with her trickster characters, Nanapush and Margaret. Tracks depicts the apocalypse of the Anishinaabe, the most horrible social nightmare possible, the collapse of {64} an entire world system. However, within the context of the chaos created by that apocalypse, the trickster figures find ways to not only adapt to changing realities, but actually to thrive in the new world order. Most especially, of all the people in the novel, Nanapush and Margaret are the ones who have the highest tolerance for disorder and ambiguity and the individuals who best keep their heads about them during very difficult times. One aspect of the trickster is that he lives by his wits. While other people were losing their wits, such as Fleur to anger, Pauline to Christ, Eli to love medicine, and other Indians to alcohol, Nanapush and Margaret remained clear-minded. It was their comfortability with chaos and their ability to access it to create new ways of being in the world that allowed Nanapush and Margaret to not only survive, but to thrive.
        Speaking as an Anishinaabe, I see this as a very positive statement. The comic vision of the Anishinaabe still survives to this day; it is one of the hallmarks of the culture. Erdrich falls squarely within this tradition. Writing from within the culture, Erdrich demonstrates how, living with the comic vision, the Anishinaabe cannot only survive but thrive in chaos, and so build a new world, based on the old but responsive to the new. Far from being alienated, I see Tracks as a realistic portrayal of the Anishinaabe apocalypse and statement of hope for the future survival of our people.


     1. References to this novel will be cited parenthetically as T, with page numbers from the text.
     2. Wenabozho is established by the Library of Congress as "Nanabush." However, this sacred being goes by numerous names, including Nanapush, Nanabozho, Manabush, Manabozho, and others. I use the name found in the dialect of my people, the Anishinaabe of the White Earth nation in northern Minnesota. It is, of course, to be noted that one of the central characters of Tracks, Nanapush, is named after the trickster.
     3. Like Wenabozho, Michibizhii goes by various names as well, with two common variants being Messhepeshu and Mishebeshu.


Bak, Hans."Toward a Native American 'Realism': The Amphibious Fiction of Louise Erdrich." Neo-Realism in Contemporary American Fiction. Ed. Kristiaan Versluys. Postmodern Studies 5. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1992.

Berger, Peter L. The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1969.

Cornell, Daniel. "Women Looking: Revis(ion)ing Pauline's Subject Position in Louise Erdrich's Tracks." Studies in American Indian Literatures 4.1 (1992): 49-64.

Erdrich, Louise. The Bingo Palace. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.

------. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.

------. Tracks. New York: Perennial, 1989.

Gross, Lawrence W. "The Comic Vision of Anishinaabe Culture and Religion." American Indian Quarterly 26.3 (Summer 2002): 436-59.

Hallowell, A. Irving. "Psychosexual Adjustment, Personality, and the Good Life in a Nonliterate Culture." Culture and Experience. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc., 1988.

------. "Ojibwa Ontology, Behavior, and World View." Culture in History: Essays in Honor of Paul Radin. Ed. S. Diamond. New York: Columbia University Press, 1960.

Hessler, Michelle R. "Catholic Nuns and Ojibwa Shamans: Pauline and Fleur in Louise Erdrich's Tracks." Wicazo Sa Review 11.1 (Spring 1995): 40-45.

Langer, Susanne K. Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957.

Meyer, Melissa L. The White Earth Tragedy: Ethnicity and Dispossession at a Minnesota Anishinaabe Reservation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

Morreall, John. Comedy, Tragedy, and Religion. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.

Otto, Rudolf. The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and Its Relation to the Rational. Translated by John

W. Harvey. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1950. Rainwater, Catherine. "Reading between Worlds: Narrativity in the Fiction of Louise Erdrich." American Literature 62.3 (September 1990): 405-22.

Sergi, Jennifer. "Storytelling: Tradition and Preservation in Louise Erdrich's Tracks." World Literature Today 66 (1992): 279-82.
Sloboda, Nicholas. "Beyond the Iconic Subject: Re-Visioning Lousie Erdrich's Tracks." Studies in American Indian Literatures 3 (1996): 63-79.

Smith, Theresa S. The Island of the Anishnaabeg: Thunderers and Water Monsters in the Traditional Ojibwe Life-World. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Press, 1995.

Tidwell, Paul L. "Imagination, Conversation, and Trickster Discourses: Negotiating an Approach to Native American Literary Culture." American Indian Quarterly 21.4 (Fall 1997): 621-31.

Vecsey, Christopher. Traditional Ojibwa Religion and Its Historical Changes. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1983.


Fighting for the Mother/Land

An Ecofeminist Reading of Linda Hogan's Solar Storms


Like many contemporary Native American writers, Chickasaw poet, novelist, and essayist Linda Hogan sees the landscape in its indispensable connection to the human beings inhabiting it. Throughout her writing, Hogan maintains that the interaction between human and nonhuman nature, as well as the disruption thereof, has an undeniable influence on a person's sense of self. In her novel Solar Storms (1995), Hogan examines the effects resulting from the dislocation of the individual from her natural and cultural landscape. She thus adds to a large canon of Native American texts whose characters engage in identity formations that entail negotiations between their native heritages and the impact of the dominant society.
        In their struggle for survival, the characters in Hogan's novel, as this essay demonstrates, are painfully aware of the interconnectedness between the domination of their Native American tribal culture and the exploitation of the nonhuman biosphere. The novel epitomizes such interconnectedness in its depiction of the young mixed-blood woman, Angel Jensen, who goes back to her reservation with the intention to reconnect with her tribal lands, her female ancestors, and most particularly with her mother who gave her up for adoption. During this journey, Angel realizes that the destruction of her tribal lands, the broken bonds among her family members, and her separation from her mother are results of an imbalance between human and nonhuman nature, an imbalance caused by the interference of the white Euro-American settlers with her tribe's culture. In the novel's social critique of the dominant culture's interference with nonhuman nature and {68}
with tribal traditions, Hogan draws on the ecofeminist heuristic that humans must restore the connection to the biosphere in order to reach a sense of equilibrium. Thus, Angel's fight for the legal rights of her tribe and the conservation of the tribal lands are acts of responsibility based on her understanding of the organic interconnectedness within the biosphere.
        Ecofeminism (ecological feminism) is a philosophy that draws a connection between the domination of sexual, ethnic and social minorities, and the domination of nonhuman nature. Ynestra King defines ecofeminism as "a critical social movement, representing the convergence of two of the most important contemporary movements, feminism and ecology" (702). King emphasizes that the main goals of ecofeminism, "human liberation and the liberation of nature are inextricably connected, as are the ecological and the social crisis" (730).1 Ecofeminist criticism has made considerable contributions to the innovative readings of a postmodern literary tradition. In their book, Reading under the Sign of Nature: New Essays in Ecocriticism (2000), John Tallmadge and Henry Harrington emphasize that ecocriticism is "an attitude, an angle of vision, and a mode of critique" (ix) that has launched new perspectives of an interdisciplinary literary practice. In their introduction, for instance, Harrington and Tallmadge argue that

[e]cocritics have begun a long migration away from foundational theory toward the exciting and varied terrain of actual practice. In the process, they are reaching beyond the romantic Euroamerican canon and its nature writers like Muir and Thoreau toward other traditions, including those of oriental and Native American cultures. And they have begun to explore pluralistic and syncretic approaches, employing techniques of feminism, ethnic studies, biography, and postmodern analysis along with tools borrowed from geography, anthropology, and natural history. (ix-x)

Critics have been reading Native American literature increasingly under the scope of ecocriticism, discussing the dislocation of Native American protagonists in relation to the destruction of tribal lands.2 {69} Hogan in particular juxtaposes the healing powers of the ancestral landscape with the protagonists' fighting for a restorative healing of the landscape. It is not so much through their return to a pristine land within their tribal territories but rather through their activism for the preservation of the tribal lands that the characters in Hogan's fiction reach a sense of completion to their identity quests.
        Throughout her writing, Hogan emphasizes the healing power that comes from a reconnection of humans to their environmental landscapes. However, unlike N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn (1968) and Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony (1977), Hogan's novels Mean Spirit (1990), Solar Storms, and Power (1999) imply in the reconciliation between woman and her tribal lands not only the individual person's re-initiation into an organic world but also the possibility for consequential change for the entire human race. This is particularly true of her creation of an alternative Native American, largely mixed-ethnic society in Solar Storms, and through her engaging of this society in a communal fight for the conservation of the nonhuman biosphere.3 In this creation of a society that confronts multiple oppressions and its belief that only an interconnected world order can offer a solution to the human malaise in general, Hogan's personal philosophy connects with the heuristic of organicism contemporary ecofeminist critics envision:

It is to pray as well as to fight for the animals, the waters, against all wars, violence, and division. It is to learn clarity and to act out of kindness and compassion. It is to not be involved in conflict except when necessary to grant human and civil rights, animal rights, or to protect the earth from intrusion, poison, or other destruction. It is to pray and offer our breath and songs back to the world. (Swann et al 247)

Hogan's cosmogyny, very much in tune with Paula Gunn Allen's use of the term as a world order "arranged in harmony with gynocratic principles" (xiii-xiv), describes the setting and social structure of the Native American community in Solar Storms.4 Hogan's novel addresses not only Angel's re-initiation into her tribal heritage, its 1970s {70} setting also acknowledges political contemporary issues such as the U.S. war in Vietnam, the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee, and coincides with several movements that shaped the United States considerably, such as the feminist movement and the ecological movement.


An ancient pact, now broken
     Linda Hogan, Solar Storms

When ecofeminist critic Mary Daly asserts that "everything is connected" (11), she does so with the implication that racism, sexism, and ecological domination are products of the same hierarchical structures within society. Solar Storms describes Angel's re-initiation into an older knowledge of a world where human and nonhuman nature are connected in a harmonic balance. During her rite of passage from a "rootless teenager" (25) to a strong, self-sufficient young woman who is deeply rooted in her tribe's struggle for survival, Angel learns to understand that in order to restore the peace within her self, within her family, and within the biosphere, she must restore the interconnectedness between human and nonhuman nature. Through the course of the novel, Angel increasingly gains awareness of the injustices committed against her tribe, in particular the destruction of tribal lands. Once Angel is reunited with her matrilineal ancestors and reconnected to the land her collective memory is located in, she is also able to reconcile with her mother.
        In the depiction of the geographical Boundary Lands between the United States and Canada, Hogan indicates the integrity of an ecosystem before Euro-American intervention. Abiding the laws of nature, water and land are united in a contract that ensures the organic equilibrium of the natural world. The implication of this natural boundlessness, recognized by Angel's tribe, refers to the cosmogonic balance within the biosphere cherished in cultures that define themselves in close relation to their native lands. By contrast, cultures that {71} rely on hierarchical structures of social organization with the white man in the top position disrespect such natural laws within the ecosystem. In his essay "An American Land Ethic," for instance, Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday strongly asserts that mainstream American culture has lost this connection to the land, due to the "psychic dislocation" (103) people experience in relation to their surroundings. However, Hogan's re-construction of an intact landscape, through a multi-vocal narrative re-evocation of a sovereign, matrilineal historiography, goes beyond the stereotypical image of Native Americans as "Ecological Indian," as Shepard Krech III contests in his The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (1999). Christa Grewe-Volpp, for instance, argues, that Hogan "uses the Ecological Indian critically, even subversively, to undermine dichotomous thinking, to work towards a symbiosis of Euroamerican and American Indian ways of life" (271). The reference to an ecofeminist heuristic that initiates Angel's fight for environmental justice is one of the many strategies Hogan applies to overcome the danger of exoticizing her characters as "noble savages."
        First and foremost, Angel's environmental activism relates to her political activism for the cultural survival of her tribe. Early on in the novel, Angel acknowledges the similarities between the broken "pact" between the natural elements, the earth and the waters of her place of origin, and the broken "pact" between this geographical landscape and its inhabitants. Angel's retrospective first person narration repeatedly refers to these multiple pacts of common origin within nature. Her rhetoric, suggests Jim Tarter, recalls the use of "a refrain in the oral tradition" (133). The following two quotations are examples of the parallel structure with which Angel's accounts of her lands and her story about her people re-evoke a more integral, harmonious past: "It was the north country, the place where water was broken apart by land, land split open by water so that the maps showed places both bound and, if you knew the way, boundless. The elders said it was where land and water had joined together in an ancient pact, now broken" (21). By the same token, white American culture has broken the relationship between Angel and her matrilineal ancestors when she was removed from their care and put into foster {72} homes outside the reservation. Hogan reenacts this cosmic pact between land and water in Angel's reflections upon the affinities between the natural pact within the organic world and the interhuman pact of compassion among her ancestors: "Between us, there had once been a bond, something like the ancient pact land had made with water, or the agreement humans once made with animals. But like those bonds, this bond, too, lay broken" (22). In both cases, white American society causes the disrupting of the organic equilibrium. Euro-American settlers have exploited the lands of her tribe, its animals, and finally, its people, Angel's ancestors. In abducting Angel from her tribal family and in placing her in foster homes outside the reservation, white Americans disrespected and disturbed the natural pacts and traditional bonds of Angel's tribe.
        Through Angel's rhetoric of the similarities between the destruction of the lands and the destruction of her family, Hogan indicates an interconnectedness that was once intact in pre-Columbian Native American cultures. In the parallel structure of Angel's narratives of the multiple disruptions of the pacts and bonds within her cultural environment, Hogan re-constructs on the level of discourse what Angel is yet to do on the level of plot. Solar Storms narrates with a special "inner language" Angel's mission to restore the bonds broken by the dominant white society. In Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World (1995), Hogan defines this language as follows: "There is . . . a deep moving underground language in us. Its currents pass between us and the rest of nature . . . an inner language" (57). Angel learns to listen to this "inner language" of her people's traditions and her family's history through the stories of her matrilineage, the narratives told by her step-grandmother Bush, her great grandmother Agnes, and her great-great grandmother Dora-Rouge. These older women initiate Angel into the knowledge of an inner language humans share with the nonhuman world of nature.
        Storytelling shapes Angel's understanding of a cosmogonic balance between human and nonhuman nature before the intrusion of a phallocentric, patriarchic dominant society. Reminiscent of ecofeminist lines of argumentation, the novel exposes the Euro-Ameri-{73}can settlers' need for domination as characteristic of the failure of a social organization based on hierarchical rather than interdependent structures. Angel reflects:

Their legacy, I began to understand, had been the removal of spirit from everything, from animals, trees, fishhooks, and hammers, all things the Indians had as allies. They'd forgotten how to live. Before, everything lived together well -- lynx and women, trappers and beaver. Now most of us had inarticulate souls, silent spirits, and despairing hearts. (180-81)

Such awareness comes to Angel at a critical point in the novel, at a point where the personal reconnection with her matrilineal ancestry starts to become political as she contributes to her people's fight for their land. At the center of the novel's construction of Angel's coming-of-age and re-initiation into her Indian heritage, this acceptance of Native American world views characterizes her maturity to appreciate her cultural legacy.5 At the same time, this passage foreshadows Angel's ability to sympathize with her mother's fate rather than judge her along patriarchal norms of good or bad motherhood.
        During her stay with her female ancestors in order to find out about her mother, Hannah, Angel learns that such cases of the white man's intrusion shape her family history. In a story about Angel's female ancestors, Agnes describes Hannah's mother, Loretta, as the personification of the settlers' exploitation both of the land and of its people. The settlement in Adam's Rib along Poison Road is a sad legacy of Euro-American colonization of Native American territory, when "the remaining stray wolves and fox were poisoned to make more room for the European settlers and the pigs and cattle they'd brought with them" (24). Agnes remembers that Loretta smelled of cyanide, which indicated that she belonged to the tribe of Elk Islanders, who, at the point of starvation, ate the carcasses white settlers "left out for the wolves" as bait (38). Agnes's story suggests that the breaking of Loretta's spirit comes from having witnessed the systematic extinction of her people. Similar to the mistreatment of the land itself, white men who "fed her and beat her and forced her" domi-{74}nated Loretta (39).6 When Loretta abandons her young daughter, Hannah, to flee the Island, it was, as the novel suggests, in order to free herself of painful memories. This story expresses Agnes's sympathy with Loretta and emphasizes that Loretta "wasn't the original sin" (ibid.). From Agnes's story, Angel learns to understand the significance of her mother's behavior beyond patriarchal laws that advocate maternal guilt and bad motherhood.
        From Loretta's story, Angel also realizes that the breaking of her mother's spirit and her consequent inability to mother are painful repercussions of a phallocentric culture dominating women, ethnic minorities, and nonhuman nature. Like her own mother's, Hannah's skin bears reminiscences of the cyanide odor of rotten carcasses. Despite desperate efforts to erase the painful memories, this smell of the destruction of nature would not come off Hannah: "It was deeper than skin. It was blood-deep. It was history deep" (40). And history, as Angel learns, did repeat itself. The disruption of Hannah's spirit, this "terrible and violent force" which took a hold of her (22), is the reason she scarred Angel's face. In a different but no less minor extent, history also repeated itself in the colonization by Euro-American settlers in the form of Angel's abduction from her tribal family by social workers.
        Angel's cultural legacy, as re-initiation into her collective cultural past exemplifies, depends on an intact matrilineage. At the beginning of Angel's journey north, her mother is the missing link in this matrilineage. Reestablishing the initial bonds within her cultural, geo-political, and spiritual world can only be completed after her reconciliation with her abusive mother. Angel's fight for her people and their tribal lands is the result of her successful re-initiation into the legacy of her culture, a culture that relies on lateral rather than hierarchical structures. Relying on an ecofeminist philosophy, Hogan creates a mother-daughter relationship that acknowledges such lateral structures within society as well as within the interconnected pattern of human and nonhuman nature. With this reference to a cosmogonic world order and its cosmogonic balance between woman and nature, Hogan's construction of a mother-daughter dyad that reflects ecofeminist principles adds extraordinary facets to the existing canon of contemporary mother-daughter literature.


An old world in which I began to bloom
     Linda Hogan, Solar Storms

Through her knowledge of a cosmogonic balance, enabled by the stories of her female ancestors, Angel comes to understand the link between her mother's pathogenic violence and her tribe's constant battle against white supremacist intruders. She contests: "My beginning was Hannah's beginning, one of broken lives, gone animals, trees felled and kindled. Our beginnings were intricately bound up in the history of the land" (96). On her mission to reconstruct the bonds within the biosphere, Angel relies on an "inner language" that speaks through nature. Like her ancestors before her, she hears the "water's voice" (73) and understands "the language animals and humans ha[ve] in common" (170). With this inner language, Angel describes the forces of the lands that her people take care of. These lands are remnants of the cosmogonic balance before white settlers colonized Indian territories and Indian tribes. Angel's description of unspoiled nature preserved within tribal territory reflects her identity quest:

I wondered at times what she, my mother, had thought of that world with its islands of spiders, its fish leaping out of the lake, the plaintive cries of loon and wolf. What had she seen in the low sky that rested on water and land? What had she thought of the storms that moved in so quickly and gave themselves back to water? (80)

As Krista Comer suggests in her book Landscapes of the New West (1999), the nonhuman world comprises "the dominant feature of southwestern cultural identity. [Such] identity is articulated through vast, relatively unpeopled, wilderness landscapes" (124). The image Comer considers emblematic of the southwestern U.S. landscape is similar to the lands Angel contemplates in her desire to undo the damage her mother, her tribe, and the lands of her ancestors have suffered. Thus, in her observations of wildlife and the overwhelming {76} powers of the fierce climatic nature of the Boundary Lands, Angel expresses her longing to understand and reconnect with her mother. Hence, in chapter five, the longing to reconnect with the laws of nature, articulated through her description of a perfectly pristine landscape, reflects her longing for a reconnection with her mother.
        In this sense, Solar Storms treats matrilineage as gynocratic principle of cultural resistance against Western domination of Native American tribes and lands. As Paula Gunn Allen argues in The Sacred Hoop (1986), "physical and cultural genocide of American Indian tribes is and was mostly about patriarchal fear of gynocracy" (3). In the gynocratic society of Solar Storms, the individual members cherish their bonds with each other and their bonds with the animals, plants, and natural elements around them equally. This depiction of a female, environmentalist society emphasizes the importance of inter-female relationships for the preservation of the ancestral culture. Women in Hogan's writing are not better equipped to assume environmental responsibility, they "simply are the leaders in the community, and the connections that count . . . are those between women" (Tarter 143-44). In Solar Storms, Hogan interconnects Angel's environmentalist concern with her fight for the continuity of her matrilineal heritage.
        The spiritual healing that comes from the reunion of human nature and the nonhuman biosphere opens new approaches for a world view that ceases to locate human beings at the center of all creation. Such heuristics, entirely in tune with Francoise d'Eaubonne's claims in Le Feminisme ou la Mort (Feminism or Death 1974) that the survival of the human species relies on a general acceptance of such inter-connectedness, is at the center of Hogan's construction of a mother-daughter relationship that counters patriarchal hierarchies. As Adrienne Rich poignantly observes in Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1976), mothers and daughters in Western nuclear families struggle equally against paternal laws, laws that alienate the two during the daughter's subject formation. As many feminist critics of the psychoanalytic tradition observe, the daughter's rebellion against her mother often entails a duplication of such paternal laws. They observe the counterproductive tendency within {77} feminist theory and practice that this reinforcement of patriarchal laws results in the reproduction of the social organization of gender.7
In this context, an ecofeminist reading of Solar Storms adds a fairly unexplored solution to the mother-daughter conflict in the literary canon of matrilineage. In meeting her abusive mother with compassion and forgiveness, Angel recognizes and restores the bonds among her female ancestors, knowing that such bonds are essential for the future of her tribe. Inspired by the pacts within nature and the pacts between human and nonhuman nature, Angel makes a pact with herself to reconnect with her mother through forgiveness and to reconstruct the matrilineage within her ancestry by assuming responsibility for Hannah's newborn baby. Like Hogan, many contemporary women writers acknowledge the need for an intact relationship between mother and daughter in order to create an inter-female nexus in a society dominated by patriarchal institutions. Hogan uses the daughter's reintegration into the nonhuman, tribal landscape as an alternative way of reconstructing a mother-daughter relationship beyond patriarchal gender reproduction and other traditions of the dominant Euro-American culture.
        The solution to the mother-daughter conflict between Angel and Hannah lies in Angel's understanding that her mother, like the entire tribe and their lands, are victims of an oppressive dominant culture. Angel recognizes the destruction of the land around her in Hannah's "small and vulnerable" body, and considers her mother another casualty of a culture that practices subjugation and domination. This is a sign of Angel's maturity: "I was no longer a girl. I was a woman, full and alive" (250). Sitting by her mother's deathbed, Angel enters with her mother in an unspoken pact:

Yes, she tried to kill me, swallow me, consume back into her own body, the way fire burns itself away, uses itself as fuel. But even if she hated me, there had been a moment of something akin to love, back at the creation. Her desperation and loneliness was my beginning. Hannah had been my poison, my life, my sweetness and pain, my beauty and homeliness. And when {78} she died, I knew that I had survived in the best of ways for I was filled with grief and compassion. (250-51)

In reference to Adrienne Rich, who considers the lack of compassion between mother and daughter "the essential female tragedy" (237), Angel's empathy with her mother appears to be a great achievement of mother-daughter bonding. After all, as Suzanna Danuta Walters aptly suggests, "How much easier to struggle against one's mother than against a [domineering] culture that feels overwhelmingly intractable" (233). In her ability to look at her mother beyond the normative ideals of motherhood/womanhood imposed by a patriarchal society, Angel liberates herself from the Euro-American society.
        This act of liberation, then, is the beginning of Angel's fight for her mother/land. Accordingly, as Judith Plant holds, Angel's new, ecofeminist consciousness is not designed for "cleaning up the patriarchal mess" caused by the dominant culture but to facilitate the understanding "that we all must cultivate the human characteristics of gentleness and caring, giving up patriarchy with all its deadly privileges" (3). Angel brings forth such caring on two major levels. First, in taking care of her baby half-sister after Hannah's death, she assumes the responsibility of keeping her tribe alive. Like her step-grandmother Bush, who took care of Hannah and later of Angel until social workers placed her in foster care, Angel mothers her own sister with the hope of keeping her connected to the tribe. Second, her participation in her people's fight against the building of the hydroelectric dam expresses her concern for environmental justice and the preservation of an intact biosphere. Thus, her motivations in either endeavor are interchangeable because of their strong connection to the preservation of her cultural heritage.
        Fighting for her mother/land, Angel "goes public" with her social criticism and her environmental activism. In a 1987 interview, Hogan talks about her belief in the interconnectedness of the spiritual and the political:"For me, the things that are very important, the spiritual and the political, are very united. You do not believe one way and act another. You see cruelty and injustice and you act" (Bruchac 131). In the radio testimony for a program called "Indian Time,"Angel speaks {79} out about the injustices against Native Americans and the exploitative logging industry's threat to their homelands. Such activism stems from Angel's awareness that the exploitation of human and nonhuman nature are interrelated. In her activism, moreover, Angel follows the example of her grandmother Bush, whose journalistic writing on the crimes against Indians appears in newspapers in Canada and the United States. With particular reference to her family's suffering from the white man's intrusion, Angel's public accounts of the dam building company's trespassing of tribal territory indirectly also retaliates the suffering her mother has experienced under white oppression.
        Not unlike the correlation between Hannah's/Loretta's falling prey to Euro-American settlers and the way the dominant U.S. society exploits nonhuman nature, Angel recognizes that the continuity of her cultural heritage is exposed to the same risks. In this sense, the novel juxtaposes Angel's description of her matrilineal heritage with the logging industry's capitalist clearing of large areas. The logging company leaves behind "cut-down trees and torn-up land" (184). In opposition to this site of destruction, Angel refers to Dora-Rouge, her great-great grandmother as "a root and we were like a tree family, aspens or birch, connected to one another underground, the older trees feeding the young, sending off shoots, growing. I watched and listened. It was an old world in which I began to bloom" (48). With this reference to an "immediate, daily organic relationship" with her immediate environment, to borrow from Carolyn Merchant (68), Angel locates her matrilineal heritage within the frames of an ecofeminist philosophy envisioning a convergence of human and nonhuman nature.
        Similarly, Angel's active caretaking of her heritage and her homelands counters the extinction of her matrilineal heritage and the land it is located in. With the same inner language of organicism she uses to describes the network of her matrilineage, she also claims future members of the gynocracy she herself is a part of. For instance, she names her baby half sister, Aurora, in reference to the aurora borealis over the lands they originate from with the awareness that, like herself, Aurora embodies the tribe's future. In fact, Aurora's tribal (nick)name is "Our Future," the same nickname Dora-Rouge used to {80} call Angel by. Symbolically, Aurora "held a fullness [the tribe] longed for" (318). Angel refers to the aurora borealis as celestial phenomenon reflecting the chain of matrilineage Angel and Aurora belong to. Accordingly, Angel describes the aurora borealis and its many strands as "spider's web," emblematic of the creation story of many southwestern matrilineal societies. Helen M. Bannan's poetic description of Spider Woman's web offers an apt reference to Hogan's use of the image of the web as implication of matrilineal interconnectedness:

Spider Woman's concern for the preservation of the Life Pattern allows us to picture it as her web, spun of tribal experience and memory, with strands as strong as steel. The image of the web reflects the intricacy and organic wholeness of each Native American culture, its ties to the earth, and its capacity for growth, as additional concentric circles expand the structure without altering the basic design. (268)

Angel's contribution to this web of matrilineage is to rescue her baby half sister, who embodies the new generation of their cultural heritage. Attacked by bulldozers and other "weapons" for the destruction of nature, Angel runs into "thin woods," hiding out in whatever shelter the scarce forest provides. "I worried now only about Aurora" (288), Hogan writes, describing Angel's sole concern at this moment. Implied in this concern is her attempt to reconstruct a strong matrilineal society that lives by the cosmogonic laws of an intact ecosystem.
        Through Angel's mothering of Aurora, Hogan subverts patriarchal roles of motherhood, thus de-colonizing the concept of motherhood in Native American societies. By introducing and engaging in a world view that Native Americans possessed before the aftermath of "Columbus's discovery," Hogan furthermore counters the disruption of Native American tribal traditions by the dominant culture. Her use of a language of organicism and her construction of a mother-daughter relationship that grows out of the ecofeminist philosophy that "everything is connected" claims sovereignty for Native American women and their matrilineal cosmogony. Through her writing, then, Hogan restores the initial bond within pre-Columbian Native American societies.

Creation is not yet over
        Linda Hogan, Solar Storms

In its social critique directed against the imperialist mindset of the United States in particular, but by and large against the social organization of any Western culture clinging to a division of the world into superior and inferior beings, Hogan's novel portrays the downsides of progress and a course of human development that eventually leads to self-destruction. However, in opposition to this pessimistic outlook of the catch-22 Western society, Hogan's incorporation of ecofeminist heuristics in Solar Storms leaves hope for consequential change for the future of all beings. With an elaborate awareness of the extent to which the future of the human species depends upon a more careful handling of the environment, Hogan creates in the character of Angel a role model for a new generation of people who are compassionately responsible for the world within and around them.
        Angel's careful handling of the human and nonhuman resources of her immediate environment indicates that there is hope for social change. In particular, her reconciliation with her mother, whom she identifies as yet another victim of an exploitative, phallocentric society, allows us to aspire to inter-human bonding in a world defined by ecofeminist heuristics. With the implication that a peaceful resolution of the mother-daughter conflict opposes the domination of Euro-American patriarchy, Angel's reconnection with her mother also epitomizes her reintegration into her matrilineal Native American heritage. Thus, Angel has found a way to circumvent the patriarchal laws of the dominant culture that had distorted her family legacy over generations. However, in Angel's triumph over the patriarchal laws of the dominant empire, Solar Storms maintains its position as literary resistance against a culture/country/government/philosophy that draws its strength from the unscrupulous exploitation of the seemingly powerless.
        The power for such emancipation, suggests Hogan, lies in the reunion with the land and the cultural traditions that celebrate the organic relationship between human and nonhuman nature. In Angel's life as active member of her tribe, Hogan commemorates the times {82} before white intruders disturbed the tribal order of her ancestors. A token of these times is also the frog in amber, given to Angel to guide her on her journey towards her mother. This frog in amber is a remnant of pre-Columbian times, when Native American tribes held on to the sovereignty of their territories and the integrity of the biosphere. This frog, frozen in time as it became one with the natural gold of the trees, symbolizes how eternity emerges out of a fusion of all life within nature. Angel describes this eternal cycle within her cultural legacy as follows: "Older creatures are remembered in the blood. Inside ourselves we are not yet upright walkers. We are tree. We are frog in amber. Maybe earth itself is just now starting to form" (351).
        Progress for the human race, concludes Hogan, can only lie in the commemoration of times and cultures before human beings disassociated themselves from their nonhuman environment. Hogan suggests that in Angel's re-initiation in this knowledge of an older, more harmonious way of life lies the possibility for re-construction of the lateral bonds within nature. This optimism also becomes apparent in Hogan's conclusion of the novel, when Angel, by the touch of the wind through her hair, receives Dora-Rouge's message that "human is alive water, that creation is not yet over" (350).


     1. See also "The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism," 125-46.
     2. See, for instance, Schweninger, "A Skin of Lakeweed," 37-56.
     3. For an analysis of Hogan's construction of a multiethnic society in Solar Storms, see Tarter, "Dreams of Earth."
     4. Roseanne Hoefel's essay "Narrative Choreography toward a New Cosmogony" discusses the matriarchal society in Solar Storms according Paula Gunn Allen's description of the seven ways of the medicine woman in her Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman's Sourcebook.
     5. In her analysis of the numerous twin structures within Solar Storms, Catherine Rainwater points to the importance of chapter eleven, as it is the symmetrical center of two sets of ten-chapter segments.
     6. For an especially valuable treatment of the power implications of sexual humiliation and rape, see Davis, Women, Race and Class, 172-201.
     7. See, for instance, The Reproduction of Mothering. For an analysis of the
{83} reproduction of patriarchal laws in mother-daughter writing, see The Mother/Daughter Plot.


Allen, Paula Gunn. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.

Bannan, Helen M. "Spider Woman's Web: Mothers and Daughters in Southwestern Native American Literature." The Lost Tradition: Mothers and Daughters in Literature. Eds. Cathy N. Davidson and E. M. Broner. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1980. 268-79.

Bruchac, Joseph, ed. Survival This Way: Interviews with American Indian Poets. Tucson: Sun Tracks and University of Arizona Press, 1987.

Chodorow, Nancy. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

Comer, Krista. Landscapes of the New West: Gender and Geography in Contemporary Women's Writing. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Daly, Mary. Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1978.

Davis, Angela Y. "Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Rapist." Women, Race and Class. New York: Random House, 1981. 172-201.

D'Eaubonne, Francoise. Le Feminisme ou la Mort. Paris: Pierre Horay, 1974.

Grewe-Volpp, Christa. "The Ecological Indian vs. the Spiritually Corrupt White Man: The Function of Ethnocentric Notions in Linda Hogan's Solar Storms." Amerikastudien/American Studies 47.2 (2002): 269-83.

Hirsch, Marianne. The Mother/Daughter Plot: Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989.

Hoefel, Roseanne."Narrative Choreography toward a New Cosmogony: The Medicine Way in Linda Hogan's Solar Storms." FEMSPEC 2.2 (Spring 2001): 33-47.

Hogan, Linda. Power. New York: Norton, 1999.

------. Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World. New York: Norton, 1995.

------. Solar Storms. New York: Scribner, 1995.

------. Mean Spirit. New York: Antheneum, 1990.

King, Ynestra. "What is Ecofeminism?" The Nation 245 (December 12, 1987): 702, 730-31.
Krech, Shepard, III. "Introduction." The Ecological Indian: Myth and History. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 1999. 15-28.

Merchant, Carolyn. The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. New York: Harper, 1980.

Momaday, N. Scott. "An American Land Ethic." Ecotactics: The Sierra Club Handbook for Environment Activists. Ed. John G. Mitchell. New York: Trident, 1970. 97-105.

------. House Made of Dawn. New York: Harper and Row, 1968.

Plant, Judith. Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism. Philadelphia: New Society, 1989.

Rainwater, Catherine. "Intertextual Twins and Their Relations: Linda Hogan's Mean Spirit and Solar Storms." Modern Fiction Studies 45.1 (Spring 1999): 93-113.

Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1986.

Schweninger, Lee."A Skin of Lakeweed: An Ecofeminist Approach to Erdrich and Silko." Multiethnic Literatures through Feminist/Poststructuralist Lenses. Ed. Barbara Frey Waxman. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993. 37-56.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin: 1977.

Swann, Brian, and Arnold Krupat, eds. I Tell You Now: Autobiographical Es-says by Native American Writers. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

Tallmadge, John, and Henry Harrington, eds. "Introduction." Reading under the Sign of Nature: New Essays in Ecocriticism. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2000. ix-xv.

Tarter, Jim. "'Dreams of Earth': Place, Multiethnicity, and Environmental Justice in Linda Hogan's Solar Storms." Reading under the Sign of Nature: New Essays in Ecocriticism. Eds. John Tallmadge and Henry Harrington. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2000. 128-47.

Walters, Suzanna Danuta. Lives Together/Worlds Apart: Mothers and Daughters in Popular Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Warren, Karen J. "The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism." Environmental Ethics 12.2 (Summer 1990): 125-46.


"Resting in Peace, Not in Pieces"

The Concerns of the Living Dead in Anna Lee Walters's Ghost Singer


George walked around Donald's desk, his eyes on the coiled strings of human ears hanging on the nail above it. . . . "Are those ears? . . . Indian ears . . .? Where's the rest of those people? . . . Those people are still probably mad as hell."
        Anna Lee Walters, Ghost Singer

Yes, the Americas were full of furious, bitter spirits; five hundred years of slaughter had left the continents swarming with millions of spirits that never rested and would never stop until justice had been done.
        Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of the Dead

In 1988 the Pawnee/Otoe-Missouria writer Anna Lee Walters published her first novel, Ghost Singer. Set primarily amongst the Native American "artifacts" housed in an attic of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in the late 1960s, the novel is a horror story whose action spans more than a century. Consequently, the ghost story of the 1960s is itself constantly haunted by the events and politics of the past: of the genocide and inhumanity by which the Americas were settled, of the devastating impact of nineteenth-century Spanish and Mexican slave raids upon the Navajo, and of the assault upon tribal identity by imperial concepts of cultural assimilation. Walters's exploration of the continued significance of these events to Native peoples exhibits concerns for the future, illustrating the extensive scope of "horror" in the text which locates the "monstrous" within a speci-{86}fically Euro-American worldview. Thus the monstrous is situated within the power and agendas of academia; within the construction of "national" history through the silencing of minority voices, and the consequent power and authority assumed by "legitimate" or legitimating historians; within the methods and reasoning behind the collection of Indigenous "artifacts"; and within the dehumanization and commodification of Indigenous remains identified as "natural history" by archaeology and anthropology. Ghost Singer clearly displays the increasingly tangible links between museological "collections" of human remains and notions of ownership inherent within the concept of slavery; and the implicit and disturbing links between the collection of human remains and the "souvenirs" taken during actual acts of genocide against Native peoples in the United States. In this manner, Ghost Singer challenges notions of academic responsibility by posing pertinent ethical and moral questions: who has the right to own and display human remains? To whom are such displays directed? What is the effect upon those peoples whose ancestors and cultures are consumed?
        Most significantly, Ghost Singer perceives, tracks, and so exposes the "absence" of a contemporary Native America in the national American imagination. Constantly looking to the future, the novel traces the perpetual presence of the past and of the indigenous dead -- the unsettling narrative of the foundation of the nation state -- through the spectral figure of the Ghost Singer. Desperately attempting to recover what has been stolen from him, the Ghost Singer becomes visibly more dangerous and destructive -- and more emphatically present physically -- as he illustrates the lack of respect shown to, and expresses the very real anger of, the Indigenous human remains and cultural artifacts housed in American museums. Haunting the Smithsonian, its Anglo curators, and those visitors unfortunate enough to be present, the Ghost Singer returns the ills of five hundred years of colonialism in the Americas. These ills include those perpetrated, and thus perpetuated, against the fragmented remains to whom the Ghost Singer claims a protectoral kinship. As a result, both curators and visitors alike endure varying degrees of despair, alienation, disease, physical harm, and, in several cases, actual death.
        Subverting the traditional genre of the ghost story, Ghost Singer juxtaposes the haunting absence of the Indigenous dead in the homogeneous American imagination with a macabre national fascination with, and celebration of, death. Consequently, the text contrasts the forgetfulness of the hegemonic national narrative with the crucial importance of memory to occluded and elided alter and Native histories. Through its focus upon hidden and absent museological collections of Native remains and body parts, Ghost Singer suggests that the Indigenous dead are not only dismembered, but dis-remembered. Walters's creative exploration of the horror genre exposes a correlation between the historical events and political issues addressed by the text, and established perceptions of horror, monstrosity, and evil. As a ghost story, Ghost Singer actively appropriates and manipulates the multiple connotations of a long and accretive gothic tradition in western literature.
        In The Horror Reader, Ken Gelder argues that horror literature acts expressly to draw boundaries between: "what is evil (and what is good) in societies, what is monstrous (and what is 'normal'), what should be seen (and what should remain hidden)" (1). In the context of the ongoing tense history of Federal-Indian relations in the United States, Walters's haunted and haunting novel raises multiple, complex, and disquieting questions regarding the very nature of "good" and "evil," of monstrosity and normality, of what the nation -- or the reader -- is encouraged to perceive, or to fail to perceive. The concept of perception is therefore crucial, especially in the context of the museum, which not only showcases the findings of anthropological and archaeological research, but more importantly acts to legitimate the imperial project of the nation state.
        In part the museum does this, as Ivan Karp argues, through its "articulation of national identity" (14). In this context, the implicitly imperial foundations of anthropology can be traced in both museum and museum display: the authority of the "imperial gaze" that pervades the anthropological and museological hierarchies of "observer" and "observed;" the unarguably imperial origins of "collecting" as a legitimated form of cultural appropriation. In The Predicament of Culture, James Clifford comments that the concept of appropriation is etymolo-{88}gically inseparable from the concept of property, the centrepiece of European/Euro-American law: to appropriate is derived directly from the Latin proprius, "property." Thus, for Clifford, the decision to collect is a "powerful discrimination" (221). Neither museum nor anthropology can be separated from the processes or the implications of perception, as both disseminate what Svetlana Alpers describes as extremely powerful "way[s] of seeing" (25).
        These ways of seeing are paramount in Ghost Singer, where the museum is identified as the embodiment, and the academic as the disseminator, of a specific hegemonic cultural viewpoint, clearly choosing what should be seen and how. The Anglo museum curators in Walters's novel are all very aware of the "highly controversial nature" (44) of their collection of dismembered Native remains, deciding that the collection should remain hidden away in trunks and drawers in an attic.1 Kept out of the view of the Native groups who find it controversial, the collection is only to be viewed by "other groups" that the museum and its curators define as "more educated and tolerant" (44). The controversy surrounding the collection derives not only from the nature of what has been collected, but also from the implicit links between museologically "collected" body parts and the trophies of genocide and conquest. There appears to be very little distinction between the public "display" of strings of scalps and severed testicles and vaginas by the U.S. military in theatres throughout Colorado after the Sand Creek massacre of 1864, and the "private nature" (90) of the collection in Walters's Smithsonian attic: the "necklace of twenty human fingers" (42), the "full scalp with the ears attached" (43), the cloth sack containing the "bones and skull of an infant" (44), a "mummified child . . . tucked into . . . [a] box" (91), and the sack containing "strings of human ears . . . at least two hundred pairs" (91).2 Walters makes the connection between museological collections and imperial trophies explicit through an old letter that accompanies a trunk of items:

Get what you can for this Indian stuff. It should be worth something in $. Try a museum first. . . . Daddy ran across the ears in New Mexico and won them in a poker game about 1890. They're Indian ears all right. They won't be of much use to {89} anyone, except to someone who may want to hand them on a trophy mantle -- a conversation piece for sure. . . . It's been in the attic for years. (93, emphasis added)

        The naturalization of a disrespectful attitude towards human remains -- the denial of humanity that marks the deliberate dehumanization of colonized subjects -- is particularly clear in the matter-of-fact way in which one of Walters's curators, Donald Evans, perceives the Indian collection: "With his left hand, he fingered the strings of ears. . . . With his right hand, he poured himself a cup of coffee" (92). Having forgotten to replace the strings of ears in their trunk, Donald sees nothing disrespectful in hanging them "in coils on the key-ring nail" (93). It is an attitude that is even more marked in the previous curator, Geoffrey Newsome, who "playfully" wears the necklace of human fingers (42). As Erika Aigner-Alvarez argues, it is through actions like this that the Anglo curators "completely dissociate . . . the living Indian from the artifact" (47), and so effectively divorce contemporary Native peoples from an authentic "Indian" past. However, Evans's dehumanization of the string of ears draws attention to his disregard for, and possibly his lack of awareness of, Native American cultural tabbos: to eat/drink or touch food/drink while touching the dead is to violate understandings of the sacred and profane in many Native cultures. In this context, Walters clearly questions the comprehensive claims of anthropological research and the comprehension of anthropologists. This interrogation can be detected in Walters's ironic wordplay in naming Geoffrey Newsome, which highlights widespread Native perceptions of the arrogance of science, and clearly challenges the self-proclaimed limitless nature of scientific knowledge. As Rhoda Carroll comments in an interview with Walters, Geoffrey "knew some, but not much" (64). In this context, it is interesting that Newsome becomes emblematic of a common tribal perception of academia's propensity to downgrade and dismiss alter/Native knowledges and worldviews: Newsome is employed to sort the "fragments of history," specifically to make "the pieces fit into something they [Euro-American academics] . . . understood" (40, emphasis added).
        Newsome's perceptual selectivity is evident in both museum and {90} museum display, and accords with the concept of the museum as a particularly powerful way of seeing. Walters's text constantly questions our perceptions and preconceptions of good and evil through an analysis of the nature of monstrosity, and its links to morality and ethics. In Ghost Singer, the monstrous represents both a warning (deriving from the Latin monere, "to warn") and a revelation (from the Latin monstrare, "to show" (Collins English Dictionary: 1011)). In this context, one of the Native characters, the Creek-Cherokee George Daylight, comments upon the nature of horror, making an explicit link between the horrors divorced as "past" and those of the 1960s "present": "There's a savagery here alright, no doubt 'bout it . . . right now, it's probably over in Saigon. They're probably taking ears and scalps over there" (81). This linking of the atrocities committed during the nineteenth century and those being committed in Vietnam prevents any convenient divorcing of the past from the present. George Daylight's argument also acts to invert the non-Native reader's perception of "civilised" behaviour: "This is savagery . . . First class savagery . . . [it] scares the shit out of me. This is what we're up against!" (81, original emphasis). It is perhaps appropriate that it is specifically through the horror genre that the reader explores "the limits of what people are capable of doing and experiencing."3 More significantly, Ghost Singer applies this long tradition of horror, and of established reader response, to one of the most emotionally and politically charged of contemporary Native American issues: the treatment and perception of the Indigenous dead.
        Walters signals the highly charged nature of the issue through a careful disclaimer situated at the start of the text:

Although the Smithsonian Institution is a real place with collections of Native American artifacts, references to it in this book, including its collections and employees, are fictional. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. (frontispiece)

Walters's perception of the issue is given even more weight by her own experience of working in the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian.4 It is also given additional weight by the sheer {91} number of Indian remains -- both complete and fragmented --"held" by the Smithsonian, estimated to be 18,500 in 1986.5 Yet the question of the collection and treatment of human remains by science has become even more charged since Ghost Singer was published in 1988. In 1990, specific federal legislation -- the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) -- was introduced, primarily as a response to vocal, well publicized, and increasingly well-received tribal protests.6 (The number of Indian remains in the Smithsonian ensured that the Institution was covered by separate legislation: the 1989 National Museum of the American Indian Act).7 NAGPRA was presented as an attempt to address the highly emotive issues involved: the continued imperialism of a science that insists upon the right to freedom of enquiry above the rights of human remains, and the continued scientific denial of dignity to either Native remains, or to Native peoples and cultural beliefs.
        Prefiguring both the Smithsonian and the NAGPRA legislation, and clearly articulating persistent and increasingly vocalized tribal concerns, Ghost Singer specifically engages with contemporary Native political issues. In this context, Walters succinctly presents a variety of prevalent scientific/academic attitudes that dismiss, condescend to, and insult Native peoples. Geoffrey Newsome exhibits outrage that he, as a professional, should be questioned by an amateur such as George Daylight on the Indian collection: "perhaps 'challenged' would be a better word" (45-6). Donald Evans continually defines tribal peoples in (remarkably nineteenth-century) museological terms, as "curiosities" (91), who continue against all odds to view life through a haze of "superstition" (122). Additionally, Evans advocates the belief that the absent Indian collection is an "embarrassment" to contemporary Native people: it is his sincere opinion that "With education and acculturation, they've wisely chosen to put all this hocus-pocus behind them" (125).
        Aiming to combat these types of attitudes, the NAGPRA legislation also aimed to address Native concerns by according tribal perspectives an equal consideration and respect. Ultimately, NAGPRA desired to resolve an increasingly controversial situation by prohibiting any traffic, museological or private, in Indigenous human remains and ar-{92}tifacts, and by "repatriating" all Native remains and cultural artifacts held in national and private collections to the communities from which they have been appropriated. (Significantly, the term "repatriate" resonates with tribal suggestions that Indian remains, many "collected" from battlefields and the sites of military massacres, continue to be held as "prisoners of war"). Perhaps predictably, the prevalent reaction of the academic community to NAGPRA was -- and continues to be -- one of outrage at what is perceived to be the loss of "non-renewable archaeological resources." It is a reaction that itself exposes the continued dominance of dismissive and disrespectful scientific and academic attitudes. In particular, the reaction exposes the continued imposition of imperial categories, whereby Native absence is perpetuated by the divorcing of contemporary tribal peoples from an "authentic" (i.e. non-renewable) tribal past. Thus, in a manner akin to the remains residing in Walters's Museum of Natural History, Native peoples continue to be equated with the natural world, with "resources."
        In Ghost Singer this type of attitude is best illustrated by the Anglo curator Donald Evans, who expresses permanent bewilderment at the presence of contemporary tribal peoples, who, "by all the rules of the game," should, in the true manner of the endangered species of the natural world, "have become extinct" (91). Unlike his predecessor, Geoffrey Newsome, Evans is presented as an example of liberalism. As a result, his views are often potentially more damaging:

George's kind was already over-extended -- they were on borrowed time anyway. It was simply an accident that such simple heathen types had made it this far -- all the way to the twentieth century. . . . By all odds, sooner or later, all the [ethnic] groups would be sucked up into one big vacuum. Consequently, Donald couldn't, and wouldn't, encourage ethnic plurality and diversity. (123)

This type of liberalism is also evident in the character of David Drake, an historian who "fancie[s] himself a 'do-gooder' for the Indian cause" (226-227). Originating, perhaps predictably, "from back East," Drake proclaims an interest in Indians that dates from his boy-{93}hood and seems to be implicitly linked both to an absence of Indians, and to the long history of museological concepts of "preservation": "We used to have some Indians out there [East]. . . . They're almost gone out there" (26). Drake is deeply unsettled by the Navajo historian Jonnie Navajo's subsequent question:"Where'd they go? . . .what did you do with them?" (27). Drake's desire -- to write a Navajo history from a Navajo viewpoint -- is foiled not only by the hostility of academic reactions to his project, but also by his own perceptual inability to see beyond academia's narrow definition of "history." Thus Drake is permanently "puzzled" by Jonnie Navajo's lack of distinction between story and history: "I don't get it. . . . Why is he telling us all this?" (30).
        Discomfited by Jonnie Navajo's expectations of an equal exchange of information -- Jonnie's request that Drake trace a Navajo child (Jonnie's great-aunt) stolen by slave traders in the 1830s--Drake exhibits a reluctance to perform research that will benefit anyone other than himself. For Drake, Jonnie's request is not only unreasonable, it is "impossible!" (31). Here, the reader's perception of Drake's horror is aided by Walters's visual use of punctuation. Yet it is equally clear that Drake's reluctance derives in part from a general popular elision of the history of the Indian slave trade in the Southwest: "no historian had given it serious treatment, and the few references to it by historians were casual and doubtful, skipping over it carelessly" (78). Indeed, Drake comments upon the unlikeliness of discovering written records that would signify "documented history": the vague reports are "scanty," the documents are "few," and Drake fears he has accepted "a hopeless task" (78). In his analysis of the academic treatment of Navajo slavery, Drake clearly distinguishes between his own status as a legitimate academic, and Jonnie Navajo as an uneducated oral historian: "Could he [Jonnie] have made it all up?" (78).
        Drake's question exposes a generalized academic prejudice against the inherent unreliability and illegitimacy of oral histories. It is a viewpoint that the Standing Rock Sioux critic and historian Vine Deloria, Jr. has long critiqued, claiming that the delegitimization of Indigenous oral history derives primarily from what he interprets as the de-{94}sire of science to legitimate itself (and Euro-American worldviews) at the expense of alter/Native knowledges and histories. As Deloria argues, the matter is not merely academic: there are "immense contemporary political implications" (Red Earth, White Lies 67).8 In this context, Drake's questioning of the truth of Jonnie Navajo's story presupposes and emphasizes the absolute legitimacy and veracity of written history. Drake's perceptions are paralleled in a scene where the descendant of the stolen Navajo child, Anita Mondragon, discovers that her grandmother, "Maria," was sold into slavery.
        Attempting to trace her own history, Anita finds that Maria's freedom had been purchased by an Anglo family, who adopted her into their family as a servant. Maria's Indian identity -- a matter of memory -- was subsequently constantly questioned and elided -- made absent -- by her adopted Anglo "family." As a result, Beth Williams, the descendent of the Anglo family, "winced" (104) at direct questions from Anita regarding other Indian family slaves, and her comments indicate her desire to perpetuate the elision of the history of Indian slavery: "Maria claimed to be an Indian a couple of times, but then when Maria was questioned about the Indian people to which she belonged and couldn't answer, she quieted and didn't pursue her claim" (104). Beth Williams insists that Maria's Navajo origins can never be known for certain, and offers the ultimate written historical record: "what I have told you is all written down. . . . We have an old family Bible, and all this is there in the Bible if you'd like to read it for yourself " (106). The implications are not only that written history cannot lie, but that it -- and, by extension, historians (and academics) -- are also afforded some kind of divine authority.
        A sharp distinction between the inconsistencies of memory and the ultimate veracity of the legitimated written record becomes central to David Drake's story. Drake eventually finds that his "Navajo" history progresses far "more efficiently" when he is free from the distractions of any actual Navajo input (224). Indeed, Drake acknowledges that it is "much easier to do without the old man's [Jonnie's] input," which had forced Drake both to endure "long tale[s]" of little relevance, and -- far more dangerously -- to "rethink his own history of the Navajos" (227). While Drake acknowledges that his research {95} has "added nothing new" to the field, he is comforted by the fact that the lack of a Navajo perspective is a good career move: had Drake included an alter/Native perspective, "His professional reputation would be at stake" (225). Drake's final decision to exclude a Navajo viewpoint is influenced almost wholly by the adverse reactions of his academic colleagues: not only would a Navajo perspective risk the inclusion of "sentimental hogwash" that could needlessly "rock the [academic] boat," but such an history would also lack "credibility" due to its reliance upon input that is not merely "uneducated" but incapable of separating "History" from a mythical "time of dragons" (225). As Drake's story progresses, it becomes increasingly evident that the most important issue for Drake as an historian is academic "survival": "He wasn't a cowboy, or an Indian. He was a historian, and a damn good one, too" (228).
        Academic survival -- the continued access to non-renewable resources by anthropology -- is at the forefront of the ongoing controversy surrounding the NAGPRA legislation. Few academic disciplines in the contemporary United States hold such power -- cultural, economic, legal, political, and otherwise -- as anthropology over Indigenous populations. In their 1997 critique of contemporary anthropology, Thomas Biolsi and Larry Zimmerman maintain that:

the history by which Indian people were made primitive Others, conceptually and materially, subject to economic exploitation -- in a word, their disempowerment -- . . . [is] the same history by which generally elite white intellectuals became authorised to study the primitive as professional anthropologists in the academy, in a word, their privilege. (13, original emphasis)

In this context, it is unsurprising that, for Native critics such as Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe), anthropology is interpreted as "a statement of academic power," with membership of the academy perceived and accepted as the sole qualification required for expertise (Crossbloods 86). Relied upon to investigate legal claims for tribal status, anthropologists are the primary, often the sole, "authenticators" of Indianness, and thus also of the wide-ranging political, so-{96}cial, and economic "benefits" that Federal tribal recognition -- recognition as Indians -- entails.9 The situation is both problematic and paradoxical, raising complex questions regarding authority and representation. Thus "Indians" can only be defined by non-Indians; and, in spite of repeatedly reiterated claims to the contrary, anthropologists can never be truly "objective" and/or free from the political agendas implicit in any questions of authority or representation.
        The situation is muddied considerably by the employment of anthropologists for specific ends -- i.e. for the results of academic research, by government, by the state, by interested non-Indian parties, and by federally recognized and non-recognized tribes. Having maintained a sustained critique (for more than thirty years) of anthropological practices in "Indian country," Deloria concludes that anthropologists are "ideological vultures," whose only purpose appears to be to prey upon Indigenous peoples in order to produce research that has no relevance to, nor any practical application for, those studied (Custer Died For Your Sins 95).10 The remark appropriately illustrates the combination of bitterness, resentment, and subversive irony with which anthropologists continue to be regarded by large numbers of Native communities in the contemporary United States, and which Walters illustrates in Ghost Singer through the characters of Donald Evans, Geoffrey Newsome, and David Drake.
        The ongoing outrage of the academic community at NAGPRA -- itself an interesting illustration of the nature of horror--ensures that the issue of Native remains and repatriation continues to be very much at the forefront of contemporary Indian issues. In part, the issue of the dead is highly charged due to the accretive nature of anthropological theory: modern anthropology has emerged from, and continues to be informed by, the implicit (often explicit) discriminations and biases of the nineteenth-century scientific discourse on "race." Defined by David Hurst Thomas as "one of anthropology's most hateful and threatening ghosts" (117), it is an origin that has produced a defensive stance on the part of anthropology: a defensiveness that Vizenor evokes and subverts with his neologism "anthropologetics." Linking together both anthropology as a discipline {97} and apologetics as a discourse, Vizenor's term indicates that anthropology is defensive of its own origins and theories. Like the branch of Christian theology to which the term alludes, Vizenor suggests that anthropology offers a "rational justification" of itself (Collins English Dictionary 70).
        For Vizenor, "anthropologetics" is defined as a "colonial doctrine" that is both "obsessive" and "unmerciful," ultimately inseparable from the desires and "manifest manners" of the nation state ("Ethnic Derivatives" 375, 376, 378). Manifest manners are, as the Anishinaabe author and critic Kimberley Blaeser comments, the "contemporary rhetorical devices" of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny (11), the surreptitious continuation and perpetuation of a doctrine of racism and imperial dominance (Manifest Manners 4) that exposes the new guises of old methods of categorization and control. It is in this context of manifest manners that the racial theories of Samuel Morton should be read. Morton (1799-1851) is widely recognized as the founding father of American physical anthropology, but has also achieved notoriety for his theories concerning "polygenesis," a hierarchy of human creation by which all non-white "races" were deemed inferior (if not actually separate species) through a spurious combination of race and biology. Morton believed that he could scientifically evaluate both race and intelligence through cranial measurements. Although since discredited, in part due to its production as a justification of slavery, Morton's theories were incorporated first into Social Darwinism, and then into the theories of "racial essence" which dominated American anthropology, and the training of nearly all American anthropologists, throughout the first half of the twentieth century.11
        The issue of the Native dead is also highly charged due to the museum's role as an articulation of national identity and a legitimation of the nation's imperial project. From the viewpoint of many contemporary Native peoples in the United States, the agenda of anthropology is inextricable from the imperial agenda of the nation state. This correlation is evident in the centrality of anthropological theory to some of the most despised and devastating Federal Indian policies. {98} The catastrophic 1887 Dawes Allotment Act derived almost entirely from the anthropologist Alice Fletcher's theories of social evolution. Adopting and furthering Samuel Morton's hypotheses, Fletcher was convinced that tribes in the United States were doomed to extinction by cultural and biological inferiority. As a result, Fletcher advocated individual land allotment as the means by which communal tribes could be encouraged to assimilate, and so survive. By the time the Dawes Act was finally repealed in 1934, the tribes had lost ownership of two thirds of all lands allotted in 1887.12 The correlation between anthropology and the nation state is also evident in the continued importance of anthropologists as expert witnesses to legal processes that determine tribal "authenticity" for the purposes of federal recognition.
        Overwhelmingly, anthropology's power derives from its control of dominant ways of seeing. Applying Jean Baudrillard's concepts of hyperreality and simulation, Vizenor argues that because Native America exists only as a simulation in twenty-first century America, there is little or no popular recognition of the realities of contemporary Native life. Vizenor's simulated "indian" is, perhaps appropriately, visually marked through his refusal to "capitalize" the term, through its demotion (in signification) to "lower" case, and through the use of italics to clearly distinguish between what Vizenor himself perceives to be "real" and "fake." Significantly, Vizenor claims not only that the indian is the "commemoration of an absence" but that this very absence, like David Drake's history of the Navajo, "has no referent, memories, or native stories" (Fugitive Poses 15). Related directly to the erasure of the past by which the nation state establishes itself, the elision of contemporary Native America can be traced primarily to the theories of anthropology: the authorization of the image of a static, ahistoric, dioramic indian simulation that is compatible with the accepted/acceptable national narrative. In the context of Ghost Singer, it is pertinent that the primary showcase and disseminator both of legitimated national history, and of the simulated indian, is the museum. The simulated indian effectively delegitimizes contemporary Native peoples, who continue to offer a stark reminder of a less heroic story of American settlement. For Vizenor, the power of the simulated indian is such that its very presence is pre-{99}cisely what ensures "the absence of the tribal real "in the American imagination" (Manifest Manners 4).
        In Ghost Singer, the tribal real is made present in part by George Daylight's careful tracing and exposing of the links between anthropology, the nation state, Federal Indian policy, and the implicit connections between assimilation and cultural/physical genocide:

It's a hell of a thing, the ideas they had 'bout "red Indians." It's enough to scare the crap out of you. What's even more spooky is that people acted on these ideas, made decisions based on them, decisions that still affect us guys. Willie, you and me's lucky even to be sitting around here at all. (80)

Significantly, the tribal real is also made present through the challenge that Walters's text offers to perception. Ghost Singer specifically challenges the failure of the Anglo museum curators to see the humanity of their "collections," or of the tribal peoples who demand their return. In this context, both the text and the figure of the Ghost Singer echo Vizenor's blunt assertion that "death is not the absolute termination of human rights" (Crossbloods 63).
        Walters very clearly traces the perpetual presence and influence of the past through the figures of the dead, both those long and recently departed. The greatest success of Ghost Singer lies in its ability to trace the connections between the dead and the manner of their deaths, and between the dead and the living. Quite aside from the Ghost Singer himself, a whole range of characters remain vividly present and highly influential in spite of, and perhaps because of, their own deaths: the Navajo "medicine man" White Sheep and his daughter, Red Lady; Red Lady's adult twin daughter, who died after four years of Navajo incarceration at Fort Sumner; the second infant twin, who was stolen into slavery and renamed "Maria"; and Maria's own daughter, Rosa. The Ioway medicine man LeClair Williams is himself constantly spoken of as literally present by Anna and Wilbur Snake: "Anna could not see an end to him [LeClair], his existence . . . his death was not that cut and dried. He was still around" (144). It is clear that LeClair's influence upon the Snakes continues far beyond his death as he constantly reappears in their thoughts and dreams.
        By drawing direct comparisons between the fragmented remains, the emphatic physical presence of the Ghost Singer, and figures such as LeClair Williams, Ghost Singer constantly emphasizes and recognizes the humanity of all of the dead, and the importance of respecting that humanity. It is this concept of respect that Jack F Trope and Walter R. Echo-Hawk emphasize in their analysis of the NAGPRA act as "human rights legislation" (123). In this context, Anna Snake issues a specific warning, injecting a note of normality into what the Anglo characters identify as the realm of the fantastic: "the best way to act around spirit peoples is the same way we act around live peoples. Don't steal from them. Don't lie to them. They might be related to you" (149). Anna's words embody the multiple personal, cultural, perceptual, and temporal interconnections that Ghost Singer traces, exposing the otherwise imperceptible impact of each character, of each event, and of each era, upon all others. Moreover, Anna's words suggest the ongoing ramifications of acting disrespectfully towards those who should be accorded respect.
        Significantly, it is when the individual Anglo curators begin to perceive the fragmented humanity with which they are surrounded that they become haunted by the "collection" and, ultimately, by the spectral figure of the Ghost Singer and the accumulated ills and oppressions that he quite literally embodies. In this context, it is the museum's role as a disseminator of a clearly delineated way of seeing that is disrupted. In her analysis of Ghost Singer, Catherine Rainwater argues that it is the museum itself that becomes a site of both contention and possibility: the museum becomes the place "where radically different worlds come together and where the world of the Other may emerge to wreak havoc" (125). Although the original Anglo curator, David Drake's sister Jean Wurly, presides over a large collection of Indian remains and artifacts, she only gradually becomes aware of the humanity that surrounds her: "there are Indians there. I've seen them" (5, original emphasis). The subsequent curators of the collection undergo similar experiences: Geoffrey Newsome is bewildered by a growing awareness that the odor in the attic is one "of living, breathing people" (45), and it is immediately following George {101} Daylight's criticism of his lack of perception, and while he is "staring at the coils of ears still hanging on the nail," that Donald Evans becomes uncomfortably "aware of a growing odor around him" (129).
        Perceptual awareness leads, perhaps appropriately in the context of American settlement, directly to physical contact. Haunted by the Ghost Singer, Jean Wurly dies after falling downstairs in a "freak accident" (9), having been "tapped . . . on the arm or shoulder"; Geoffrey Newsome is "roughly shoved" (45) before jumping to his death from his thirteenth-floor balcony after discovering that Indian remains from the collection have followed him home (48, 67). The most dramatic physical illustration is the experience of Donald Evans. Having heard disembodied "footsteps" climbing the attic stairs, and strange "rustling noises[s]" amongst the collection (129), Evans not only sees the "living, breathing" Ghost Singer, he is also physically attacked by him:

the giant slowly and calmly reached over and picked Donald up by his arms. Donald felt himself being lifted upward a few feet and then dropped. He tried to brace himself for the fall, but was not entirely successful. Again, the giant came forward, picked Donald up off the floor and threw him down. This time Donald felt the impact.
     He was near mental collapse. This could not be happening. For the third time, the giant came at him and momentarily raised him to eye level. The giant's face was determined and angry as he lifted Donald and then threw him. (130-131)

Raising him to "eye level," the Ghost Singer quite literally forces Evans to see his humanity, and his anger. Significantly, Evans's reaction traces a distinct relationship between himself and the fragmented collection of Indian remains: his first thought is to check his own body "to see if it was whole" (131).
        The deaths at the Smithsonian illustrate the links that Walters makes between perception and physical/spiritual danger, outlining and emphasizing alter/Native views of the dead, and of the correct treatment of human remains. To come into contact with the dead is {102} also to come into contact with the manner of their death; and to risk attracting potentially hostile reactions or attention. For the remains in Walters's attic, the dangers are very real: all of the remains have either been disrespectfully disinterred for study or display, or have experienced violent and horrific deaths and suffered subsequent mutilation. Jonnie Navajo's grandson, Willie Begay, is himself horrified when he is mistakenly brought a Navajo scalp to view, "complete . . . with gray hair and both ears attached" (50), and inadvertently touches it. Walters's clearly illustrates Navajo customs concerning the dead, where contact is avoided as the dead are considered to be physically and spiritually dangerous, due in part to the centrality of a dead body (or body parts) to the practice of witchcraft.13 In addition, these concerns are amplified by the horror surrounding the concept of collecting and displaying human remains.
        Once physical contact with the dead has been established, the humanity of the remains and the manner of their death and collection can neither be denied nor avoided: "A layer of oil from the scalp stayed on his [Willie's] fingers. . . . He could feel the numbness of it in him now, too" (50). Following this "deadly contact" (176), Willie suffers from what Aigner-Alvarez identifies as "ghost sickness" (55), as he continues to be haunted by the unaddressed, unacknowledged, and increasingly enraged concerns and demands of the Smithsonian spirits. Walters's descriptions of the Pawnee character Russell Tallman's physical contact with a dying man might also be interpreted as a comment not only upon the history and reverberations of Federal-Indian relations, but also upon the dangers and repercussions of an anthropological/museological view of the dead: "Maybe we're all a little sick from this violent contact, and there ain't no one to tell us how sick we really are" (176). As Rainwater argues, Ghost Singer quite specifically "equates the illnesses of those involved in the appropriation and misuse of sacred Indian artifacts with the greed of an acquisitive western mentality" (162).
        The dead are disturbingly present throughout Ghost Singer, and part of their horror lies in what Sharon Patricia Holland identifies as their "outrageous disrespect for boundaries" (18). Yet the true horror of the dead is evident in their role as witness. The dead quite literally {103} embody the carefully elided and often horrific histories of settlement, genocide, and Indian slavery. In Walters's text, the horror of the dead is amplified by their role as witness to the continued reverberations of those histories in Federal Indian policy, in the Federal-Indian relationship, and in the contemporary realities of Native life in the United States. Gillian Beer suggests that one of the principle functions of the ghost story is to "collapse . . . frail and cherished distinctions" (260). Through the emphasis upon the reciprocal relationships of responsibility and respect between the living and the dead in Ghost Singer, it is the collapse of the cherished distinctions between life and death that illustrates their very frailty. Therefore the term "haunted" -- the location of horror, the uncanny, and the unfamiliar in the text -- is seen to derive from the realm of the highly familiar: from the Old Norse heimta, "to bring home," and from the Old English, hamettan, "to give a home to" (Collins English Dictionary 713). This context clearly demonstrates the "relatedness" of humans to the remains held in museum collections (who "might [all] be related to you" (Ghost Singer 149), and also anticipates the return of Native remains that can be "brought home" under the terms of the NAGPRA legislation.
        While Ghost Singer engages directly with contemporary political Native concerns, it also embodies Gelder's suggestion that horror texts "have real socio-cultural effects" (1). In Ghost Singer, the desired real socio-cultural effect is for a growth in popular American awareness of Native museological remains, and of tribal demands for their repatriation. In her analysis of Ghost Singer, Dorothy J Graber argues that the text "presents an extended argument for the repatriation movement" (11). Walters's text not only anticipated both the 1989 Smithsonian and the 1990 NAGPRA legislation, but also suggested the fragility of both acts in the face of entrenched academic and scientific opposition. The greatest test of the NAGPRA legislation -- and one of the most pertinent examples of the type of Euro-American academic attitudes critiqued by Ghost Singer -- has been the ongoing legal wrangling, prompted by the repatriation process, over the "race" of the ancient human skeletal remains dubbed "Kennewick Man." Unearthed in 1996 in Washington State, the remains have been {104} carbon dated at between 9,200 and 9,500 years old. The cause of an exceptionally hostile ongoing debate over race, the contentious nature of the Kennewick Man case is clearly outlined by David Hurst Thomas in the title of his study of the subject, "Skull Wars." Perhaps more than any other case, the Kennewick Man controversy exposes the extent of anthropology's continued equation of race and biology in the context of Native America.
        As recently as 1998, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) issued a statement contending that "race" cannot be scientifically determined since "human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups."14 The statement, and the AAA's concern that public misconceptions derive from "spurious claim[s]" advocated by proponents of "the politics of race," clearly supports Walters's emphasis on both the humanity of Native remains and their relationship to all human groups. However, Walters's concern over the prevalence of the type of anthropological attitude that denies this relationship (illustrated by figures such as Donald Evans and Geoffrey Newsome) is evident in the disclaimer with which the AAA prefaces its statement, which notes that the statement "does not reflect a consensus of all [AAA] members." It is a disclaimer that, above all, emphasizes the divisions that continue to exist within anthropology over the concept of race, and exposes the continued appeal to anthropology of racial theories based upon the ideology of scientific racism.
        In part, the AAA statement was issued to counteract the highly controversial racial claims made for Kennewick Man. The anthropologist making those claims, James Chatters, clearly and publicly identified the remains as "Caucasoid" that, in the context of both NAGPRA and Ghost Singer, has "incendiary connotations" (Thomas 117) which demonstrate that "race" in American anthropology persists as a major problem. The very age of Kennewick Man is a primary problem: it is unlikely (although not impossible) that Chatters failed to consider the political implications when labelling a 9,200 to 9,500 year old skeleton "Caucasoid," thus intimating that the remains are evidence of an ancient, specifically white, settlement/occupation {105} of the Americas. In this context, a key feature of the Kennewick Man saga has been its significance as an illustration of the links between race, anthropology/science, and the national narrative. A key problem, and one which reverberates with the concerns of Ghost Singer, is that scientists and the media formulated and disseminated "fresh theories" based on what Thomas identifies as "the sketchiest of evidence": a combination of carbon dating and Chatters's racial claims. As Deloria has commented, many scientific claims are an illustration of the manner in which scientific theory establishes itself as fact with very little basis in physical evidence: what Deloria identifies as the "myth of scientific fact" (Red Earth, White Lies, subtitle). At this point it is worth recalling that previously established, respected, and widely accepted academic theories (such as those of Samuel Morton) are today publicly eschewed as utterly spurious by the majority of contemporary scientists and anthropologists.
        The Kennewick Man case has tested NAGPRA to its limits, with a petition for repatriation of the remains by a consortium of tribes being countered by a legal challenge from a consortium of leading scientists/ anthropologists, protesting against the loss (to reburial) of such valuable ("non-renewable") scientific data. Both the case, and its current legal result (in February 2004, anthropologists were awarded the right to retain and study the remains) succinctly illustrates the concerns of Ghost Singer, namely the widespread ongoing hostility amongst the academic community towards either NAGPRA, or any suggestion of accommodating or respecting Native worldviews.15 In this case, the academic community clearly illustrates the type of attitude demonstrated in the text by Donald Evans, whose claims that the Indian items held in the museum's collection are from "dead cultures" provokes George Daylight's pertinent comment on the disparity between Native and Euro-American worldviews: "The cultures who created these items ain't dead simply because you're blind to them and deem them so!" (125). Daylight's subsequent comment illustrates the continued "life" of the Native dead: "These cultures manifest themselves differently now, that's all . . ." (127).
        A failure to eradicate the biases of the Euro-American worldview {106} is a clear concern of Ghost Singer, which argues that the result will be the continued dehumanization of Native remains and Native peoples. Walters provides an apt illustration on the final page of the text, set at Jonnie Navajo's funeral in 1975. As one of the text's central characters, few readers could be persuaded to see Jonnie as anything less than human. Yet, in the final lines of the text, where Jonnie is buried in a traditional site among the graves (and grave goods) of the extended generations of his family, Walters traces the clear and ongoing links between the history of anthropological and museological collections, the commercial value of Native remains and artifacts, and contemporary Native realities:

"Let's hope not too many people come out here, Willie," Nasbah said. "They're sure to haul everything away, bones and all! It wouldn't matter whose bones they are."
     . . . By the time Willie left there, Nasbah's comments about stolen bones had made him very uneasy. If only he could be sure his grandfather's grave would be safe there. . . . (248)

The punctuation of the final line of the text, ellipsis, visually marks -- and thus forces the reader to see--the significance of Ghost Singer's topic, and its lack of resolution.
        This lack of resolution is crucial to the context of Ghost Singer. Asked in an interview by Carroll why she chose not to resolve any of the complex issues of the text, Walters's reply is both succinct and telling: "These problems don't have easy solutions" (69). Graham Huggan has commented that one of the aims of haunted fiction is "to convert a spectral past into a speculative future" (353). Ghost Singer achieves this by disputing accepted popular and academic categories, by inverting the reader's perception of what is and what is not morally and ethically acceptable, and by challenging the right of science to dehumanize what is undeniably human. Rainwater argues that the politics of Ghost Singer makes specific demands of its readers, in particular "for an immediate, responsible, extra-literary action on behalf of this present-past" (118). In her complex analysis of elided histories -- of Indian slavery, of the genocide that accompanied settlement of the Americas, of the subsequent scientific/academic col-{107}lection and treatment of Indian remains, and of the ongoing effects of all of these issues on contemporary Native peoples in the United States -- Walters clearly demands an immediate and responsible change in popular perception. In particular, the perceptual change that Ghost Singer demands is one that recognizes both the humanity of human remains in museological collections, and the inhumanity with which they are "kept" in museums, studied by science, and commodified by black market auctions and collectors.
        Vizenor claims that it is the humanity of bodily remains that ensures that they have "natural rights" (Crossbloods 62). In Ghost Singer, these natural rights are vocalized by the character of Jonnie Navajo, who traces a highly unsettling and discomfiting relationship between museological "stewardship" of Indian remains, private "ownership" of Indian remains commodified through illegal auctions, and the history of Indian slavery:

You told me that that man we visited today [a statue of George Washington] . . . put an end to slavery, huh? But I'm afraid that our people are still being bought and sold, even though they are dead -- and have been dead for hundreds of years! Even worse, some of the people are not whole. They remain in bits and pieces, and yet these pieces are also being traded, bought, and sold, like so many sheep! When does it stop? (207)

Walters's text is a highly effective consideration and amplification of this very question, employing the horror genre to powerfully illustrate Native responses to the western obsession with examining, displaying, and dehumanizing human remains. Importantly, Ghost Singer also attempts to analyze just what an ethical, responsible, and moral response to oppression and inhumanity should be.
        The sheer significance of Walters's use of the horror genre to address such highly emotive socio-political topics can clearly be traced in the concerns and approaches of other contemporary Native writers, such as Aaron Carr (Laguna/Navajo), Sherman Alexie (Spokane/ Cśur d'Alene), and Wendy Rose (Hopi/Miwok), among others. Walters's imaginative use of the horror genre to illustrate contemporary Native socio-political concerns is equally evident in the novels {108} of Aaron Carr and Sherman Alexie. While Carr's 1995 novel Eye Killers is a gothic tale of Old World vampires and a multi-ethnic group of vampire hunters set in New Mexico, its analysis of community and lack of community not only resonates with late twentieth-century concerns but also engages with the five-hundred-year history of "community interaction" and genocide in the Americas. Like Walters, Carr employs the horror genre to comment upon very real and highly significant contemporary events: the ongoing legacy of colonialism upon Native communities and the complex problems introduced by the attitudes and extraction methods of the enormously powerful corporate energy companies.16 Just as the figure of the Ghost Singer emphasizes the significance of perception to Donald Evans by lifting him to eye level so that Evans can physically see, so Carr also exposes the significance of true perception to human physical survival. Carr challenges his readers to connect the figure of the vampire with the energy companies that are bleeding Native communities dry, to equate the vampire's inexhaustible appetite and polluting acts of consumption -- the vampire's infected victims become vampires themselves -- with the unsafe industrial practices prevalent in the American Southwest that consume both natural resources and Native lives. Thus Carr extends Franco Moretti's argument that the vampire has "accumulation . . . inherent in his nature" ("Dialectic of Fear" 91), to argue that the vampire of the twenty-first century is also representative of global corporate enterprise. In this context, Carr clearly engages with established concerns within the horror genre to illustrate the ways that horror literature can provide a critique of the "real world" where, as horror writer Suzy McKee Charnas comments,"real monstrosity rampages unhindered at every level" ("Meditations in Red" 64).
        This idea of real monstrosity on the loose within the real world is also evident within Sherman Alexie's 1996 Novel Indian Killer, who, like Walters, demonstrates the etymology of the monstrous by providing both a warning and a revelation. Ostensibly the story of the deeds of, and the search for, a serial killer who may or may not be Indian (murdered white men are ritually "scalped" and "feathers" left {109} at the death scene), Alexie's novel examines a range of provocative contemporary socio-political issues: the power of racial hatred when fed by fear and anger, the controversial history of Euro-American adoption of Indian children, the consuming nature of cultural alienation, the effects of cultural assimilation on the search for cultural identity, and the commodification of Native cultures by anthropologists and popular novelists. Like Walters, Alexie is not interested in resolving his plot: he does not expose the killer's identity, as the killings are secondary to the social conditions that have produced the killer. Alexie comments upon the overabundance of violence and hatred that has produced the "Indian Killer" to illustrate the horror of the situation, to implicate a whole range of social ideas and ethics. For Alexie, it is "monstrous" that, in spite of his loving adoptive home, John Smith has become emotionally and mentally damaged by his subsequent cultural alienation; that Reggie Polatkin is beaten by his white father into being a "good American" and enacts the simulated indian for liberal whites; that the white right wing radio presenter Truck Schultz publicly calls for -- and successfully incites -- racial hatred as a response to the killings; and that the white novelist and former police officer, Jack Wilson, appropriates Native identity for financial profit. Alexie's depiction of the anthropologist Dr Clarence Mather is perhaps the best example of the horror of an ethical social vacuum, and resonates with Walters's discussion of academia. Appropriating audio recordings of Reggie's family stories, Mather not only refuses to recognize intellectual property rights, but also denies that the tapes exist in order to maintain possession of them. An interesting illustration of the ethics underpinning the original nineteenth-century museological collections, Mather's story offers powerful commentary on anthropology's refusal to fully examine its motives: "with each successive lie Mather told, he'd begun to lose track of the original reasons for lying. Layer after layer of lies. As an anthropologist, Mather could have dug into himself for years and not discovered the truth" (138).
        Alexie's idea that real monstrosity can, and should, be identified in our attitudes and worldviews is also a primary concern of Ghost {110} Singer. In this sense, Walters's analysis of museology and anthropology corresponds to the concerns of Wendy Rose's poetry, whose 1980 collection Lost Copper comments quite specifically upon the practices and ethics of collecting human remains.17 Prefacing her poem "Three Thousand Dollar Death Song" with a museum invoice detailing the "Nineteen American Indian skeletons . . . valued at $3,000," Rose challenges the very precepts of museological collecting and the commercial values placed upon human bodies: the "cold hard cash" by which "bones are valued," before being numerically "catalogued" with "black ink/on newly-white foreheads" (Bone Dance 20). The physical process of stripping away the humanity of the remains -- the peeling of skin from bone -- is further implicated by the suggestion that the remains are fully cognizant of their fate: the poem is narrated in the first person plural by the bones themselves. Furthermore, the bones are also trapped by the very processes to which they have been subject and which now define them as commodities in a "fleshless prison" (Bone Dance 20). Like Walters, Rose questions the ethics of "pric[ing]" humanity, and clearly asks "at what cost?" (Bone Dance 21). In answer, Rose suggests that "one century" of anthropology and museum collecting has produced a profound effect upon Native communities, acting to "tur[n] / our dead into specimens, / our history into dust, / our survivors into clowns" (Bone Dance 21). In response, Rose's $3,000 human remains echo both the actions and the concerns of Walters's spectral Ghost Singer, "shaking off" their "labels," pausing to "measure reality," before taking decisive action and "march[ing] out of the museum door" (Bone Dance 21).
        This ability to "measure reality" is perhaps the greatest success of Ghost Singer: its vocalization of the absented and silenced concerns of the "living" dead. Like Rose's dead, whose "bones rise / to . . . mount the horses once again!" (Bone Dance 21), the Native remains of Walters's text are also "living, breathing people" (45), who clearly demonstrate Rainwater's conception of the "present-past." In George Daylight's terms, the dead continue living since "[t]he people who created these things [the collected cultural artifacts] exist -- they're still here!" (127). That the concerns of these living dead are obviously still in need of urgent addressing is evident not just in the events of {111} Walters's text and in the ongoing controversy surrounding Kennewick Man, but also in the recent emergence of texts such as The Repatriation Reader (2000), whose subtitle poses a pertinent question: "who owns American Indian remains?"In this text, the Choctaw academic and critic Devon A. Mihesuah suggests that the concerns of the living dead are both simple and very human: the desire and the right to "rest . . . in peace (not in pieces)" (101).


     1. This is an established anthropological attitude: when the Inuit (Eskimo) child Minik was brought to the United States from Greenland in 1897 with his father and four other adults, they were housed in the basement of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The sole survivor of a Tuberculosis outbreak, Minik later found that his father's funeral, which he had attended, had been "faked," and that his father's body had been stripped of flesh, studied by science, and displayed in the museum. For the full story, see Kenn Harper, Give Me My Father's Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo (New York: Washington Square Press, 2001).
     2. The example of Sand Creek is particularly pertinent. Three years after the massacre, army doctors returned to exhume the Native bodies, removing them to study the logistical effects of bullet wounds. The bodies were later transferred to the Smithsonian "collection." For full details, see Thomas, Skull Wars.
     3. "The Horror Story," The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 417.
     4. Walters's career history is listed in a biographical sketch. See Ruppert, "Anna Lee Walters," 528.
     5. Figures from Trope and Echo-Hawk, "Native American Graves," 136.
     6. For a full discussion of NAGPRA, see Trope and Echo-Hawk, "Native American Graves."
     7. For details, see Trope and Echo-Hawk, "Native American Graves," 137.
     8. For an example of the political implications, see my subsequent discussion of the Kennewick Man controversy.
     9. "Benefits" available to federally recognized tribes theoretically include freedom from state law and taxation; recognition as a tribal government with the right to self determination; access to federal funds for resource development, industrial investment, and economic projects; federal provision
{112} of healthcare, housing, and education; and positive preferment for federal employment. In practice, the system is highly bureaucratic and the benefits often subject to qualifications.
     10. For an analysis of Deloria's impact upon anthropology, see Biolsi and Zimmerman, eds., Indians and Anthropologists.
     11. For a full discussion of the origins of anthropology in the context of Native America, see Thomas, Skull Wars. It should be noted that Franz Boas did provide an extremely influential challenge in the early twentieth century to Morton's racial theses, particularly to Morton's racially biased conclusions over human cranial capacity. Nonetheless, Boas himself was also implicated in the collection of Native remains. In a field diary of 1888, Boas commented that although robbing of Indian graves was "most unpleasant work," he remained of the opinion that ultimately it was both inevitable and scientifically necessary, "what is the use, someone has to do it." Thomas comments that a group of Indians attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to take legal action in 1888 against Boas's propensity for sacrilegious, if not illegal, osteological "collecting" (59-60).
     12. For full details, see Thomas, Skull Wars, 67.
     13. For a discussion of witchcraft, see McPherson, Sacred Land, Sacred View.
     14. For the full statement, see the American Anthropological Association website, The AAA contend that genetic research indicates that "conventional geographic 'racial' groupings" -- "races" -- only differ by 6 percent, and that "claims to major biological differences among 'races' continue to be advanced" (and accepted) largely due to the "public confusion about the meaning of race."
     15. There are obvious exceptions within academia, where anthropologists work exceptionally hard, often in the face of hostility from colleagues, to secure and maintain reciprocally respectful relationships with tribes. Examples include Thomas Biolsi, Larry Zimmerman, and James Clifford. For a wide-ranging analysis of anthropological attitudes in the context of Native America, see Biolsi and Zimmerman, eds., Indians and Anthropologists.
     16 Rose's comments upon the power and ethics of anthropology and museology can be found in many of her works. See her anthology Bone Dance for a variety of examples.
     17. For a detailed analysis of Carr's text in this context, see Rebecca Tillett, "'Your Story Reminds Me of Something': Spectacle and Speculation in Aaron Carr's Eye Killers," ARIEL special issue, "A Postcolonial Odyssey"(33:1, 2002).


Alexie, Sherman. Indian Killer. (1996). London: Vintage, 1998.

Alpers, Svetlana. "The Museum as a Way of Seeing." Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display. Eds. Ivan Karp and Steven D Lavine. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. 25-32.

Aigner-Alvarez, Erika. "Artifact and Written History: Freeing the Terminal Indian in Anna Lee Walters' Ghost Singer." Studies in American Indian Literature 8:1 (1996): 45-59.

Beer, Gillian. "Ghosts." Essays in Criticism 28 (1978): 259-64.

Biolsi, Thomas, and Larry Zimmerman, eds. "Introduction: What's Changed and What Hasn't." Indians and Anthropologists: Vine Deloria Jr. and the Critique of Anthropology. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997. 3-23.

Blaeser, Kimberly M. Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.

Carr, Aaron A. Eye Killers. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Carroll, Rhoda. "The Values and Vision of a Collective Past: An Interview With Anna Lee Walters." American Indian Quarterly 16:1 (1992): 63-73.

Charnas, Suzy Mckee. "Meditations in Red." Blood Read: the Vampire as a Metaphor for Modern Culture. Eds. Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. 59-67.

Clifford, James. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.

Collins English Dictionary. 3rd Edition. Glasgow: HarperCollins, 1994.

Cuddon, J A., ed. "Horror Story." The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. (1976). London: Penguin, 1992. 416-30.

Deloria, Vine Jr. Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto. (1969). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.

------. Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact. (1995). Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1997.

Gelder, Ken., ed. The Horror Reader. London: Routledge, 2000.

------. Introduction. The Horror Reader. Ed. Ken Gelder. London: Routledge, 2000. 1-7.

Graber, Dorothy J."Anna Lee Walters's Ghost Singer links Native Diasporas in Time and Space." Wicazo Sa Review 15:2 (2000): 7-16.

Holland, Sharon Patricia. Raising the Dead: Readings of Death and (Black) Subjectivity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Huggan, Graham. "Ghost Stories, Bone Flutes, Cannibal Countermemory." The Horror Reader. Ed. Ken Gelder. London: Routledge, 2000. 352-63.
Karp, Ivan. "Culture and Representation." Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display. Eds. Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. 11-24.

McPherson, Robert S. Sacred Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners Region. New York: Charles Redd Monographs in Western History, 1992.

Mihesuah, Devon A. "American Indians, Anthropologists, Pothunters, and Repatriation: Ethical, Religious, and Political Differences." The Repatriation Reader: Who Owns American Indian Remains? Ed. Devon A. Mihesuah, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. 95-105.

Moretti, Franco. "Dialectic of Fear." Signs Taken for Wonders: Essays in the Sociology of Literary Forms. London: Verso, 1983.

Rainwater, Catherine. Dreams of Fiery Stars: the Transformations of Native American Fiction. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

Rose, Wendy. Bone Dance: New and Selected Poems, 1965-1993. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994.

Ruppert, James. "Anna Lee Walters." Handbook of Native American Literature. Ed. Andrew Wiget. New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. 527-29.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Almanac of the Dead. New York Penguin, 1991.

Thomas, David Hurst. Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for Native American Identity. New York: Basic Books, 2000.

Trope, Jack F. and Walter R. Echo-Hawk. "The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Background and Legislative History." The Repatriation Reader: Who Owns American Indian Remains? Ed. Devon A. Mihesuah, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. 123-68.

Vizenor, Gerald. Crossbloods: Bone Courts, Bingo and Other Reports. Revised edition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990.

------. "Ethnic Derivatives: Tricksterese versus Anthropologetics." Multi-America: Essays on Cultural Wars and Cultural Peace. Ed. Ishmael Reed. New York: Penguin, 1997. 373-80.

------. Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1994.

------. Fugitive Poses: Native American Scenes of Absence and Presence. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

Walters, Anna Lee. Ghost Singer. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1988.



Chinook Sad Song in Alaska


Gills empty last gulps of water
upon dry rocks of Sitka Sound.
One eye, upturned, looks
as if it knows the loss of moisture
to come, shriveling to the size
of a small raisin upon rock.

His vacation to the last wild frontier,
fisherman separates tissue and organs
from bones and head. Some few small strands
cling to them as if unwilling to leave.

What are you doing? What are you doing?
No prayer, no song.

Fisherman, with his pie-shaped hat
with many hooks and lures, still works
on the fish as if not hearing him.
Then puts him on the seventh grade
metal shop makeshift wrought iron grill.

Some parts going to Los Alamos,
St Louis, or St Augustine,
while some are left upon the rocks of the shore.

The eye stares into the water.
Look my family. Stay low
among season's currents.


Mountain Islands from Sitka Shore


There Grandfather lay, tubes and all.
Face skin as wrinkled as the hospital
sheets that cover him.
Not saying a thing. Still,
his eyes do.

When I was small, before
my first day of school,
Grandfather took me to the Sitka bay
just before dark night left.
Take your clothes of ee'shan
The water waits
. And there
I stood, naked as the jellyfish
that had washed up upon shore stones.
And stones,
cold beneath non-callused feet.
The water waits ee'shan
I stepped into the Pacific
up to my ankles. The under-rocks slick
from algae, seaweed, and the occasional
carcass of seal, King crab (and baby
Blue crabs too) that had fallen
off the boats of seasons.

Go waist deep and kneel
till waters neck high ee'shan

The waters lapped sounds
underneath my ears. My waist length hair danced
small dances below the water surface.
Twenty minutes, no less
After twelve
my limbs became numb.
Turn and watch the mountains
The sun came peeking through the trees
atop our mountain islands. Thin straight
multiple fingers of light came through the woods,
across the sky, past where Grandfather
had taken me fishing last spring.
The sun came up, then over, revealing
Grandfather sitting hunched upon a gray
drift log on shore. Come you now ee'shan.
Grandmother will have breakfast ready.

I listen to his small round sounds
of whistling air in lungs.
Ee'shan, go home now. Catch me
a halibut that I can brag
to Grandmother about
So he leaves me sitting there
with the smell of ammonia-coated floors
and bleached bed covers.



Joel Pfister. Individuality Incorporated: Indians and the Multicultural Modern. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004. xiv + 340 pp.

Chadwick Allen

Joel Pfister's Individuality Incorporated: Indians and the Multicultural Modern is the result of a long-term archival and interpretive project clearly situated within the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. This book is not a project in American Indian Studies, nor is it a study of American Indian literatures and cultures. In some respects, SAIL is not the most appropriate venue for its review. Pfister is professor of American Studies and English at Wesleyan University, and his substantial body of scholarship is focused on U.S. cultural and literary history. In previous books and articles, Pfister offers analyses of how the work of canonical literary figures intersects with changing understandings of psychological discourses, class, and gender. In this new book, Pfister is interested in the construction of the category of the "individual" within early modern U.S. culture, and how American Indians became caught up in this "history of individualizing."
        Pfister's premise is that both white assimilationist reformers and so-called white "bohemian" artists and intellectuals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries looked to American Indians in formulating and expressing their changing ideas about the American individual. As evidence he offers readers two case studies. The first is a study of the efforts of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, led by Richard Henry Pratt, to turn its American Indian charges into {119}
"worker-individuals" and "individual landowners." The second is a study of the efforts of the group of artists, writers, and New Deal reformers associated with Taos, New Mexico -- including Mabel Dodge Luhan, D. H. Lawrence, and John Collier -- to turn Indians into a therapy for restoring a "lost" white individuality that had been repressed by European American culture.
        Although Pfister draws on lesser-known archival materials for each case study -- including a range of Carlisle school publications and photographs and the writings of the Taos literati -- his examinations of how Indians were used, literally and symbolically, by dominant white Americans in this period often retrace the work of other scholars. His arguments are likely to feel familiar to those faculty and graduate students already working in the field, since, as he acknowledges, his research mostly confirms the earlier work of historians such as Francis Paul Prucha, Frederick Hoxie, David Wallace Adams, and Michael Coleman. Pfister occasionally looks at American Indian responses to dominant practices and representations, and these parts of the book will likely be of most interest to readers of SAIL.
        Too predictably, in my opinion, Pfister concludes his book by arguing that his two case studies, "Carlisle 'Indian' reformism and Taos 'Indian' reformism," represent "two sides of the same ideological coin" (221). Both "sides" coincide with the rise of "personalizing 'psychological' discourses" and "diverse anthropological discourses" (222), and both demonstrate "how individuality ideologies have played significant, sometimes subtle roles in the establishment and exercise of economic, state, and cultural power" (230). It is a broad and safe conclusion, likely to spark little challenge or debate, familiar rather than innovative within American Studies practices.
        One of the aims of this book -- and of other "multi-cultural" or "multi-ethnic" American Studies texts like it -- is to demonstrate the importance of understanding the history of Indian-white relations for understanding U.S. cultural history more generally. While this is undoubtedly a necessary component of the field and a noble academic goal, it is striking what does and does not happen in its execution. The drawbacks of a two case studies approach, for instance, are immediately apparent: Pfister wants to make claims about the opera-{120}tions of a pervasive "American" discourse during a complicated period of U.S. history based on a quite limited focus and on a quite limited range of specific data. As a reader I find myself less than fully convinced by the book's broader claims about U.S. history and culture and disappointed that, given the inherent interest and richness of some of the primary materials Pfister examines, the book's conclusions have little to say about the specificity of American Indians as either producers or consumers of discourse in this era.
        Another notable feature of this book for readers of SAIL is its incorporation of the work of contemporary American Indian creative writers -- but almost exclusively as brief quotations for chapter epigraphs or as brief references in footnotes. The fact that this is a minor component of the book is precisely the point. Like too many other scholars working in multi-ethnic American Studies and multi-ethnic American literature studies, Pfister appears to want to have it both ways when it comes to engaging the particular challenges posed by the field of American Indian Studies. He creates a certain aura of authenticity by quoting the provocative voices of American Indian poets and novelists, but he does not actually engage relevant contemporary American Indian scholars or American Indian scholarship beyond a handful of more broadly known texts, including works by Jace Weaver, Louis Owens, and, especially, Arnold Krupat. The level of archival work and close reading in this book is impressive, and it will be informative for readers outside the field. But it does less than it could to spur multi-ethnic American Studies to broaden its range of methodologies and conclusions concerning American Indians, their historical experiences, and their interactions with "American" discourses.

Joy Porter. To Be Indian: The Life of Iroquois-Seneca Arthur Caswell Parker. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. 309 pp.

David Anthony Tyeeme Clark

Some readers may assume "Porter" signifies a kinship relationship to the Seneca Nation of Indians whose over 7,200 citizens today hold {121} title to three territories in the state of New York: the Allegheny, Cattaraugus, and Oil Springs reservations. Not so. The connection is theoretical and intercontinental, not familial and indigenous. Joy Porter identifies herself as "a scholar from the Northern Ireland . . . writing about an American Indian intellectual," Arthur Caswell Parker. "[T]here are connections between the larger cultural and political contexts surrounding my life and Parker's," she tells us."[B]oth of us have a cross-cultural heritage" and "share a fascination with the process of mediation between one culture and another" (xv).
        As a biography of Arthur Parker's life, To Be Indian offers a storehouse of information on one man's existence and his relationships with and contributions to certain people, some events, and devastating policies that subsequently have shaped government-to-government relationships between the United States and Indian nations. Readers both unfamiliar and familiar with Parker will find much to treasure and even more to regret (Parker, for instance, never was a lands-rights advocate for Indian nations; he was an intellectual among the academic establishment that has worked against efforts among Iroquois peoples to speak for themselves). Especially interesting and hopeful is Porter's treatment of Parker's publications and writings for children (227-239) that, she muses, were "a way Parker could positively connect all things Indian with American patriotism, with national vigor, and with the great outdoors" (228). Also intensely fascinating -- and important -- are Parker's attempts late in his life, in Porter's words, "to resacralize the area around his home as indelibly Seneca" (220). In To Be Indian, Parker's closest relatives will find a confidently glowing, sensitive portrayal of their father and grandfather, uncle and cousin. Arthur Parker's daughter Martha Anne, to whom Porter extended her deepest thanks and respect, no doubt is pleased with the results of sharing her father's personal papers with the scholar from Northern Ireland.
        Porter's book largely follows a chronological path through Parker's life from 1881 to 1955. The opening chapter, entitled "Beginnings," labors to situate Parker in a standard narrative of "Iroquois" history to make the odd point that "the Parker family had been structural models of the kind of Indian assimilation sought by . . . the 1887 {122} General Allotment Act" (19). Chapters 2 through 4 are Porter's attempts to identify the origins of Parker's anthropology and museum work in his acceptance of eugenics -- "a natural intellectual refuge for Parker" (29) -- resistance to cultural theory advanced by Franz Boas, admiration for the conjecture of Lewis Henry Morgan, and in Ely Parker whom, according to Porter, Parker found "an inspiring model of the successful, educated Indian, respected by powerful and significant whites and Indians alike" (46). She also discusses the scathing critiques Parker's early anthropologically disciplined publications received from his peers and his early work in archaeology and in museum exhibitions, characterizing them both as attempts by Parker "to educate the wider public on the Indian's role within the American past" (68). In chapter 5, Porter mirrors Hazel Whitman Hertzberg's 1971 treatment of the Society of American Indians in her book The Search for an American Indian Identity three decades later with Parker once again still at the center of the story. She discusses his fascination with secret societies and freemasonry in chapter 6. In chapters 7 and 8, she further discusses Parker's museum career and what she calls his "achievements" during the 1930s through his retirement from the Rochester Museum and Science Center in 1946.
        Unfortunately, as scholarship, To Be Indian is flawed. Editors and readers for the University of Oklahoma Press did not give Porter's dissertation the necessary attention prior to its premature publication as a book in 2001. Thus, readers now are left with a biography that includes mistaken claims, peculiar assertions, and little that is original or fresh in terms of theory, research method, or analysis. It may have been "exhaustively researched," as OU Press representatives self-assuredly declare, but To Be Indian neither is "the first book-length examination of Parker's life and career" nor does it offer anything more than the usual superficial, simplistically conceptualized descriptions of certain American Indians and their achievements.
        Regrettably, To Be Indian is marked by glaring, bewildering mistakes. Two stand out among many. First, in chapter 5, Porter wrongly identifies Gertrude Simmons Bonnin and Charles Alexander East-man as peyote advocates and that both Bonnin and Eastman testified before Congress in defense of peyote (132, 133). This is wrong. For {123} different reasons, Bonnin and Eastman repeatedly denounced the peyote religion. Second, Porter characterizes the Society of American Indians as "inter-tribal" (3) and "cross-tribal" (91), failing to distinguish the difference between an organization that represents Indian nations and an organization that functioned -- with Parker's influence -- as a clubhouse and meeting ground for the emerging class of Natives that Vine Deloria, Jr., has termed "professional Indians." Membership in the Society of American Indians from its beginnings in October 1911 through its dissolution into regional and urban organizations after 1923 was individual. Indian nations neither were members nor were these surviving entities represented adequately by this early national organization of individual Natives and their allies while Parker's ideas prevailed (but not without biting criticism) well into 1918.
        Porter would have done better to have seen Parker as manifesting one way "to be Indian"; thus, her book might have been more properly titled To Be Indian: One Man's Journey or One Way to Be Indian. As it is, To Be Indian is a one-dimensional treatment of a deeply complex identity formation. Even as biography it is unremarkable. It certainly is not the first book-length treatment of Parker's life. That credit is reserved for John Robert Siegel -- someone Porter fails to mention -- whose unpublished dissertation entitled "Two Cultures, One Cause" was successfully defended at Purdue University in 1993.

Rebecca C. Benes. Native American Picture Books of Change: The Art of Historic Children's Edition. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2004. xvi + 163 pp.

Connie A. Jacobs

Two events in the early 1920s, one very public and one seemingly insignificant ushered in a century of radical changes for Native people. The public event was the 1924 long-overdue awarding of U.S. citizenship to Native people, followed in 1934 by the Howard-Wheeler Indian Reorganization Act. The founding of AIM and the passage of the Indian Civil Rights Act in 1968 and the subsequent {124} awarding of land claims to tribes are outcomes directly attributed to the beginning of civil rights for Native people begun in 1924. Similarly, the publication of Taytay's Tales in 1922, written by Elizabeth De Huff and illustrated by Fred Kabotie, marked another major shift, this one in governmental educational policies, which initiated a quiet revolution in Indian education. Why would an illustrated children's book by an Anglo author and teenage Hopi artist be a watershed event? The answer to that question is the subject of Rebecca C. Benes's beautifully illustrated book.
        Benes, a children's librarian and gallery owner, profiles the picture books used in federally run Indian Boarding Schools after the highly critical 1928 Meriam Report exposed the paucity of relevant cultural materials being used in BIA boarding schools. Benes's study is an overview of the changes in BIA curriculum under the leadership of Willard W. Beatty, appointed in 1936 as BIA Education Director. The administrators, linguists, writers, and artists involved in implementing Beatty's new directives for Indian education make up a virtual "who's who" of important figures in twentieth-century Native education and art. The list includes:

     Policy makers: John Collier, commissioner of the BIA, and William Beatty, BIA Education Director Writer: Ann Nolan Clark, author of over 20 children's books about Native people
     Translators: Robert W. Young and William Morgan, editors of the first Navajo dictionary; Edward Kennard, a BIA linguist; and Emil Afraid-of-a-Hawk, a Lakota translator
     Art teachers of Native students who became the illustrators for the books: Dorothy Dunn, Santa Fe Indian School; Lloyd Kiva New, Cherokee, Phoenix Indian School
     Indian Illustrators: Andrew Standing Bear, Lakota; Oscar Howe, Lakota; Fred Kabotie, Hopi; Alan Houser, Apache; Charles Loloma, Hopi; Harrison Begay, Navajo; Velino Herrera, Zia Pueblo

        Under Collier's direction, Beatty initiated positive changes in BIA curriculum materials with his introduction of heretofore missing {125} culturally appropriate materials for Native students. Benes documents the picture and bilingual books that resulted from this momentous educational policy shift. However, she cautions,"This is not a study of Native American education" (4), which is only peripheral to her focus. Instead, she concentrates on the development of children's picture books for Native children and how they evolved from De Huff's collection of grandfather stories illustrated by Kabotie in 1922 to Pablita Velarde, Santa Clare, who in Old Father, The Storyteller, 1960, was both the author and the illustrator of her book and to the Rough Rock Demonstration School near Chinle, Arizona where beginning in 1966 the Navajo Nation created a community-based curriculum for the tribal schools.

Benes organizes the book chronologically and focuses her discussion on Picture Books of Pueblo Life and the Indian Life Readers with the Navajo, Sioux, and Hopi Series that were appropriate for third graders. Central to Benes's study is the work of Clark who taught for the Indian Service and worked at Zuni and Tesuque Pueblos and who retold oral tales and wrote stories about life on the Navajo, Lakota, Taos, Picuris, and Blackfeet reservations. Benes claims Clark's authority to tell these stories as she quotes from the dustcover of Clark's award-winning book In My Mother's House, 1941: "'Clark found there was a need in Indian schools for books written from the Indian point of view.' It explains that the stories she tells took form in children's notebooks, capturing the original rhythm and pattern of their thinking" (43). It is statements like this that call into question how much Benes really understands about the validity of non-Native writers telling and retelling tribal stories and legends. How could Clark, who is not Native, claim the need for books written from a Native point of view and then tell the stories herself? This is certainly contradictory. To be sure, it is important to keep in mind these picture books in their historic context, when there were no culturally relevant books for Native students, and well-meaning educators like De Hu. and Clark began to fill that void by writing tribal tales and collaborating with Native illustrators and translators. At a time when Carlisle was {126} the model for Indian Boarding Schools with its military, regimented, vocationally-oriented curriculum, books about the children's lives in their tribal community were clearly revolutionary. But I can't help but ask, why couldn't Collier who sought a curriculum that would help preserve Native culture use Native writers? Benes claims, "One of the greatest shortcomings of the books had been the lack of Indian writers" (127). This is an understatement and a topic Benes does not explore.
        This book is visually appealing with beautiful illustrations, most of them in color, done by Native artists who are now well known. The report on the history of the books is informative, but the book reflects Benes's primary interest in the artwork itself as she writes detailed accounts of the pictures while avoiding any analysis of major issues integral to some of the books that she raises but does not discuss: reservation life, The Long Walk, mandatory stock reduction in the 1930s for the Navajo people, Collier's contradictory unstated objective to help Native students keep their culture as a tool to better acculturating them into the dominant society, and the devastating effects government boarding schools and policies had on Native children that these new picture and bilingual texts sought to mitigate. Benes does not attempt to represent the Native point of view in these historic changes; rather she reinforces the privilege of those in power to make decisions for Indian people. In addition to discussions that stay on the surface and an avoidance of engagement with any substantive issues is Benes's often unfocused discussions.
        The best parts of this book are the illustrations and the foreword by Gloria Emerson where she informs the reader about the importance of stories for Native people and the importance of Beatty's "Indianizing" the BIA curriculum and how that has impacted Indian educators like her. If you want to look at beautiful illustrations by Native artists, this book will satisfy you. If you want an overview of the new children's books that were created for Native children in the BIA schools, this book provides that. However, if you want a thoughtful and detailed analysis of both the positive and the negative aspects of this educational experiment, you had better look elsewhere.

Judith A. Ranta. The Life and Writings of Betsey Chamberlain: Native American Mill Worker. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2003. 284 pp.

Kim Lee

Judith Ranta's book about the life of Betsey Guppey Chamberlain is divided into two main sections: a critical biographical section, followed by a section of selected writings Chamberlain penned in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
        The biographical information Ranta shares with us concerns the life and heritage of Chamberlain, and although it seems thoroughly researched, and contains an amazing amount of archival material and secondary sources as well, it remains problematic regarding Chamberlain's Native ancestry. The book itself is dedicated to the Abenaki people, and though Ranta claims that Chamberlain comes from Abenaki heritage, this point is debatable, for Chamberlain did not make this claim herself. Ranta judges Chamberlain to be of Native ancestry based upon a rather dated (and debated) set of criteria for discerning if a writer is Native. The basic tenets of the criteria are: the writer's self-concept; the writer's acceptance by a tribal community as a part of that community; the writer's tribal documentation (or enrollment); and the writer's commitment to Native American causes. Ironically, even though Ranta uses these criteria, Chamberlain doesn't truly fit with any of them, excepting perhaps a commitment to Indian causes, but even this remains unclear. A non-Indian friend and peer of Chamberlain's, Harriet Robinson, is apparently the only "community member" who believed Chamberlain to be Indian. From the title of the book, and the outset of the text itself, Ranta promotes the idea that Chamberlain is of mixed-blood heritage, and claims her writing as "the earliest known Native women's fiction" (3). Only later within the text does she acknowledge that this idea is "complicated," and that "tribal affiliation has not yet been discovered" (63).
        This does not mean that the book is not useful. On the contrary, I think it is quite useful, but we must be cautious in naming Chamberlain's work Native American literature. First, it is useful because it opens discussions about Native identity and who makes those deter-{128}minations in recovered texts such as this one. Second, I think the book is important as women's writing because, through Chamberlain's stories and sketches, we see how gender discrimination bloomed in the nineteenth century, and we are privy to the concerns of early women laborers. Most of Chamberlain's writings were published in the newspapers of the mills near Lowell, Massachusetts, and are concerned with "Native Tales and Dream Visions," "Women's Concerns," and "Village Sketches." In this first section, "Native Tales," there are only two very short writings that have anything to do at all with Native people. And, though both seem to be "sympathetic" to Indian people, the first, "Fireside Scene" is rather disturbing -- a graphic description about the mass destruction and burning of a Miami village (125-126). The other seems to be a re-telling of the story about a white woman who is kind to an Indian man, after her husband is hostile toward him. Later, the Native man "returns the favor" by saving her husband, even though the husband mistreated him. These two "tales" seem to be more in the genre of the New England reformist writings popular during that era rather than Native writing. Both emanate from a Eurocentric viewpoint, and both portray Native people as victims we can feel sympathy for, not as fully developed characters in a story.
        An independent scholar and reference librarian, Ranta has published other pieces on women mill workers that are very useful as well, and she's quite adept at recovering early women's literatures that have been overlooked far too long. Still, I think Ranta has unfortunately run aground in the forced representation of Chamberlain as a Native writer, which effectively dulls the impact of the book for Native Studies.

Chadwick Allen. Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002. x + 308 pp.

Susan A. Miller

In Blood Narrative, Chadwick Allen of the Department of English, Ohio State University, departs from N. Scott Momaday's trope "memory in the blood" to analyze narrative strategies by which indigenous {129} writers and activists asserted indigenous identities from World War II through the 1970s. He uses comparative method, pairing Maori and American Indian texts for two periods: 1) World War II to the 1960s and 2) the 1960s and 1970s. One part of the book covers each period. Each part begins with an introduction outlining the relevant chronology of historical and literary events and providing an overview of the paired chapters that follow. Then a chapter discusses the period's developments in Maori literature, and a second chapter discusses developments in American Indian literature. After part two, a concluding chapter considers consequences of those developments, especially regarding the global indigenous rights activity that began in the 1970s. An appended chronology lists "national and international government actions, political actions, and publications relevant to American Indians, New Zealand Maoris, and other Fourth World peoples."
        Allen's texts include works of fiction, activist texts, and other nonfiction, including both familiar and obscure works. Because indigenous writers tend to concern themselves with the well-being of their communities, much of their important work is practical and includes songs, plays, small periodicals, proclamations, and other forms that critics commonly overlook. Allen juxtaposes such works with the canonical.
        He builds his analysis around "two sets of related narrative tactics for asserting indigeneity that largely have been unexplored in recent scholarship": the "blood/land/memory complex" and "treaty discourse" (14). The treaties are the approximately 371 treaties between American Indian nations and the United States and the Treaty of Waitangi, the single treaty between Maori and Aotearoa (New Zealand). Blood/land/memory is "a complex of interrelated tropes and emblematic figures that were developed by American Indian and New Zealand Maori writers and activists to counter and, potentially to subvert . . . dominating discourses" (220) of First World nations. "Blood" represents "an enduring indigenous identity" (220); and "Memory," "a specific indigenous history" (218) or "narratives of connection to specific lands" (220). Explanation is best left to Allen, {130} according to whom the complex is "an interdependent and essentially inseparable triad" that

has come to define minority indigeneity, its celebrated past, its contested present, and its imagined futures. In the Fourth World context of (post)colonial competition between "native" and "settler" forms of indigenous identity, the blood/land/ memory complex asserts criteria for what ought to count as truth and truth's close cousin, authenticity: not in terms of the West's sense of an increasingly homogenized global order, but rather in terms of an indigenous minority sense of a persistently heterogeneous local ground. (220)

The argument involves historical narrative and theory. According to the narrative, the identity that indigenous writers and activists embrace today -- as communities with reciprocal obligations to the land, the spirit world, the ancestors, and the progeny; authenticated by place and history; persistent and resistant to domination; and rightfully sovereign -- was hardly in use until it was crafted in the global indigenous rights movement that began in the 1970s. It replaced an identity toxic to indigenous peoples -- as racial minorities within nation-states, descendants of "once-proud" peoples who got in the way of Progress and who now are mired in social pathologies, dependent on First World custodians, and doomed to disappear as minorities and disperse into the culturally superior citizenries of nation-states. The latter identity, bestowed by people of the First World, reflects their First World interests. The more recent identity, devised by indigenous intellectuals, reflects the interests of indigenous people in a more appealing future.
        Allen traces the development of indigenous discourse and identity, beginning after World War II as a generation of Maori and American Indian writers, such as Patricia Grace, Witi Ihimaera, Ella Cara Deloria, and D'Arcy McNickle, entered public discourse. Early in that period, they worked within the institutions and discourses of New Zealand and the United States, respectively, and expressed accommodation to First World dominance so as not to alienate those who might squelch their publication. By the end of the period, some {131} had begun working within their own peoples' discourses, founding their own institutions, and upholding their peoples' rights to self-determination. That turn can be seen in stories from later issues of Te Ao Hou and the statement issuing from the American Indian Chicago Conference of 1961.
        The second period was a florescence of Maori and American Indian discourses, indigenous institution-building, and collective actions promoting indigenous self-determination. Literati speak of this period as a Maori Renaissance and an American Indian Renaissance. It is typified by the founding of the Maori Artists and Writers Association and the American Indian Historical Society; the Maori land-rights movement, American Indian occupations of Alcatraz, Wounded Knee, and the BIA Building; a series of activist proclamations; and themes of land, history, and community in Grace and Ihimaera, and blood/land/memory in Momaday and Welch.

This renaissance ended as Maori, American Indian, and other indigenous-rights activists founded organizations such as the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (1974) to press for indigenous rights within the international community of nation-states. Together they produced the indigenous identity favored by indigenous intelligentsia today and a methodology of privileging indigenous discourses, institutions, and claims. Allen discusses their production as the creation of an "indigenous theory."
        Allen's historical narrative is sturdy and useful. It is particular to Allen's purpose, however. For example, he records the Occupation of Alcatraz Island (1969-71), the Occupation of Wounded Knee (1973), and the Longest Walk (1978), but ignores the violence on Pine Ridge (1975), and the subsequent trial and conviction of Leonard Peltier, events of considerable interest to many American Indian writers and activists.
        Allen punctuates his narrative of indigenous literary history with invitations to view this development through the "lens" of the blood/ land/memory complex. Theoretically minded readers may appreciate that opportunity. Other readers may view the complex as a nonindigenous construct applied as a value-adding strategy to a history and theory appropriated from indigenous people for nonindigenous {132} purposes; that is, as a colonial expropriation and exploitation of indigenous resources. Despite any such criticisms, Allen provides an ambitious synthetic and comparative work that fills some open scholarly niches and should be valuable for research and teaching.


Contributor Biographies

CHADWICK ALLEN is associate professor of English at Ohio State University. He is the author of Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts.

BARBARA CHIARELLO teaches at the University of Texas at Arlington.

ROBIN RILEY FAST, associate professor of literature at Emerson College, studies and teaches nineteenth-century American literature, American poetry, women writers, and American Indian literature. She has published articles on poetry and other topics, coedited Approaches to Teaching Dickinson's Poetry with Christine Mack Gordon, and is the author of The Heart as a Drum: Continuance and Resistance in American Indian Poetry.

LAWRENCE W. GROSS is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe, enrolled on the White Earth nation in northern Minnesota. He has taught at Iowa State University and has received a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Diversity Fellowship to study at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

CONNIE A. JACOBS is an associate professor of English at San Juan College where she also serves as chair of the English Department and co-chair of the Honors Program. She has written a book on Louise Erdrich and has been coeditor with Greg Sarris on another book on Erdrich, which is part of the Approaches to Teaching Series for MLA. She has also written on Esther Belin and Ceremony and is currently collaborating on a book about children's books about Native Americans. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Board of the National Association for Ethnic Studies.

received her PhD in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2003. Her dissertation was an edited collection of letters by Mari Sandoz that speaks to her political activism on behalf of Northern Plains tribes. She is a visiting faculty member in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures of Michigan State University, and her current book-length project focuses on contemporary Native American music as sites of resistance.

SUSAN A. MILLER is from Tiger Clan and Tom Palmer Band of the Seminole Nation. Trained as a historian (PhD University of Nebraska 1997), she is on the faculty of the American Indian Studies Program at Arizona State University. She is the author of Coacoochee's Bones: A Seminole Saga.

SILVIA SCHULTERMANDL is a lecturer in Wmen's Studies at Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Austria. She has recently published and essay on Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Rebecca Walker's Black, White, and Jewish. Her current research project is a book-length study on Asian American mother-daughter writing.

LEONARD SHOTRIDGE, JR. is a Tlingit native from southeast Alaska. He graduated from Haskell Indian Nations University.

REBECCA TILLETT is a lecturer in American literature and culture with the School of American studies at the University of East Anglia. Her PhD thesis on contemporary Native American literature of the American Southwest, entitled "Contentious Repertoires: Political Dialogues of Contemporary Native American Storytelling," focused upon literary explorations of ethnicity, race, and cultural identity and upon the creation of otherwise unrealisable political dialogues with governmental, corporate, and academic/institutional bodies. She is currently researching the multiethnic literature, art, performance art, and film of the United States and Mexico border, as a response to recent political developments such as NAFTA and contemporary American and Mexican government policies.

DAVID ANTHONY TYEEME CLARK, Meskwaki, is assistant professor of American studies and faculty member of the Center for Indigenous Nations studies at the University of Kansas and, during 2004-05, a postdoctoral fellow in American Indian studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His partner is Seneca from the Allegheny Indian Reservation.


Major Tribal Nations and Bands Mentioned in This Issue

This list is provided as a service to those readers interested in further communications with the tribal communities and governments of American Indian and Native nations. Inclusion of a government in this list does not imply endorsement of or by SAIL in any regard, nor does it imply the enrollment or citizenship status of any writer mentioned. Some communities have alternative governments and leadership that are not affiliated with the United States, Canada, or Mexico, while others are not currently recognized by colonial governments. We have limited the list to those most relevant to the essays published in this issue, thus, not all bands, towns, or communities of a particular nation are listed.
        We make every effort to provide the most accurate and up-to-date tribal contact information available, a task that is sometimes quite complicated. Please send any corrections or suggestions to SAIL Editorial Assistant, Studies in American Indian Literatures, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, 235 Bessey Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1033, or send an e-mail to

Chickasaw Nation
P.O. Box 1548520
E. Arlington Blvd.
Ada, OK 74821-1548
Bill Anoatubby, Governor

Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma
Route 1, Box 62
Red Rock, OK 74651
Phone: 405-723-4434
Fax: 405-723-4273

Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
P.O. Box 470Pawnee, OK 74058
Ron Rice, President

Sitka Tribe of Alaska
456 Katlian St.
Sitka, AK 99835
Phone: 907-747-3207
Fax: 907-747-4915
Woody Widmark, Tribal Council Chairman

White Earth Band of Chippewa
P.O. Box 418White Earth, MN 56591Phone: 218-983-3285
Yankton Sioux Tribal Business Committee
P.O. Box 248Marty, SD 57361Darrell Drapeau, Chairperson

Contact: Robert Nelson
This page was last modified on: 03/21/06