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Studies in

JAMES H. COX, University of Texas at Austin
DANIEL HEATH JUSTICE, University of Toronto

Published by the University of Nebraska Press


The editors thank the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives at the University of Toronto and the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of English at the University of Texas for their financial support.


Studies in American Indian Literatures (SAIL ISSN 0730-3238) is the only scholarly journal in the United States that focuses exclusively on American Indian literatures. SAIL is published quarterly by the University of Nebraska Press for the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures (ASAIL). Subscription rates are $38 for individuals and $95 for institutions. Single issues are available for $22. For subscriptions outside the United States, please add $30. Canadian subscribers please add appropriate GST or HST. Residents of Nebraska, please add the appropriate Nebraska sales tax. To subscribe, please contact the University of Nebraska Press. Payment must accompany order. Make checks payable to the University of Nebraska Press and mail to

The University of Nebraska Press
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All inquiries on subscription, change of address, advertising, and other business communications should be addressed to the University of Nebraska Press at 1111 Lincoln Mall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0630.
     A subscription to SAIL is a benefit of membership in ASAIL. For membership information please contact

Jeff Berglund
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Department of English
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Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6032
Phone: 928-523-9237


The editorial board of SAIL invites the submission of scholarly manuscripts focused on all aspects of American Indian literatures as well as the submission of poetry and short fiction, bibliographical essays, review essays, and interviews. We define "literatures" broadly to include all written, spoken, and visual texts created by Native peoples.
     Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the most recent edition {iii} of the MLA Style Manual. SAIL only accepts electronic submissions. Please submit your manuscript by e-mail as an attachment (preferably in Rich Text Format [RTF]).
     SAIL observes a "blind reading" policy, so please do not include an author name on the title, first page, or anywhere else in the article. Do include your contact information, such as address, phone number, and e-mail address, with your submission. All submissions are read by outside reviewers. Submissions should be sent directly to Daniel Heath Justice at

Rights to the articles are held by the individual contributors.
All rights reserved
Manufactured in the United States of America

SAIL is available online through Project MUSE at

Articles appearing in this journal are abstracted and indexed in Anthropological Index, Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Bibliography of Native North Americans, Current Abstracts, Current Contents/Arts & Humanities, ERIC Databases, IBR: International Bibliography of Book Reviews, IBZ: International Bibliography of Periodical Literature, MLA International Bibliography, and TOC Premier.

Cover: Photo courtesy of Bonita Bent-Nelson © 2003, design by Kimberly Hermsen
Interior: Kimberly Hermsen


James H. Cox (Production) and Daniel Heath Justice (Submissions)

James H. Cox

Joseph Bruchac and LeAnne Howe

Chad Allen, Lisa Brooks, Robin Riley Fast, Susan Gardner, Patrice Hollrah, Molly McGlennen, Margaret Noori, Kenneth Roemer, Lisa Tatonetti, Christopher Teuton, and Jace Weaver

Kirby Brown and Kyle Carsten Wyatt

Helen Jaskoski, Karl Kroeber, Robert M. Nelson, Malea Powell, John Purdy, and Rodney Simard


vii From the Editors

Playing the Indian Princess?: Sarah Winnemucca's Newspaper
Career and Performance of American Indian Identities

The Politics of Metafiction in Louise Erdrich's Four Souls

Image as Text, Text as Image: Quilts and Quiltmaking in Eric
Gansworth's Mending Skins

Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Civilization, and the Quest for Coevalness

One Scrap of Earth


Susan Sleeper-Smith, ed. Contesting Knowledge: Museums and
Indigenous Perspectives


Malinda Maynor Lowrey. Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow
South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation


Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, Kelli Lyon Johnson, and William A.
Wortman, eds. Performing Worlds into Being: Native American
Women's Theater
Christy Stanlake. Native American Drama: A Critical Perspective
140 News and Announcements
141 Contributor Biographies
143 Major Tribal Nations and Bands



In articles on Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Louise Erdrich, Sarah Winnemucca, and Eric Gansworth, this issue establishes multiple points of correspondence across diverse forms and performances--quilts and tableaux vivants, lectures and novels, oral stories and newspaper articles--and regions--the central valley of Mexico and Iroquoia, Minneapolis and Tetzcoco. The result is a rich tapestry of voices engaged in exciting conversation about American Indian literatures.
     We begin with Carolyn Sorisio's discussion of how Sarah Winnemucca controlled newspaper representations of herself. Sorisio argues, "Creating and controlling news coverage was key to [Winnemucca's] political strategy; she recognized that newspapers were sites wherein resistance had to take place. She was politically astute, rhetorically sophisticated, and a savvy negotiator of the news media." Sorisio's thesis and the recovery of newspaper archives that illustrates it serve as a corrective to the overemphasis on Winnemucca's public self-representation as an Indian princess or an exemplary Indian performing an affirmation of civilization to audiences devoted to reform.
     Sorisio's consideration of Winnemucca's multiple self-representational strategies in the service of specific political goals sets the stage for the articles that follow. Deborah Weagel assesses Eric Gansworth's Mending Skins as a novel that works, with a nod to Homi Bhabha, in an "interstitial space that mediates binaries such as Native/non-Native, image/text, and oral/written." References to quilts {viii} in the novel, Weagel explains, help readers to see a variety of complex, multidirectional personal and cultural relationships. Louise Erdrich's Nanapush is at the center of such social and political relationships in the Little No Horse novels, and it is, Summer Harrison argues, his self-conscious literariness in Four Souls that has the potential to transform them. Harrison asserts that the novel is metafiction, that it "theorizes storytelling" within an Ojibwe political context. Nanapush's narrative strategy "enable[s] empathetic relations between people who similarly reflect on their own constructions of places and identities."
     Thomas Ward, in the issue's final article, considers "Mesoamerica's glaring absence in Western intellectual history" with a specific focus on the Nahua and Spanish historian Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. This recovery of Nahua intellectual traditions leads to Ward's contention that Alva Ixtlilxochitl "creat[ed] an innovative strand of Renaissance thought that did not emanate from Europe." Ward's assertion suggests provocative new possibilities for how we might talk about the American Indian literary renaissance!
     First and last, all this writing, and our consideration of it, would not have been possible, Ernestine Hayes reminds us, without Raven's gift of daylight.

     James H. Cox and Daniel Heath Justice


     Playing the Indian Princess?
     Sarah Winnemucca's Newspaper Career and
     Performance of American Indian Identities


On May 2, 1883, the Northern Paiute educator, translator, author, and activist Sarah Winnemucca lectured at Boston's Hotel Winthrop, declaring:

I can tell you how few of the Government supplies reach the Indians; how one little blanket was provided to shelter a family of six from the cold; how three blankets were supposed to be enough for fifteen Indians, when each of them should by right have had one; how, indeed they often have to buy the very supplies that the Government has promised to give them in exchange for their land. I have asked the agents why they did these wrong things. They have told me it was necessary for them to do so in order to get money enough to send to the Great Father at Washington to keep their position. I assure you that there is an Indian ring; that it is a corrupt ring, and that it has its head and shoulders in the treasury at Washington. ("Princess Winnemucca on the Treatment of Indians")

Winnemucca had been lecturing for two months at the start of a northeastern lecture tour, speaking on behalf of "all the Indians who [were] afflicted with that terrible pest--the Indian Agent" ("Indian Agents").
Winnemucca commented that most people did not "know much about Indians," and thus many of her lectures promoted cultural as well as political awareness. Her immediate goals were to secure land rights for Northern Paiutes and to persuade the US government {2} to allow for the return of Northern Paiutes who had been unjustly removed to Yakima, Washington, after the Bannock War. She told audiences:

I want to test the right of the Government to make and break treaties at pleasure. They gave my people that place of land, and I want to ask whether it is legal for them to sell it or not. And in this work I want your help. Will you give me your influence? My work must be done through Congress. Talk for me and help me talk, and all will be well. ("Appeal for Justice")

To these ends, by fall 1883, Winnemucca published the book for which she is best known today, Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims.1 Winnemucca's increased prominence--resulting from the news media's coverage of her lectures and book and assisted by the indefatigable promotional efforts of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody--earned her access to many influential reformers and politicians. By spring 1884, she testified before the US House Subcommittee on Indian Affairs. When she returned to Nevada, funds donated by eastern reformers allowed her to challenge US boarding school and English-only policies.
     Winnemucca's campaign would have been much harder, if not impossible, had she failed to garner newspaper coverage. In an age when American newspapers reported on US-Indian Relations in a sporadic and biased manner, Winnemucca produced sustained, specific, and often sympathetic coverage. She was well aware of newspapers' power, as demonstrated by the more than four hundred newspaper items by or about Winnemucca from her first public appearance in 1864 to her death in 1891 that form the basis of this essay. As the first section of this essay details, Winnemucca understood that newspapers had the power to shape public opinion locally and nationally. She struggled--and was often able--to control newspaper representations about herself, Northern Paiutes, and American Indians. Creating and controlling news coverage was key to her political strategy; she recognized that newspapers were sites wherein resistance had to take place. She was politically astute and rhetorically sophisticated, a savvy negotiator of the news media.
     Yet the critical stories we hear most about Winnemucca's lecture in the Hotel Winthrop that May evening and in general emphasize not her media savvy but rather her performance as an Indian princess. Certainly, on that night and on other occasions, she presented herself as such. For example, the Evening Transcript reported:

The princess . . . was richly and fantastically attired, her dress of buckskin, short-sleeved and of moderate length, being trimmed with an abundance of sparkling beads and wampum. At her side hung a little bag of damask velvet, embroidered with a figure like a Cupid. On her head was a sort of crimson crown, ornate with stars and brilliants, while armlets and bracelets adorned her arms and wrists. ("Princess Winnemucca on the Treatment of Indians")

Scholars follow the lead of Winnemucca's biographers, who construct an image of her as someone who consistently promoted herself as an Indian Princess and "enjoyed creating a dramatic impression" (Canfield 201).2
     This essay corrects the biographical record and demonstrates how the consensus that Winnemucca always performed as a princess has limited our ability to understand the complexity of her self-representation and obscured other facets of her performances. Winnemucca's contradictory and multiple self-representations-- and the news media's coverage of them--formed much of her resistance (5). The newspaper record makes clear that Winnemucca challenged colonial clichés, becoming what Philip J. Deloria has called an Indian in unexpected places. Section 2 demonstrates that when Winnemucca appeared in costume, she critiqued the princess role, and section 3 argues that Winnemucca's self-representation as an exemplary Indian destabilized her image as a princess. Section 4 suggests that when the definition of performance is broadened to include reports of Winnemucca's off-stage actions, she seems to have represented herself as a "wild" Indian on the brink of "outbreak." Whether created by Winnemucca, foisted upon her by the news media, or hammered out in the spaces between, her shifting personas allowed her to destabilize the roles cast upon American {4} Indian women, challenge representations of herself and American Indians generally, and keep herself and her causes in the public's eye.
     The assumption that Winnemucca always performed as a princess has swayed scholars, at times, into replicating "manifest manners," what Gerald Vizenor describes as the "the notions and misnomers that are read as authentic and sustained as representations of Native American Indians" (Manifest Manners 5-6).3 When scholars describe (and extrapolate from) Winnemucca's princess costume, they often posit the binary of an authentic versus performative self. That many scholars have done so is not surprising, given the critical anxiety about American Indians "playing Indian" for non-Native audiences in the imperial/colonial context.4 As section 3 details, Winnemucca's performance as a princess needs to be viewed in relation to her multiple audiences and the other performative acts that she included in her lectures. Winnemucca's refusal to represent either an authentic or an entirely performative self disrupts the manifest manners not only of her time but also of scholarship today; she was a "postindian warrior."


When Winnemucca began her public lecturer career, the news media's reporting on American Indians was in a complex transition. Although the number of news outlets had never been greater, as John M. Coward argues, a combination of ideological, technological, and professional influences made postbellum media representations of American Indians far more standardized than were antebellum news representations. Ideologically, most reporters were influenced by the dominant culture's assumptions regarding racial hierarchy and faith in the United States' manifest destiny (Coward 10-13). Technologically, the use of the telegraph privileged brief, "immediate" Indian news from the West typically focusing on decontextualized violence and creating biased speculation by editors (139). The formation of professional associated presses "had tremendous power over Indian representations in the postwar period because of [their] unchallenged ability to portray Indians in {5} conventional ways in hundreds of papers every day" (17). Therefore, nineteenth-century newspapers are not merely one venue in which to view cultural representations of American Indians, but rather were "a significant force in the creation and promotion of a powerful set of Indian representations that dominated the nineteenth-century imagination" (11). Most non-Native newspapers supported dominant cultural beliefs and effaced or obscured alternative ones, resulting in a "fundamental lack of understanding of native people and their cultures" (9-10, 160).
     In entering cultural and political debate, Winnemucca was participating in a lengthy tradition of American Indians lecturing or performing in the northeastern United States to reshape representations of the "savage" and intervene in politics, though she was doing so in a very different media context than many of her predecessors. In the late eighteenth century, for example, Samson Occom's sermons demonstrated sophisticated rhetorical power (Gustafson 91). In 1826, Elias Boudinot undertook a speaking tour to raise funds for the Cherokee Phoenix (Perdue 12-13; Boudinot 65-84). A decade later, William Apess capped his speaking career by delivering a remarkably defiant "Eulogy for King Philip [Metacom]" (Vogel 43-48). From 1847-48, George Copway (Kahgegagahbowh) lectured on temperance and Indian affairs on the East Coast (Smith 35-40). Closer to Winnemucca's era, Red Cloud's 1870 speech in New York City received considerable press attention (Clements 64-68). So, too, did Sitting Bull following the Battle of Little Bighorn (1876), when he went on tour as a "living exhibit" in 1884 and 1885, and after his arrest and murder in 1890 (Coward 160).
     If Winnemucca was aware of the media's attention to orators such as Red Cloud and Sitting Bull, we have no record of it. What we do know is that she appeared with her family in 1864 as a translator and a performer of tableaux vivants. Although the news coverage of these events is mocking at times, it nonetheless reports upon political speeches made by Winnemucca's father and translated by her ("Win-a-muc-ca"; "The Aboriginal Entertainment"). Early in her life, then, she learned that the spectacle of performance could be tied to telling a political story through the (potentially dismissive) {6} press. Winnemucca promoted her status as an Indian woman lecturer as unique, telling a reporter in November 1879 that she "would be the first Indian woman that ever spoke before white people" ("A Dusky Princess"). This, however, was not true. Just one month before, in Boston, the Omaha woman Susette La Flesche had captured considerable news media attention working on behalf of the Poncas ("'Bright Eyes'"). Like Winnemucca, La Flesche began lecturing with a history of translating and writing on behalf of American Indians and as an advocate for a particular group who had been wrongfully removed by the US government. Like Winnemucca, she understood the power of the news media in shaping representations of American Indians. Like Winnemucca, she earned the respect of East Coast reformers, the wrath of the "Indian ring," and an invitation to testify before a special committee of the US Senate. A book also resulted from La Flesche's tour, though she wrote the introduction only.
     However, La Flesche's work established a news frame for representing American Indian women lecturers that did not fit Winnemucca's self-representation. La Flesche was a young, mixed-raced unmarried woman (chaperoned by her brother). In the United States, she was called an "Indian maiden," but she rejected as undemocratic the princess title cast upon her by the British press during her 1887 tour of England (Wilson 321-22).5 Although Standing Bear dressed in his chief 's regalia, La Flesche always presented herself in "civilized" clothes. She appeared with prominent male speakers and read her lectures in a formal manner. Coward argues that La Flesche was framed sympathetically and sentimentally, complementing the news frame surrounding the Ponca controversy, one in which "good" Indians were to be easily assimilated into US culture. Clearly, her gender played a role as she was represented as a genteel, "civilized" Indian woman.
     Although Winnemucca promoted her respectability in the East by using her married name, she gained fame during the Bannock War, completing a 220-mile trip on horseback through hostile territory to liberate a group of Northern Paiutes from captivity--a task she preformed when "the officers could not get an Indian man or a {7} white man to go for love or money" (Zanjani 159; Winnemucca, Life 164). Winnemucca was also known for her multiple marriages, gambling, drinking, and fighting. Her lectures were extemporaneous and marked with humor, sentimental appeals, and occasional songs. Unlike La Flesche, she actively promoted herself as a princess and at times dressed the part. Winnemucca's performance of Indian identities was unique in 1883 and 1884. It helped draw attention to her causes, but it also created powerful enemies, who conducted their attacks through newspapers. La Flesche seems to have denied the news media and the "Indian Ring" the fodder that Winnemucca provided in terms of their respective personal lives. The media's attacks on Winnemucca were far more sustained and vicious. Her resistance to Indian agent W. V. Rinehart, in particular, drew his wrath and a flurry of negative commentary. The Council Fire, citing affidavits provided by Rinehart, charged Winnemucca with being the army's tool, a "common camp follower," and a liar (Winnemucca, Life 266- 68; see also Canfield 203-05). The paper's editor also attempted to stop the publication of Life among the Piutes (Zanjani 248).6
     However, Winnemucca was no stranger to newspaper attacks. In 1870 she received significant attention for her letter to Nevada's superintendent of Indian Affairs, explaining that the Northern Paiutes refused to live on a reservation because the agent's corruption caused starvation conditions. Several national venues, most notably Harper's Weekly, republished the letter, demonstrating to Winnemucca the power to affect local politics by rousing national media attention. That positive coverage, and the fact that the superintendent forwarded the letter to the commissioner of Indian Affairs (Zanjani 102), was noticed by the Humboldt Register, a local and often hostile newspaper, which criticized as "infernal noodles" the easterners who believed Winnemucca, denigrated Winnemucca as "greasy" and dirty, and mocked the Northern Paiutes' starvation ("Miss Sarah Winnemucca"). Papers in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Cleveland reprinted the attack.7 Nonetheless, Winnemucca and her family continued to seek newspaper attention throughout the 1870s. For example, when Winnemucca's brother was unjustly arrested and sent to Alcatraz by agent Calvin Bateman in 1874, he wrote to the editor {8} of the Humboldt Register to plead his case. In 1875, that same paper noted that agent Bateman is "again at his dirty tricks" because the "newspapers have been asking him some naughty questions respecting the disposition of the money placed in his hands for the benefit of the Indians under his charge." The paper noted that the "troubles are this time kicked up by Sally Winnemucca" ("Bateman").
     By 1879, the start of her most active lecturing years, Winnemucca recognized reporters' and editors' potential cruelty and their power to influence popular opinion. The year 1879 included personal and political crises for Winnemucca and served as the exigency for her book. At the time, she was well known as General Oliver O. Howard's guide, translator, and scout during the Bannock War (Zanjani 153-88). As part of this role, she persuaded several bands of Northern Paiutes (including those whom she considered intimate family) to move to Camp Harney, Oregon, despite their fears that they would be treated as prisoners of war. These fears were well founded, and after the war, the United States declared the bands at Camp Harney hostile and forced them to remove 350 miles in the winter to Yakima. Winnemucca traveled with her group and witnessed the Northern Paiutes' intense suffering, which eventually resulted in the death of one in five of those Northern Paiutes who were removed (Zanjani 221).
     To help end the Northern Paiutes' suffering and to vindicate herself, Winnemucca decided to lecture in San Francisco and Nevada in the winter of 1879-80. While in San Francisco, she circulated a petition to Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz, insisting upon the Northern Paiutes' innocence and requesting that they be allowed to return to the Malheur Agency. She asked, too, for the reinstatement of an honest Indian agent (Canfield 166; "Scalping an Indian Agent"). Winnemucca's strategy was based upon gaining national attention, and it necessitated positive press reviews. That she paid attention to the circulation of articles about her is suggested by a February 1880 Silver State article claiming that Winnemucca sent a dispatch "threatening to have the heart's blood" of a western editor whose story representing her as drunk and violent was picked up by New York papers ("The Princess Sallie"; "Her Own Work").
     Due in part to Winnemucca's activism, the US government sent an investigator from the Interior Department to check on the Northern Paiutes' "unrest" (Canfield 167; "Wrongs of the Red Men"). Subsequently, Winnemucca and a delegation of Northern Paiutes met with President Rutherford B. Hayes and Secretary Schurz in Washington, DC. Schurz issued an order allowing the Northern Paiutes at Yakima to return home and receive land allotments (Zanjani 205). However, government officials, fearful of Winnemucca's skillful use of the news media, kept Winnemucca from conducting press interviews (Canfield 171-74). When Winnemucca returned west, the letter from Schurz corroborating their agreement failed to arrive (eventually, he would reverse his decision [Canfield 182-85]). Winnemucca, nonetheless, showed the agent at Yakima her copy of the letter, and he promptly offered her a bribe to conceal it from the Northern Paiutes. She refused the bribe and refused, also, to promise to keep the letter secret. However, her silence regarding the letter created suspicion among some Northern Paiutes. To prove to the Northern Paiutes at Yakima that she was working on their behalf and to hold the US government responsible for its promises, the next year Winnemucca announced that she would lecture in the East. As Elizabeth Peabody wrote to the Boston Transcript in June 1883, when Winnemucca returned west, she discovered that

the orders were so much waste paper. . . . she was the victim of the subtle arts of the Indian ring, intent that she should not speak to the people at all, and that all the empressement of attentions was to shut her off from going to New York to answer the invitations from real friends, who wanted the truth told here in the East. She then determined to come again and do what she proposes to do in her appeal, disconnected from all organizations that can always be circumvented to do the work of the enemy. ("Letter to the Editor")

The "Indian Ring" and Winnemucca seemed to agree on one point: she could best promote her causes by taking them "to the people" through lectures and the media.



When Winnemucca came to the northeastern United States in 1883, she had at least thirteen years of experience negotiating with the press and considering matters of self-representation, and she continued to monitor newspaper representations of herself and American Indians.8 Although Winnemucca's lectures are more complex than merely her wardrobe, interest in her costumes signifies concerns about her performative identity in particular and American Indian performances in general. It is noteworthy that Winnemucca often identified herself as a princess and dressed the part, despite the fact that the term princess reflected accurately neither the Winnemucca family's status among the Northern Paiutes nor Northern Paiute structures of leadership.9 Nonetheless, by declaring, in English, that she was a princess, she invested herself and her family among many non-Natives with much of the leadership she claimed. Certainly, the eastern press was convinced of her power. An April 1883 Boston Evening Transcript article, for example, states that the Northern Paiute people are "perfectly obedient" to Winnemucca's wishes ("A Piute Indian Princess"). Winnemucca may also have assumed the princess role to legitimize in non-Native discourse Northern Paiutes' political identity (Walker 163). Whatever her motives, the role of an Indian princess carries with it rhetorical and political risks. It is a construct, Rayna Green argues, inextricable from colonial desires. Like Pocahontas, the princess typically serves as the colonizers' helpmate: "[She] has to violate the wishes and customs of her own 'barbarous' people to make good the rescue, saving the man out of love and often out of 'Christian sympathy'" (704). Conforming to the expectations of an Indian princess, Winnemucca often stressed the assistance she and her family gave to US imperial efforts.10
     Some scholars interpret Winnemucca's wardrobe and representation of herself as an Indian princess as evidence of her acquiescence to non-Natives' spectatorship desires--and all the damaging images of vanishing, romanticized Indians that such desires imply.11 Yet these interpretations often rest upon problematic assumptions {11} of an authentic American Indian identity. In Winnemucca's case, some scholars have made much of the fact that her princess costume is inauthentic.12 Joanna Cohan Scherer, for example, acknowledges that some "Northern Paiute women in better circumstances often wore calf-length dresses of buckskin, with fringe on the sides, bodice, and sleeves." However, she defines buckskin as "not aboriginal" because it was "influenced by trade and contact with the Plains and Plateau tribes" (179). She notes that one of Winnemucca's costumes "appears to be cloth rather than hide" and that others are decorated with "ready-made fringes used on lampshades, curtains, and chairs," concluding that Winnemucca "dressed in elaborately decorated nontraditional costumes," in apparel "not at all akin to traditional Paiute women's clothes" (179-80). This inauthentic wardrobe, for Scherer, becomes prima facie evidence of Winnemucca's complicity with colonialism. Scherer argues, Winnemucca "created for herself a true Pocahontas complex" and could serve only as the colonizers' "collaborationist" and "helpmate" (196).
     Scherer's charges of collaboration are not isolated, and they seem to have forced the hand of scholars who want to view Winnemucca in a more favorable light into representing her as a shrewd manipulator of the princess role for subversive ends.13 In so doing, they often evoke problematic tropes of authenticity.14 Even when not addressing Winnemucca's wardrobe, some scholars reiterate notions of authenticity wherein her adaptations can only be understood as loss. For example, Linda Bolton argues that Winnemucca's

legitimacy is contested by a prior name, her tribal name, which we can only know in translation. That first name, in which the trace of an originary identity resides, is "Thocmetony," and this is her name before her conversion into the province of Indian Otherness. This is the name closest to her authentic and native self, and it bears little relation to the names that follow, through which Winnemucca becomes visible. In "Thocmetony," whose sound and meanings and nuances ultimately elude us, reside the real stories of identity, presence, and lineage that indicate a self whole and intact, in her rightful being and histori-{12}cal continuity. But even as we acknowledge its precedence, "Thocmetony" is a name that reflects an existence, a reality, that is no longer recoverable. (153; emphasis mine)

Bolton reiterates dominant nineteenth-century representations of American Indians--an authentic Indian self, the vanishing American, the impossibility of translating Indian languages or cultures, and the Indian as a sublime and therefore unknowable other. As their presence here demonstrates, manifest manners are still powerful in the twenty-first century.15 Both those who deploy manifest manners and those who resist them--whom Vizenor labels postindian warriors--are "responsible for simulations" of indian identity, yet the postindian warrior exposes, through performance and irony, the simulation itself (13). Postindian warriors simulate indian, but they also "uncover the absence of the real and undermine the comparative poses of tribal traditions"; they "ous[t] the inventions with humor, new stories, and the simulations of survivance"; and they "contravene the absence of the real with theatrical performances" (12, 5). They thereby create an "active sense of presence" and "that sensation of a new tribal presence in the very ruins of the representations of invented Indians" (vii, 3). Winnemucca exposes the simulation, and in so doing, she defies nineteenth- and twenty-first century colonial tropes, including--but not limited to--the binary of an authentic (assumed traditional) versus performative (assumed commodified and fake) self.
     Two examples from Winnemucca's 1883 lectures demonstrate how she challenged the manifest manners of the vanishing American, colonial tropes of the untranslatable Indian, and the Indian princess role.16 In the first example, Winnemucca (unlike Bolton) acknowledges that Winnemucca is a Northern Paiute word. The Baltimore Sun reported of a January 1884 interview: "Her name, Winnemucca, signifies mirage, but as she laughingly said yesterday, she is pretty substantial and the reverse of a mirage" ("Princess Winnemucca"). Here Winnemucca, through translation, creates her family and the Northern Paiute territory's "active sense of presence." By 1884, several sites in Nevada were named Winnemucca, includ-{13}ing a lake. Twentieth-century accounts reveal that the name has been "variously interpreted to mean 'place by the river,' 'bread giver,' 'the giver,' 'the charitable man,' or 'one moccasin.'" With one exception, the translations indicate names for the "famous Indian chief," Winnemucca's father (H. Carlson 248). By pointing to her Northern Paiute name (rather than her married name), Winnemucca establishes her family's presence and prominence. Her translation (into mirage), which is not in twentieth-century accounts, may signify Lake Winnemucca, a seasonal lake that dried up if the Truckee River's water was low (Knack and Stewart 8). Though Lake Winnemucca was not literally a mirage, one wonders if Winnemucca was "laughingly" having some fun with the concept of the vanishing American. If her non-Native audience assumed that Winnemucca's family, the Northern Paiutes, their language, or their claims to territory (including their precious desert lakes) would disappear, they were mistaken, because, like the lake, they would appear again.
     She goes further. A mirage appears present and real but is in fact an optical illusion. Winnemucca, however, says she is "substantial and the reverse of a mirage." She is not her audience's "optical illusion" or, perhaps, even their illusions (their "attribution of reality to what is unreal; a false conception or idea; a deception, delusion" or "fancy"; "Illusion"). Rather, she signifies her "substantial" presence by calling attention to her body's heft. The reporter understands this part of her joke, and reports, "She is 5 feet 2 inches high, weighs 156 pounds," "rugged," with a "short, square build." As Green details, the typical American Indian princess is "young, leaner in the Romanesque rather than the Greek mode"--not a weighty woman (702). Winnemucca's calling attention to her "substantial" body thus challenges aspects of the princess image even as she performs the role. An October 1883 Salem Gazette article evidences similar resistance:

Mrs. Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (for like another Pocahontas she has been wooed and won by a Virginian of that name) speaks generally in her native costume which is extremely picturesque and becoming and sets forth quite advantageously her fine, womanly figure. She is 40 years of age, but looks under 30, and is rather below the average stature of women. {14} She naively speaks of her fleshly tabernacle as "dumpy"-- a most disrespectful and untruthful epithet--for she is well moulded, not of too full a habit by any means, graceful in carriage, and delightfully modest, simple and unaffected in manner. ("Wrongs")

The reporter, who cannot resist the comparison to Pocahontas, insists that Winnemucca is young and, if not slim, then certainly "not of too full a habit." By contrast, Winnemucca calls attention to her "dumpy," middle-aged body. In these brief exchanges, Winnemucca, to return to Vizenor's words, "ousts the inventions with humor," creating "an active sense of presence" (vii).
     It is also possible to read Winnemucca's inauthentic princess wardrobe as an ironic challenge to simulations of indians, one that "uncover[s] the absence of the real and undermine[s] the comparative poses of tribal traditions" (Vizenor 12). Notions of authenticity relegate American Indians to the past, with devastating political and cultural implications (Deloria, Indians 4; Raibmon 3-10). It is arguable that Winnemucca challenged the manifest manners of authenticity by simulating the costume of an indian princess, thus emphasizing its invention and challenging tropes of authenticity. Vizenor, quoting Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulations, understands as key to indian identities the distinction between feigning (faking) and simulating:

[F]eigning or dissimulating leaves the realty principle intact: the difference is always clear, it is only masked; whereas simulation threatens the difference between "true" and "false," between "real" and "imaginary." (qtd. in Vizenor 13)

If Winnemucca "faked" her wardrobe, then she left the manifest manners of authenticity intact. If she simulated it, she deployed irony to destabilize her audience's sense of what constituted a "real" Indian princess.
     To explore the possibility of her costume as ironic, it is important to consider how newspapers represented it and what Winnemucca said about it. Press reports indicate that even those who assumed her costume was authentic could not determine what part of Ameri-{15}can Indian or Northern Paiute culture it signified. Language slipped between stating that she appeared "in the costume of her tribe," that she "dresses in her native costume as daughter of the chieftan," that she "appeared in the full costume of a Piute maiden," and that she wore the "full dress of her tribe and rank."17 Other reporters represented her costume in more general terms, calling it "her Indian costume" or just her "costume."18 As for Winnemucca, although she often provided ethnological information in her lectures and texts, no accounts indicate that she discussed her lecture wardrobe's significance or claimed it as authentically Northern Paiute. If her advertisements mention a costume, Winnemucca generally promises to "lecture in costume," "appear in costume," or "appear in native costume."19 Winnemucca refused to confirm her costume as signifying any fixed part of her identity, creating a signifier with no determinable sign, and in the process exposing the Indian princess as representation rather than reality.
     Many of her audience members understood her costume as per-formative, though western newspapers presumed an East Coast naiveté about its authenticity. The Winnemucca Silver State, for example, surmised that "not a few of her audience suppose this to be the every-day dress of the ladies of her tribe in their native wilds."20 Nonetheless, at least some of Winnemucca's East Coast audience members were aware that American Indians in general, and Northern Paiutes in particular, did not dress as Winnemucca did when she appeared in "native costume." The Boston Daily Advertiser, for example, noted in an article on Winnemucca that all four thousand Northern Paiutes at the Nevada agency wore "citizens dress" ("Life among the Piutes"). In her lectures, Winnemucca focused upon the (lack of) nontraditional materials needed to clothe Northern Paiutes, such as flannel and calico ("A Plea for the Piutes"). That at least some members of her audience understood her costume as invented rather than authentic is a significant part of the context of Winnemucca's lectures that has not received adequate critical attention. As Marvin Carlson reminds us, "performance implies . . . a self-consciousness about doing and re-doing on the part of both performers and spectators" (ix).
     Yet when analyzing American Indian performances, some critics seem to overlook spectators' self-consciousness. For example, in his otherwise excellent analysis of the 1901-18 Ojibwe and Odawa-performed Song of Hiawatha pageants, Michael D. McNally claims that due to economic necessity, "Longfellow's staged Indians became the real ones; the actors themselves and the world they lived in became invisible, unreal" (119). To support his claim, McNally analyzes a 1904 Toronto News report about the real-life wedding of the performers who were cast in the roles of Hiawatha and Minnehaha. The report stated, "it was suggested to the bride and groom that it would add to the general interest if they would keep on the picturesque costumes worn in the play" for their wedding. McNally concludes that the story shows "how deeply ran Anglo-American desires for authenticity. . . . To the public eye, the boundary between the real and the stage Indian had become more than blurred; it had dissolved entirely" (129-30). However, calls for a continuation of performance are not prima facie evidence of belief in authenticity. Instead, the blurring of boundaries--between Indian and indian--could be what this scenario emphasizes. As McNally relates, tourists "were invited to play Indian themselves" by participating in feasts, competing in canoe and portage contests, and fishing with Indian guides (116). American Indians were present on and off stage, in costume and not. Such juxtapositions necessarily prohibit an uncomplicated experience of authenticity. To return to Winnemucca, the fact that at least some of her audience members and reporters were aware of her costume as invention suggests, also, that desire for authenticity is not the same thing as belief in it. Arguably, Winnemucca simulated the wardrobe of an indian princess; she did not fake it. As such, she exposed rather than replicated the manifest manners of authenticity.


If her indian costume subverted the Indian princess role, Winnemucca's self-representation as an exemplary Indian destabilized {17} it; she became what Deloria might identify as an Indian in an "unexpected" place. In Life among the Piutes, Malea Powell argues, Winnemucca "represents herself as a participant in the kinds of Indian-ness that would have appealed to her late-nineteenth-century reformist audience, that is, the 'civilized Indian' and/or the 'Indian Princess'" ("Princess" 64). As Powell's conflation of the civilized Indian with the Indian princess suggests, the Indian princess shares with the exemplary Indian a capacity for civilization and a willingness to distance herself from other American Indians. In this respect, the princess image is compatible with the image of American Indians desired by reformers, who, as L. G. Moses details, promoted "the ideal of Indians as tamed humans in a tamed land, who were embracing civilization through land allotment, education, and industry" (5). However, a key distinction, at least in Winnemucca's case, is that exemplary Indians were expected to wear Euroamerican clothes signifying their embrace of civilization whereas Indian princesses were to conform to the audiences' desires for authentic dress.
     Winnemucca presented herself in both roles to the news media as she lectured. For example, during her first lectures in San Francisco, in November 1879, she appeared, perhaps exclusively,

In full Indian costume. A head-dress of long feathers was fastened to her forehead by a bright red band, her long, jet-black hair falling below her waist. A bright buckskin skirt and cape were trimmed with beads and long buckstring strips. A bead necklace shone around her throat and a blue bead bracelet was worn around her right wrist. ("Princess Sarah")

The reporter connects Winnemucca with the Indian princess role by suggesting her "short skirt" made her sexually welcoming to non-Native men ("Princess Sarah"). Yet these princess-laden reports of her lectures must be analyzed in relation to her self-fashioning as an exemplary Indian.
     Taking her 1879 performances in San Francisco as a case in point, we see that Winnemucca presented herself as an exemplary Indian to the news media several weeks before appearing on stage in her indian costume. One interview, for example, conflates the princess {18} role with that of the exemplary Indian in its headline, first calling her "A Dusky Princess" and then identifying her as "A Civilized Indian Woman." The reporter opens by conveying a genteel impression of Winnemucca, noting her "small, soft hand," her gesture of offering the reporter the best seat in her hotel room parlor, and her gracious introduction of family members. He describes her wardrobe: "She was neatly attired in a brown dress of waterproof material, her only ornament being a necklace of coral." Immediately following these descriptions, the reporter quotes Winnemucca:

"I want to ask you something," she said, in remarkably good and correct English: "I have just been thinking how it would do for me to lecture upon the Bannack [sic] war. I might get the California Theatre, and perhaps I could make my expenses. You see people don't know much about Indians any way, and I know lots of things that people would like to hear. What do you think?" ("A Dusky Princess")

These are the first known comments from Winnemucca at the start of her lecture career, and the scene establishes her as an exemplary Indian, one whose dress and manners would appeal to a reform-minded audience. As a genteel woman, she defers to the reporter's (presumed masculine, presumed non-Native) authority and expertise. She signifies her gentility, too, by disavowing any profit motive. Winnemucca also emphasized Christian sensibilities, though the extent of her conversion to Christianity is not known (Zanjani 124-25). Calling her an "enthusiastic Methodist," the reporter writes, "[Winnemucca] narrated her experiences of 'a lovely camp meeting'" of more than more than 800 people, both "whites and Indians," during which she translated sermons. The reporter adds, "Sixtythree Piutes have been converted since spring, partially through her ministrations."
     A San Francisco Chronicle article published several days before her first lecture provides further evidence that Winnemucca cultivated the news media--she called upon the paper--and an exemplary Indian image prior to appearing on stage in her indian costume. Once again, her wardrobe receives notice:


Her long, straight black hair was worn loosely tied and hanging down her back. Upon her head she wore a straw hat of fine white braid, with upturned side, faced with brown silk and decorated with red roses and clusters of wild berries. A plain dress of dark mixed pattern of serviceable material was almost covered by the long black beaver cloak, trimmed with bands of satin. Around her neck was a silk kerchief, with center of changeable red, and blue and bright striped border. Her only ornaments were three gold rings on the left hand, one set with bloodstone, another with crystal, and a silver ornament at her throat. ("The Indian Princess . . .")

In addition to wearing clothes that signify her assimilation, Winnemucca also selected her wardrobe to emphasize her family's friendliness to whites. The reporter notes that her necklace "has a history and merits description," as it was given to Winnemucca's brother after he intervened on behalf of three white men about to be killed by Indians during the Bannock War. "It makes my blood run cold even now to think of it," Winnemucca told the correspondent, making clear her ability to distinguish herself from presumably savage American Indians. That Winnemucca called on the paper, established herself as a Christian, appeared in assimilated dress, and emphasized a sentimental keepsake signifying her and her family's willingness to defend whites all comprise performative acts as significant as her subsequent appearances on stage in her indian costume.
     If the Indian princess and the exemplary Indian only complemented one another, then the fact that Winnemucca performed both would be insignificant. However, Winnemucca's deployment of the princess role can be understood as posing a challenge to the exemplary Indian, especially when placed within the broader context of American Indian performances such as Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows. In contrast to La Flesche's consistent self-representation, Winnemucca's shifting identities had the potential to destabilize the roles themselves. Thirteen years before the Canadian Mohawk poet E. Pauline Johnson would garner significant audience {20} attention by appearing in indian dress to recite her "Indian" poems in the first half of her act and then change into an evening gown for her poems on "birdsong, landscapes, mountains and trains" (Gray 157-71), Winnemucca switched between indian and exemplary costumes in the same venues but for different performances. The Providence Journal, in an account typical of her East Coast lectures, notes that for her first appearance, "[Winnemucca] was neatly and tastefully dressed, and made a most favorable impression upon the audience." It continues, she "will deliver another address this afternoon . . . and will appear in costume worn by her tribe" ("A Home"). Winnemucca's shifting wardrobes may have startled two of her possible audiences--the Wild West crowd and reformers--though for starkly different reasons.
     Audiences for Winnemucca's lectures could be large (she spoke to 1,500 people in Poughkeepsie, for example ["Mrs. Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins"]), and one cannot generalize about them. However, the staggering popularity of Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows evidences a deep well of cultural desire for their representations of American Indians (Moses 30). Buffalo Bill's show opened in the East for the first time in spring 1883, arriving in Boston, then, the same season as did Winnemucca. Unlike Winnemucca, the Wild West show attracted large audiences from the start, perhaps because, as the Boston Daily Advertiser claimed, the show delivered "genuine" Indians, "the stalwart, fierce-looking fellows of poetry and romance" ("The 'Wild West' Exhibition"). Winnemucca competed with the shows for audiences (in attendance and in the media) and also for control of the image of American Indians presented to non-Natives.21
     Winnemucca's willingness to perform indian roles dates back to her first appearances in tableaux vivants with her family, including one of Pocahontas ("The Aboriginal Entertainment"). When she shifted to the role of lecturer in 1879, she maintained some of her performances' entertainment components. There was an exhibition-like quality to her 1879 lecture, for example, because her brother (whose speech she translated) accompanied her and three cousins "occupied seats on the back of the stage." That same eve-{21}ning, Winnemucca appeared with "the son of the Nez Perces Chief, Joseph," who "closed the entertainment with an exhibition of his skill in the manual of arms" ("Sarah Winnemucca Repeats Her Lecture"). East Coast advertisements occasionally billed her with other entertainers (non-Native ones), and reporters often commented on her lively style, which blended humorous and sentimental appeals. Most significantly, she performed aspects of American Indian culture for her audiences, including singing songs in "Indian dialect" and telling oral traditions.22
     Winnemucca's incorporation of performative elements into her lectures signified one thing to the Wild West crowd and another to reformers, but in both cases it may have had the effect of destabilizing the roles scripted for American Indians. In relation to the Wild West crowd, what seems significant is that, unlike the Wild West performers, who were supposed to remain authentic both on and off stage, Winnemucca shifted between an assimilated and princess wardrobe. As Deloria argues, the Wild West show promoters refused to represent American Indians as modern people because the show relied upon a theory of performance as reenactment. The idea that "Indians were historical reenactors foreclosed other stories, including the possibility that Indian people occupied the same space and time as their white audiences" (Indians 67). Winnemucca, however, neither relinquished an indian identity nor foreclosed the possibility of her participation within modern US culture. Here, Deloria's distinction between the "anomalous" and "unexpected" Indian helps to identify the potentially destabilizing effect of Winnemucca's shifting wardrobes and personas. Non-Natives often characterize American Indians who embrace modernity as humorous anomalies. Nonetheless, Deloria argues, one should "distinguish between the anomalous, which reinforces expectations, and the unexpected, which resists categorization and, thereby, questions expectation itself " (Indians 11). Winnemucca's shifting wardrobe and personas created the "unexpected Indian."23
     So, too, may have Winnemucca's overt participation within a modern economic exchange. Many American Indian performers were expected to manufacture authenticity, images that cast them,{22} paradoxically, as the symbolic counterparts to the modern economy in which they were participating (Raibmon 11). Perhaps in an attempt to establish her as an authentic Indian, Winnemucca's champions tended to represent her as without economic motive (Peabody, The Piutes 8). Likewise, scholars today often emphasize that if Winnemucca exploited the image of the princess, she did so for her causes, not for personal economic gain. However, Winnemucca, at least by spring 1884, called attention to her need for profit. She told a crowd in Baltimore, "I have lectured often before, but I have never asked for money, but since I have been adopted to it [lecturing] I can't sleep in your houses or eat with you for nothing. I could go into an Indian wigwam and live there for nothing, but you ask for money, and, as I said, since I have been adopted to this lecturing I have written a book to sell" ("An Indian Princess' Story"). Here, Winnemucca challenges the manifest manners of authenticity, wherein indians inhabit the premodern, noncapitalistic world signified by the "wigwam." Life among the Piutes becomes, among other things, a commodity.
     Winnemucca's ability to be unexpected appears to have startled reporters and arguably contributed to her ability to garner sustained media attention. For example, according to the Boston Morning Journal's report on her first lecture in the East, Winnemucca asserted that "Most of the [Paiutes] are civilized, but [Winnemucca] says it is too late, after years of wrong to hope to Christianize them" ("Princess Sarah Winnemucca"). The Boston Evening Star made explicit the dilemma this comment presented to reporters: "[Winnemucca] claimed that her people were robbed systematically by our government and its agents, and in a wild way declared that it was useless to try and Christianize her people, though they were civilized" ("An Indian Girl's Appeal"; emphasis mine). In these passages, terms that to many East Coast reformers should be seamless signifiers--civilization should slip easily into Christianity--are put into disturbing play. The reporter labels her remarks "wild" because the reporter's expectations so clearly connect the two terms that she has disturbed. Winnemucca, to borrow a phrase from Zitkala-Sa, was "neither a tame Indian nor a wild one" (69), and her refusal to be one or {23} the other made her unexpected rather than anomalous, perhaps encouraging the reporters to continue writing about her.
     The Wild West crowd, however, differed from reformers who attended and promoted Winnemucca's lectures, traveled with her, and invited her into their homes to speak. Francis Paul Prucha demonstrates that because many reformers "were determined to do away with Indianness and tribal relations and to turn the individual Indian into a patriotic American citizen, indistinguishable from his white brothers," they attempted to regulate the Wild West shows (Prucha 2:610, 2:712). Reformers were dismayed by the shows' portrayal of American Indians "as savages from a wild land, who were inimical to civilization," and preferred exemplary Indians who demonstrated the desire and capacity for assimilation (Moses 5). One should reconsider, then, what it meant for Winnemucca to don an American indian wardrobe; insist on the presence of American Indian songs, stories, and languages; and lecture on American Indian cultures in this context. We might interpret these performances in a manner similar to Raibmon's analysis of the "cannibal" dance performed by a delegation of (Northwestern) Kwakwaka'wakw at the 1893 Chicago World Fair, a performance that Raibmon argues was an act of resistance (49). One evening, after performing in a nonthreatening manner, the troupe surrounded two young initiates, slashed deep gashes across their backs, slid ropes beneath them, and tied the ends together so the initiates could rip their own flesh. An elder then offered his arm to an initiate, who bit off a chunk of skin (15). As one might surmise, these images were at odds with Canada's reform policy and planned economic expansion into the Northwest Territories. Likewise, Winnemucca's insistence on the presence of American Indian songs and stories could have signaled resistance to the reformers' assimilative project. William Clements notes, for example, that although non-Natives often praised oratory, story and song did not receive the same amount of attention, and songs were "targets of considerable distaste" (6).
     In this context, Winnemucca's indian costume's pan-Indian and hybrid components may have underscored a nonassimilated indian presence. Again, comparisons to Johnson's performances are rel-{24}evant. Like Winnemucca's, Johnson's costume was not authentic but rather provided a "general sense of indigeneity" (Gerson and Strong-Boas 50). It is worth considering whether Winnemucca, like Johnson, highlighted "the self-conscious and constructed nature of her stage identity" (Strong-Boas and Gerson 111), thus creating "that sensation of a new tribal presence in the very ruins of the representation of invented Indians" (Vizenor 3). We know, for example, that Winnemucca quickly drew the criticism of several important reform groups while in the East. Although their concern was due in part to Winnemucca's explicit naming of corrupt Christian agents, they may also have taken offense when she refused to perform as an exemplary Indian on all occasions, insisting instead upon the continuing presence of American indian dress, languages, songs, and stories. Indeed, Winnemucca's lectures refuse Johnson's sequencing of costumes, which "refrained from posing any threat to the prevailing hegemony by showing the 'wild' Indian . . . replaced by the cultivated European" (Strong-Boas and Gerson 113). As elaborated upon below, it seems that one never knew when the "wild" Winnemucca might appear to disrupt reformers' narratives of civilizing progress. One account of her placement of songs suggests the possibility for such unpredictable resistance. In Providence, Winnemucca appears to end her lecture by evoking the vanishing American, but then she "sang an Indian song in dialect," a move that could be said to force her audience to acknowledge not the disappearance of Indian languages and peoples but rather their "active presence" ("The Story of Piute Wrongs").
     Postindian warriors also resist manifest manners with new stories, and one story demonstrates how Winnemucca struggled to insert new stories into clichéd colonial ones. According to an October 1883 account in the Salem Gazette, there was a "tradition, handed down no one can tell from what remote epoch,"

that early in the history of the world there were two brothers, one fair of complexion and the other tawny, who disagreed. The tawny brother, unwilling to quarrel but unable to come to terms with his white relative, voluntarily withdrew, and {25} with sad and reluctant steps departed with his family and possessions toward the setting sun. This well disposed and most commendable person became the founder of the Piute tribe. ("Wrongs of the Piute Indians")

This report evidences the manifest manners of the vanishing American and the noble savage. By contrast, an account from the Evening Transcript that quotes Winnemucca's May 1883 version refutes the notion that the "tawny brother" "voluntarily withdrew," instead emphasizing how the father separated his "white and red children," placing "a great ocean between" them ("Princess Winnemucca on the Treatment of the Indians"). The version in Life among the Piutes, which Winnemucca arguably had the most control over, is far more detailed. Like the story reported in the Evening Transcript, this version represents two peoples separated by their parents for arguing. Winnemucca writes,

[The forefather] said, "Depart from each other, you cruel children;--go across the mighty ocean and do not seek each other's lives."
So the light girl and boy disappeared by that one word, and their parents saw them no more, and they were grieved, although they knew their children were happy. And by-and-by the dark children grew into a large nation; and we believe it is the one we belong to, and that the nation that sprung from the white children will some time send some one to meet us and heal all the old trouble. (Life 7)

The differences between the versions indicate Winnemucca's efforts to use stories to subvert her audience's expectations. In the latter versions, the Northern Paiutes are not the noble savages of the Gazette's version but quite human in their ability to argue. The Life among the Piutes version is particularly revealing because it reverses rather than refutes the vanishing American. The Northern Paiutes' growing into a "large nation" after the white people disappear demonstrates how Winnemucca created the political identity of the Northern Paiutes as a nation with which to be negotiated on recip-{26}rocal terms (Life 6-7). Although Winnemucca did not always win the struggle for representation, she nonetheless was willing and able to "oust the inventions" with "new stories."


When considering representations of Winnemucca's personal life, a scholar treads on precarious critical ground. The terms of the concerted campaign to discredit Winnemucca were the stereotypes American Indian women suffered (and suffer) under. She was represented as a whore, a gambler, a drunkard, and a violent, dirty savage--a "squaw." Additionally, Winnemucca appears to have had the least control over news accounts of her personal life. Nonetheless, stories about her gambling, drinking, and multiple marriages have some factual basis.24 In a rush to defend Winnemucca from these charges, her supporters unwittingly replicate the cultural values of her detractors and overlook how such actions can be understood as destabilizing the roles of Indian princess and exemplary Indian, and therefore, as having potential for resistance.
     In the case of alcohol, for example, the reformers' "strong temperance bent" often resulted in policies at odds with their own plan to treat American Indians as citizens rather than wards of the state (Prucha 2:654-55). Winnemucca's gambling, too, not only asserted her right to continue Northern Paiute traditions but also challenged reformers' assertion of a Puritan work ethic (Prucha 2:622-23). She repeatedly defied non-Native and Northern Paiute wishes by marrying whomever she chose. Indeed, reporters who were otherwise sympathetic to Winnemucca did not always know how to frame these aspects of her life, a struggle she might have encouraged.25 For example, when Winnemucca returned west after her 1883-84 lecture series, she temporarily suspended her school in August 1886, and in September she contacted Peabody from Elko (220 miles east of her school) to request two hundred dollars. Peabody sent the request to Winnemucca's benefactor, who then asked,"Is it possible that there is truth in some of the scandalous reports of vicious habits: of drink-{27}ing and gambling & c. & c. which have been so positively urged?" (qtd. in Zanjani 278). Zanjani expresses uncertainty about these reports, explaining "it would have been difficult for the daughter of so famous a gambler as Winnemucca to see the time-honored Paiute pastime as a vice." She then asserts, in starkly Victorian terms, "It would have been so easy" for Winnemucca "to fall" (276-78; emphasis mine). What if, instead of holding Winnemucca to reformers' codes of behavior and labeling her a fallen woman if she gambled, one considered the effects of representations of her "wild" behavior in the newspapers? Deloria's analysis of the reservation system functioning as a form of discipline becomes relevant in this context (Indians 27). The alleged propensity of American Indians to "roam" concerned the government and reformers alike. Winnemucca was not living on a reservation in 1886, but she appears to have "roamed" all the way to Elko, and her disappearance from the reformers' oversight can be understood as resistance. That Winnemucca might have resented at least some reformers is suggested by her September 1884 lecture in Carson, Nevada. "Speaking of her Boston experience," the Carson Morning Appeal reported, "she said: 'When I spoke in Boston my angel mother got up on the platform and began to talk and I had a hard time to choke that angel mother off '" ("Sarah Winnemucca").
     Statements and actions such as these may function as symbolic "outbreaks" of the "wild" Indian, which, although precarious in terms of Winnemucca's status among eastern reformers, may have been designed (or had the effect of) evoking colonial anxieties. Deloria describes the prominent terminology of Indian warfare in the 1870s and 1880s:

Outbreak, rebellion, uprising--such words revealed a fear of Indian people escaping the spatial, economic, political, social, and military restrictions placed on them by the reservation regime. . . . Outbreak, then, suggested a particular kind of armed resistance, a rebellion that would never produce renewed autonomy, a pocket of stubbornness in the midst of the seep of the American empire. (Indians 21)

{28} Winnemucca's drinking, gambling, marrying, and roaming can be understood as creating her own "pocket of stubbornness."
     Evidence that Winnemucca might have consciously deployed the threat of "outbreak" appears in accounts of the Modoc War (1872-73). At the time, Winnemucca hinted that her father's band had joined the Modocs: "I cannot say that I know my father and his braves have gone to the Modocs, but that seems to be the general impression among us" ("The Piute Princess"). The following year, Winnemucca told an army captain that if the Northern Paiutes' political appeals failed, she would willingly "throw off the garments of civilization" to join armed resistance. Reminding him of the army's difficulty in subduing the Modocs, she "allowed him to imagine how much more difficult it would be to conquer over a thousand Paiutes" (Zanjani 122). Zanjani writes of this incident: "Sarah wildly--and perhaps unwisely--turned to threats" (122). However, was Winnemucca's "wildness" an unwise rhetorical anomaly from an otherwise exemplary Indian, or was it a strategic deployment of threatened "outbreak"? Her threat to "throw off the garments of civilization" implies that the civilized Indian is just one more role she plays. She could also play the defiant warrior, so the US government should work to keep her, and perhaps by extension other American Indians, in more accommodating roles.
     An 1875 San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin article also demonstrates how Winnemucca sought governmental response to Northern Paiute concerns by emphasizing their history and capability of forcefully resisting the US government. The paper warned that the conditions of the Northern Paiutes in 1875 was a cause of "serious alarm to settlers in the vicinity" and predicted that an "outbreak may occur at any time." The Northern Paiutes, it argued, "will not act badly unless forced to do so by the pangs of hunger" ("The First Piute War"). The paper includes a letter by Winnemucca from the Virginia Evening Chronicle. Ostensibly, Winnemucca's letter was designed to educate her audience about the causes of the Northern Paiutes' 1860 Pyramid Lake War, which she attributed to settlers kidnapping and raping two young Northern Paiute girls. Explicitly, Winnemucca used her letter to educate the public about the {29} past war; implicitly, she deployed it to publish an implied threat-- address the deplorable conditions of Northern Paiutes in 1875, or face another "outbreak" of violent resistance. By 1881, Winnemucca told a San Francisco Examiner reporter that the Indian agency system was "the cause of all the recent wars, and will cause another outbreak ere long on the Piute reservation" ("Indian Agents to be Denounced").
     Winnemucca seems to have been aware of the "wild" Indian's rhetorical power in threatening "outbreak." Related, news representations of Winnemucca as a "wild" Indian in her personal life, regardless of their factuality or her control over them, existed side by side with those of her as an exemplary Indian and princess. The fact that newspapers covered all of these roles, often simultaneously, resulted in their destabilization and therefore in the disruption of the colonial news frame.


The disruption of the news frame created space for Winnemucca to establish her presence as an activist. To her, representation in the news media mattered in its own right, but she also understood it as critical to creating political change, especially by getting her audiences to help her "talk" to the US Congress. How, then, can we measure Winnemucca's political success? Although she met with US presidents and influential politicians, Winnemucca was neither able to influence changes to the General Allotment Act nor to change the reservation system (Zanjani 300-303). However, she was successful in reaching some her immediate goals, particularly those she defined in the petition circulated during her lecture tours and published in Life. There, she asks for the restoration of the Malheur Reservation and the return of the Northern Paiutes who had been removed to Yakima (Life 247). Although she began her campaign to save the Malheur Reservation, by 1884, the Northern Paiutes had lost faith that it could be restored; therefore, Winnemucca shifted her attention to seeking a reservation at Fort McDermit (251). In 1889, an executive order made Fort McDermit into a reservation, and {30} Zanjani argues that Winnemucca has never been rightly recognized for her successful advocacy of this cause (285). By 1884, the Northern Paiutes sent to Yakima had slipped away from the agent and returned to their home territory (224). However, legal sanction for the "escapees" needed to be secured (250). Therefore, the fact that Winnemucca was instrumental in persuading the United States to grant an "official end" to the Northern Paiutes' captivity at Yakima mattered (Zanjani 254).
Winnemucca's creation of the bilingual Peabody Institute is also an indicator of her success. The school was designed to resist US educational English-only and boarding school practices, and Winnemucca refused to ask for (and would not have received) governmental support for the school, making funding reliant upon the contacts she made while in the East (Peabody, Sarah Winnemucca's Practical Solution 14-15). Although she was only able to support the school for several years, it achieved local and national success. Locally, it meant a great deal to the Northern Paiute children who attended it and who were reported to be learning rapidly and happily under her tutelage. It mattered, as well, to their parents, who compared it to governmental schools where the children "were whipped and taught nothing" (Peabody, Sarah Winnemucca's Practical Solution 14), and they counted on Winnemucca to protect their children, as she did in one case when she refused to turn her pupils over to a government agent representing boarding schools. Nationally, articles by or about Winnemucca describing the school and challenging US educational policies circulated in newspapers, and Peabody wrote and circulated two lengthy reports about it among friends, newspapers, and members of Congress.26
     By the time she wrote the book for which she is best known today, Winnemucca was an experienced performer and a newspaper warrior. It should come as no surprise, then, that Life among the Piutes challenges anyone who has been lulled into thinking of Winnemucca only as an accommodating princess or exemplary Indian. Throughout the narrative, she establishes Oytes--a defiant Northern Paiute who leaves the reservation and refuses to work for agents--as a fearful antagonist with extraordinary powers. Antag-{31}onist he may be, but Winnemucca also identifies herself, in part, with his role: "He came to me and said, 'You and I are too black ones. We have not white fathers' lips.' I said, 'No, we are two bad ones. Bad ones don't need any pity from any one'" (Life 114). If the Indian princess is "distinctly Caucasian, though her skin remains slightly tinted in some renderings" (Green 702), Winnemucca represents herself as unmixed racially, without a white father's lips. If her roles of princess and exemplary Indian have forced her, at times, to speak "lies . . . the words of the white people" (Life 236), then here she denies being the US government's mouthpiece. She has not the white father's (the US president's) lips. Typical of her life, she briefly identifies with "wild" Oytes's role, then rewrites it, then relinquishes it, refusing to be confined or defined by it. A postindian warrior, Winnemucca has resisted manifest manners "with humor, new stories, and the simulations of survivance" (Vizenor 5). She doesn't need any pity from anyone.


     1. When not quoting directly, I use twenty-first-century spelling and specify Northern Paiutes.
     2. Winnemucca's foremost biographers are Sally Zanjani and Gae Whitney Canfield. See Cohan Scherer (179-87), Sands (276-77), Tisinger (182), McClure (42), Georgi-Findlay (228), and Powell ("Sarah" 73).
     3. When indian appears in italics, it is to evoke Vizenor's understanding of the word.
     4. I draw upon the terminology Deloria describes in "From Nation to Neighborhood."
     5. Regarding LeFleshe and the Ponca controversy, see Coward (201-210) and Wilson (160-249, 253-54, 274-75). See also "Poncas and Omahas" and "'Bright Eyes,' the Ponca Indian Maiden Advocate."
     6.Peabody documents Winnemucca's contact with influential reformers (see Sarah Winnemucca's Practical Solution and The Piutes). For additional information regarding Winnemucca's enemies, see Life (258), Canfield (201), and Zanjani (247). Powell analyzes Winnemucca's rhetorical response to these charges in "Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins."
     7. See "Miss Sarah Winnemucca" in the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Cleveland Herald, and the Milwaukee Daily Sentinel.
     8. See, for example, the letter by Mary Mann. A June editorial exchange between Winnemucca, Peabody, and Charles Ellis in the Boston Evening Transcript also shows how Winnemucca monitored newspapers.
     9. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Northern Paiute population was divided into approximately twenty-one connected bands of between one hundred and two hundred people (Knack and Stewart 15-16). Winnemucca's grandfather and father, though respected leaders, did not have the authority to speak for all Northern Paiutes. See also Catherine Fowler (34).
     10. See "Wrongs," "A meeting," "The Piutes," both articles titled "The Piute Indians," and "Princess Winnemucca."
     11. See Bergland, Deloria (Playing and Indians), Dippie, Horsman, Huhndorf, and Maddox.
     12. See Sale (31).
     13. See McClure (44), Sands (276), Bolton (150), and Sale (31-32).
     14. See, for example, McClure (30).
     15. Regarding authenticity, see Raibmon. Regarding the vanishing American, see Dippie. Regarding representations of translation and American Indians as sublime others, see Murray.
     16. For a related analysis of the postindian aspects of Winnemucca's Life, see McClure.
     17. See "The Wrongs," "A meeting," and the articles titled "The Piute Indians" from the Salem Gazette and Salem Register.
     18. See, for example, "The Princess Winnemucca," "The Story of Piute Wrongs," and "A Lecture by an Indian Woman."
     19. See "The Indian Princess . . . ,""Religious Notices," and "Lectures."
     20. See "The Princess Winnemucca, Returning as a Lecturer."
     21. We should not presume, however, that her audience was only non-Native.
     22. See "Religious Notices," "Lectures," "A Lecture by an Indian Woman," "The Story of Piute Wrongs," and "Princess Winnemucca on the Treatment of the Indians."
     23. Deloria's definition of expectation has much in common with Vizenor's "manifest manners" (Indians 11).
     24. On Winnemucca's "[un]ladylike deportment," see Zanjani (125). On her gambling, see Zanjani (108) and Canfield (191). On her possible drinking of alcohol, see Canfield (191). On her marriages, see Zanjani (69-70, 106-10, 115-18, 143-44, 226-32). See also Canfield (65-68, 191-94).
     25. See "Sarah Winnemucca . . ." for one editor's struggle to come to terms with Winnemucca's gambling.
     26. See "An Indian School," "We have referred already . . . ," "Piute Children," and "Dissatisfied Indians." See also Canfied (232-44) and Zanjani (255-83).


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The Politics of Metafiction in
Louise Erdrich's Four Souls


Louise Erdrich's recent novel Four Souls (2004) continues where her well-known novel Tracks (1988) left off, telling the story of her fictional Ojibwe reservation in the aftermath of allotment policy and the widespread logging of woodlands. Chronologically located between her most popular novels Tracks (which takes place from 1912 to 1924) and Love Medicine (which takes place from the 1930s to 1984), Four Souls bridges the narrative gaps in the stories of recurring characters like Nanapush and Fleur Pillager. Originally conceived as an expanded version of Tracks, Four Souls features parallel plots that depict Fleur's attempt to reclaim her land from lumber baron John Mauser and finally heal her bitterness, alongside Nanapush's analogous effort to hold onto the remaining tribal land and repair his acerbic relationship with his partner Margaret.
     In the novel's epilogue, Nanapush, tribal elder and resident trickster, self-consciously reflects on the whole "scope and drift" of the region's history, lamenting the fact that people now "print [themselves] deeply on the earth" with roads, automobiles, and modern buildings that transform the reservation and threaten tribal sovereignty (210). He contrasts these destructive markings that "bite deep" and cause the "bush" to "recede" with the printed tracks of his own words. Continuing the titular metaphor from Tracks, he muses:

"I have left my own tracks, too. I have left behind these words. But even as I write them down I know they are merely footsteps in the snow. They will be gone by spring. New growth {39} will cover them, and me. That green in turn will blacken. . . . All things familiar dissolve into strangeness. Even our bones nourish change." (210)

By redefining "words" as "tracks" and the "deep" tracks as a form of "print," Nanapush links stories with the material world and specifically with the political context of land use. He draws attention not only to how roads, cars, and buildings affect the earth but also to the historical narratives of progress that legitimize their impact. The deep printing of modern technology disrupts both the local woodlands and the communal identity of a "people who [once] left no tracks" (210). By comparing his own writing with plant life, Nanapush situates his "words" and himself in a larger natural cycle of decay and renewal. While he is clearly critical of "deep printing," Nanapush neither calls for a wholesale rejection of narratives of "modernity" nor offers his own narrative as a simple alternative. Instead, he self-consciously defines his story as a temporary and partial means of orientation (tracks) and as an impermanent but nourishing contribution to storytelling (plant life). Although his story cannot provide a fixed or complete account of "reality" or history, Nanapush's narrative does suggest the positive value of literary self-consciousness for examining both. His narratorial intrusions throughout the novel allow him to undermine dominant discourses about places and identities without either reproducing totalizing narratives--a form of "deep printing"--or advocating passive relativism.
     While many of Erdrich's texts feature the experimental form and self-conscious narrators associated with postmodern narrative, this novel, most of which is "written" by Nanapush with the "stub of a grain dealer's pencil," offers a particularly rich and complex demonstration of how Erdrich Indigenizes "metafictive" techniques (58). Reading Four Souls as metafiction--fiction that theorizes storytelling--enables us to better understand the novel's political implications. In order to scrutinize the role of narrative in legitimating the colonization of Native land and peoples, Erdrich Indigenizes metafiction for an Ojibwe political context. In so doing, she reappropri-{40}ates metafictive form, once considered a solipsistic Western mode, to destabilize dominant narratives of land and identity without replicating their totalizing political force. By modeling her metafiction on the Ojibwe trickster, Erdrich transforms metafiction into a political form of storytelling embedded in community and adaptable to the evolving challenges of Native survival.
     The novel's form, like its content, calls attention to the political potential of the process of storytelling. Through their juxtaposition, the stories of the text's multiple narrators call attention to themselves as artful form. The first two-thirds of the novel are narrated alternately by Nanapush and Polly Elizabeth Gheen, sister-in-law of John Mauser. In the last third of the novel, Nanapush's narrative alternates with Margaret's. The novel's use of different narrators, styles of narration, and contradictory versions of events foregrounds the ways in which form influences our perception of the story or plot. While many nonmetafictive novels have multiple narrators, Four Souls uses this technique not just to provide different perspectives or first-person accounts but specifically to interrogate the processes that underlie the construction of stories. The form of the characters' stories influences and is influenced by their particular conceptions of Native people. While Polly's "objective" narrative initially relies on stereotyping Natives and ignoring Ojibwe history, Nanapush's self-reflexive narrative simultaneously contextualizes the Ojibwe and undermines his own ability to represent this context objectively. By disrupting reductive representations, Erdrich's metafictive technique serves a political as well as an aesthetic function. Combining the contradictory versions of events on a formal level and Nanapush's literary self-consciousness within the story, Erdrich defines narratives as constructed interpretations rather than records of historical events. Nanapush's account is not meant to simply replace Polly's with a more accurate version of events. Instead, their juxtaposition ironizes both while upholding the value of regarding narrative and "reality" self-consciously. Erdrich's readers are thus made to actively reflect on how (historical and fictional) stories structure their perceptions of "reality" in general and Native people in particular. While it is certainly true that literary forms and nar-{41}rators shape reader perceptions in all literature, metafiction works to make this process explicit. Indeed, Linda Hutcheon characterizes metafiction as "process made visible" (Narcissistic 6). She defines "historiographic metafiction" as a postmodern form of fiction that is both self-reflexive and that "lays claim to historical events and personages" (A Poetics 5). However, Hutcheon's work and that of even more recent critics tend to overlook the use of metafiction by nonwhite women authors.1
     Though Erdrich's novels have an enormous popular and academic following, negative critiques of her writing often center on its self-reflexiveness. Leslie Marmon Silko famously denounced The Beet Queen (1986) for what she saw as its focus on self-reflexive language and consequent disregard of political issues like racism and poverty. "Self-referential writing," Silko claims, "has an ethereal clarity and shimmering beauty because no history or politics intrudes to muddy the well of pure necessity contained within language itself " (179). Similarly, critic Gene Lyons describes the stories in Love Medicine as "so self-consciously literary that that they are a whole lot easier to admire than to read" (70). This complaint continues to surface in reviews of Four Souls. Whereas Tracks is a "triumph of voice enriched by American Indian lore," argues Heller McAlpin, Four Souls is "colder and less spellbinding" in large part because Nanapush "shows a new, jarring literary self-consciousness." On the other hand, New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani claims that with Four Souls Erdrich opts for a "more straightforward, moralistic narrative" that is "old-fashioned, stilted and contrived." The "Faulknerian sense of place and magical García Marquez-like sleight of hand" evident in her other works disappears in this novel that "reads like an ill-fated collaboration between Nathaniel Hawthorne and O. Henry." Chief among the offenders, according to Kakutani, is the narrator Nanapush, who "shows flashes of his old lyricism and wisdom" but "all too often . . . devolves into the sentimental reminiscences of a dotty old man." Four Souls has thus been characterized as both too naively realistic and too insistent on puncturing this realism with a discordant literary self-consciousness.
     In fact, these two critical reviews point to the primary literary {42} strategy of Four Souls--that is, the juxtaposition of a realistic portrayal of material conditions for the Ojibwe in this period with a formal and narratorial self-consciousness that challenges any claim to an objective representation of the "truth" of a particular "reality." In so doing, these reviews reveal the challenge of reading this novel as a whole; Four Souls does not fit neatly into either purely realistic or purely self-reflexive categories. Whether the heightened incongruity these reviewers see between this and her other work has contributed to its critical obscurity or not, to my knowledge there is no published criticism on Four Souls.2 Reading the novel as a political metafiction concerned with the intersection of reality and fictionality allows us to recognize that these opposite views of the text actually point not to stylistic inconsistencies but to a deliberate formal strategy.
     Though Erdrich's writing is not merely concerned with responding to metafiction, she is most definitely aware of and interested in the authors of "classic" metafiction from the 1960s and 1970s.3 Asked in an interview about her use of multiple narrators and a nonlinear structure in Love Medicine, Erdrich replied that her wide reading in experimental novels has emboldened her to take formal risks in her own writing (Jones 4). In several interviews and at least one essay, she mentions her reading of prominent metafictionists such as William Gass, John Barth, Donald Barthelme, and Italo Calvino (George; Chavkin and Chavkin; Erdrich, "Where" 46; Coltelli). While Erdrich does not unequivocally valorize these figures-- indeed, in many instances she criticizes their abstractness--she does acknowledge their influence on her thinking about literature. Perhaps this interest stems from her MA years at Johns Hopkins, an institution she says had a

very postmodernist slant. You really couldn't help but be influenced by this emphasis on the text, on experimental texts. People were fascinated with Robert Coover and Thomas Pynchon, and John Barth was there, and the focus was on that, which I found very helpful. I certainly went through this whole phase where I did nothing but read postmodernist stuff and try to write it. (Caldwell 68)

{43} Erdrich does not specify exactly how this experience influenced her writing, but she does note that its traces are "probably in there somewhere" (Caldwell 68). However, while she says she "admires" postmodern metafictions because of their aesthetic "texture--the sheer explosiveness of reading something in some form you didn't expect," she argues that "the emphasis on pure technique and language is a dead end" (Caldwell 68). In contrast to Silko's characterization of Erdrich's writing as "an outgrowth of academic, post-modern, so-called experimental influences" (179), my reading shows how Erdrich's particular approach critiques this "dead end" by using metafiction's literary self-consciousness and postmodernism's concern with referentiality to reflect on narrative's role in shaping our understanding of real-world problems like poverty, racism, and land loss. Situating Erdrich's novel Tracks in terms of postmodern narrative, Nancy Peterson provides a foundation upon which to build my reading of the political importance of Erdrich's metafiction.
     Peterson demonstrates that Tracks is concerned with the conflict between the impossibility of fully representing history and the need for cultural continuity. Her insightful reading of Tracks' opening passage notes that "historical 'facts' do not fully acknowledge the horror of depopulation and genocide" ("History" 985). Faced with the impossibility of accounting for the past, "Nanapush acknowledges . . . that the complexity of the past exceeds his (and anyone else's) ability to represent it fully. Nonetheless, Nanapush insists on telling his history" in order to "empower" his people (985). Peterson concludes by urging her readers to consider how "Tracks takes up the crucial issue of the referentiality of historical narrative in a post-modern epoch and creates the possibility for a new historicity by and for Native Americans to emerge" (991). Taking up this concern, my reading of Four Souls focuses on the way in which this "new historicity" is located in the act of storytelling itself. Whereas Peterson foregrounds "the problematic nature of historical narrative, which cannot give voice to the (precontact) past directly . . . but which mediates that past in language and narrative" (988), understanding Four Souls as metafiction makes this mediation not problematic but empowering. In fact, Erdrich calls attention to the process of media-{44}tion itself as a locus of political critique and change embedded in community.
     For Erdrich, emphasizing the mediation of "language and narrative" offers a way of resisting discourse from within--a strategy she has claimed makes her politics "more effective" (Cryer 80). In Four Souls she makes the process of storytelling and history writing "visible," in Hutcheon's words, through the metafictive techniques of Nanapush, her major trickster character. Erdrich connects metafiction with oral tradition by linking the self-conscious narrator Nanapush with the Ojibwe trickster Nanabozho. As we know from Tracks, Nanapush's name has "got to do with trickery and living in the bush" (33). Nanabozho, like his namesake Nanapush, is both a culture hero and wily fool who teaches others through his own mistakes. Nanapush fulfills this dual role in his position as a tribal chairman who, in one episode, "accidently" gets drunk on sacramental wine and runs around town in a dress. As a mediator between human and spirit worlds, Nanabozho aims to denaturalize the social conventions and stagnated doctrines that are taken for granted in human society in order to ultimately reunite the community. Often through humor, Nanabozho works to "destroy hypocrisy and delusion" in an effort to "bring about self-knowledge" (Owens 216). By calling attention to the artificiality of conventions, the trickster ensures that his people remain "open and adaptable" to "changing contemporary realities" (Wiget 21). As a consummate figure of adaptability, the trickster models strategies for cultural survival. Because Nanabozho refuses "fixity" and "closure," he subverts static histories and promotes cultural "survivance"--a combination of survival and resistance (Vizenor 14).4
     Framing her metafiction through the Ojibwe trickster, who, like metafiction, functions to expose the artificiality of conventions, enables Erdrich to engage Ojibwe cultural history while critiquing conventional representations of Native land and identities. This strategy demonstrates not only that oral tradition can be effectively adapted for the contemporary novel but also that it makes a valuable contribution to our thinking about metafiction by explicitly linking it to a social and political function. Erdrich's metafic-{45}tion itself parallels the social role of the trickster, but it mediates between the text and reality rather than between the human and spirit worlds. By challenging our ability to represent reality objectively while acknowledging the political need for adaptable, contextualized representations, Four Souls requires us to interpret texts and realities self-consciously.
     Although many critics have noted the trickster qualities of Erdrich's characters, most overlook her role as a trickster-writer and the trickster-reader her metafiction creates.5 Like the trickster, Erdrich uses her metafiction to "destroy the hypocrisy and delusion" of dominant discourses in order to "bring about self-knowledge" in the reader. Erdrich's political metafiction works by first providing an alternative story and then by highlighting its own fictionality. This combination of strategies simultaneously introduces alternate historical voices and calls attention to the artificiality of all historical narrative, thus destabilizing canonical histories as well. Metafiction requires the reader to engage with the fictional world of the text and the text's artificiality at the same time, a position that Hutcheon calls the metafictional paradox. By exposing the mechanism of fiction, the writer actually invites the reader to take part in the production of meaning. As a result, the reader moves from a passive receiver of the text to an active cocreator. Kathleen Sands identifies this role as indicative of Native fiction engaged with oral tradition--such novels "demand that we enter not only into the fictional world but participate actively in the process of storytelling" (24). Erdrich's combination of oral tradition with self-conscious metafiction results in an especially active role for the reader, who must participate in the storytelling dialogue as well as look critically at the constructedness of the story itself. Hence the reader is both "tricked"--disturbed and challenged by the metafiction--and transformed into a trickster who mediates between the text and the empirical world.
     Modeling her metafiction on the trickster, Erdrich highlights narrative's ability to encourage a self-conscious response to our environments and identities. Through the combination of her metafictive form with Nanapush's self-conscious commentary on storytelling, Erdrich denaturalizes narratives that legitimate the col-{46}onization of Native lands and identities. However, like the trickster who refuses "fixity" and "closure," her metafiction offers no totalizing counternarrative to replace dominant ones. Furthermore, while Four Souls emphasizes the constructedness of narratives, it does not advocate a simple relativism but demonstrates the importance of interrogating political structures that legitimate some narratives and discount others. Positioning her political critique of colonialism in a metafiction allows Erdrich to challenge, without replicating, dominant discourses that rely on abstract conceptions of space and reproduce what Gerald Vizenor calls the one-dimensional "invented" Indian (7).6 In direct opposition to the solipsism usually associated with metafiction, Erdrich ultimately suggests that literary self-consciousness can actually enable empathetic relations between people who similarly reflect on their own constructions of places and identities.
     Starting where Tracks left off, Four Souls begins with Nanapush's description of Fleur's journey to Minneapolis to exact revenge for the loss of her land by killing avaricious lumber baron John James Mauser. Fleur initially loses the land for nonpayment of taxes levied under the allotment law that divided communally held land into individually owned parcels.7 Her displacement from the land, which she considers coextensive with herself, causes a kind of identity crisis that prompts her to take on her mother's name "Four Souls" as a source of strength.8 Nanapush dedicates the bulk of the first chapter to a detailed history of the land on which Mauser's house sits and the house itself, all of which is contrasted to Polly's ahistorical description of the house in the next chapter. Nanapush's self-conscious "history of the great house" redefines the house as a historical text whose surface reads as a simple narrative of Euroamerican dominance but that contains suppressed histories that can be uncovered to disrupt this surface narrative (4). While Nanapush asserts the value of exposing the exploitation of land and laborers hidden by the house's surface, his metafictive reflection on his own flawed version of events prevents his account from reproducing the "fixity" and "closure" of the surface text. Furthermore, the formal juxtaposition of Nanapush's and Polly's representations of the house ironizes both {47} as incomplete constructions. The house sections of the novel mirror the way metafiction works throughout the text. Erdrich sets a dominant discourse against an alternative version and then highlights the constructedness of both. This is not meant to dismiss either as uselessly biased but to make the process of their construction visible. Ultimately metafiction allows Erdrich to foreground the role of narrative in authorizing the appropriation of Native lands and identities and to propose a model of self-conscious narrative that encourages a reflexive response to these same sites.
     The alternative history that Nanapush provides demonstrates both how land is crucial to Native identity and how this history can challenge the American narrative of "empty lands." He notes that the spot on which the house sits was the location of a valued and strategic camp for precontact Ojibwe, thus immediately situating Minneapolis, and Mauser's house specifically, within an Ojibwe historical context. This was a "favorite spot for making camp" because of its proximity to the water that "drew game" and the high altitude from which "a person could see waasa, far off, spot whether coming or an enemy traveling below" (5). Elsewhere Erdrich notes the importance of the cultural history of places when she argues that landscapes inhabited for generations "become enlivened by a sense of group and family history. . . . People and place are inseparable" ("Where" 43).
     As this statement indicates, Ojibwe identity and knowledge are physically and metaphorically embodied in significant places. Displacement is not a mere physical hardship, then, but a violation of sources of identity and tribal knowledge. Whereas many "classic" metafictions deemphasize setting and character development to focus more rigorously on form, Four Souls foregrounds the ways our narrative forms profoundly affect (and are affected by) how we experience our environments and identities.9 Erdrich herself cites figures like Donald Barthelme and Samuel Beckett as authors "whose fiction could take place anywhere, or nowhere" ("Where" 46). Here she explicitly relates the abstraction of classic metafictional form, that literary "dead end," with abstract representations of space (Caldwell 68). Erdrich contrasts this with her own argu-{48}ment that "truly knowing a place provides the link between details and meaning" in a narrative ("Where" 49). In an age when technology speeds travel and reduces face-to-face contact, "we cannot abandon our need for reference, identity, or our pull to landscapes that mirror our most intense feelings" ("Where" 49). Spaces and identities are both "real" entities that profoundly shape material lives and constructed "texts" influenced by perspective ("feelings") and cultural context. Since, for example, the narrative of Manifest Destiny influenced and was influenced by concepts of "empty lands" and Native "savages," Erdrich suggests that using metafiction to refigure links between narrative, space, and identity is an inherently political endeavor. Working from the land up, then, Nanapush describes the mining of natural resources to build the house. The brownstone quarried from the "live heart of sacred islands" becomes a lifeless "fashionable backdrop to [the Mausers] ambition" as the façade of their mansion (Four Souls 8). Nanapush's redefinition of the land as a living and sacred entity for the Ojibwe underscores the violence that the house's "fashionable" façade obscures.
     This Indigenization of place parallels Nanapush's Indigenization of his metafictional narrative. Throughout the novel he selfconsciously associates narrative construction with various cultural symbols and landscapes. For example, Nanapush models his narrative response to the shrinking landscape of his tribe on aadizojaanag, or "stories that branched off and looped back and continued in a narrative made to imitate flowers on a vine" (114). The historical backgrounds of this story are "roots" that help the listener understand how the "vine" came to be shaped (48). In another moment he compares the compressed coughballs of owls, used as medicines and omens, with stories. Stories are therefore "all that time does not digest" (71). By theorizing metafiction within an Ojibwe context, Four Souls defies charges that Nanapush's literary self-consciousness is either jarringly out of step with "American Indian lore" (McAlpin) or that his account is merely a "sentimental" story not rising to the level of narrative theory (Kakutani).
     Nanapush devotes the majority of this first chapter to a detailed account of the house's individual features, meticulously decon-{49}structing it for the reader. The aspects of the house on which he focuses stand in metonymically for the abuses inflicted on natural resources from Native lands and immigrant labor. As Nanapush catalogs the house's components, he explicitly links the exploitation of natural resources from Native lands with the exploitation of labor used to obtain them: the brownstone was quarried by impoverished and "homesick Italians," the iron mined by "Norwegians and Sammi so gut-shot with hunger they didn't care if they were trespassing on anybody's hunting ground or not," and the decorations painstakingly made by orphaned "young women" at the "Indian missions" who survived by weaving "fine lace" after their mothers "died of measles, cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis" (5-7). The walls of the house, which keep the oppressed outside, are thickly insulated with lake reeds "so that no stray breeze could enter" (7). These walls literally and metaphorically isolate the Mausers from the outside world--that is, from nature and from the laborers who built the insulation. As Nanapush mentions later, the lumber used to construct these walls was milled out of the trees chopped from Fleur's land at the end of Tracks. Since Fleur equates her identity with these trees, the trauma of that moment is echoed in Four Souls when she touches the walls and feels like she is touching "[her] own face" (45). The chimneys are made with bricks containing blood from a local slaughterhouse that cause a "greasy sadness" to permeate the "festive rooms" when a fire is lit (8). The juxtaposition of this olfactory reminder of the work and sacrifice that went into the chimneys' construction with the festivity of the rooms (which can only be festive because they forget precisely this work and sacrifice) serves to underline the conflict between Nanapush's alternative history of the house and that presented by its wealthy white inhabitants.
     Whereas the land represents a sacred and historically important site for Ojibwe people and a site of despair and suffering for the laborers, Polly defines the location as a signifier of social status--it is the "most exclusive ridge of the city," an enviable "patch of royal blankness" that reinforces the Mausers' prominence as it upholds the myth of "empty lands" (11-12). Blind to the labor and land that created the house, she sees only the final product, idealized {50} in her mind as a "pure white house . . . pristine as a cake in the window of a bakery shop" (11). Irene Moser links such disparate modes of viewing space with distinct literary traditions, arguing that contemporary Native literature tends to configure spaces as processes, whereas "American literature" tends to characterize spaces as objects to be measured and possessed (285). By comparing the house to a cake displayed for sale, Polly reinforces its status as a commodity whereas Nanapush's account foregrounds processes of labor and exploitation.
     Even though Erdrich presents Nanapush's account of the Mauser house as an alternative to Polly's, she does not simply replace Polly's version with Nanapush's more "accurate" one. Instead, she demonstrates that no one version gives the whole story, and thus all accounts are constructed, interpretive fictions. Nanapush introduces his account with a highly self-conscious reflection on the nature of knowledge and the act of cobbling together stories from various, perhaps unreliable, sources. Acknowledging that "sometimes an old man doesn't know how he knows things," Nanapush destabilizes his representation of the house by accentuating the fact that he "pieced together the story of how it was formed" from Fleur's memories told to him years after the fact and from speculative conversations with local priest Father Damien, "guessing" to fill in the gaps (4). While Nanapush's account accesses knowledge based on oral histories and memory that Polly's account obscures, his story also selfconsciously mixes in "rumors, word, and speculation about Fleur's life and about the great house where she went" (4). Nanapush's self-conscious version acknowledges both the historical context of the site and his own narratorial fallibility, and Polly's lack of self-consciousness results in an abstract account presented as the complete and objective truth.
     By foregrounding the fictionality of Nanapush's account, Erdrich ironically undermines the monologic authority of the colonialist narrative. The reader cannot take either of the descriptions as independently valid but must synthesize and contextualize them, thus actively taking part in the construction of meaning. This reading practice not only affects how the reader must approach the content {51} of the two accounts but also problematizes the reader's tacit acceptance of any narrative. Some critics of Erdrich's earlier work have interpreted her juxtaposition of multiple narrators' accounts as an effort to replace oppressive cultural narratives with Native-centered ones. Katherine Nelson-Born, for instance, claims that in Tracks, "Erdrich creates a fiction that substitutes our dominant culture's fiction with that of a Native American female one" (8). While Erdrich does set a Native American fiction against the dominant fiction in Four Souls, she does not simply reverse the binary by substituting the one for the other. Instead, she puts the two in dialogue, destabilizing both in order to undermine the validity of any totalizing narrative. More than just unsettling or relativizing texts, however, the novel asserts the value of interrogating narratives like Polly's that oppress or disenfranchise groups of people. In other words, the destabilization of texts that results from Erdrich's metafictive form is politically directed.
     This technique becomes even more explicit in the two sections of the novel in which Nanapush and Fleur give performances of the stereotypical "squaw" figure. Both characters self-consciously manipulate "misreadings" of their performances to achieve specific goals. Following the trickster model of metafiction, Erdrich uses Nanapush's and Fleur's ironic performances to denaturalize static stereotypes like the squaw while also exposing the constructedness of all social roles. Rather than replacing this cultural script with an "authentic" or "original" narrative of subjectivity, both characters demonstrate the hybrid nature of identity. Identity, in this sense, is based not on individual authenticity but on one's relation to others. Nanapush's metacommentary about storytelling in the first section and Erdrich's juxtaposition of narrators in the second highlight the role of narrative in legitimizing stereotypes and the ability of self-conscious performances to enable hybrid identities.
     The most hilarious such performance occurs when Nanapush, at his trickster best, wears Margaret's special "medicine dress" when encountering a group of tourists and then while speaking at a tribal meeting. Dismayed at Margaret's attempt to dance in the new dress (she did "as miserable a crow step as a white woman"), {52} Nanapush haughtily sets out to show her what real "old-time traditional woman dancing" looks like (143). The next morning he wakes up in the local drunk tank without any other clothes to go home in. Although Nanapush has not planned to wear the dress around town, he uses this opportunity to both subvert and marshal stereotypes for his own personal and political aims. A group of Euroamerican tourists who have come to the reservation in search of a "photoworthy Indian" stop the dress-clad Nanapush for a picture because he is the "first one [they've] met wearing a colorful costume" (152). This interchange obviously references the historical representation of Native Americans as "authentic" only when they fit the popular image of the Indian in traditional garb. As Wilma Mankiller's recent book points out, "a significant number of people believe tribal people still live and dress as they did three hundred years ago" (xv).
     Besides being a metonymic figure of authentic Indianness to the tourists, Nanapush is so "photo-worthy" because he represents for the tourists a dying breed, a cultural relic of a people who have gone the way of the buffalo. The tourists also think that because Nanapush wears a dress, he must be a woman, though a particularly "ugly" old squaw (152). Instead of refusing to take the photo, as he first thinks to do, Nanapush decides to exploit the tourists' expectations when he poses with the family and then lifts his skirt just as the camera flashes--providing the tourists an "anatomy lesson" that, in classic trickster style, simultaneously disrupts both their notion of the "authentic" Indian and their assumptions about gender (153). While Nanapush very effectively criticizes the tourists' racist and sexist assumptions here, his goal is not to reveal a "more authentic" identity underneath the stereotype but to show how identity itself is a performative construction. Perhaps the most shocking part of this encounter for the tourists is not that Nanapush reveals "a man's equipment underneath a woman's skirts" but that he turns out to be just performing this stereotypical "authentic" Indian role (153).10
     Nanapush thus challenges the notion of a gender-determined "authentic" Indian and rewrites this cultural script as a metacommentary on its own phoniness. He exploits the gap between stereotypical myths about Indians and actual Indians by performing a {53} stereotype that ironically announces its own artificiality. Erdrich's trickster characters are usually examined as culture heroes or as providers of what she calls "survival humor," but the self-consciousness of the trickster is often overlooked.11 Nanapush is not a figure of complete self-awareness--he fools others and is often fooled himself--but his questioning of social codes implies a self-conscious troubling of hypocrisy and dogma that echoes the function of metafiction in the novel as a whole.
     The following scene in which Nanapush wears the dress to a tribal meeting demonstrates how the calculated rhetorical construction of his performance affords him valuable political influence. In this setting where the people know him, the fictionality of his performance as a "woman" is immediately underlined. Although Nanapush did not plan to wear a dress to the meeting, he turns this situation into an opportunity to persuade the mostly female crowd not to sell tribal land. By claiming that wearing the dress enables him to "hear" Grandmother Earth beseeching the people to take care of her, a voice he "missed when [he] was arrayed like a man," he plays to his female audience (156).
     Most importantly, Nanapush metafictively reveals to the reader the strategies he used to craft and perform this role. Narrating this meeting after the fact, Nanapush tells how he first looked into the crowd, saw that it was "composed of two women to every one man," and then self-consciously structured his rhetoric to identify with the audience. In fact, this strategy actually succeeds in convincing the tribe to vote against selling their land (155). Although Nanapush does believe that the dress allows him to communicate with the earth, the presentation of his metafictive aside to the reader and his fictionalized dialogue with Grandmother Earth emphasizes the constructedness of even this useful narrative. In this dialogue Grandmother Earth calls him "a poor man, decorated with a knob and a couple of balls"; his existence is only tolerated because of the "generous nature" and profound "patience" of the Earth and other women (156). While Nanapush is truly "humbled" by his experience in the dress, he clearly constructs his self-deprecating rhetoric to appeal directly to a female audience (156). And, as Nanapush says, "the dress worked" (156).
     Even though Nanapush foregrounds his performance of a role to achieve the immediate goal of persuading voters, being treated as a woman by the tourists forces him to imagine what it's like to be a woman. Nanapush employs a kind of strategic essentialism here that allows him to create a coalition between the people at the meeting based on their common consideration of this women's perspective, however constructed that notion may be. Although Nanapush cannot actually know women's experiences from a woman's point of view, in order to play this role he is compelled to empathetically imagine that perspective. This imaginative act not only makes his speech more persuasive but actually makes him more cognizant of multiple perspectives about the land. This new hybrid perspective prompts Nanapush to renounce the conceit that led him to don the dress in the first place and "humbly address each problem [he'd] created" in his relationship with Margaret (157). He is reminded that his own identity is not independent from others but is coextensive with both Grandmother Earth and Margaret. Moreover, by metafictively revealing the fabrication of his two ironic performances as a "squaw," Nanapush suggests that narratives, like identities, are mutable constructions that can be self-consciously shaped to disrupt and reimagine the "invented" Indian.
     Nanapush goes a step further when he extends his own self-reflection to inspire the same in his reader. Describing the tribe's history, he places the reader in the desperate position of the Ojibwe who signed a treaty with the United States:

besides cures, people needed supplies. Blankets. Knives. Who can blame them? Supposing the world went dead around you and all the animals were used up. . . . Supposing one new sickness after another came. . . . Suppose this happened in your own life, what then, would you not think of surrendering to the cross, of leading yourself into the hands of new medicines? (49)12

In this metafictive moment, Nanapush steps out of his narrative to directly challenge readers' thinking. Anticipating responses to his history that would question the tribe's "giving in" to the treaty, he {55} invokes the spatial threats ("world went dead") and threats to identity (sickness, religion, new medicines) that contextualize the treaty. By imaginatively placing the reader in the position of colonized Natives, Nanapush uses this metafictive reflection on his history to encourage the reader's empathetic meditation on this position. Nanapush's performance as tribal chairman, whether by wearing the medicine dress or relating tribal history, not only serves to contextualize Native identity but actually invites the reader to take part in imagining identity possibilities.
     Erdrich demonstrates this capacity on a formal level when she juxtaposes Nanapush's and Polly's accounts of Fleur's identity. Like Nanapush, Fleur ironically performs the "squaw" to accomplish personal and political goals. Her immediate goal is getting revenge on Mauser, but she ultimately aims to construct an adaptable hybrid identity that would enable her, and implicitly her community, to negotiate between increasingly intertwined Euroamerican and Ojibwe cultures. However, whereas Nanapush narrates his own story, Fleur does not speak for herself. Her story is told by multiple narrators whose various accounts must be actively hybridized by the reader. The hybrid reading practice that provides the reader access to Fleur's character echoes the hybridization of Euroamerican and Ojibwe cultures that Fleur herself practices in order to establish a recognizable identity. In Four Souls the successful mediation between cultural discourses results from Erdrich's metafictive strategy of juxtaposing fictions from both cultures and then undermining their stability.
     When Polly first sees Fleur, who presents herself at the Mauser house as a migrant laborer looking for work, she describes Fleur with images of lack and mystery. These images reflect both Fleur's physical appearance while hunched in dark shawls and Polly's own perception of Native women as simultaneously stereotyped and unknowable. Polly remembers Fleur in this first glimpse as "a question mark set on a page, alone. Or like a keyhole . . . the deep black figure layered in shawls was more an absence, a slot for a coin, an invitation for the curious, than a woman come to plead for menial work. . . . Fleur was a cipher" (12). Polly depicts Fleur as a vaguely {56} sexualized "absence" who invokes the stereotypical squaw seeking "menial work" even as her mysteriousness temporarily eludes definition.
     Most importantly, Polly explicitly makes Fleur into a text by describing her as a punctuation mark on a page. However, this question mark is unreadable and meaningless "on a page, alone" because it has no relation to a question. Fleur, who self-consciously cultivates this image, effectively resists her characterization as powerless by using her status as an absence or an unreadable text to her advantage as a way to covertly infiltrate the Mauser house. Implicitly invoking a metafictional reflection on the constructedness of such cultural scripts, she plays on the stereotypical unreadability of the Native body and on the consequent assumption that she lacks agency.
     Given only this depiction of Fleur, the reader, like Polly, would not be able to de-"cipher" Fleur--that is, to recognize her relationship to the role she plays. In actuality, the reader knows from Nanapush's earlier chapter that Fleur stops before getting to the Mauser house to self-consciously transform herself into this menial figure with braids, a "quiet brown" dress, "heavy boots," and a "blanket for a shawl" (2). Fleur deliberately makes herself appear as the stereotypical Indian "squaw," a sexually available beast of burden.13 Once inside the house, she reframes this domestic space as a hunting ground, flipping the power relations implied by her position there. From her basement room Fleur quietly memorizes the sounds of each character's steps, and Nanapush describes how she prowls the dark house each night, getting "to know the house the way a hunter knows the woods" (26). By reconfiguring the house as a hunting ground, she puts herself in the position of the hunter and makes Mauser the prey, coopting Mauser's power for herself. As the hunter, Fleur combats gender conventions that position women, especially Native women, as hunted and conquerable. Thus this act allows Fleur to take advantage of what the Mausers see as her dis-empowered situation in order to disrupt the actual power relations and enable her revenge. In contrast to Gloria Bird's argument that Fleur is represented in Tracks as an "ignoble savage" who reinforces {57} the civilized-uncivilized binary (44), Fleur's deconstruction of this binary in Four Souls implies a more complex identity.
     Only by hybridizing Polly's and Nanapush's narratives can the reader recognize Fleur's subversive tactics and thus her ironic relationship to the stereotypical roles she acts out. While some critics have read Erdrich's use of multiple narrators as a sign of cultural fragmentation (Berninghausen; Owens), and others have interpreted this approach as evidence of a communal worldview (Reid; Schultz), this strategy also has metafictive implications. Irene Wanner's review of Four Souls argues that the "patchwork" quality and "swerving focus" of the novel's multiple narrators results in a distinct lack of "clarity." However, my reading suggests that Erdrich's metafictive juxtaposition of narratives is crucial to the novel's form because it allows her to scrutinize narrative objectivity, abstract representations of space, and stereotypical social roles.
     Furthermore, Polly's eventual reevaluation of Fleur and the Mauser house demonstrates how such performances can inspire self-consciousness in others, expanding their political impact. Fleur's presence prompts an identity crisis for Polly, causing her to reflect on her own identity and social status--on how the roles she plays, the spaces she inhabits, and the stories she tells about them affect others. Firmly ensconced in her superiority as a genuine "lady" at the beginning of the novel, Polly's "prejudiced certainty" eventually gives way to self-conscious "doubt" (98). Though she previously "read" the house as a "pristine" façade, she can now distinguish between its "solid construction" and the unstable "wrecked" identities of its inhabitants (98). Whereas during the building of the house she "had sympathized in and even acted in protest at the treatment of the horses" but not the workers, Polly now recognizes the power dynamics encoded in their "opulent shelter" (67). This rewriting of the house-text corresponds with Polly's reevaluation of Fleur as she begins to "imagine her as a person--as a woman with family and feelings for them such as my own" (67). Erdrich's use of multiple narrators serves not only to expose Polly's myopia but also to highlight the political impact of Fleur's self-consciousness that inspires the same in Polly. Similarly, Fleur no longer thinks of Polly as a simple {58} representative of "privilege" but becomes her confidante and friend as, "piece by piece, over the weeks and months," an intimate "connection" and even "love" develops between them (66, 68). While Wanner's review argues that the novel's "white characters are one-dimensional and dull" and even that Polly should not have been a narrator at all, my reading demonstrates how the growing self-consciousness of Polly's narrative represents a crucial site of this metafiction's political force. By empathizing with one another, Polly's and Fleur's perspectives are mutually hybridized. Neither character reveals an "authentic" identity that underlies their performances; instead, both redefine their identities and stories as relational. Their relationship, then, parallels the reader's task of reflecting on these hybrid narratives in relation to dominant historical narratives, a precondition of empathy with undeniable political implications.
     While the reader must hybridize both narrators' accounts to understand Fleur's attempt to define her own identity, Fleur herself depends on hybridity in order to generate this identity. Several critics of Tracks have noted that Fleur represents traditional ways, functioning as "the repository of Native American culture" or the "pure Indian . . . beyond emulation" (Potter 41; Shaddock 162; Peterson, Against Amnesia 33). While Fleur is still associated with traditional Ojibwe values in Four Souls, her identity is rendered more complex and hybrid in this sequel. Following her performance as a "squaw" and then as a "lady" when she marries Mauser (in part to get the deed to her land), Fleur returns to the reservation with their young son and sets out to construct her own version of a hybrid identity. When she goes to the government office to solicit information about the deed, she wears her "sinuous" braids with a "stiff and elegant" white suit (186). Although this causes her appearance to be "oddly disconnected," it also provides her access to the cultural capital of Native land claims and Euroamerican social power that prove useful in the government office (186). Fleur's negotiation of her identity culminates in a ritual designed to heal her bitterness--the combined result of displacement from her land, estrangement from her daughter Lulu, and general isolation--by forcing her to self-consciously "look within" in order to reorient herself to the land and {59} her community (205). In Four Souls, this anguish is compounded by Fleur's mounting alcoholism (which began with doctor-ordered whiskey treatments during pregnancy) and obsession with revenge. Both of these addictions are considered forms of sickness that can be relieved only by reintegrating Fleur with her community. Margaret narrates the ceremony that itself embodies hybridity in its combination of the purifying "sweet grass smoke" of Ojibwe spirituality and the baptismal waters of Catholicism into a new ritual (203). By drawing on both Native and Euroamerican traditions, Fleur undermines the cultural "purity" of either.
     To embark on her vision quest Fleur must first don Margaret's medicine dress, a garment that embodies the multiple perspectives of her Ojibwe ancestors. When Nanapush wears this dress, as I discussed earlier, he becomes cognizant of women's perspectives about the land. Margaret's and Fleur's wearing of the dress enables them to access the cultural and personal history of Ojibwe women healers. As a symbolic embodiment of the tribe's traditions and culture, the medicine dress functions specifically to widen the wearer's view, allowing a historically hybrid perspective. Margaret notes that "[she'd] see things when [she] wore this dress. [She'd] know things beyond the reach of [her] mind" (117). What she sees in her dress vision specifically is the difficult history of her tribe since contact: "I saw a dress of starvation worn meager. I saw an assimilation dress of net and foam. . . . A dress of whiskey. A dress of loss" (176). Thus the medicine dress becomes both a traditional cultural object, carefully constructed in the old way, and a site that literally embodies cultural history.14 Margaret diagnoses Fleur's problem before the vision quest as a lack of memory; she has "forced herself to forget" tribal ancestors and family members "in order to survive." In order to heal she must then "remember every dear one [she] lost" (205). Paula Gunn Allen argues that a healing ritual moves an individual from a state of isolation (which is diseased) to a state of incorporation (which is healthy). Fleur's healing ceremony reflects this dynamic in that her sickness is a form of forgetting that isolates her from her community and past, and the cure requires remembering (and thus reincorporating) herself with other people.
     Because memories consist of "real" events structured by individual minds into coherent narratives, remembering also implies attention to the self. The dress "forces" Fleur to simultaneously "look within," at her own role in remembering or forgetting, and look without, at the history of Ojibwe people the dress embodies (205). Hence Fleur's wearing of the dress gives her access to a hybrid perspective informed by her personal history and by the history of the tribe as a whole. The final line of the book, before Nanapush's epilogue, looks forward to Fleur's completion of her vision quest for a new name that will allow her to "finally be recognized here upon this earth" (207). Thus the hybridity Fleur has performed throughout the novel makes it possible for her to generate a legible identity, and the textual hybridity of the novel's multiple perspectives makes it possible to read her.
     However, because Fleur does not describe the ceremony herself and because her final vision quest is never narrated, the seeming resolution of this scene is tentative rather than fixed. Although Nanapush's epilogue implies that Fleur does gain a "recognizable" identity--she "is now understood by the spirits"--her healing does not depend on regaining a lost sense of purity or authenticity (209). Instead of relying on the sort of fixed narratives that define her as a "squaw," the legibility of Fleur's identity rests on a cultural and perspectival hybridity that allows for "recognition" while remaining adaptable. Fleur's hybridized identity mimics the hybridity of the Ojibwe trickster and Erdrich's trickster-based metafiction. Whereas Fleur negotiates between Ojibwe and Euroamerican cultures and Nanabozho navigates between human and spirit worlds, Erdrich's metafiction mediates between the text and "reality" by accentuating their constructedness. All draw attention to the political need for regarding these realms self-consciously. By modeling her metafiction on the Ojibwe trickster, Erdrich points to the political implications of metafiction's self-conscious reflection on narrative.
     Nanabozho performs the same function in Ojibwe society that Erdrich's metafiction does for the reader. Both are centered on exposing the constructedness of the narratives that define spaces and identities. However, in demonstrating the artificiality of culture, {61} the trickster does not suggest its obsolescence or unimportance. Rather, the trickster, like metafiction, prompts us to reflect on how our societies and their narratives are structured by various power dynamics and conventions. Like the trickster, Erdrich's metafiction foregrounds the constructedness of narrative at the same time as it attests to its value. Storytelling is an important form of personal and cultural survival in this novel, but so is the disruption of stories. By disrupting the monologic continuity of stories, metafiction-astrickster ensures the fluidity of knowledge and the adaptability of narratives. This does not represent a rejection of culture or narrative but a call to look critically at how we construct them.
     In the scene where Nanapush concocts an elaborate explanation for the hole he makes in Margaret's linoleum floor, Erdrich demonstrates the potential of self-conscious storytelling to directly refigure our relationships to places and other people. Throughout the novel Nanapush becomes increasingly jealous of Shesheeb, his local nemesis whom he sees as a rival for Margaret's love. When Nanapush sets a snare for Shesheeb and accidently catches Margaret, almost killing her, she decides to get revenge by subtly escalating Nanapush's paranoia. While both of them recognize the mounting bitterness between them, "neither of [them] had the courage to dismantle the barrier of hard sticks, pointed words, and prickles of jealousy that soon tangled like deep bush between [them]" (135). Finally, Nanapush cuts a hole in Margaret's prized linoleum floor in an attempt to trap a fly that he thinks is the animal form of Shesheeb come to torture him. When he decides on a potentially believable story to explain the hole--that a star crashed through the roof and into the floor of their cabin--he must fabricate the evidence. Looking for an image to model his fake star on, Nanapush juxtaposes real stars with the stars painted on the ceiling, the "false sky," of the Catholic church (169). Whereas real stars are impossibly intricate and unrepresentable, the Catholic stars are "easy to mimic" because they are themselves crude representations situated in a "far simpler history" than the complex reality Nanapush references (169). This juxtaposition accentuates the fictionality of the Catholic stars, a point reinforced by the fact that Nanapush can mimic them. In so {62} doing, it redefines the "far simpler history" of the Catholic narrative as an interpretive construction of "reality." Situating his explanation of the hole in terms of Catholicism is particularly appropriate since Margaret became obsessed with obtaining this flooring after seeing it in the nun's residence. In mimicking the nuns, Margaret links her Catholic beliefs with "that substance--linoleum" (78).
     When Margaret discovers that Nanapush's star and story are fictional by reading the print on the aluminum bean can from which the star was made, she confronts the constructedness of both Nanapush's narrative and the Catholic narrative. Though this challenge does not prompt Margaret to reject Catholicism altogether, it does break the link between Catholicism and the commodity linoleum, shifting her affection from the linoleum to Nanapush and thus reframing her relation to her domestic space.
     Just as Nanapush's fashioning of the star reconfigures Margaret's relation to the cabin, his adoption of a fictional role reconfigures her relationship to him and thus to her immediate community. Nanapush self-consciously practices his look of "dazzled" amazement and is "ready with the story, completely prepared to act the part" in order to elicit pathos from Margaret (171). Ironically, he only gains her sympathy when she sees the "Red Jacket Beans" imprint on the star and recognizes his performance as a performance. Thus when the fiction reveals itself to be a fiction--when the fiction becomes metafiction--she falls in love with Nanapush the performer instead of the role Nanapush plays. This process mimics the formal procedure of the novel, which reconfigures the reader's relation to culture through its announcement of its own fictionality.
     Nanapush functions as a metafictive trickster who uses mimicry and the revelation of his mimicry to reorganize the social order. When Margaret discovers the ruse, her reaction "was not the horror of sarcasm. Not the scrape of reproach. Margaret did something she had never done in response to one of [his] idiot transgressions. Margaret laughed" (173). Rather than excoriating Nanapush for his deception, she laughs at the elaborate scale of his antics. This reaction, which allows "forgiveness [to begin] in her," is prompted by her empathetic recognition of the painstaking process Nanapush {63} undergoes to produce his fiction (171).15 Using his metafictive stunt to undermine the commodification of space and reorient Margaret to the community is a political act that directly subverts US government policies, like allotment, that commodify communal land in an attempt to destroy tribal sovereignty.
     Meanwhile, the reader's parallel recognition of the way in which Erdrich has fashioned her literary materials, brought about by the text's self-conscious form, prompts awareness of the political contexts of storytelling. As a result, the reader cannot simply substitute Erdrich's alternate account of Ojibwe culture for the Euroamerican master narrative. Instead, the novel highlights the process by which such grand narratives come to be written and thereby allows the reader to become aware of the constructedness of spaces, social roles, and the narratives that define them. Thus the political effect of the novel does not inhere in its story alone but in the way this story is shaped by the storytelling. The metafictive shaping of the story engages readers, reorienting their relation to the text by calling into question the viability of all totalizing narratives. Furthermore, the transformed relationships of Polly and Fleur and of Margaret and Nanapush model the ironic ability of inwardly oriented self-conscious reflection to inspire outwardly oriented empathy. The self-consciousness of this narrative and the self-consciousness it inspires in the reader are not narcissistic exercises but the very preconditions of empathetic understanding. Erdrich's metafiction thus behaves like a trickster and activates the social function of narrative. Four Souls ultimately demonstrates that metafiction is a powerful tool for producing narratives that challenge, without replicating, the "fixity" and "closure" of dominant discourses. Hence, a trickster-writer herself, Erdrich constructs a trickster-reader.


     1. See, for example, Ommundsen; Waugh; and Heilmann and Llewellyn.
     2. The only published mention of Four Souls is in Peter Beidler and Gay Barton's reader's guide to Erdrich's novels, in which they provide a summary and timeline of the novel.
     3. "Metafiction," first coined by William Gass in a 1970 essay, was alternately heralded as a form that reveled in the "play" of language and derided as a kind of narrative navel-gazing that signified the "death of the novel" or the "crisis of the novel."
    4. The Ojibwe trickster also goes by the names Nanabush, Nanapus, and Wenebojou, among others. For more on the Ojibwe trickster, see Basil Johnston and Theresa Smith. Smith, for instance, provides a historical context for the Ojibwe trickster, often described as temporarily dormant in postcontact oral tales. By using the trickster as a model of cultural survival, Erdrich's novels demonstrate the relevance of the trickster to contemporary Ojibwe culture. For more on trickster figures in general see, for example, Radin; Vizenor; and Hyde.
     5. See Gutwirth; Bowers; J. Smith; and Barak.
     6. By "space" I mean to denote both fictional representations of spaces, like descriptions of houses and land, and their physical counterparts in the "real world." I use "space" because I am referencing its conceptual constructions, although I explore these by examining specific "places" that contribute to conceptions of "space" in the abstract.
     7. The Dawes Allotment Act of 1887 was designed to encourage assimilation by promoting a sedentary agricultural lifestyle and dissolving tribal bonds. After allotments were issued to Native heads of household, surplus land was sold to white settlers. These allotments were subject to property taxes after a twenty-five-year grace period ending in 1912, the significant opening date of Tracks. Two-thirds of Native land across the United States was forfeited as a result of this policy. The White Earth Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota, for example, was reduced by an incredible ninety percent.
     8. Despite this name change, Nanapush continues to call her Fleur, as will I.
     9. See, for example, Elizabeth Dipple (9) and John Hawkes (149).
     10. In The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001), Erdrich explores gender-crossing through the recurring character Father Damien, who turns out to be a biological woman. Nanapush says the Ojibwe are familiar with "woman-acting" men and "man-acting" women (232). For an analysis of gender fluidity in Native cultures, see Maltz and Archambault, who argue that, unlike Euroamericans, Native Americans link gender to behavior rather than to biology or power.
     11. See, for example, J. Smith and Bowers. Erdrich discusses "survival humor" in interviews with Laura Coltelli (24) and Bill Moyers (144).
     12. If Erdrich's invented reservation corresponds loosely to that of the
{65} Turtle Mountain Chippewa in North Dakota, as several critics have noted (see Peterson), then this passage may refer to the infamous "Ten Cent Treaty" of 1892--so named because it offered a mere one million dollars for nine million acres--which was fiercely debated among the bands, all of whom were threatened with starvation if they refused. For more on the legal history of Native tribes in North Dakota, see, for example, Schneider.
     13. Historically, the two main stereotypes of Native women are the overworked squaw and the exotic princess who leaves her tribe to become a "lady." In Four Souls Fleur exploits the second stereotype when she later becomes lady of the house as Mauser's wife. In contrast to Fleur's invisibility as a squaw, her performance as a "lady" makes her hypervisible in Minneapolis society. While she can now be seen, her personhood remains unrecognized, displaced by the stereotype that turns her into an amusing and disturbing "spectacle" (60). For more on stereotypes of Native women, see Van Dyke and Klein and Ackerman.
     14. Medicine dresses have long been important elements in Ojibwe ritual life--able to respond to new cultural challenges, they signify the adaptability of Ojibwe culture. For example, Ojibwe women in the 1920s (this novel's period) responded to epidemics of influenza and tuberculosis by performing ritual dances in "jingle dresses" designed to combat this urgent crisis. Though the medicine dress Margaret makes is not a jingle dress, the historical context of Ojibwe dress-making in this period demonstrates the cultural power such special dresses embodied. For more on Ojibwe dress-making see, for example, Child.
     15. Although this peace between Nanapush and Margaret is shaken several times in subsequent years, as described in The Last Report, they do return again and again to the loving camaraderie we see in this scene.


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Maltz, Daniel, and JoAllyn Archambault. "Gender and Power in Native North America: Concluding Remarks." Women and Power in Native North America. Ed. Laura F. Klein and Lillian A. Ackerman. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1995. 230-50. Print.

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Image as Text, Text as Image
Quilts and Quiltmaking in Eric Gansworth's Mending Skins


"Piecing" means the sewing together of small fragments of fabric cut into geometric shapes, so that they form a pattern. The design unit is called the block or patch; "patchwork" is the joining of these design units into an overall design. The assembled patches are then attached to a heavy backing with either simple or elaborate stitches in the process called quilting. Thus the process of making a patchwork quilt involves three separate stages of artistic composition, with analogies to language use first on the level of the sentence, then in terms of the structure of a story or novel, and finally the images, motifs, or symbols--the "figure in the carpet"--that unify a fictional work.
Elaine Showalter


In The Location of Culture Homi Bhabha writes of "interstices," which he defines as "the overlap and displacement of domains of difference" (2). He suggests that in these spaces "the intersubjective and collective experiences of 'nationness,' community interest or cultural value are negotiated." Various art forms, such as visual art and literature, can be interstices in society which depict a certain overlap of cultures and a "displacement of domains of difference."1 Bhabha writes, for example, of artist Renée Green and her "'architectural' site-specific" piece in which she presents spaces in a museum as a work of art (3). Green focuses on the attic, {71} which is higher and can be associated with heaven, and on the boiler room, which is lower and can be affiliated with hell. She also includes the stairwell, which becomes an "interstitial passage." Bhabha explains:

The stairwell as liminal space, in-between the designations of identity, become the process of symbolic interaction, the connective tissue that constructs the difference between upper and lower, black and white. The hither and thither of the stairwell, the temporal movement and passage that it allows, prevents identities at either end of it from settling into primordial polarities. This interstitial passage between fixed identifications opens up the possibility of a cultural hybridity that entertains difference without an assumed or imposed hierarchy. (4)

In his novel Mending Skins, Eric Gansworth (an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation who grew up in the Tuscarora community in western New York) presents a similar type of cultural hybridity through the interrelationship of visual art and text.2 With its emphasis on quilts and quiltmaking, his novel can be associated with Green's stairwell as an interstitial space that mediates binaries such as Native/non-Native, image/text, and oral/written. In this essay I demonstrate how Gansworth negotiates this space by incorporating Native and non-Native influences, image as text and text as image, as well as both oral and Western approaches to writing.


"Seeing" is embedded in the philosophical outlook of many American Indians; to think is to envision a wide variety of relationships. In his book The American Indian Mind in a Linear World, Donald L. Fixico writes that "Indian thinking" is "seeing" from the viewpoint that "all things are related within the universe" (1). He explains that "[s]eeing" involves "visualizing" how certain entities are interrelated not just with one another but within a broader context (2). He also suggests that "[s]eeing" includes "mentally experiencing {72} the relationships between tangible and nontangible things in the world" and in general (3). This concept of envisioning associations is significant in analyzing a novel that includes both literal images and images suggested by words, as in the case of Gansworth's Mending Skins. The patchwork quilt, in particular, is an important image in this literary work in terms of "seeing" a variety of complex relationships.
     Throughout the novel Gansworth presents themes of quilts and quiltmaking. The text opens with "A patchwork dedication" (v), it is sectioned into parts and chapters that include names with quilting themes, it incorporates metaphors associated with sewing and quiltmaking, and some of the characters, such as Shirley Mounter, are quilters. In the dedication, Gansworth acknowledges those individuals who have been important in his life and to his writing. He begins, for example, by thanking "O" for tearing things apart. This is a strong quilting metaphor in that a quiltmaker usually begins a project by tearing or cutting fabric, old clothes, worn blankets, or other used items. The quiltmaker then skillfully reassembles the parts into a new creation, a patchwork quilt. In Quilts as Text(iles), Judy Elsley writes that the initial procedure of tearing apart cloth, clothes, and other items is "one of the quilter's most creative acts." She explains that although it is initially "deconstructive" (4), this act reveals a certain courage and faith on behalf of the quiltmaker who will subsequently put the parts back together into a new whole. It is significant that Mending Skins begins with reference to tearing things apart, because this is usually what precedes the making of many quilts. Readers, from the very beginning of the novel, enter into a world of quilts and quiltmaking, and it soon becomes apparent that the text we read is a quilt itself.
     In the dedication, Gansworth also acknowledges "P" for helping to put the fragments back together. In quiltmaking, patches of cloth can be affiliated, in many cases, with fragments of the quiltmaker's personal life. In the process of putting back together the pieces of cloth, the quilter reconstructs his or her own self. Elsley writes that a quiltmaker becomes validated in accepting and embracing fragmentation rather than denying it (3-4). In this novel, Gansworth {73} boldly accepts and embraces not only the pieces of his own life but of his patchwork text as well.
     The dedication also refers to "L. E. G.," who is credited for showing Gansworth "the way from the very beginning" (v). At the commencement of a quiltmaker's career, there is often a parent, relative, friend, or mentor who leads the way and teaches quilting skills to the person. Likewise, in our individual lives, there are often experienced family members, friends, and elders who help guide and counsel us as we grow and mature. Gansworth benefits from such instruction and assistance as he manipulates both the patches of his novel quilt and his life into a coherent and orderly whole, and he recognizes "L. E. G." as having assisted him along the way.
     In the dedication, Gansworth mentions "the Bumblebee," who provides "the needle and thread twenty years later." Here Gansworth presents another quilting metaphor in that a quiltmaker almost always connects remnants of cloth using a needle and thread by means of hand or machine stitching. The concept of sewing together fragments of a person's life can be found not only in the dedication but also in various passages of the novel. For example, the academic Annie Boans remarks that once she received enough fragments of information, she was able to piece together more details of Tommy Jack McMorsey's life (86). Shirley Mounter tells how she and her friend Martha Boans had known each other for a long time, but their relationship became truly "stitched . . . together" when they waited for their wayward husbands to return home (125). Shirley also taught Martha to sew together fragments of cloth to remake a new blouse, which was also a way of showing her how to reassemble her life. Shirley describes her interaction with Martha: "I threaded the eye with a good strong line, knotted it, held it to her, and invited her into the box [of bolts of fabric]" (128). She explains that Martha "picked it up and began reconstructing her life in the way only a woman who has lost nearly everything can" (128). "The Bumblebee" in Gansworth's dedication seems to have played a similar role in helping the author stitch together his life, his writing in general, and perhaps even this specific novel.
     The patchwork dedication is only the beginning of this quilt text. The table of contents also includes additional references to quilts {74} and quiltmaking. Here Gansworth divides the novel into three main parts that he subdivides into three sections each. Thus there are nine segments in addition to the prologue, "Border One," "Border Two," and the epilogue, and the latter function collectively as a frame for the nine dominant parts. Along with these obvious quilting references, some of the titles of the chapters include terminology that can be linked to sewing and quiltmaking, such as "Cutting Patterns," "Hiding Seams," "Matching Lots," and "Fraying Threads." The title of the novel itself includes the word "mending," which can be used in association with sewing.
     It is important to emphasize that quiltmaking is a skill that was introduced to American Indians by white settlers. As trade between Native peoples and Europeans became more prevalent, cloth gradually started to replace items made of animal skins. In Iroquois: Their Arts and Crafts, Carrie A. Lyford writes that by the latter part of the seventeenth century, calico and broadcloth were used for many men's and women's clothes (68). The value of cloth to Native peoples can be seen in a treaty from 1794, in which the US federal government was required "to make a yearly payment of goods to the Six Nations. Each Seneca was entitled to receive 6 yards (5.6 meters) of calico or 12 yards (10.8 meters) of unbleached sheeting once a year" (69). As time progressed, other types of fabric also became popular, such as silk and velveteen. Increasingly quiltmaking was incorporated into Native life, predominantly through mission schools and churches, and quickly became an important craft in many Indigenous communities. As Native quilters became confident in their skills, they frequently used color schemes and patterns that reflected their own tribal background and interests. Gansworth, through his quilt-text, presents a space that upsets strict boundaries between cultures, partially by drawing upon a craft introduced by Europeans and then by incorporating Native themes within that craft.3


Mending Skins differs from most Native American novels with quilting references and metaphors in that, in addition to the text, it also {75} includes Gansworth's fragmented artwork.4 He actually began his creative career as a visual artist and then started to write to further extend his visual narratives ("Eric Gansworth").5 His books, such as the poetry and painting collection A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function and the novel Smoke Dancing, include his own visual art, which he considers to be a significant part of the texts. In the artist's statement at the beginning of A Half-Life, Gansworth explains, "I often work on the same ideas in words and images" (xv). Mending Skins is an expression of both his visual art and writing background, and it can be related to the broader concept in American Indian cultures of "seeing" and of envisioning the interrelationship of a wide variety of entities, both tangible and abstract.
     In Mending Skins, Gansworth expresses appreciation to Gary Dunham, who encouraged his "unorthodox relationship between text and imagery" (ix). Here he refers in part to his visual art which is interspersed throughout the book, including the painting Patchwork Life, which can be seen in figure 1.
     The beginning of each of the three main parts of the text is also preceded by a vertical strip of three paintings (13, 63, 115, respectively), taken from the initial painting, Patchwork Life. These images can be likened to the symbols and pictures found in more traditional forms of wordless writing, such as wampum belts, pictographs, and petroglyphs. Jacques Derrida suggests that if the term "writing" is not limited to "the narrow sense of linear and phonetic notation" (109), then almost every society produces some form of writing.6 Certainly Gansworth's artwork, as a form of writing that does not just illustrate the words, becomes integrated with the text itself and is a significant part of the overall narrative.
     Gansworth's interconnection of image and text may seem unorthodox relative to the traditional approaches found in print culture, but it is in harmony with Indigenous peoples for whom orality remains a central mode of cultural communication. In the article "Visual Metaphor, Cultural Knowledge, and the New Rhetoric," Robert N. St. Clair writes that in the "Western intellectual tradition . . . one sees words," but American Indians, who belong to an oral tradition, see "visual patterns, shapes, colors, and moods" (90).


Fig. 1. Eric Gansworth's Patchwork Life. Reprinted from Mending Skins, by Eric Gansworth, by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. © 1995 by Eric Gansworth.

He suggests that in the print culture of the Western intellectual tradition, people concentrate more on details than on the whole. They view information sequentially from "left to right" and focus on verbal metaphors that are connected to language. In contrast, according to St. Clair, those associated with an oral culture are concerned more with general meaning and how pieces and details interconnect. They are inclined to "view everything at once just as one would view a painting" (90).
     In Mending Skins, Gansworth successfully combines and negotiates both approaches in his unorthodox method of presenting text and image. In the narrative, he provides various details one by one as a person reads left to right, page by page, until completing the book. However, through his images, particularly the first painting that includes nine blocks (as found in fig. 1), he enables a person to view the story all at once, because each of the nine parts includes a visual depiction of an important passage from the narrative. In {77} Ways of Seeing, John Berger writes of the value and power of images: "No other kind of relic or text from the past can offer such a direct testimony about the world which surrounded other people at other times. In this respect images are more precise and richer than literature" (10). Moreover, in Mending Skins T. J. Howkowski makes the comment, "Pictures are worth those thousand words" (80). Drawing upon the power of images, Gansworth integrates them with his text to create his unique synthesis that succeeds in telling the story both at once and in a more linear way as a person reads in time.
     Each section of the text corresponds in some way to a block from the patchwork painting, yet the images do not line up in an obvious, chronological way. In an e-mail message to me, Gansworth explained his approach in coordinating the various patches of artwork with the text. He wrote that

for each vertical strip of images, each "section," as it were, I wanted the three images to grow from a consistent set of three aesthetics. In each strip, one image is dedicated to an actual narrative moment, but presented in such close scrutiny as to be disorienting, suggesting how we lose broad perspective if we close in on minutiae.

In his effort to avoid simply illustrating the text, he encourages a rigorous engagement between both images and words, in which he actually seeks to "disorient" the reader from making certain assumptions. He pointed out, for example, that

one image is dedicated to the "kitsch" representations Annie critiques throughout the book. The most difficult in each is dedicated to images that resonate with "patterns." Apparently the image people have the most difficulty understanding is the upper right [of Patchwork Life], which is, literally, a shirt "pattern" repeated, eclipsing across the moon, suggesting that inspiration comes from that inexplicable place, the air, the atmosphere, the universe.

     Although there are nine chapters in the narrative and nine main blocks in Patchwork Life, the blocks do not correlate in precise order {78} with the chapters. When I asked Gansworth about this relationship between image and text, he wrote,

I never want images merely to illustrate words, or words to explicate images. They are, to me, parallel narratives. I felt, to do representative "one chapter/one image" structures, suggested more the standard "text/illustration" model I was rejecting. I think I went through sketches of maybe twenty-five different images until I arrived at the nine that were right. I even repainted the first one done, so it would be more consistent with the others once I understood the full orientation.
     So, instead, they are like patchwork quilts, fragmentary and as such, both recognizable and disorienting at the same time. For the sake of some cohesion, I chose to allow the three images per section to parallel the events of that section, but again, not necessarily in a one for one relationship with the chapters.

This approach to deal with images and verbal narrative as fragmentary patchwork, without precise one-to-one associations, can be affiliated with Native perspectives that leans more toward achronological than chronological expression and more toward multifaceted oral models not always found in written texts.
     Gansworth's inclusion of visual art in his literary work has been influenced by the traditional wampum belt. Lyford writes that the original wampum was "an Indian-made shell bead, cylindrical in form, and averaging about half a centimeter in length by three millimeters in diameter, perfectly straight on the side, each with a hole running through its length" (105). These beads were put together in a belt (or sometimes a string), and certain colors and patterns were used to record a specific treaty or agreement, to indicate a person's authority within a specific tribe, and to express other messages, such as sympathy or friendship. In oral cultures absent written languages, wampum belts served a significant function in preserving important exchanges between individuals and tribes.7 Sometimes people within a tribe were trained to memorize the significance of the various colors and patterns. Richard W. Hill Sr. writes, "Wam-{79}pum undergirds the entire cultural worldview of the Iroquois. It is sacred by virtue of the shell from which it is made and because it was chosen by the Creator as the medium through which the Iroquois would retain and transmit information from generation to generation" (414).
     In A Half-Life, Gansworth writes of the significance of wampum in his own work. He explains that for a period of time he painted "almost exclusively in purple and white, the colors of wampum, the beads used to create belts that held all of Haudenosaunee cultural ideas" (xvii).8 He refers to his wampum-inspired visual art as "Indigenous Binary Code." This concept of wampum as binary code can be related to Angela M. Haas's article "Wampum as Hypertext: An American Indian Intellectual Tradition of Multimedia Theory and Practice." She presents wampum belts and strings as "hypertextual technologies" that "have extended human memories of inherited knowledges through interconnected, nonlinear designs and associative storage and retrieval methods" (77). She writes that through the arrangement of wampum by color, particularly the contrast between light and dark, a certain encoding of information takes place that can be "read" by trained people within the community (86). Haas suggests, "The messages are spoken and woven into the wampum, and those messages are repeated each time an individual (re)presents the material rhetoric, or wampum hypertext, to the community" (86). As with Gansworth's reference to binary code, Haas links this more traditional type of image as text with contemporary Western hypertexts.9 This concept of image as text, or hypertext, becomes interwoven into Mending Skins with its inclusion of paintings and visual narratives.
     In addition to the influence of wampum belts, it is important to note that the number three and its multiple nine are also significant to the images, structure, and narrative of the novel. In his e-mail message to me, Gansworth explains that the use of the number three in his works, including Mending Skins, is both "personal and cultural." He experiences a close affinity to the number three in general, and it is also "a reflection of the clan system" among the Haudenosaunee, in which "there are nine clans: three water, three {80} land, and three air."10 This correlates with a basic and well-known quilt pattern that consists of "a square divided into nine smaller squares" (Gwinner 97). The larger square, or block, can be connected to other similar squares to form a quilt. See, for example, the Nine Patch quilt of Edison Tootsie Sr. in figure 2.
     In the case of Tootsie's quilt, he created nine nine-patch blocks with a total of eighty-one pieces, and eighty-one is a multiple of three twenty-seven times.11 Likewise, Gansworth has incorporated the number three into his novel-quilt, with his artwork presented in segments of nine (see fig. 1) and three (Mending Skins 13, 63, 115) and the text divided into nine chapters and three parts.
     A patchwork textile provides another way to keep records, tell stories, and celebrate friendships and alliances.12 Elsley writes, "A quilt is a text. It speaks its maker's desires and beliefs, hopes, and fears, sometimes in a language any reader can understand, but often in an obscure language available only to the initiated" (1). Just as wampum belts and strings contain a type of hypertext that is encoded with information, quilts are also texts with codes and symbols that can be read predominantly by the initiated.13 Gansworth's images in Mending Skins, particularly those associated with quilts and quilt-making, are encoded texts that become intertwined with the verbal narrative in such a way that they are intrinsic to the power, richness, and complexity of the novel. They also become part of the interstitial space that blurs the boundaries between binaries such as Native/ non-Native, image/text, and oral/written.


In the foreword to American Indian Literary Nationalism (by Jace Weaver, Craig S. Womack, and Robert Warrior), Simon J. Ortiz writes of how "relatively recent and new" the English language has been for Native peoples in North America (viii). When European explorers and settlers arrived in North America, they discovered Indigenous peoples whose language was essentially oral, but who made written records not only by fashioning wampum belts but also by creating pictures and symbols on animal skins, tipis, bark,


Fig. 2. Nine Patch Quilt, by Edison Tootsie Sr. Machine made, 28 1/2 x 49 in., 2005. Private collection of Deborah Weagel.

and rocks.14 Over the past centuries, as English, both as an oral and written language, has become a more prevalent means of communication among American Indians, it has also become the vehicle through which many Indigenous novelists, poets, playwrights, and intellectuals present their work. Ortiz emphasizes, however, that Native "oral tradition cannot be disregarded" in relation to their work, because "their various writings" originate "in the oral tradition of their ancestral Indigenous heritages" (viii).
     Louis Owens discusses the challenges many Native American authors face in presenting their ideas in a form, the written novel, that differs from oral storytelling techniques. He asserts that "regardless of how effectively a novel may incorporate the cyclical, ordered, ritual-centered, and paradigmatic world of traditional literatures," even with concentrated effort, "the Native American novelist can never step back into the collective anonymity of the tribal storyteller" (11).15 Although many Native writers incorporate oral tradition in their work, they cannot strictly duplicate oral practice. With the acquisition of written language, particularly English, American Indian novelists may not be able to completely "step back" into the oral traditions of the past but they can certainly step forward and integrate both approaches as Gansworth has done in Mending Skins. By incorporating both image as text and text as image, he draws upon the visually oriented quality of oral tradition in which one "sees" the whole at once and upon the Western verbal emphasis that involves a more linear approach that can include figurative language that evokes visual concepts and images.
     Furthermore, Gansworth "sees" and envisions the relationship between a material object, a patchwork quilt, and a literary narrative. He seems to agree with Paula Gunn Allen, who, in her seminal book The Sacred Hoop, claims that the patchwork quilt is the most fitting "material example . . . to describe the plot and process of a traditional tribal narrative" (243). She writes that "traditional peoples perceive their world in a unified-field fashion" that does not include hierarchies (244), as can be seen in many quilts, including Tootsie's quilt in figure 2. This, according to Allen, "is very different from the single-focus perception" that one frequently finds in {83} Western approaches, which often include hierarchical distinctions and a specific climax or focal point. She suggests that a Native perception tends to be "multi-dimensional, achronological, and including" (244).
     Gansworth presents such "multi-dimensional, achronological, and including" elements in the text, which can be affiliated with similar characteristics found in many patchwork quilts. He includes, for example, multiple characters who offer their particular perspectives throughout the novel. As Owens writes, "Traditionally, a storyteller's audience consisted of tribe or clan members who could be counted on to contribute a wealth of intimate knowledge to the telling of any story, to thus actively participate in the dynamics of the story's creation" (13). In Mending Skins, Tommy Jack Howkowski, Annie Boans, Shirley Mounter, Fred Howkowski, Doug Boans, and others present their own narratives about various events that occur in the novel. This is quite salient in "Border Two," titled "Burning Memories," in which Billy Crews, Floyd Page, Martha Boans, Fiction Tunny, Shirley Mounter, Bob "The Hack" Hacker, Chief Johnnyboy Martin, Innis Natcha, and Mason Rollins provide their views and responses to an accident in which Billy Crews drove a car directly into Martha Boans's house.
     In Mending Skins, these various members of the community all participate in sharing their knowledge and their perspectives on a specific narrative. This fragmented, cyclical approach to telling a story, which involves retelling a story over and over again from different vantage points, also corresponds to the remnants and pieces that can be found in a patchwork quilt. Each fragment of the story and each piece of cloth make a unique contribution and become part of a greater whole.
     In addition to multiple characters and a variety of viewpoints, the novel also includes multiple time periods in a cyclical manner. The novel opens in 1998, goes back in time to 1957, and progresses to 1966, 1972, 1984, 1993, 2001, and 2002, where it concludes. So there is a type of return, or loop back, to a similar time period as at the beginning. This can be affiliated not only with the cycles of the rising and setting of the sun, seasons, life and death, and so forth, which {84} are so important to Native cultures, but also with the cyclical structure found in many quilts, in which there is no specific focal point or center.16 (See, for example, Gansworth's quilt-painting in fig. 1, Tootsie's quilt in fig. 2, and the verbal quilt in fig. 3.) This also correlates with the cyclical nature of oral storytelling, which incorporates a variety of perspectives. The affiliation that quilts and quiltmaking share with tribal cultures and oral tribal narratives underscore their significance in Gansworth's novel.
     Although Gansworth embraces the traditions of his forebears in his creative work, he also incorporates certain techniques found in Western literary texts. He utilizes, for example, figurative language that involves image and imagery. In The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, it is explained that, "in its artistic and literary as well as in its more general usage, the term image may be used to mean 'vision' or 'idea,'" it "often denotes descriptive terms or figurative language used to produce mental impressions in the mind of the reader," and frequently these "impressions or pictures are visual in nature" (Murfin and Ray 166). The definition for imagery from the same text is similar and twofold: "the actual language that a writer uses to convey a visual picture," and "the use of figures of speech, often to express abstract ideas in a vivid and innovative way" (167). Gansworth includes literary image and imagery in his novel, particularly in relation to patchwork quilts and quiltmaking.
     For example, in chapter 7, "Matching Lots," Shirley Mounter explains how she makes patchwork pillow covers out of clothes that belonged to her intimate friend, Tommy Jack McMorsey, who eventually became much less involved in her life.17 She says that this was the first time she "consciously destroyed something to preserve it," and she took the few items of clothing that she had in her possession and "cut and rearranged and sewed them into their new life" (123). In this particular passage, Shirley describes the pillow covers with enough detail for a reader to create a mental idea or image of them:

The patterns I chose were complicated for such a small piece of work, but that was the way of things in our lives. His jeans now overlapped his boxer shorts in small, folded blue diamonds surrounding white centers, across the broad expanses {85} of his T-shirt, where, depending on the light, it almost still looked like his hard back rested beneath or his soft, round belly. His scent eventually faded, as I knew it would, and the awareness of his ever-decreasing presence--that was the way I said good-bye. (123)

Through words, Gansworth enables the reader to mentally visualize the patchwork pillow covers made from a man's old clothes. Interestingly, his inclusion of actual visual images in the novel does not disrupt the reader's opportunity to engage in the text with an imaginative and creative response of this nature. Gansworth allows many opportunities for the reader to envision the scenes portrayed that are not included as part of the visual art, as in the case with Shirley creating her pillow covers with Tommy Jack's clothes.
     This passage, with its concepts and images of quilts and quilt-making, also involves metaphor. The pieced-together remnants of Tommy Jack's clothing, which are tangible items, can be associated not only with the man and his scent but also with his complex relationship with Shirley. In Metaphor: A Practical Introduction, Zoltán Kövecses writes: "In the cognitive linguistic view, metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain" (4). Kövecses also asserts that abstract concepts tend to be better understood through more concrete concepts. He suggests that a "source domain," which is frequently more tangible, helps us better understand a "target domain," which tends to be more abstract.18 In the case of Shirley and Tommy Jack, the pillow covers are the concrete source domain that help the reader better understand the target domain, the more abstract friendship between these two adults.
     The act of "seeing," as Fixico suggests, of "mentally experiencing the relationships between tangible and nontangible things in the world and in the universe" (3), can be related to American Indian perspectives that tend to be more inclusive in their associations. As Shirley mentions, the intricacy of her piecework on the pillow covers can be connected with the complexity of her relationship with Tommy Jack and with the complicated nature of life in general. {86} Making the pillow covers helps her to become bolder, and she realizes that the work she has done to one man's clothes can be applied in other ways to different circumstances. She finds a sense of self"healing" in her efforts:

After the leap from modifying clothes to inventing those pillows, my dreaming mind knew no bounds. My hands and mind remembered everything about the way Tommy Jack's clothing reconstructed itself before my eyes that day, and, ever since, I had become a whiz at transforming one useless thing into something that would live on. (124)

As the novel progresses, we learn that Shirley's pillow covers represent a beginning in piecing and quiltmaking that can be associated with her decision to take greater charge of her own life.
Shirley's first patchwork quilt evolves from what she learned from making the pillow covers with Tommy Jack's clothes. One day when she realizes and accepts the fact that her wayward and inattentive husband Harris has no intention of returning home on a permanent basis, she decides to cut up his clothes and transform them into a patchwork quilt. Here again, the reader, based on words, has the opportunity to piece together a mental image of Shirley's new patchwork project:

My scissors worked their magic on his clothes but also on me that day. The fragments falling randomly to my floor began to take on new shapes, relate to one another in different ways from how they had with Tommy Jack's. There was the time Harris took us all on a picnic down at Fort Niagara, . . . and told stories long into the night, wrapping our little boy Dan-forth in his big flannel shirt in front of the fire. There were the jeans he would make Royal try on once a month, to measure his growth into a man, sometimes cinching the ass end, so Royal would think he was growing up as fast as he wanted. There were the boxers he would wear to bed, the ones with the fly button closed. . . . Though Harris might have forgotten these times in his curmudgeonly ways, I never did. He was the one who always left. (126)

{87} Shirley explains that "a perfect image of what a quilt might look like emerged fully" in her mind (126). She finds that she has enough remnants and bits of flannel, denim, work pants, cotton t-shirts, and so forth to make a quilt for each of her children from the various clothes of their father.
     In this case, the quilts made by Shirley from Harris's old pants and shirts are a source domain from which we better understand the target domain of the relationship between Shirley and her husband. Shirley's cutting up and reconstructing the clothes can be affiliated with her decision to accept the status of their relationship, of their broken and faltering marriage, and to make the most of the remnants. As Elsley suggests in Quilts as Text(iles), when quilters tear or cut items apart with the intent to create something new, they are involved in an act that is initially destructive but that is also very creative. A quilter demonstrates a certain degree of courage and faith in the process of tearing up and then reconstructing a work that is whole and potentially beautiful from the scraps (4).


In Mending Skins, Gansworth successfully and skillfully stitches together a patchwork novel that includes images and influences that relate back to traditional storytelling as well as to elements of Western print culture. Inspired by his mother's own quiltmaking skills and talents, he pieces together tradition and popular culture, wampum belts and quilts, and the past and the present. In A Half-Life, Gansworth writes, "my relationships with popular culture and indigenous culture were living ones, aspects of my life that would change as I did" (xv). He goes on to explain, "I further understood that wampum, the moon, my family, people I loved, friends, movies, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, other popular music, stereotypes, the reservation, New York City, and Texas would continue to offer inspiration, if I were willing to look" (xv). Gansworth does not limit himself to one tradition, but, true to his Native background that includes the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, he incorporates a variety of Native and non-Native cultural influences. For


Fig. 3. Interconnection of Cultures, 2010. Verbal quilt by Deborah Weagel, based on passages from Eric Gansworth's Mending Skins.

example, the verbal quilt in figure 3 depicts interstitial space involving the juxtaposition of Native traditions and popular/contemporary Western culture in Mending Skins.
     In presenting both visual and verbal images of patchwork quilts and quiltmaking in Mending Skins, Gansworth does not favor one medium above the other. Instead, he views both types of images as intertwined and interdependent. In A Half-Life, he writes, "This collection started the way I imagine most do, not as a whole, but as small pieces, floating, disconnected" (xv). In his general approach to painting and writing, he may begin with bits and remnants, as do many quiltmakers, but with experience and skill, he pieces together his work into a sophisticated whole that includes a reverence for tradition as well as an acceptance and even strong appreciation for contemporary popular culture.
     Gansworth's references to quilts and quiltmaking and his use of images significantly enrich Mending Skins. As an integral part of the novel, they help the reader better understand the patchwork structure of the text, which is presented in nine main chapters or blocks, framed by smaller texts or dividers and borders. They also aid in the integration of oral tradition, with its approach of viewing an entire story at once and in a cyclical manner, and Western intellectual tradition, with its emphasis on a linear text in which one reads from left to right. In addition, through the incorporation of quilting references and images in this novel, Gansworth demonstrates how a contemporary Native author adeptly utilizes the materials available to him in his postmodern environment and draws upon both traditional and Western influences. In approaching Mending Skins, a person enters into a sophisticated array of images and words that involves a "cross-pollination" of cultures (A Half-Life xvii), a quilt-text that requires not only the ability to read but also the capacity to see.


     I express gratitude to Eric Gansworth for generously sharing his insights regarding Mending Skins in both conversation and e-mail messages. I take {90} responsibility for my part of the analysis, which he preferred not to "tamper" with. I acknowledge anonymous readers who provided useful suggestions for improving the essay. I also appreciate Edison and Karen Tootsie for speaking with me about their quiltmaking experiences and sharing their quilts. An earlier version of this essay was presented at the Native American Literature Symposium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in March 2008.
     1. For further discussion of how music and dance can be such interstices, see my article "The Creole Quadrille in Simon Schwarz-Bart's Ton beau capitaine: A Postcolonial Perspective."
     2. Prior to the coming of the Europeans, five American Indian tribes living in what is now the northeastern United States joined together into a confederacy. The Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas formed a union in order to gain strength and avoid warfare with one another. The French called them "les Iroquois," the British referred to them as the "Five Nations," and they were also known as Haudenosaunee, or "People of the Longhouse." Later, in the early eighteenth century, a sixth tribe, the Tuscaroras, joined the group. Michael Johnson writes that they lived in areas that varied considerably, including "the coniferous forests of the Adirondack mountains, the beech and birch forests in Oneida and Onondaga territory, the elm bottoms and hemlock swamps of Cayuga land, and the basswood pine and oak of Seneca country" (33).
     3. For further information on Native American quiltmaking, see To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions, edited by Marsha L. MacDowell and C. Kurt Dewhurst.
     4. For American Indian literary texts with references and metaphors associated with quilts and quiltmaking, see Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, Thomas King's Truth and Bright Water, and William S. Yellow Robe Jr.'s The Star Quilter. See also my article "Elucidating Abstract Concepts and Complexity in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine through Metaphors of Quilts and Quilt Making" in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal.
     5. Gansworth has earned an associate degree in electroencephalography, which is the study of brain waves (A Half Life xvi). He chose, however, to pursue his interests in visual art and writing. His artwork has been on display in group exhibitions, such as Revisiting Turtle Island and In the Shadow of the Eagle, and in solo shows at venues such as the Castellani Museum and Colgate University. He has also participated on various art councils, panels, and committees, particularly in the state of New York ("Eric Gansworth").
     6. However, not all cultures recognize and properly "read" the visual and written texts of one another. In his book Les Sauvages Américains, Gordon
{91} M. Sayre points out that, in treaties made between the Iroquois and French or English, "the Europeans sometimes failed to realize that some of the gifts were significant not only for their exchange value but also because they actually recorded the language of the agreement" (186). Moreover, when the Iroquois signed legal documents giving their land over to Europeans, they did not fully comprehend what they had done. Thus the inability to "read" one another's documents resulted in miscommunication and even loss.
     7. Tehanetorens writes, "No Iroquois individual or nation would think of breaking a word or treaty if the treaty was made over a sacred wampum belt" (12). He explains that the exchange of wampum belts was a significant part of "every important treaty" and that "sometimes as many as forty belts were exchanged at a single council" (12).
     8. To better understand the importance of Native perspectives in the analysis of American Indian literature, see Penelope Myrtle Kelsey's Tribal Theory in Native American Literature.
     9. Haas suggests, for example, that in viewing wampum as hypertexts, "the beads and stringing technologies could be represented as o-o-o-o-oo-o-o-o-o-o-o" to "communicate information to their 'readers'" (84). This can be related to basic "digital coding for computers," which can be "represented as o|o|o|o|o|o|o|o|o|o|, or strands of binary code that when strung together communicate information to their 'readers'" (84).
     10. Gerald Vizenor, in discussing Mending Skins in a class he taught at the University of New Mexico in the fall of 2006, also pointed out that the number three is important in Christianity, as associated with the Trinity. It is interesting to note that one of the images included in Gansworth's painting Patchwork Life in figure 1 (bottom left) includes a reference to Christ's crucifixion. Titled End of the Calvary Trail, it depicts a Native man on a horse next to Jesus carrying a large cross, thus integrating influences from both Native and white cultures. In Other Destinies, Louis Owens writes that "traditional storytelling is a syncretic process, necessary to the adaptive, dynamic nature of American Indian culture--that quality requisite for cultural survival" (9). He explains that it is not unusual to find European influences interwoven and adapted into a Native narrative, such as references to Jesus. As various American Indians were exposed to and even converted to Christianity, elements from this religion became integrated with various aspects of traditional culture.
     11. Edison Tootsie Sr. is the husband of Karen Tootsie, who is particularly well known for her butterfly maiden quilts. Although some people tend to think of women exclusively as quiltmakers, in Hopi culture, men
{92} traditionally sewed. See Carolyn O'Bagy Davis's Hopi Quilting. In an interview I had with Edison Tootsie in 2006, he told me that the men's quilting group his father belonged to was associated with the Baptist Church. Although he also learned to quilt from his mother, Tootsie has memories of sitting underneath various quilts as his father and other men quilted, and he helped them as needed. It is pertinent to point out that there are some men in American Indian culture who sew and quilt, because Gansworth, a male, has created a very successful novel quilt. Gansworth, by the way, does not create quilts of fabric as did his mother.
     12. Quilts have been important expressions of community and friendship. One impressive example is a large patchwork quilt, 120 feet long and 10.5 feet high, called the Quilt of Belonging. It consists of 263 blocks that represent "the First Peoples in Canada and every nation in the world" ("Quilt of Belonging": Invitation). It includes the workmanship of many volunteers and celebrates both the diversity and unity of these different cultures. It consists of a wide variety of materials, such as embroidered silk, African mud-cloth, and sealskin. Both the Onondaga and Tuscarora Nations are represented in blocks that include symbols, colors, and materials significant to their specific communities. The opening exhibition took place in 2005, and the purpose of the quilt is to encourage harmony, cooperation, and compassion among the many peoples of the world. See also "Quilt of Belonging" on YouTube. This is another example of interstitial space that "opens up the possibility of a cultural hybridity that entertains difference without an assumed or imposed hierarchy" (Bhabha 4).
     13. A focal point, for example, of a quilt exhibit sponsored by the Navajo Nation Museum in 2005 was a treaty blanket associated with the 1906 Osage Allotment Act. The blanket was a large, multicolored crazy quilt made by the Osage Tribe in 1906 and is one of three such treaty blankets known to exist. Over two thousand enrolled members signed the Osage Allotment Act in 1906, and in an effort to honor the occasion and pay respect to the 838 full-blood members of the tribe, a piece from each full-blood's shirt was taken and made into a crazy quilt or treaty blanket. This quilt can be likened to wampum belts that both recorded and celebrated various treaties made in earlier times. See Native Quilters of the Southwest.
     14. Calendars, scenes of hunting and warfare, and even dreams and visions were portrayed. Janet Catherine Berlo and Ruth B. Phillips write that in some Native communities various histories were kept "pictorially in 'winter counts'" (120). Records were made depicting some of the most significant events that occurred during the year, which provided "one eco-
{93}nomical pictographic image which oral historians could use as a linchpin upon which to anchor their memories of all the other important events of the group" (120-21). Berlo and Phillips explain that visual accounts of this type sometimes recorded events that took place over decades and, in some cases, even centuries.
     15. In Les Sauvages Américains, Sayre points out that "alphabetic writing. . . . cannot be dissociated from colonial conquest and conversion, from the imposition of European languages on native peoples and the suppression of local tongues" (203). He asserts that, although some early colonists and missionaries worked hard to learn Indigenous languages, in time the dominant culture suppressed the use of Native tongues, particularly in reservation schools. Nevertheless, Native peoples eventually developed skills at reading and writing a version of their own language and/or the language of the colonizer. The written word subsequently became adapted into Native cultures as an additional means to preserve records and histories, relate stories, and convey messages.
     16. Fixico writes, "A 'circular' approach toward life is inherent in Indian cultures since time immemorial. The native world is one of cycles, and observing the cycles provides an order to life and community" (42).
     17. She made the pillow covers because she realized that she did not have enough fabric from his clothes to make a quilt.
     18. For additional information on the cognitive linguistic view of metaphor, see also the seminal book Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.


Allen, Paula Gunn. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American

Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon, 1992. Print. Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: BBC and Penguin, 1972. Print.

Berlo, Janet Catherine, and Ruth B. Phillips. Native North American Art. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.

Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994. Print.

Davis, Carolyn O'Bagy. Hopi Quilting: Stitched Traditions from an Ancient Community. Tucson, AZ: Sanpete, 1997. Print.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976. Print.

Elsley, Judy. Quilts As Text(iles): The Semiotics of Quilting. New York: Lang, 1996. Print. Berkeley Insights in Linguistics and Semiotics 16.

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. New and expanded ed. New York: Harper-Perennial, 1993. Print.

"Eric Gansworth." NativeWiki. Aug. 14, 2009. Web. Nov. 11, 2009.

Fixico, Donald L. The American Indian Mind in a Linear World: American Indian Studies and Traditional Knowledge. New York: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Gansworth, Eric. A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function: Poems and Paintings. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 2008. Print.

------. Mending Skins. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2005. Print.

------. Message to the author. May 8, 2008. E-mail.

------. Smoke Dancing. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 2004. Print.

Gwinner, Schnuppe von. The History of the Patchwork Quilt: Origins, Traditions and Symbols of a Textile Art. West Chester, PA: Schiffer, 1988. Print.

Haas, Angela M. "Wampum as Hypertext: An American Indian Intellectual Tradition of Multimedia Theory and Practice." SAIL 19.4 (2007): 77-100. Print.

Hill, Richard W., Sr. "Regenerating Identity: Repatriation and the Indian Frame of Mind." Archaeology of the Iroquois: Selected Readings and Research Studies. Ed. Jordan E. Kerber. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 2007. 410-21. Print.

Johnson, Michael. Tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. Oxford: Osprey, 2003. Print.

Kelsey, Penelope Myrtle. Tribal Theory in Native American Literature: Dakota and Haudenosaunee Writing and Indigenous World Views. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2008. Print.

King, Thomas. Truth and Bright Water. New York: Grove, 1999. Print.

Kövecses, Zoltán. Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002. Print.

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. 2nd ed. Chicago: The U of Chicago P, 2003. Print.

Lyford, Carrie A. Iroquois: Their Art and Crafts. Surrey, BC: Hancock, 1989. Print.

MacDowell, Marsha L., and C. Kurt Dewhurst, eds. To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico P, 1997. Print.

Murfin, Ross, and Supryia M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1998. Print.

Native Quilters of the Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Quilt Exhibit, Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, AZ (Sept. 8, 2005-Dec. 31, 2005).

Ortiz, Simon J. "Speaking-Writing Indigenous Literary Sovereignty." Foreword. American Indian Literary Nationalism. By Jace Weaver, Craig S. Womack, and Robert Warrior. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 2005. vii-xiv. Print.

Owens, Louis. Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1992. Print.

"Quilt of Belonging." Invitation: Quilt of Belonging/Fibres du monde. Web. Dec. 4, 2009.

"Quilt of Belonging." YouTube. Aug. 10, 2009. Web. Dec. 4, 2009.

Sayre, Gordon M. Les Sauvages Américains: Representations of Native Americans in French and English Colonial Literature. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1997. Print.

Showalter, Elaine. "Piecing and Writing." The Poetics of Gender. Ed. Nancy K. Miller. New York: Columbia UP, 1986. 222-47. Print.

St. Clair, Robert N. "Visual Metaphor, Cultural Knowledge, and the New Rhetoric." Learn in Beauty: Indigenous Education for a New Century. Ed. Jon Reyhner et al. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona UP, 2000. 85-101. Print.

Tehanetorens (Ray Fadden). Wampum Belts of the Iroquois. Summertown, TN: Book, 1999. Print.

Tootsie, Edison, Sr. Personal interview. Keams Canyon, AZ. Jan. 27, 2006.

Vizenor, Gerald. "Eric Gansworth's Mending Skins." University of New Mexico. Fall 2006. Class Lecture.

Weagel, Deborah. "The Creole Quadrille in Simon Schwarz-Bart's Ton beau capitaine: A Postcolonial Perspective." Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics 22.1-2 (2009): 13-23. Print.

------. "Elucidating Abstract Concepts and Complexity in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine through Metaphors of Quilts and Quilt Making." American Indian Culture and Research Journal 31.4 (2007): 79-95. Print.

Weaver, Jace, Craig S. Womack, and Robert Warrior. American Indian Literary Nationalism. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 2006. Print. Yellow Robe, William S., Jr. Where the Pavement Ends: Five Native American Plays. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2000. Print.


Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Civilization,
and the Quest for Coevalness



In Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy (1945), a direct intellectual trajectory is traced that moves from the ancient Greeks, passing through Catholic medieval philosophy, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Romantics, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Fried-rich Nietzsche, and John Dewey. Latin America is not mentioned appreciably, except in extremely limiting terms: once in the chapter on Aristotle when the author compares the frequency of revolutions in ancient Greece to the reality imposed by nineteenth-century caudillos (190), and again when he refers to the Conquest, in the chapter on the rise of science (538). Aztecs and Mayas are not mentioned, although Incas are compared to ancient Egypt as having an unchallenged--that is, undemocratic--state (115). "Indians" are touched upon just twice to illustrate John Locke's ideas (623, 636). North Americans fare little better than Dewey in Russell's exposition.
     Despite four and a half centuries of sustained contact between Europe and the Americas, and despite the compilation of substantial tracts of New World thought in works such as the Florentine Codex, Indigenous Mesoamerican thinking was not considered worthy of inclusion in the History of Western Philosophy. This regardless of having developed a far-reaching philosophical system, as Miguel León-Portilla would so aptly demonstrate eleven years later in his La filosofía náhuatl (1956).1 I do not mean to single out Russell's otherwise excellent work. The same critical gaze can be trained on countless other manuals of this type, such as J. Bronowski and {97} Bruce Mazlish's The Western Intellectual Tradition, and José Fer-rater Mora's Diccionario de filosofía.2 Nor do I mean to imply that these authors were prejudiced or disinclined to include that which they may have felt inferior, although that may have been the case. Where I am going here is that philosophical inquiry is one of the hallmarks of what the West considers civilization, and Mesoamerica's glaring absence in Western intellectual history results from what Johannes Fabian has described as a "denial of coevalness" (31-35). Such an attitude emerges from taking as a given the modernity of a West bent on studying the "primitiveness" of other societies, judging them by a European timeline, not by their own, precipitating a worldview that does not consider the Nahuas (the Aztecs) as worthy of study even as one of Earth's cradles of civilization, a possibility already noted by R. Tom Zuidema (27).
     The exclusion of the Americas' Indigenous pathways of culture and philosophy in Western thought can also be detected within the expanding Hispanic world. Bartolomé de las Casas (1484-1566), who will provide a framework for understanding sixteenth-century European "civilization" in this article, was one of the more thoughtful historians of the Conquest of the peoples who would later be called Native Americans. Yet, he was not able to liberate himself from a historiographic tradition that denied the coevalness of other nations, beginning his three-volume Historia de las Indias not with Mexicas, Quichés, and Quechuas but with Columbus's lineage, which, for him, comes from the Roman historian Tacitus. Other sources that Las Casas integrates are Aristotle and, not surprisingly, the Bible (Historia 25-26). The Dominican chronicler, as per the norms of his age, begins his annals of the Indies with events in the Old World, not in the new one. Since, as José Rabasa reminds us, the establishment of the Modern Occidental episteme subjugated Indigenous knowledge ("Historiografía" 69), tending to deny any philosophy that inquires into identity, it does not seem to enter into Las Casas's mind that there could be a new world origin to the New World. Las Casas did not seem to understand this, but Amerindian authors did. Writing in the next century, the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega asserts the coevalness of both sides of the Atlantic by opening {98} his Royal Commentaries with an affirmation that there are "many worlds" ("muchos mundos").3 He specifically asserts that the one called "new" has its own "ancientness and origins" ("antiguallas y origen"; 1:7). Las Casas's subordination of Amerindian historical trajectories to Columbus suggests that less-enlightened thinkers would be even more disinclined to perceive the coevalness of pre-Hispanic civilizations. The policy of cultural exclusion that inheres from a scholarly environment that still tends to look at the Conquest from the perspective codified in the Spanish chroniclers represents an ontological challenge because, if a people are not held in terms of coevalness, their humanity can be denied. In such cases there can be little hope that their philosophical and literary footprints will be regarded as valuable traces of civilization. The denial of coevalness leads to what Lucy Maddox refers to as "the almost universally shared assumption that there were only two options for the Indians: to become civilized, or to become extinct" (24).
     The view that Native Americans were not civilized goes hand in hand with the denial of their coevalness, both of which open a door to colonization and cultural subordination. This difficulty has to do with the nature of globalizing trends that emanate from a "hub" toward what that "hub" considers peripheral, circumventing access for pinging pulses longing to return to the core. This is in fact the denial of coevalness so meticulously dissected in Walter Mignolo's groundbreaking study of the Renaissance, an exposé of the first wave of truly global globalization our planet has known. That outward thrust given form by Spanish and Portuguese military expansion included purifying the Islamic mancha (stain) on the Iberian Peninsula and extending imperial rule over the Netherlands, Belgium, and Naples. It sailed west across the Atlantic to the Americas, crossing them to the South Sea, later known as the Pacific, and far over it to include the Philippines, while at the same time reaching down around the Cape of Good Hope to finally arrive at Goa.4 The nature of that circumnavigation, very different from the information-age expansion of our time, was Christian and literary--the former because, notwithstanding the thirst for gold, there was a concerted effort to convert the world to Catholicism, and the {99} latter because on the conquistadors' heels came the chroniclers who paved the way for poets, playwrights, and epistlers.
     The part-Spanish, part-Nahua historian Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl (1578?-1650), my primary object of inquiry in this article, was a product of that sixteenth-century globalizing surge, both as a writer and as a Christian. Regardless of his autochthonous themes, his medium was European--the historical chronicle--and his theology was framed in a way so as not to be heretical in the Holy Roman Empire. If things had transpired in any other way, we would not be evaluating his work today. Consider this: without the written word, his narratives could not have been transmitted to our time, and without his adherence to Catholicism, he would never have been permitted to commit his knowledge to paper.
     Therefore, on the one hand, there was ironclad resistance to heterogeneous thought, while, on the other, a small scratch on the surface yields a treasure trove of rich and divergent cultures. Alva Ixtlilxochitl's annals prove that writing and Christianity during that period were not completely devoid of heterogeneous identities. Las Casas himself was not opposed to cultural heterogeneity--he did, as it happens, compose an early ethnographic tract, the Apolgética Historia--but his writing and actions adhered to an unrelenting goal of Christianity for all. People had to be Christian, Las Casas writes, because "the Apostles sowed the Gospel and submitted the world to Christ" ("los apóstoles sembraron el evangelio y sometieron a Cristo el mundo entero"; Apología 30). So when the Dominican friar brandishes his quill as a weapon in defense of Indigenous peoples (Apología 13), he does so in the wake of a great evangelizing current that originated in the Mediterranean that was at once political, historical, philosophical, and, of course, theological and literary.
     Amerindian or mixed-heritage authors have been swept under the Western rug, in some cases by design, but in others because their work, for whatever reason, has simply been unavailable. The Indigenous first appeared as part of Western literature when the Spanish chroniclers included them in their historiographic enterprise, not because those authors were interested in showing Indigenous achievements, but because they were concerned with bearing wit-{100}ness to the religious and civil superiority of their own transoceanic countries. Even though European essayists such as Michel de Montaigne and Thomas More turned their attention toward those peoples now inaccurately known as "Indians," the latter even giving their customs a positive spin, most Indigenous or mixed-heritage historians, except for the lucky Peruvian Garcilaso de la Vega, were generally factored out of this paradigm.
     Nahua peoples have been excluded from literature, philosophy, and history, except as proof of Spanish military might. Experts on the topic know that, even during the sixteenth century, the first Americanist anthropologist Bernardino de Sahagún had to kidnap his manuscripts to preserve the oral Nahua culture he had collected and catalogued (Lienhard 42).5 Rolena Adorno writes how Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl was conscious of these kinds of difficulties. Starting with the bias of Hernán Cortés's letters, his people were "being erased from history," obliterated from an epic story in which they were a part (212). There are two types of colonialist cultural curtailment, the actual suppression of works by Native historians, many of whom never made it into print during their lifetime, and the simple passing over of their worldview in the edifice of Western thought, even when their manuscripts were available for study.
     This denial of recognition was already apparent to mestizo chroniclers at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Alva Ixtlilxochitl responded by arguing that "the things that happened in this New World . . . were no less than those achieved by the Romans, the Greeks, Medians, and other named republics that have been famous in the world" ("las cosas acaecidas en este Nuevo Mundo . . . no fueron menos que las de los romanos, griegos, medos y otras repúblicas gentílicas que tuvieron fama en el universo"; 1:525). The Tetzcocan chronicler's attempt at coevalness is not unlike the more famous assertion by his fellow mestizo and contemporary, the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who simply stated in the Royal Commentaries that Mexico and Peru were republics and that Cuzco, the capital of Peru, "was another Rome in that Empire" ("fue otra Roma en aquel Imperio"; 2:3). During the nineteenth century, when Amerindian, mestizo, and even unpublished Spanish documents began to {101} appear in print for the first time, the essayist José Martí may have read these kinds of assertions because, not unlike Alva Ixtlilxochitl, he made a concerted effort to incorporate an ideal of coevalness into his discourse. He brings works such as the El Güegünce and the Popol Vuh (Ideario 228-36) as well as Alva Ixtlilxochitl's to the public's attention (Política 78-85). He concludes that to appreciate New World civilization, one must go back, not to ancient Greece, but to pre-Hispanic Peru, for example (Política 40). This article follows the general lines of Martí's Americanist recommendations, building on them in an endeavor to reject what Mignolo regards as a monotopic Greco-Roman hermeneutics, embracing instead a hybrid tradition (Mignolo 17).
     Such a critical stance helps enrich, reorient, and reenvision Western civilization in a way that rejects established cultural hierarchies while at the same time respecting the coevalness of the different cultural currents that give it form, a pressing need in order to respond to what Fabian has described as "the cognitive challenges presented by the age of discoveries" (3). The complexity of the project impedes my completing it here, especially since pictographic and tactile sources would have to be brought into the interpretive scheme.6 What I am aiming for is a partial rectification of the denial of coevalness offering a more limited bitopical hermeneutics regarding one author that can then be built on by others if they choose to do so. The configuration that frames the present discussion is a hybrid European-Nahua civilization given "form" by Las Casas and "content" by Alva Ixtlilxochitl. This is not a random paring of two Renaissance historians but the reconstruction of a logical sequence in thought that must be considered Western. The Conquest generated layers of understanding that were confected on top of each other. Just as Las Casas built on Aristotle and St. Augustine, Alva Ixtlilxochitl looked back at Torquemada, Alonso Axayaca, and the Mapa Quinatzin and may also have had direct, but certainly indirect, contact with the ideas of the Bishop of Chiapas, who passed through Mexico City from time to time and who had become one of the more important transatlantic intellectuals of the sixteenth century.7
     Finally, there is an interesting philological aspect that comes to mind when reading Jongsoo Lee's recent book, The Allure of Nezahualcoyotl. Focusing exclusively on the depiction of the Chichimec figure Nezahualcoyotl, Lee explains that an additional source for Alva Ixtlilxochitl would have been "the previous Franciscan chronicles," especially those authored by Motolinía and Durán (4). Additionally, Lee notes that "Las Casas's Franciscan colleagues may have informed his argument about indigenous rationality in the famous debate with Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda at Valladolid in 1550" (4). Thus it may be that Alva Ixtlilxochitl was reading Las Casas or hearing about Las Casas's ideas in intellectual circles while at the same time devouring some of the same Franciscan sources, resulting in similarities between their arguments. These diverse and complex philological connections only strengthen the rationale for our present method: Las Casas can serve as a barometer for measuring a sixteenth-century notion of civilization in Alva Ixtlilxochitl's work.


A few words are necessary to explain how my model is derived. Under ideal conditions I would like to judge Nahua achievements by Nahua norms. Yet, as is well known, a considerable portion of that world was destroyed by the Spanish in their efforts to superimpose Catholicism on existing belief systems. Furthermore, in later mixed-heritage authors, there was a cultural shifting that occurred as they tried to navigate the tormented waters of Nahua power structures, the colonial government, and the Inquisition.8 We find such stratagems in Alva Ixtlilxochitl, who had to operate without attracting the jaundiced eye of temporal or spiritual authority, while not repressing his need to extol Nahua culture in general and in particular Acolhua-Chichimec greatness as embodied in its capital Tetzcoco.
     Since it would be impossible to reconstruct faithfully all the indicators of Nahua civilization--although there have been many gains in this regard during the twentieth century--and since the oral and pictographic norms of that historiographical paradigm alone would {103} not serve to judge fairly an alphabetic author who was writing for a European audience, I would like to offer as a mode of evaluation a lettered model of cultural attainment derived from Bartolomé de las Casas's binary opposition to Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda's theory of a just war. Salvador Velazco has already indicated that Alva Ixtlilxochitl was more in line with the former than the latter (102), and what I would like to do here is develop a measuring stick derived from Las Casas's Apología, written as a direct response to his nemesis's work of the same name. Velazco has set the stage for this new approach by dedicating a few pages to how Alva Ixtlilxochitl reacts to Ginés de Sepúlveda's arguments. Clearly, the result is a positive rejoinder to a negative assessment. At present I would like to probe further into this, turning the Sepulvedian paradigm upside down by modeling Las Casas's inversion of it, and then seeing exactly how the Tetzcocan historian fits into it. Such an approach has three benefits: (1) it compares a mestizo author with a system of thought that did not deny his humanity (as was the case with Ginés de Sepúlveda), (2) it acknowledges the broader reach of Las Casas's writings that circulated in manuscript form to a degree about which Ginés de Sepúlveda could only dream, and (3) it looks at Alva Ixtlilxochitl not as a pre-Cortesian intellect but as an author whose expertise and residency during the colonial era brought together pre-Hispanic and Renaissance cultures.
     The Las Casas--Ginés de Sepúveda polemic was representative of its time, the theme of civilization and barbarism, as Stephanie Merrim observes, "would float from text to text, changing meaning according to the context and founding an image of America for years to come" (150; see also Velazco 103). Many corners, halls, and doors in this intertextual labyrinth have Las Casas's stamp on it. For example, as Helen-Rand Parish has argued, Las Casas's The Only Way (Del único modo) served as a primary basis for Pope Paul III's 1537 encyclical Sublimus Dei, which comes down hard on those for whom "the Indians of the West and the South . . . should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service," while conversely mandating a corrective position that holds that "the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith {104} but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it." Not without reason Parish has called this document the "Indian Magna Carta" (40).
     Also quite possibly, as Víctor Baptiste has proposed, Las Casas's Remedies (Remedios) may have fallen into Erasmus's hands, and from there to Thomas More's as he prepared to write the Utopia (1-4), a text that could thus be read as a Lascasian defense of New World civilization. Baptiste's theory is even more plausible when we take into account that Erasmus was named councilor to Prince Charles, for whom he would write his Education of a Christian Prince (Bataillon 80). But we are not as concerned here with Erasmus or More as we are with Las Casas's cognitive impact on the New World. Besides his wide theological and literary authority, verifiable in documents and sermons alike and which certainly came to bear on Alva Ixtlilxochitl during mass and in his library, there is a third conduit for Lascasism in Mexico. Since the friar traveled to Mexico City some four times, meeting with auditors, bishops, and perhaps the viceroy himself, bringing his manuscripts and crafting new documents while there (Parish 1-45), he most certainly left a multifaceted paper trail for the Tetzcocan bibliophile to pick up as he set out to prove that the Chichimecs were civilized.
     Indeed, the antithesis obtained from the infamous debate at Valladolid continued to remain well known to the learned elite during the second half of the sixteenth century--that is to say, during the formative period in Alva Ixtlilxochitl's life. Accordingly, if the twofold construction is inverted reversing Ginés de Sepúlveda's denial of coevalness, it can in fact serve as a useful benchmark for the case of Mesoamerican attainments using the Spanish's own criterion. By applying the model the Europeans used to argue their own civilized status to the Nahua communities represented in Alva Ixtlilxochitl, we countermand five centuries of colonialism and make bare the lie that contributed to casting such colonialism as "normal."
     At present, I am not attempting to prove or disprove a direct influence of Las Casas on the annalist from Anahuac; my intent is simply to show how Alva Ixtlilxochitl's view of his people fits into a book-derived blueprint for civilization as framed by the Dominican {105} friar. This way a lettered author's archetype of refined edification can be judged according to a lettered age's norms, demonstrating that by applying a European standard to Native American life and thought without prejudice, Amerindian self-expression is allowed to give the lie to the notion that their societies were barbaric.
     What form would a sixteenth-century barometer of civilization take? According to Las Casas, Ginés de Sepúlveda justified war against any people who were barbarous, rude, illiterate, uneducated, brutish, vice-ridden and cruel, and incapable of learning anything beyond the mechanical arts. Turning this around, he formulates a barometer to gauge civilization, whose representative people are prudent, virtuous, and learned; they are nobles, doctors, and clergy. By standing Ginés de Sepúlveda on his head--as Las Casas does-- and by deleting the nationalistic and inward-turning "Spanish" modifier from the categories he establishes, a generic frame can be derived by which to assess coevally other civilizations while decolonizing the mentalities that informed and continue to inform the debate. From these six classes of people, there can be extrapolated six traits indicative of civil life: prudence, virtuousness, learnedness, nobility, respect for the law, and spirituality (Apología 6).9 This model serves as an open-ended measuring rod for evaluating civil society in Alva Ixtlilxochitl's Tetzcoco. This is especially true if the narrative material is not forced into the categories in any particular way but allowed to take the form best suited to it. While these six attributes are specific, they are general enough to allow for the Tetzcocan historian's own twists. For that reason, sometimes the thematic unit uses a parable as a point of departure, while other times the long view of history becomes the modus operandi.


As with many Renaissance intellects, Las Casas frequently cannot be understood without taking Aristotle into account. This is the case with prudence or phronesis, which in an Aristotelian sense, is neither a tactic nor is it astuteness. It is practical knowledge or judgment {106} applied toward life in general with the objective of making it better. It is not a static condition, but a process "of becoming good," Aristotle tells us (ll44b29; bk. 6, ch. 12).10 Ginés de Sepúlveda cites a lack of prudence and letters in his classifying of Amerindians as barbarians (3:197). Las Casas explains that for his bookish foe's argumentation, barbarians must obey "those who are most prudent" ("a quienes son más prudentes"; Apología 6). The implication is that these types who for Ginés de Sepúlveda are subhuman have not developed the habits to fulfill the common good among their peoples. This is a primary contention Las Casas has with his adversary. For him, people who fall into the category of barbarians solely because of illiteracy (the second of four kinds, the others being cruelness, ungovernability, or non-Christianity) still "have the ability and prudence to govern themselves" ("no les falta . . . habilidad y prudencia para regirse y gobernarse"). And, if truth be told, despite illiteracy, "matters of war and peace can still be resolved prudently" ("trataban asuntos de paz y de guerra con prudencia") (Apología 31, 32). War and peace fall into two of the three categories that Las Casas in his Apolgetica historia says he derives from Aristotle. These are economic and political prudence, which imply good government (the third kind is monastic) (Apologética 1:4). Finally, the notion of prudence was also part of Nahua philosophy, there being two words for it, nezcalicayotl listed in Rémi Simeón's Diccionario as signifying "good sense, prudence" ("cordura, prudencia"; 346); and yolizmatcayotl, as "prudence, discretion, and perceptiveness" ("prudencia, discreción, sagacidad"; 196).
     In the Historia de la nación chichimeca Alva Ixtlilxochitl offers a parable derived from the historical record whose moral lesson shows the edifying properties of prudence in good government. When his ancestor, Ome Tochtli Ixtlilxochitl, was proclaimed universal ruler of the altepetl (city-state) of Tetzcoco, an action that through its presumptuousness enraged Tezozómoc, the powerful tlatoani (king) of Azcapozalco, he brought about his own downfall with his arrogance. Suggesting something akin to hubris, the chronicler concedes a lack of prudence in his youthful ancestor's actions, attributing the Tepanec war that ensued to his "excessive presumption and haughti-{107}ness" ("demasiada presunción y altivez"; 2:39). As a direct result of his imprudence, Ome Tochtli Ixtlilxochitl was compelled to forsake the city and take refuge in forests and mountains (2:43-47). The symbolism is inescapable: without prudence in good government, the Acolhua tlatoani is banished to nature, where civilization is nonexistent. This call to good government is also a documentation of errors that can befall a people who have not yet attained the levels of edification later venerated and achieved by Mexico-Tenochtitlan. That developing process would flower in the tlatoani's descendants, such as the very wise Nezahualcoyotl, who overcomes his father's brashness and lives to rule Tetzcoco for almost forty-one years and who on his deathbed begs his subjects to live in "peace and harmony" ("paz y concordia") before then introducing his "wise and prudent" ("sabio y prudente") son Nezahualpilli, who will maintain "peace and justice" ("paz y justicia"; 2:135). This concern for good government based on prudence runs through the administrative tenancies of Ome Tochtli Ixtlilxochitl, Nezahualcoyotl, and Nezahualpilli.
     This brings us to the next category. Strictly speaking, prudence is a virtue (along with justice, fortitude, and temperance), but in Las Casas's inversion of Ginés de Sepúlveda's philosophy, virtue is simply another component of civilization (Apología 6). In an Aristotelian sense, a virtue is a habit that is "good." Alva Ixtlilxochitl brings this sense to his reader, but he also associates it with justice in another parable. Nezahualcoyotl, the poet king, covets Azcalxochitzin, Quaquauhtzin's wife-to-be, and so he sends the man to his death in Tlaxcala, freeing up the woman to become his consort (2:118-19). After the marriage, God punishes the tlatoani for Quaquauhtzin's "unfair death" ("la muerte injusta") by subjecting the kingdom to "famine and plague" ("hambre y pestes"; 2:121). In this fable, the sovereign's shameful behavior toward Quaquauhtzin represents the absence of virtue. Although it "is the result of choice," the mark is not noble. It is bad, and thus, as Aristotle would say, it is nothing more than "mere villainy" (1144a26; bk. 6, ch. 12). Alva Ixtlilxochitl's narration of these events underscores the foible and preaches its virtuous correction, even if it shows his forebear {108} in an unattractive light. Nezahualcoyotl learns from his mistakes and "tries to make things right" ("buscar el remedio conveniente"; 2:124). In the end he was able to become an upright ruler and bring untold good things to the kingdom of Tetzcoco.
     The next attribute of Lascasian civilization is learnedness. As we have seen, Alva Ixtlilxochitl was adept at telling simple parables to teach a lesson. There are other signs of deep learning, among them an appreciation of the great cultures that came before, an awareness of the importance of teaching, and the sophisticated use of language. Regarding history, Alva Ixtlilxochitl manipulates what were at the time accepted and standard modes of thought: he evokes a parallel between Anahuac and Europe without explicitly mentioning the latter. The unspoken but obvious message is the following: just as the Renaissance world (think Ginés de Sepúlveda) turned to classical antiquity for a superior cultural model (think Aristotle), pre-Mexica peoples turned to Toltec Tula and its successor city-states as representing a higher form of culture, known as Toltecayotl. This parallel is not surprising given the tendency of human groups to attempt to improve themselves. Yet there was also a milieu of transatlantic humanism that permeated the colonial environment. David A. Lupher, for instance, comments on "the surprisingly powerful propensity of sixteenth-century Spaniards to compare the cultures of the New World with those of classical antiquity, especially Roman civilization" (5).11 Based on his studies of Bartolomé de las Casas's Apologética historia, Rabasa observes that the Dominican "makes constant reference to classical antiquity" ("Utopian" 283). This mindset was in the air, yet we are not interested in Spanish or Las Casas's impressions here per se, but in how a Mexican takes history and inserts it into a Spanish way of thinking that is analogous to the Nahua way of thinking to argue for Nahua coevalness relative to Europe.
     Regarding education, Las Casas accepts Ginés de Sepúlveda's principle that civilization is impossible without it (Apología 6). Aristotle lists teaching along with nature and habit as one of three routes toward goodness (1179b20-25; bk. 10, ch. 9). Since nature is heaven sent, humanity can only work toward the good through the other {109} two. For both Nahua and European education systems, painting, language, coding ideas, and history were integral elements. In Anahuac, there were schools such as the selective calmecac and the neighborhood telpochcalli. In the educational context, the more refined the language employed, the higher the social attainment. Without getting into the alleged lack of symmetry between the Nahua hue-hue (elder) and tlaquilo (scribe) and the European academicians, a question Mignolo adequately deals with (10, 93, 122), I would like to discuss a coincidence that would most certainly have been apparent to the seventeenth-century mind: the elite European and Anahuaquian appeals to Latin and Nahuatl, respectively, as scholarly languages located in a political past that had legitimized itself through imperial conquest. Specifically, as the Goths came south and learned Latin in the center of the remains of the Roman Empire, so too the Chichimecs descended upon Anahuac and learned Nahuatl in the center of the remains of the Toltec empire.
     The process begins early in Europe, the Germanic "barbarians" migrating south to Hispania around the fourth century AD and becoming "civilized" by appropriating Latin, the language of the Roman Empire as well as Roman customs and laws. By the time of the Renaissance, Greek and Latin were both seen institutionally as signs of refinement and as routes to increased prestige. Las Casas even calls Latin his mother tongue (Apología 20). This is not necessarily hyperbole. One of his recent biographers describes his Spanish style as "anarchic, with words tumbling out, while his Latin prose is disciplined and faithful to proper syntax" ("anárquico y a borbotones, mientras su prosa latina es disciplinada y fiel a la sin-taxis"; Huerga 37). Such a stylistic trait marks Las Casas as a man of the Renaissance.
     In a striking coincidence, a similar pattern of migration and cultural absorption takes place on the western side of the Atlantic as well. Here we are interested in the Chichimec variant of that process. In a succession of overlords that began with Xolotl, there was an unbroken chain toward appropriating urban Toltec civilization. The fourth Chichimec sovereign Quinatzin moved his people from the minor urban setting of Tenayoca and compelled them to {110} leave behind their "rustic and sylvan dwellings" ("su rústica y silvestre vivienda") "to populate and build cities" ("que poblasen y edificasen ciudades") "following the order and style of the Toltecs" ("siguiendo el orden y estilo de los tultecas"), eventually taking control of Tetzcoco, their shining city (2:30, 2:32). The next stage comes with Techotlalatzin, the fifth leader, "the first to use the Nahuatl language" ("el primero que usó hablar la lengua Náhuatl"; 2:34). He had learned this tongue from his nursemaid Papaloxochitl, who was from Culhuacan, a municipality that holds special significance. As is generally known from numerous sources and as Alva Ixtlilxochitl explains in the Sumaria relación, Culhuacan was a destination for scores of Toltecs during the Diaspora and hence became a center of the preservation of Toltec learning (1:282). Since Techotlalatzin's governess Papaloxochitl is from this post-Tula urban center she represents Toltecayotl, which she passes on to the Chichimec tlatoanito-be, who grows into a man of learning. As tlatoani, he mandates, regarding Nahuatl, that "all who pertain to the Chichimec nation now speak it" ("todos los de la nación chichimeca la hablasen"), "especially officials of the republic who should use it when conducting business" ("en especial todos los que tuviesen oficios y cargos de república"; 2:34). Indeed, language and learnedness are integral to Toltecayotl.
     Alva Ixtlilxochitl does not draw the Tollan-Rome parallel explicitly (as did the Inca Garcilaso with Cuzco), but the anecdote about Techotlalatzin would evoke for the seventeenth-century reader an obvious parallel with the story of the Visigoths. Chichimec can be assimilated to Visigoth in a now universal story of southward-bound "barbarians" migrating to the civilized center. In the same way the Germanic peoples of that story turned their gaze on Rome and Latin, the Chichimecs looked back to Tollan and Nahuatl as superior cultural signifiers. Furthermore, as authors during the Renaissance (think Dante, Boccaccio, or Góngora) turned their sights on the classical world for inspiration (Burckhardt 149), so too the post-Conquest chronicler Alva Ixtlilxochitl held up Toltecayotl as a civic model, creating an innovative strand of Renaissance thought that did not emanate from Europe.
    Next on our list of indicators comes nobility as a human characteristic. By way of Las Casas, a person cannot be noble if he is not Christian (Apología 29). For the New World this would come with conversion, and conversion is possible with behavioral change or with a remapping of the past. Either way, learning how to engage in or represent social acts that are good is paramount. Regarding the second possibility, such an understanding can also be found in pre-Cortesian history. The war between the Tepanecs and the Acolhuas lasted for almost four years ("tres años y doscientos setenta y tres días"; 2:49) and offers an opening for an exceptional parable of horizontal nobility. The fable is a simple one, a father offering a lesson to his son on the duties of nobility in keeping with Nahua tradition (as in book 6 of the Florentine Codex). At war's end, Ixtlilxochitl I, now on the eve of eternal rest, calls for his fifteen-year-old son Nezahualcoyotl and tells him not to abandon his people and to liberate them from Tezozomoc's tyranny ("que no desampares a tus súbitos y vasallos, ni eches en olvido de que eres chichimeca, recobrando tu imperio, que tan injustamente Tezozómoc te tiraniza"; 2:48). Nobility in this sense is not achieved through physical violence but with cunning to outwit an enemy for the greater good. In Aristotelian terms, it is making noble choices to that end (1144a19-28; bk. 6, ch. 12). The father tells the future tlatoani to hide in the woods, as he had also done, to avoid losing their kingdom. The son hides in a tree, sees his father fight to the death, and prudently represses any impulse to respond immediately to the butchery (2:48). He survives, rising to become the most sophisticated ruler in the house of Tetzcoco who was magnanimous, merciful, and liberal ("su magnanimidad, su clemencia, y liberalidad"; 2:136). In the story, such traits are established through good acts, acts worthy of any Christian, earning nobility through good behavior. These Christianity-in-waiting traits run through Nezahualcoyotl, Nezahualpilli, and Ixtlilxochitl II, the first to become baptized (1:492), and they fit perfectly into Las Casas's Christian notion of nobility.
     The fifth attribute of civilization is a people's adherence to a system of laws, to organize society justly. Las Casas tells us that peoples who can self-govern with good laws and institutions, with legiti-{112}mate political power, and who live in great cities can be considered civilized (Apología 31-32). Consequently, Indigenous peoples who lived under a sovereign ruler and with laws and institutions do not fall under the third category of barbarism, eventuated from a lack of urbanity (Apología 21-22). The Dominican, despite his faith in universal Christendom, allows for the local jurisdiction of governments, kings, and emperors (Apología 73). From such a declaration two conclusions can be drawn: transatlantic legal power can be limited in the Western Hemisphere, and, conversely, the Nahua had a right to continue establishing local jurisdictions that should be respected.
     Yet explorer-chroniclers such as Américo Vespucio had refused to acknowledge the existence of Indigenous domains. Writing on the heels of Columbus, he declared that Indians did not have private property or laws (30-31). On the one hand, lumping together all of the hemisphere's inhabitants into the generic and erroneous category of "Indians" does nothing to explain who they are, and, on the other, negating cultural, legal, and political attainments curtails New World peoples ontologically, minimizing the egregiousness of the Conquest. James Lockhart shows just how mistaken such colonialist views were regarding peoples such as the Nahuas with his exposition of their legal form of municipal planning, the quadrangular altepetl, from which all land titles were derived. Evoking this Mesoamerican standard (forming a spatial analogue to the four periods in human development (see below), Alva Ixtlilxochitl narrates in the Sumaria relación how Xolotl climbed to the top of Xocotl mountain and from there shot four arrows of fire delimiting the quadrants of his territory, the world (1:295). The mythic-legendary origins for Chichimec districting take the quadrangular form of the Toltec altepetl system. During the Toltec Diaspora (1150-1250), Alva Ixtlilxochitl explains, a primary five-part contingent arrived at the previously mentioned Culhuacan where a city is founded. The elite pipiltin stayed there while the other four bands spread out toward the cardinal points ("las cuatro se fueron hacia las cuatro partes del mundo, norte y sur, occidente y oriente"; 1:284). When the Toltec peoples later came to live with the Chichimecs, they occupied {113} four neighborhoods (2:34). The altepetl land structure fuses into Chichimec urban planning and represents a more developed, formalized way of living. Toltecayotl recognizes a notion of geographical space and a legal structure to subdivide it.
     Another legal structure documented in the codices allowed for the stronger polities to exact tribute from weaker ones. From the times of Xolotl, tribute was demanded, although not always received (2:15-16). After the death of Ome Tochtli Ixtlilxochitl and the defeat of the Chichimec altepetl of Tetzcoco, the tlatoani Tezozomoc mandated that "all rents and tributes would now go to the Tepanec empire, not to the [Chichimec] province" ("todas las rentas y tributos pertenecentes a el imperio, y no a provincia"; 2:50-51). Tribute could be exacted by collecting corn, beans, tortillas, cocoa, chickens, salt, or chilies, and it could also entail labor and collecting rents or norms for land organization (2:89-91). While almost certainly an exaggeration that Nezahualcoyotl collected it from 160 towns (2:90), the kernel of truth encapsulated in such a statement suggests an organized system of tax collection that would most certainly have to be guided by codes represented on amoxtli, a form of bark "paper."
     There also were directives on physical space and on behavior. Nezahualcoyotl decreed that the artisans should live in neighborhoods determined by their profession, the silversmiths in one, feather workers in another, and so on. To foster "good government" ("buen gobierno") on a grander scale, he decreed eighty laws in four sections (notice the numerical relationship with the altepetl structure), headed by an equal quantity of tribunals in which civil and criminal proceedings were held (2:101). There is a lengthy discussion on all manner of offenses, including treason, adultery, robbery, and public drunkenness and even on legislation guiding the use of slaves and land, as well as regulating science, music, and necromancy (2:51,101-03, 108). Tribunals for different types of crime were established (2:104-05). Even in matters of love, Nezahualcoyotl was humble enough to submit his own troubled case to judges for resolution. The tlatoani is saddened by their determination, but he accepts it (2:117). There is nothing extraordinary about a legal discussion in a mestizo chronicle; the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega deals with similar {114} issues in a Peruvian context (1:59-60). What is important here for the Inca Garcilaso and Alva Ixtilxochitl is that certain elite pre-Hispanic cultures were civil ones, even according to European norms.
     Religion and spirituality, our sixth and final attributes of civilization, do not need a specific quotation from Las Casas to prove that he was primarily concerned with them. To all intents and purposes, it can be argued that his writing in its entirety was designed to put a stop to the Conquest's "infinite loss of bodies and souls" ("perdiciones de ánimas y cuerpos infinitas") so that more people could be brought to Christianity (Tratados 2:11). This view goes directly against Vespucio, who, as with his avowals on the absence of law among the first Americans, had claimed they did not have a faith (30-31). Such uninformed assertions had become part and parcel of stereotypical European notions about the original Americans. Although Vespucio wrote his letters before Cortés, the damage was done, especially since Taínos, Caribs, Tlaxcaltecas, Mexicas, and Chichimecs would all be pigeonholed into the category of "Indians," a lowest common denominator that denied their differences and, alas, their humanity. Alva Ixtlilxochitl shows just how wrong the Italian explorer was, especially regarding inland peoples.
     There are many ways to approach spiritual questions. I will now comment on three: cosmogony, sedentary religiosity, and the monotheistic notion of Tloque Nahuaque. First there is Las Casas's dictum that the more people move toward the divine ("cuanto más se acerca la semejanza divina"), the more excellent and noble they become (Apología 27). While precontact notions of God or gods would have given pause to Las Casas, their sacerdotal religious hierarchy as imbedded in Toltecayotl had certainly prepared a path that could lead to Christianity. The Nahuas were able to fit into a civilized paradigm as long as they elected the right path. Furthermore, Alva Ixtlilxochitl's frequent reference to their practices as "idolatrous" would have made his narrative palatable to the seventeenth-century Catholic community. This strategy again forms a parallel with Garcilaso de la Vega, who depicted pre-Inca nations as idolaters. For his part, Alva Ixtlilxochitl saw the Mexicas, another contemporary Mesoamerican ethnic nation, as practicing idolatry. So, {115} here there is something akin to nationalistic posturing, with the goal of likening "monotheistic" Chichimecs and Incas to early Christians in the Roman Empire in an effort to negotiate a privileged position in the new colonial reality. Yet Alva Ixtlilxochitl's Catholic-friendly language does not coincide with his content, and arguments that depict sedentary religious rites such as Ome Tochtli Ixtlilxochitl's burial in the manner of Toltecayotl reveal his deeply held admiration for the Nahua past (2:49). This collision between form and content deconstructs what would otherwise be an irresolvable paradox in the Christian mind, all the while setting up a structure of coevalness based on respect and dignity.
     Concerning cosmogony, the origins of humanity in Alva Ixtlilxochitl's writing coincide with standard Mesoamerican abstractions where the number four takes on additional significance beyond its relationship to the four cardinal directions. A good point of comparison is another Mesoamerican text, the Popol Vuh, an alphabetic rendering of an earlier pictographic manuscript (Tedlock 28), which itself preserves themes established with Mayan sculpture dating from 300 BC as well as courtly art from the seventh and eighth centuries (Berrin 56). In it, at an early prehuman stage, there are four giants: Vacub-Caquiz, Chimalmat, Zipacná, and Cabracán. There are four attempts at creating humanity: animals, mud men, stick figures, and men of corn, each destroyed to pave the way for the next (25, 27, 29, 30). And in the quaternary epoch, when men are finally created, there are an equal number of them, Balam Quitzé, Balam Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam.
     Reflecting the Popol Vuh, the first chapter of the Historia chichimeca tells of four ages--Atonatiuh, Tlalchitonatiuh, Ehecatonatiuh, and Tletonatiuc, each distinguished by its primary element of destruction, water, earth, air, and fire. There are also giants, this time clearly in the second stage, and the primary deity Quetzalcoatl makes his appearance in the fourth (2:7-9). However, while Alva Ixtlilxochitl mentions a multitude of the elements typical of Mesoamerican cosmogonal formation, he seems to gloss over them, rushing, creating a confusing mix of entities, gods, and periods. This is especially different from the Popol Vuh, since the first two parts {116} of four that make up the Quiché text are dedicated to cosmogonal considerations. Alva Ixtlilxochitl's oeuvre is of an unquestionably different nature: unlike the clandestine authors of the Popol Vuh, whose descendants did not show it to a Spaniard until the early eighteenth century, he was working in the floodlights of Western civilization, crafting a master narrative approximately a century after the Spanish's initial appearance. Alva Ixtlilxochitl was not concerned so much with Mesoamerican cosmogony as with the story of his people. The theological jumble in his first chapter could have resulted from the collision between surviving precontact beliefs and an honest faith in Jesus Christ, from a fear of religious persecution, or because he simply was not engaged by those creation stories. His confinement of pre-Hispanic cosmogony to chapter 1 of the Historia chichimeca denotes a long theological evolution away from those religions that were anathema to Catholicism, preparing the way for conversion. The fact that he did begin his story with Quetzalcoatl and not with the Bible and Columbus as Las Casas did attests to a long and sophisticated theological history while at the same time creating a symmetrical structure between old and new worlds.
     With respect to the development of sedentary religiosity, a necessary step for the creation of a priestly class, it is well known that at some stage in human development hunter-gatherers began to plant crops and as a consequence a residential way of life came into being, perhaps as early as the third millennium BC as far south as the northern coast of Peru (Shady Solis, Hass, and Creamer 723). At that time there began a long process of establishing the first American cities. In Mesoamerica this development was associated with the veneration of maize, the rise of a sacerdotal class, and of course the setting up of theocratic governmental structures. Construction at La Venta, an Olmec site, may have occurred as early as 11,000 BC (Davies 31). As a matter of fact, in that very area arose the first Mesoamerican writing systems, dating to 650 BC (Pohl, Pope, and von Nagy 1984). In terms of religion, the typical oratory was something like a mound during the Olmec period, more like a pyramid during the apogee of Teotihuacan. These ritual complexes are sometimes called a cu, a term Alva Ixtlilxochitl uses when he narrates how {117} the prince Nopaltzin built one (2:19). While Alva Ixtlilxochitl just drops this piece of information nonchalantly, we know that the creation of a temple as well as the appropriation of Toltec ceremonies and rites ("ritos y ceremonias"; 2:34) are symbols of a developing sacerdotal class, and they are therefore representative of organized religion, one of the central features of sixteenth-century European civilization, despite the Spanish's not being open to non-Catholic variants of faith.
     This brings us to monotheism. Similar to the Popol Vuh's Mesoamerican "Maker," and not entirely unlike Las Casas's Christian God, Alva Ixtlilxochitl begins his chronicle with a universal Nahua deity from which all flows and that governs all creatures ("el dios unversal de todas las cosas, creador de ellas y a cuya voluntad viven todas las criaturas"). This deity is known as Teoloquenahuaque Tlachichualcipal Nemoani Ilhuicahua Tlalticpaque (2:7). Despite the possible or partial Christian overlay pointed out by José Rubén Romero Galván (284) regarding the forty-day penance, for example, Alva Ixtlilxochitl shows, in the model of Nezahualcoyotl, the proclivity of the ruling classes to evolve from polytheism to monotheism. This kind of evolution, even if Alva Ixtlilxochitl is partially biased in his representation of his ancestor's theology, is common in a multitude of cultures, including those practicing Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.12 The difference here, perhaps, is one that Octavio Paz points out: the synthesis, systematization, and unification of diverse beliefs occurred not as a popular movement as with Christianity but as the work of the elite castes (84). These men of privilege lived before the Spanish invasion, and they had established a historiographic tradition that continued to be developed after the fall of Tenochtitlan. In fact, the direct antecedent to Alva Ixtlilxochitl's belief in Nahua monotheistic evolution can be found in one of his sources, Juan Bautista Pomar's 1582 Relación de Texcoco (24; see also Höhl 96-97). It may be that there was a slow march toward monotheism among the Nahuas as Octavio Paz proposes and that, at the same time, Alva Ixtlilxochitl projected Christianity back on his ancestor, something like Garcilaso did with his Inca forbears (2:25). At this juncture, though, the topic under discussion is Alva {118} Ixtlilxochitl's understanding of these themes in his attempt to make manifest Chichimec civilization.
     According to his descendant, Nezahualcoyotl was very spiritual: he would fast and use incense and perfume to pray ("sahumerio de mirra y copal"; 2:125). These supplications are noteworthy as Nezahualcoyotl directed them toward an "unknown God, creator and originator of all things" ("Dios no conocido, criador de todas las cosas y principio de todas ellas"; 2:125). Anticipating the Christian missionaries who would come some hundred years later, Nezahualcoyotl rejected the Mexicas' false polytheistic deities as "statues of demons, enemies of humanity" ("estatuas de demonios enemigos del género humano"; 2:136; 2:124). Alva Ixtlilxochitl may have condemned Mexica polytheism to play on post-Conquest sensibilities that feared the Mexicas and to gain further privileges for the Acolhua-Chichimec people, whose tlatoani Ixtlilxochitl II was one of the first to be baptized. This is an important point and one that illustrates why it is misleading to call all these people Aztecs. As Juan José Daneri explains it, the event that could be described as a conquest of Tenochtitlan could also be described as "a happy encounter between two peoples destined to come together under the sign of a single god" ("un feliz encuentro de dos pueblos destinados a converger bajo el signo de un mismo dios"; 520). In any case, for the chronicler, Nezahualcoyotl preached In Tloque in Nahuaque, a concept that leaned toward monotheism yet was not pure in its concept: there was still a belief in the sun as father and the earth as mother (like the Popol Vuh's dyadic grandparents or hero twins). Alfonso Caso finds in his investigations that there was indeed an exceptional condensing of polytheistic strands toward the belief in one God, in one unifying principle (18). Miguel León-Portilla directly relates Tloque Nahuaque with the primordial concept of Ometeotl, the cement of the universe ("El México" 166-67) and finds in his archival research this concept referred to by many titles ("El México" 283). It also surfaces in various texts, among them Pomar and his successor Alva Ixtlilxochitl.
     Some critics have opted to view negatively what they see as a tendency on Alva Ixtlilxochitl's part to sculpt Nezahualcoyotl into {119} a monotheistic mold. Yet Adorno, discussing other attributes, vindicates the Chichimec historian's cultural positionality: "it is wrong to deny the authenticity of this complex and compromised subject position because it fails to fit the neat model of binary opposition" (216). Binary, regarding the present subject matter, is the unrealistic opposition between Indigenous and Christian, that all Indigenous were polytheistic and all Spanish were monotheistic. It is also well advised to remember the time in which the chronicler lived and wrote. Besides his own Catholic faith, and his desire to cast his ancestor in a positive light, Alva Ixtlilxochitl was also working against the view that non-Christians were barbarians (Las Casas's fourth type), an ideological framework that denied their coevalness. Because he was a colonial subject, binary opposition and simple observations do no justice to a man who lived in (dis)consonance with a multilayered alterity given form by Christian and lettered globalization, ethnic pride, economic interests, and heterogeneous nations squeezed into new relationships by a European power.


There is still much to be accomplished in the pursuit of coevalness. Perhaps there is a need to politicize hermeneutics, an exigency suggested by Mignolo as a means to this end (4). Just as Las Casas began his histories with the Bible and Columbus, the Western Hemisphere in both Spanish- and English-speaking areas still leans toward beginning its "great narratives" with the Greeks and the Romans. Martí's recommendation still goes unheeded, and it does not occur to scholars to ponder the nations associated with the Uto-Aztecan family of languages--the Nahuas, the Hopis, the Apaches, and the Pimas, whose stories can be considered foundational narratives for the nations of the United States of America and the United Mexican States. The mestizo chronicles represent the middle ground, the gray area marking the birth of a complex modernity. Their hybridity represents an early ingredient in the melting pot that gave birth to transatlantic nations in the Americas. Their great urban enterprise, their morals, their respect for nature and family, and their sto-{120}ries belong to all of us. Now the colonial authors are gone, and we are here. It is up to us to write the next page of history.


     I am indebted to the Consortium for Latin American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for a Title VI Education Summer Grant (August 2005) that allowed me to study colonial legislation (at Duke) and first editions of sixteenth-century chronicles (at UNC). Also helpful was Arthur Dunkelman, curator of the Kislak Collection of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at The Library of Congress, whose attentions allowed me to insert Alva Ixtlilxochitl more deeply into his intellectual and cultural milieu. Also of great benefit was a close reading of one section by my good friend and colleague, Thomas McCreight. Finally, I am also grateful to the Center for the Humanities at Loyola University for funding a research assistant for this project in spring 2006. The grantee, Hannah O'Neill, was most helpful in finding and scanning historical documents, photocopying, transcribing, and editing. The arguments in this article were first presented, in preliminary form, in a panel organized by Juan José Daneri at the Latin American Studies Association XXVI International Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 15-18, 2006.
     1. The English translation unsurprisingly suppresses "philosophy" from the title, calling the work simply "Aztec thought and culture."
     2. León-Portilla voices a similar concern when he argues for Ancient Mexico's inclusion into Universal History. He singles out Georg Hegel's narrow-minded claim that Europe is the true scene of universal history and that "America" is the land of the future, negating Mexico's well-deserved place in the master narrative of the world ("El México" 161).
     3. All translations are mine unless otherwise noted.
     4. I do not mean to imply that Christian globalization was unique. There was also a lettered and religious Islamic expansion that, by migrating in an easterly direction from Arabia, had already traversed the other half the globe, reaching the Philippines and having many converts there by the time the Spanish arrived from the west.
     5. Americanist here does not refer solely to the United States but to all or any of the regions of the Western Hemisphere.
     6. The use of autochthonous written, oral, and pictographic sources as a historiographical resource is no different from a Renaissance scholar's ap-
{121}propriation of classical texts for subject matter; in fact, it is coeval to it. Here I am not so interested in the question of sources, itself a fascinating topic, but in how Alva Ixtlilxochitl configures the glorious rulers of Tetzcoco's illustrious past in terms of culture and civilization, using Las Casas as a benchmark.
     7. A good place to begin studying the problem of sources in Alva Ixtlilxochitl would be Höhl (72-119), who also offers a clear and concise account of Alva Ixtlilxochitl's manuscripts (the originals may be lost forever) as well as early editions of his work (47-64). For a more recent discussion, see Lee.
     8. The Inquisition was established in Mexico between 1569 and 1571, just before Alva Ixtlilxochitl was born. Indigenous peoples were sometimes subjected to it, and sometimes not, depending on the place and the moment, the perceived success of evangelization, or not. John F. Schwaller goes into the reasons certain Indigenous peoples had to appear before the Sacred Office and how one Tetzcocan lord, Don Carlos, was put to death by it for apostasy. His execution shocked both temporal and ecclesiastical authorities (xxii). Beyond that, it is almost certain that Don Carlos's demise entered the collective memory and endured in the mind both of the Nahua speaker and the mestizo fluent in that language and in Spanish.
     9. It is revealing, in a humanistic sense, to compare these categories with those elaborated by Erasmus for the ideal prince, "wisdom, a sense of justice, personal restraint, foresight, and concern for the public well-being" (5). In his comparison of Ginés de Sepúlveda and Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Velazco also derives categorical indicators for comparison, three of which coincide with our six, virtue, writing, and the law (104-07).
     10. I am grateful to Ana Marta González of the University of Navarre, who helped me organize my thoughts on habits, virtue, and prudence.
     11. Lupher's otherwise excellent tome, despite asking the question "But what of the Indians?" (229), does not consider the Indigenous and mestizo authors of New Spain.
     12. Jongsoo Lee's new book The Allure of Nezahualcoyotl, which came out after this article was finished, takes issue with Alva Ixtlilxochitl's depiction of his ancestor.


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One Scrap of Earth


After releasing the first people from their shells, Raven brought to them many gifts. Some of these gifts are daylight, fresh water, dancing, and islands. Many stories describe how these and other things were done. Some stories belong to clans and their ownership must always be recognized, but the story shared here is well known and commonly told.

One scrap of earth. No larger than can be made into a cabin comfortable enough for one resolute woman of minor needs and few desires. A modest border to allow sunlight and satisfy curious bears. A few windows to allow in the day and upon which the morning's rain can be measured. The rich wet smell of cedar, like a mother's tender arms. Her kiss on my hair. The touch of her young hand on my worn cheek. A warm smoky fire. The clatter of the poker against a crumbling log. Outside, a raven's cry.
     Do you see the water at the top of the creek at the top of the mountain that holds our town in the palm of its hand and seeks the shoreline that our own front doors face? Be like that water.

Be yielding like water.
     Go along the easiest way always, always willing to go around something. Offer no resistance. Go the easy way. That's the best way to get where you're going. Remember that all things begin and end in water just as rivers flow into and begin in the sea. When forces oppose, victory will be kind to the one who crafts herself like water, to the one whose power allows her to yield.
     Take Raven. When he wanted the Box of Daylight, he didn't invade a village. He didn't storm a house. He found the easy way. He used water. He made himself small so he could get close to daylight with the least effort. This is what Raven did to achieve his goal.
     More than ravens cry upon this scrap of tender earth. History cries. Our grandfathers cry. Raven's beloved aunties cry for him. Wolves cry for their namesakes. The bear takes pity when he hears us cry for his protection. The ground is covered with tears.
     More than tears cover the ground on this scrap of sodden earth. More than ice. More than glaciers. More than light and dark and shadow. Hemlock and spruce hold hands and gaze at the rainwashed moon. Blueberry bushes call hello to their salmonberry cousins. Wood ferns cluster, devil's club soothes. Mosses ruffle and creep.
     Do you hear the movements and calls of life on the fragrant air and in the ready sea and at every place around us? Those calls and tears and cries all signify time. Constantly they remind us that we cannot rush the bloom. Often they tell us we must find a good place to wait.

When making a move will not gain an advantage and your position is already secure, do not move.
     Place yourself in a defensible position. When it is your choice to hesitate--to wait for a while--do so at an advantageous spot, after all certain progress has been made. When you defend your position, be like one who has held on and pulled herself up to a steep place on a high cliff with the Chilkat Mountain at her back, one who has kicked her rope off the ledge and has resolved to engage the battle. From that firm position, make your careful calculations. From that unyielding position, study the circumstances out of which you will assemble victory. From that resolute position, become acquainted with the disposition of your adversary.
     Take Raven. After he had made himself into a pine needle and caused a young woman to swallow him, he stayed in her belly where he could hear and understand all that was taking place around him. From that vantage, he listened and waited for the right moment to make his move. From that position, he studied his circumstances {128} and began to recognize his grandfather's weakness. This is what Raven did to achieve his goal.
     More than mosses creep about on this patch of comforting earth. Voles scurry. Red squirrels scold. Deer mice listen.
     Budworms are on the hunt. Sawflies wander, spiders spin. A snail keeps away from a hopping jay. So does his neighbor, the worm. They climb through sweet-scented stalks of violet and blushing petals of dogwood, dodging beetles and falling leaves. Mother-care plant gets ready to be made into fragrant tea.
     Do you smell the fragrance of berry bushes in the spring, the summer's wet soil, fall sockeye becoming older in the creek? Everything on our fragrant scrap of earth knows when the time is right to make its move. Everything counsels us to recognize when the time is ripe to move, and then to move.

Do everything in its order when all is ready.
     When all is ready, do not delay. When the time presents itself, move fast like the north wind in winter. When the natural order is clear, be impenetrable like the densest summer forest. When the time has come to make your move, be relentless like the river in the spring when the glacier is thawing and the snow is melting and the clouds are backed up against the rainshadow and pouring out their heavy water so they can lift themselves over the mountains in their own good time. Take each certain step in its proper order. Do not allow yourself to hesitate.
     Take Raven. When it was time to be born, he was born. After he had listened, after he had studied his circumstances, when it was time for him to be born, Raven was born. He did not allow himself to hesitate. These are the steps that Raven took to achieve his goal.
     More than leaves fall upon this softened scrap of earth. Some say that deaths may come when leaves fall, but life falls onto the ground as well. All good things fall to the ground in their natural order. The drop of water from the leaf, the leaf itself, the limb, the branch, the tree. The comfortable cabin. The resolute woman, the mother, the child.
     Can you taste the life that is hidden and buried and cries and {129} covers and falls? Everything upon our scrap of earth is life itself. Everything teaches that we do our best when we are in agreement with our conditions.

Avail yourself of helpful circumstances.
     When circumstances have combined to offer you a position beyond defeat, occupy it decisively. After you are safe, find an even more advantageous place to improve your position. Victory is kind to the one who seeks victory with careful calculations.
     Take Raven. He pressed his grandfather for each box, for each box, for each box. When his position led him to each new plaything from which to improve his situation, he took advantage of his circumstance. With careful calculation, Raven obtained the final prize and gave us daylight. From that gift, the morning daylight now reveals a scrap of earth out of which come the taste of berries, the smell of cedar, the raven's cry. Into that scrap of earth one resolute woman will gladly return. I gú.áax x'wán. We take heart.


Book Reviews

Susan Sleeper-Smith, ed. Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8032-1948-9. 374 pp.
     Elizabeth Archuleta, Arizona State University

Until fairly recently, Indigenous peoples and museums have had an uneven relationship. In the past, museums warehoused and displayed cultural items and even peoples and presented edited versions of history told from one side. They presented half-told histories about the West's progress and development as if Indigenous peoples played no role in shaping local communities or even the United States and other settler nations. Indigenous peoples were merely reminders of a bygone era, and museums displayed their so-called primitiveness and presumed deficiencies. Thus, museums were rhetorical devices that reinforced stereotypes until Indigenous communities used their own cultural practices to curate exhibits or to create their own museums. Susan Sleeper-Smith's edited collection, Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives, contains twelve essays that examine alternative perspectives of museums, their history, and their relationship to the nation-state. Therefore, this collection becomes a corrective to the half-told stories about Indigenous peoples and their own ways of sharing their histories.
     Contesting Knowledge is divided into three sections. The essays in the first section, "Ethnography and the Cultural Practices of {131} Museums," examine ethnography's influence on the developing cultural practices of museums. These include the creation of archival material, human displays or theatrical arenas, and preservation of disappearing peoples. The nation-state regarded ethnographers as expert observers of Indigenous cultures, and their work influenced the state's responses to Indigenous communities. As ethnographic work became archived, later generations continued to turn to accounts of contact for information. Early stories of cannibalism would justify violence, and later, it would determine how Brazil displayed Indigenous peoples in museums. When Indigenous bodies became the objects of display in what were known as ethnographic showcases, ethnography continued to justify conquest and support notions of white supremacy. At the same time that these "human dioramas" were displayed as signs of difference, the Indigenous peoples on display also began to talk back and resist their exploitation. Another practice museums cultivated was based on the erroneous notion that they were preserving the cultural materials of a presumably dying people. How then should Indigenous peoples interpret the role of early collectors such as George Gustav Heye, whose collection deprives Indigenous communities of their patrimony? How do museums work with Indigenous communities to avoid engaging in colonial exhibition strategies associated with assumptions taken from the past?
     Essays in the second section, "Curatorial Practices: Voices, Values, Languages, and Traditions," move forward in time to present modern curatorial practices. The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) showcases contemporary forms of Indigenous self-representation and exhibition. Indigenous communities are involved in the process as cocurators empowered to display their culture for the public. At the same time, however, the NMAI engages in museological practices from the past that remain problematic because of the ongoing involvement of non-Indigenous individuals and organizations. In a different museum, an exhibit of Métis culture in Saskatchewan moved away from the traditional methods of curating when museum representatives, academic scholars, and Métis communities formed collaborative relationships. In other words, the {132} Aboriginal community was involved in every step of the curatorial process so that the final exhibit reflected their own worldviews. In a similar manner, the Huichols use museum space in ways beneficial to their people because their self-representation makes cultural, territorial, and historical claims on land. These museological land claims became legal strategies the Huichols used in court to regain land.
     Essays in the final section, "Tribal Museums and the Heterogeneity of the Nation-State," highlight the agendas of tribal museums. Visually, they represent Indigenous understandings of space and place, such as displaying a longhouse and what it means to the Oneidas as an aspect of their spiritual, political, and cultural philosophies. As such, they challenge official histories because they tell tribal nation's histories. Tribal museums emphasize tribal nationalism and generate community discussion over competing viewpoints about the use and representation of self in museum space. Developing and managing their own heritage institutions, Indigenous communities not only imagine themselves differently but also imagine their own difference in a heterogeneous nation that images itself as more homogeneous. Museums play a significant role as sites of knowledge production, so Indigenous peoples' involvement in and control of museums means the insertion of different cultural values and ethics tied to the reproduction of knowledge and reproductive technologies. The concluding chapter uses decolonization as a method for thinking about museums. Healing from the effects of colonization informs the work being done in Indigenous studies, and museums are examined as places that need to be Indigenized in order to represent our ways of understanding as well as experiencing history. Museums can and should become a place for sharing even the brutal and ugly truths about colonization if they are to truly serve the community.
     This collection is an important part of the conversations taking place in Indigenous studies and beyond.


Malinda Maynor Lowrey. Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation. First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2010. ISBN 979-0-8078338-1. 339 pp.
     Qwo-Li Driskill, Texas A&M University

Malinda Maynor Lowrey's Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South provides a detailed history of the Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina, during their struggle to maintain identity and assert nationhood in the face of systemic racism from both state and federal governments. Lowrey argues that the identity markers central to Robeson County Indians--particularly kinship and settlement in Indian communities in and around Robeson County--have historically been seen as irrelevant (or not seen at all) by government agencies seeking to determine "tribal" identity while upholding white supremacist laws.
     Robeson County Indians are the descendants of refugees from Native nations that settled in North Carolina after waves of colonial wars and smallpox epidemics. "Like the Catawbas, Creeks, Choctaws, Seminoles, and other Indian groups in the East," Lowrey points out, "Robeson County's Indians are a 'nation of nations' for whom a formal name ultimately became necessary primarily for negotiating with colonial, state, and federal authorities" (5). This process of naming--usually imposed by people and agencies from outside of the community--led the Robeson County Indians to be recognized by North Carolina as the "Croatan Indians" in 1885 and later as "the Cherokee Indians of Robeson County" in 1913. As Robeson County Indians continued to push for federal recognition, already-existing political divides were deepened. The largely middle-class residents of Pembroke were often in favor of seeking recognition under the "Cherokee" name already given to them. The Native people in other settlements (who often lived in poverty) believed they should be recognized as "Cheraw," a name changed in 1934 by the secretary of the interior to "Siouan Indians of the Lumber River."
     These events took place within a context of North Carolina's segregationist laws--starting with an 1835 revision to its constitution-- {134} to exclude "free people of color" from voting. Other white supremacist laws and movements resulted in the famous Lowry War, in which Henry Barry Lowry brought together a multiracial coalition in armed rebellion against white supremacists.
     Malinda Maynor Lowrey's study focuses on the Jim Crow period, pointing out how Robeson County Indians often embraced segregation and distanced themselves socially from both white and black communities in an attempt to maintain peoplehood and assert nationhood. While segregation upheld white supremacy, Lowrey explains, it also acknowledged Robeson County Indians as a distinct people. A separate place within white supremacist laws--even as they constructed Indians as inferior to whites--was nevertheless seen as a way to maintain identity as a distinct People.
     One of the many strengths of this text is Lowrey's unflinching and even-handed analysis of how Robeson County Indians distanced themselves from communities of African descent classified as "colored" in a context where being classified as "colored" would have jeopardized their distinct classification as Indian. Some Robeson County Indians also embraced the federal government's attempts to discern the "blood quantum" of Robeson County Indians through clearly racist (and often eugenicist) pseudoscience in an effort to be recognized as a nation. This process led to twenty-two Robeson County Indians from the Brooks Settlement--where people claim Tuscarora ancestry--to be classified as having "1/2 blood or more," and thus entitled to federal aid under the Indian New Deal. This group of Robeson County Indians and their descendants are now known as Tuscaroras rather than Lumbees. The name "Lumbee" emerged in the 1950s, both to make clear to the public that Robeson County Indians were not Cherokees and to unite the "Cherokee" and "Siouan" factions in a struggle to gain federal recognition. Lumbees were recognized as Indians by the federal government in 1956 through the passage of the Lumbee Act, which, while acknowledging Lumbees as a Native community, specifically disenfranchised Lumbees from recognition as a tribe. As of this writing, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina is waiting for the approval of a bill that would finally grant them federal recognition.
     Lowrey convincingly argues that criteria to prove "Indian" or "tribal" status used by colonial governments has very little to do with the identity markers seen as central by Robeson County Indians. Her meticulous documentation through archival research and interviews asserts that kinship and settlement--rather than concepts such as "race" and "tribe" created by the federal government-- were (and are) central to Robeson County Indian identity. "The Making of a Nation," then, refers to the ways colonial concepts of "race," "Indian," and "tribe" are created to maintain colonial control and how Indigenous people embrace or resist these constructions in different political moments in order to maintain peoplehood. "A People," Lowrey asserts, "can encompass different names, bloods, residences, and ideologies; a People need not be biologically or culturally homogenous. A people can become a nation when it exercises self-determination, when it engages its members' identities to create change in their society" (254).
     In addition to the fact that such a solidly researched and written historiography is vital to Native literary and rhetorical studies, one of the most valuable aspects of Lowrey's book is her analysis of kinship and settlement as central to Lumbee identity and the way these markers have held the community together as a People despite (and because) of colonial interventions. The vital scholarship from nationalist and separatist approaches to Native literatures can be deepened and complicated through Lowrey's assertions that "identity formation is best understood as a conversation between insiders and outsiders, something that changes and shifts over time" and that "[n]ationhood and its attendant claim of sovereignty do not depend solely on outsiders' recognition of identity: insiders' perpetual maintenance of an identity is also a critical component" (254). Lowrey's book is particularly useful to scholars focusing on southeastern Native people, nonfederally recognized Indigenous communities, and the complex and often contradictory relationships between Native and black communities in the United States. Lowrey asks us to consider how Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty in the United States are always negotiated through colonial and racist constructions of Native people that often undermine Indigenous {136} constructions of peoplehood. Such analysis lends itself to work in Native literatures and rhetorics that privilege decolonizing, Indigenous epistemologies.

Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, Kelli Lyon Johnson, and William A. Wortman, eds. Performing Worlds into Being: Native American Women's Theater. Oxford, OH: Miami UP, 2009. ISBN 978-1-4243-3112-3. 193 pp. + CD-ROM.

Christy Stanlake. Native American Drama: A Critical Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. ISBN 978-0-521-51980-9. 242 pp.
     Katherine Young Evans, Westminster College

For the emerging field of Native American performance studies in need of both published primary texts and critical studies, two recent books, Performing Worlds into Being and Native American Drama, contribute valuable resources. Performing Worlds, an outgrowth of the Native American Women Playwrights Archive (NAWPA) 2007 conference, "Honoring Spiderwoman Theater/Celebrating Native American Theater," collects performance texts, essays, and panel discussions from conference participants together with a CD-ROM of images and video clips. Native American Drama, the first monograph by theater critic and dramaturge Christy Stanlake, articulates a three-pronged critical framework with which to read and understand such performance texts through a Native-specific lens. Reading the two alongside one another underscores not only how Native drama deserves attention separate from both mainstream American drama and Native American literature more generally but also how it uniquely responds to the concerns of twenty-first-century Native communities.
     NAWPA's third conference at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, brought together practitioners, scholars, and theorists from North America, Central America, and the Pacific Islands to discuss the work and legacy of Spiderwoman Theater, the longest-running Native women's performance group in North America, and {137} the field of Native women's theater more generally. Editors Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, Kelli Lyon Johnson, and William A. Wort-man organized many of the conference proceedings, including six previously unpublished plays, into the four sections of Performing Worlds. Together, these works epitomize the diversity of Native women's drama even as their collection underscores the need for a field of criticism devoted to their related foundations, methods, and concerns.
     Two related themes repeat throughout many of the pieces. The first--that contemporary Native theater serves as a vehicle for reexamining tribal and intertribal histories--gives rise to the second--that Native drama can serve as a tool for healing and transforming contemporary Native communities. In her essay "Blind Faith Remembers," Jill Carter (Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi) reads such potential in Kuna/Rappahannock playwright-performer Monique Mojica's one-woman show Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots. Mojica's "transformational dramaturgy" includes layers of historical references akin to a mola, a complex hand-woven cloth created by Kuna women. Through this layering process, which links the Algonquian Sky Woman creation story with diplomatic histories of Pocahontas and other Indigenous women, contemporary misinterpretations of Native women's cultural and political roles, and Coyote trickster stories, among other material, Mojica enacts a "per-formative intervention" into the "one-dimensional characters . . . of European history books" (26). Other pieces in Performing Worlds-- including "Weaving the Rain" by Dianne Yeahquo Reyner (Kiowa) and "Pushing the Bear" by Diane Glancy (Cherokee)--similarly revisit and revise Euroamerican histories of Native peoples, and they do so through the adaptation of generations-old tribal traditions of storytelling and creativity for the stage. Out of this engagement both with cultural and colonial histories comes the potential for, as Spiderwoman Theater founding member Muriel Miguel (Kuna/Rappahannock) states, "healing: of ourselves, our extended families, and our communities" (42). Through collaborations that involve writers, performers, spectators, and community members, Native theater--and the works included in Performing Worlds in {138} particular--can abandon "victim narratives," as Mojica calls them, in favor of stories of transformation (2).
     Unfortunately, these themes of history, tradition, healing, and collaboration are touched on only briefly by the volume's introduction, leaving key terms like performance and transformation under-theorized, except by some of the contributions themselves. While such an editing strategy emphasizes the participatory role and responsibility of the reader to trace shared meanings, methods, and goals across the seventeen contributions, it is also a missed opportunity for a young and growing field to detail a cohesive critical frame with which to approach its primary texts.

     Thankfully, Native American Drama: A Critical Perspective by Christy Stanlake, one of the participants in the "Honoring/Celebrating" conference and a contributor to Performing Worlds, came out the same year. Stanlake's monograph offers a valuable road-map, orienting the reader to the larger critical discussion growing around contemporary Native drama. By linking theories on "place, speech, and movement" from specific tribal cultural discourses, Native studies, and theater studies, Stanlake attempts to articulate a theoretical model flexible enough to address the wide diversity of contemporary Native theatrical works while still specific enough to distinguish these works in form and content from the larger body of American theater.
     Native drama requires such a model because, as Stanlake asserts in her two introductory chapters, it "is a separate field of theatre with a distinctive dramaturgy calling for critical understanding based particularly upon Native ways of knowing" (25). Moreover, such a critical understanding not only reveals layers of meaning in the works themselves but can illuminate how drama specifically serves the sociopolitical and cultural interests of Native peoples, including sovereignty struggles (20).
     Each of the three prongs of Stanlake's framework thread throughout Performing Worlds, but Stanlake's study delves more deeply into the historical and theoretical foundations of each concept and shows them in action in her readings of a number of twentieth-century Native-authored dramatic works. For example,{139} like many of the contributors to Performing Worlds, Stanlake recognizes the importance of Native traditions of storytelling to the dramatic techniques of contemporary Native theater. Chapters 5 and 6, therefore, connect LeAnne Howe's discourse of "tribalography," Spiderwoman Theater's "storyweaving" technique, and characteristics of Native storytelling and language use delineated by Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna Pueblo/Sioux), Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo), Tomson Highway (Cree), and Diane Glancy into a web of analysis of three plays: Spiderwoman Theater's Rever-ber-berations, Vera Manuel's (Shuswap-Kootenai) The Strength of Indian Women, and Highway's Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout. Stanlake traces the multivocality, collective creation, and spiraling sense of "storytime" suggested by the aforementioned Native literary theorists in these works to demonstrate clearly the rich meanings and structures revealed through a Native-specific approach to drama (118-20).
     Well researched and well written, Native American Drama should be read not just by scholars and teachers of Native drama but also by other Native literature scholars for how it expertly applies, adapts, and expands the theories and concepts from our field (including American Indian literary nationalism) for a live, highly collaborative, and challenging genre. The relatively large number of collections of Native drama published in the last ten years necessitates more critical resources for reading and understanding these works. Native American Drama and much of Performing Worlds begin to fill that void and continue to establish Native American performance studies as a necessary, rewarding, and provocative field in its own right.



The Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures announces the ASAIL Emerging Scholars Professional Development Fellowship, which provides travel assistance honoraria of $300 (US) for graduate students and advanced undergraduates to attend and present at professional conferences. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Applicants must provide the following information: a cover letter, CV, and acceptance letter confirming acceptance to present at a professional conference on a topic relating to the study of Indigenous literatures and/or languages. Awards will be distributed at the discretion of the ASAIL president and treasurer based on funding availability. Send applications and queries to the current ASAIL president, Patrice Hollrah, at



ELIZABETH ARCHULETA is an assistant professor in the School of Social Transformation and Women's and Gender Studies at Arizona State University. Her research examines Indigenous women's representation and Indigenous feminist theory. She has publications in New Mexico Historical Review; Studies in American Indian Literatures; American Indian Quarterly; UCLA School of Law's Indigenous Peoples' Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance; Wicazo Sa Review; and a chapter in the edited volume The National Museum of the American Indian: Critical Conversations.

QWO-LI DRISKILL (noncitizen Cherokee) is the author of Walking with Ghosts: Poems and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of English at Texas A&M University.

KATHERINE YOUNG EVANS is an assistant professor of English at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her dissertation "Staged Encounters: Native American Performance between 1880 and 1920" explores Native-authored oratory, pageantry, performance poetry, and opera as important vehicles for maintaining, communicating, and adapting tribally specific cultural and political traditions at the turn of the twentieth century. Her work appears in American Indian Performing Arts: Critical Directions (2010) and the forthcoming Indigenous Women and Feminism: Culture, Activism, Politics.

SUMMER HARRISON is currently finishing her dissertation on contemporary ethnic women writers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her scholarly and teaching interests include contemporary ethnic American literatures, narrative theory, women's studies, and environmental justice. Her recent interview with Linda Hogan is forthcoming in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.

ERNESTINE HAYES is a member of the Wolf House of the Kaagwaantaan clan of the Tlingit of Southeast Alaska. She is the author of Blonde Indian, An Alaska Native Memoir, which won an American Book Award and a HAIL (Honoring Alaska Indigenous Literature) Award and which was a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize and PEN Nonfiction Award. Her published work also includes poetry and fiction. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast and is the grandmother of four.

CAROLYN SORISIO is an associate professor of English at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her book Fleshing Out America: Race, Gender, and the Politics of the Body in American Literature, 1833-1879 was published in 2002 by the University of Georgia Press. She has published articles on slave narrative and reform writing in African American Review, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, and Modern Language Studies. She guest edited the 2006 special issue of ESQ, "Native Americans: Writing and Written." She is currently working on collecting and analyzing the newspaper articles by and about Sarah Winnemucca.

THOMAS WARD is professor of Spanish and director of Latin American and Latino studies at Loyola University Maryland. His latest book, Buscando la nación peruana, looks at the impact literature and culture have on understanding the Peruvian nation. Due out shortly in Lima is a volume of critical studies he has edited on the noted Indigenist poet and essayist Manuel González Prada. Ward is presently engaged in a long-term research project attempting to isolate sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Indigenous notions of ethnicity and gender as they assemble and reinforce the nation in various hemispheric cultural groups in a comparative context. The article on Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl in this issue of SAIL comes from that body of research.

DEBORAH WEAGEL is currently an independent scholar living in New Mexico. She is the author of Women and Contemporary World Literature: Power, Fragmentation, and Metaphor and has published articles in a variety of scholarly journals.



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 English, 1 University Station, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, or send an e-mail to Kirby Brown, editorial assistant, at

Central Council of the Tlingit and
Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA)
Tribal Operations
9097 Glacier Highway
Juneau, AK 99801
Phone: 907-463-7104
Fax: 907-463-7316
Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina
PO Box 2709
Pembroke, NC 28372
Phone: 910-521-7861
Fax: 910-521-7790
Onondaga Nation
102 W. Conklin Ave.
Nedrow, NY 13120
Phone: 315-492-1922
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
PO Box 900 Highway 5 West
Belcourt, ND 58316
Phone: 701-477-2600
Fax: 701-477-6836
Contact: Robert Nelson
This page was last modified on: 10/12/12