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Michigan State University

Native American Studies Research Guide: Literature

Contents

A collection of works by and about notable Native American writers.  Feel free to send the editor suggestions on additional authors.

American Indians in Children's Literature

American Indians In Children's Literature.  Established in 2006, American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society. Scroll down for links to book reviews, Native media, and more.

A broken flute : the Native experience in books for children / edited By Doris Seale And Beverly Slapin.  Walnut Creek, CA : AltaMira Press ; Berkeley : Oyate, c2005.  463pp.  Main Library  E77.4 .B76 2005 : eale and Slapin are with Oyate, a community-based Native organization located in Berkeley, California, dedicated to the honest portrayal of the lives, traditional arts and literature, and histories of Native Americans. Their unique guide brings attention to some of the gifted Native writers and illustrators published by Native and small presses during the past decade. It also critiques the most objectionable work of non-Native writers and illustrators who have used inaccurately and in patronizing ways Native literatures, lives, and histories as sources of material to create works handled by mainstream publishers. The text interweaves essays and poems by Native writers with sections of thematically-grouped reviews of literature for students from K-12. As the editors note in the introduction, some of what is included in this text is highly critical of the non-Native work and "will not be comfortable reading," but it allows readers to consider the Native perspective on children's literature.

A Critical Bibliography on North American Indians, for K-12.  Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

APS Collections Through Indigenous Eyes

The American Philosophical Society’s collection of Native American materials, started by Thomas Jefferson in the late 18th century, is one of the oldest and deepest in the world.  The photographs in these multimedia exhibits come from the APS collections of two distinguished anthropologists, Frank G. Speck and A. Irving Hallowell.  The voices that bring these photographs back to life are those of Cherokee, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Ojibwe wisdom keepers who visited the APS for the “Building Bridges between Archives and Indian Communities” in May of 2010.  From their perspective, the Native American materials at the APS are considered to be animate objects “reawakened” by the telling of stories. These stories have enabled the APS to understand its collections in important new ways.  We hope the exhibits will also help scholars, the general public, and Native American / First Nations communities appreciate the aesthetic and cultural beauty of the images and stories presented here.  Click here for access.

Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures

A Celebration of Women Writers

A Celebration of Women Writers : First Nations Writers.  The Celebration of Women Writers recognizes the contributions of women writers throughout history. Women have written almost every imaginable type of work: novels, poems, letters, biographies, travel books, religious commentaries, histories, economic and scientific works. Our goal is to promote awareness of the breadth and variety of women's writing. All too often, works by women, and resources about women writers, are hard to find. We attempt to provide easy access to available on-line information. The Celebration provides a comprehensive listing of links to biographical and bibliographical information about women writers, and complete published books written by women. A compilation of web sites compiled by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

Miscellaneous

Speak like singing : classics of Native American literature / Kenneth Lincoln.  Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, c2007.  367pp.  Main Library PS153.I52 L55 2007 : Speak Like Singing focuses on early books of poetry and prose by select Native writers showcasing the distinct voices and tribal diversities of living Indians. Rather than scanning the new-day horizon, as in Native American Renaissance three decades ago, this study focuses on carefully chosen paradigms in working daylight....This is not a book about bygone ethnoliteracies in other tongues and times. Speak Like Singing offers a cross-cultural study of Native voices today as they speak through American literature, specifically the fusions of poetry and prose in Western English.

Writing Indian, Native Conversations / John Lloyd Purdy.  Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c2009.  282pp.  Main Library PS153.I52 P87 2009  : Since N. Scott Momaday’s 1969 Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn brought Native American fiction squarely into mainstream culture, the genre has expanded in different ways and in new directions. The result is a Native American–written literature that requires a variety of critical approaches, including a discussion of how this canon differs from the familiar, established canons of American literature. Drawing on personal experience as well as literary scholarship, John Lloyd Purdy brings the traditions of Native American fiction into conversation with ideas about the past, present, and future of Native literatures....By revisiting some of the classics of the genre and offering critical readings of their distinctive qualities and shades of meaning, Purdy celebrates their dynamic literary qualities. Interwoven with this personal reflection on the last thirty years of work in the genre are interviews with prominent Native American scholars and writers (including Paula Gunn Allen, Simon Ortiz, Gerald Vizenor, Sherman Alexie, and Louis Owens), who offer their own insights about Native literatures and the future of the genre. In this book their voices provide the original, central conversation that leads to readings of specific novels. At once a journey of discovery for readers new to the canon and an intimate, fresh reunion with important novels for those well versed in Native studies, Writing Indian, Native Conversations invites all comers to participate in a communal conversation.

Native American Oral Literatures

Native American Oral Literatures.  An Oxford Bibliography Online bibliographic essay by Timothy Powell appearing in the American Literature collection.

Storytellers

Tibal Writers Digital Library

Tribal Writers Digital Library.  The Native Writers Digital Text Project brings the works of Native poets and writers of fiction and other prose to readers world wide. Featuring out-of-print literary efforts of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and First Nations people of Canada, the project seeks to broaden the definition of “Native Writing” not only by focusing on writers who are not ordinarily anthologized, but also by publishing works which originally appeared in “ephemeral” sources and the periodical press, especially in those publications edited and produced by Natives.  Sponsored by the Sequoyah Research Center of the University of Arkanasas at Little Rock.

Find More Native American Fiction

Try a subject search with the LC subject heading Indians of North America--fiction.

Reference Works

The Cambridge companion to Native American literature / edited by Joy Porter and Kenneth M. Roemer.  Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2005.  343pp.  Main Library PS153.I52 C36 2005 : This Companion provides an informative and wide-ranging overview of a relatively new field of literary-cultural studies: literature of many genres in English by American Indians from the 1770s to the present day. In addition to the seventeen chapters written by respected experts--Native and non-Native; American, British and European scholars--it includes bio-bibliographies of forty authors, maps, suggestions for further reading, and a timeline which details major works of Native American and mainstream American literature, as well as significant social, cultural and historical events.

Encyclopedia of American Indian Literature.  Facts on File.  Main Library PS153.I52 E53 2007  : American Indians have produced some of the most powerful and lyrical literature ever written in North America. "Encyclopedia of American Indian Literature" covers the field from the earliest recorded works to some of today's most exciting writers. This encyclopedia features the most respected, widely read, and influential American Indian writers to date. Coverage includes: Sherman Alexie; American Indian Movement; "Assimilation"; "Ceremony"; Louise Erdrich; Joy Harjo; "House Made of Dawn"; "Love Medicine"; Leslie Marmon Silko; D'Arcy McNickle; N. Scott Momaday; "Native "chic""; Samson Occom; Simon Ortiz; "Reservation Life"; "This Way to Rainy Mountain"; "Trail of Tears"; Gerald Vizenor; James Welch; Zitkala-Sa; and much more.

Literatures of the American Indian / by A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff.  New York : Chelsea House Publishers, c1991.  111pp.  E77.4 .R96 1991  :  Examines the history, evolution, and culture of the American Indians, discussing both oral and written literature.

Native American Authors from the Internet Public Library.  This website provides information on Native North American authors with bibliographies of their published works, biographical information, and links to online resources including interviews, online texts and tribal websites. Currently the website primarily contains information on contemporary Native American authors, although some historical authors are represented. The website will continue to expand, adding additional authors, books and web resources.

Native American Writers / Harold Bloom.  New York : Bloom's Modern Critical Views, 2010.   Main Library PS153.I52 N388 2010 : Presents a collection of contemporary criticism and analysis of the works of such Native American authors as N. Scott Momaday, Sherman Alexie, James Welch, and Joy Harjo.

The Routledge Companion to Native American Literature / edited by Deborah L. Madsen.  London ; New York : Routledge, 2016.  524pp. Main Library PS153.I52 R68 2016 : The Routledge Companion to Native American Literature engages the multiple scenes of tension -- historical, political, cultural, and aesthetic -- that constitutes a problematic legacy in terms of community identity, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, language, and sovereignty in the study of Native American literature. This important and timely addition to the field provides context for issues that enter into Native American literary texts through allusions, references, and language use. The volume presents over forty essays by leading and emerging international scholars and analyses: - regional, cultural, racial and sexual identities in Native American literature - key historical moments from the earliest period of colonial contact to the present - worldviews in relation to issues such as health, spirituality, animals, and physical environments - traditions of cultural creation that are key to understanding the styles, allusions, and language of Native American Literature - the impact of differing literary forms of Native American literature. This collection provides a map of the critical issues central to the discipline, as well as uncovering new perspectives and new directions for the development of the field. It supports academic study and also assists general readers who require a comprehensive yet manageable introduction to the contexts essential to approaching Native American Literature. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the past, present and future of this literary culture

Native American Writers : Sherman Alexie

Background:

Sherman Alexie :  Biographies, Criticism, Journal articles, Work overviews. Farmington Hills, MI : Gale, 2003.  Online resource.  (Criticism and interpretation)

Understanding Sherman Alexie / Daniel Grassian.  Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, c2005.  211pp.  Main Library PS3551.L35774 Z67 2005 : Offers a chronological examination of the work of the Native American novelist, poet, filmmaker, and short story writer.  (Criticism and interpretation)

Conversations with Sherman Alexie / edited by Nancy J. Peterson.  Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, c2009.  198pp.  Main Library PS3551.L35774 Z46 2009 : Sherman Alexie (b. 1966) gained national attention upon release of The Business of Fancydancing, his first collection of poems, in 1992, when a critic for the New York Times Book Review called him "one of the major lyric voices of our time." More recently, in 2007, Alexie won a National Book Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a young-adult novel based on his own high school experiences....In Conversations with Sherman Alexie, the writer displays the same passion, dynamic sense of humor, and sharp observational skills that characterize his work. The interviews ranging from 1993 to 2007 feature Alexie speaking candidly about the ideas and themes behind poetry collections (I Would Steal Horses, First Indian on the Moon), short story collections (The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Ten Little Indians), novels (Indian Killer, Reservation Blues), and screenplays (Smoke Signals)....Coeur d'Alene through his father and Spokane through his mother, Alexie grew up in Wellpinit on the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington. Reservation life is a central concern in his work, as are politics, love, contemporary literature, city living (he now lives in Seattle), and his beloved sport of basketball. Alexie's wit, polemical engagement, and willingness to confront received notions have made him one of the most popular American Indian writers today.

Sherman Alexie website 

Sherman AlexieAn Oxford Bibliography Online bibliographic essay by Leah Sneider appearing in the American Literature collection.

Publications:

The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian / by Sherman Alexie ; art by Ellen Forney.  New York : Little, Brown and Company, [2009], c2007.  230pp.  Children's and Young Adult Literature Collection PS3551.L35774 A27 2009 : Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

The business of fancydancing : stories and poems / by Sherman Alexie.  Brooklyn, N.Y. : Hanging Loose Press, c1992.  84pp. Main Library PS3551.L35774 B87 1991 : When most Americans say, "Hi, how ya doin'?" they don't expect an answer, much less the truth. But when Alexie responds, he does so faithfully and with full eye contact whether you want it or not. A veteran of several literary publications, he has now published his first book of poetry. He is young, talented, and happens to be Native American, and his art is not aimed at the tourist. Instead, Alexie writes affectingly about life on a reservation in eastern Washington state. His work displays tremendous pain and anger, but there is also love, humor, and plenty of irony. Real-live late 20th-century human beings flesh out his poems and short prose.

Flight : a novel / Sherman Alexie. New York : Black Cat : Distributed by Publishers Group West, c2007.  181pp.  Main Library PS3551.L35774 F57 2007 : The best-selling author of multiple award-winning books returns with his first novel in ten years, a powerful, fast and timely story of a troubled foster teenager — a boy who is not a “legal” Indian because he was never claimed by his father — who learns the true meaning of terror. About to commit a devastating act, the young man finds himself shot back through time on a shocking sojourn through moments of violence in American history. He resurfaces in the form of an FBI agent during the civil rights era, inhabits the body of an Indian child during the battle at Little Big Horn, and then rides with an Indian tracker in the 19th Century before materializing as an airline pilot jetting through the skies today. When finally, blessedly, our young warrior comes to rest again in his own contemporary body, he is mightily transformed by all he’s seen. This is Sherman Alexie at his most brilliant — making us laugh while breaking our hearts. Simultaneously wrenching and deeply humorous, wholly contemporary yet steeped in American history, Flight is irrepressible, fearless, and again, groundbreaking Alexie.

Indian Killer / Sherman Alexie.  New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c1996.  420pp.  Main Library PS3551 .L35774 I56 1996 : In a startling departure from his earlier, more lyrical fiction, Native American novelist Alexie (Reservation Blues) weighs in with a racially charged literary thriller. Seattle is rife with racial tension as the city is terrorized by a serial murderer nicknamed "Indian Killer" because the victims, all white, are scalped and their bodies topped with a pair of white owl feathers. At the center of the novel stands the mentally disintegrating John Smith, a 6'6" Native American ignorant of his tribal roots because he was adopted and raised by white parents. As the city's racial divide increases, Marie Polatkin, a combative Spokane activist and scholarship student, organizes demonstrations and distributes sandwiches and sedition to homeless Indians, while reactionary shock-jock Truck Schultz rails on the air against casinos on reservations. Three white men with masks and baseball bats (compatriots of a murdered University of Washington student) prowl the downtown area beating any Native American they find; a trio of Indians similarly beat and knife a white boy. Through it all float a number of psychological half-breeds, among them a mystery writer who's an Indian wannabe and a buffoonish white professor of Native American literature who is forced to re-evaluate his qualifications. Over the last few years, Alexie, who is Spokane/Coeur d'Alene, has built a reputation as the next great Native American writer. This novel bolsters that contention. It displays a brilliant eye for telling detail, as well as startling control, as Alexie flips points of view among a wide array of characters without ever seeming to resort to contrivance. The narrative voice can sound detached and affectless, and some readers will miss the lyricism and humor of the author's earlier work, but this novel offers abundant evidence of a most promising talent extending its range.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto fistfight in heaven / Sherman Alexie.   New York : Grove Press, c2005.  242pp.  Main Library PS3551.L35774 L66 2005 : When it was first published in 1993, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven established Sherman Alexie as a stunning new talent of American letters. The basis for the award-winning movie Smoke Signals (available on DVD), it remains one of his most beloved and widely praised books. In this darkly comic collection, Alexie brilliantly weaves memory, fantasy, and stark realism to paint a complex, grimly ironic portrait of life in and around the Spokane Indian Reservation. These twenty-two interlinked tales are narrated by characters raised on humiliation and government-issue cheese, and yet are filled with passion and affection, myth and dream. Against a backdrop of alcohol, car accidents, laughter, and basketball, Alexie depicts the distances between Indians and whites, reservation Indians and urban Indians, men and women, and, most poetically, modern Indians and the traditions of the past.   Contents - Every little hurricane -- A drug called tradition -- Because my father always said he was the only Indian who saw Jimi Hendrix play "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock -- Crazy Horse dreams -- Only traffic signal on the reservation doesn't flash red anymore -- Amusements -- This is what it means to say Phoenix, Arizona -- The fun house -- All I wanted to do was dance -- The trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire -- Distances -- Jesus Christ's half-brother is alive and well on the Spokane Indian Reservation -- A train is an order of occurrence designed to lead to some result -- A good story -- The first annual all-Indian horseshoe pitch and barbecue -- Imagining the reservation -- The approximate size of my favorite tumor -- Indian education -- The Lone Ranger and Tonto fistfight in Heaven -- Family portrait -- Somebody kept saying powwow -- Witnesses, secret and not -- Flight -- Junior Polatkin's Wild West show.

Old shirts & new skins / by Sherman Alexie ; with illustrations by Elizabeth Woody. Los Angeles : American Indian Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, c1993.  94pp.  Main Library PS3551.L35774 O43 1993 : A collection of poems dealing with the everyday experiences of contemporary Native Americans.

One stick song / Sherman Alexie.  Brooklyn : Hanging Loose Press, c2000. 91pp. Main Library PS3551.L35774 O53 2000 : Presents a collection of poetry and prose reflecting on contemporary Native American life.

Reservation Blues / Sherman Alexie.  New York : Grove Press, c1995.  306pp. Main Library PS3551.L35774 R74 1995  :  A journey from reservation bars to small-town taverns, from the cement trails of Seattle to the concrete canyons of Manhattan. Reservation Blues is a comic tale of power, tragedy, and redemption among contemporary Native Americans.

The Summer of Black Widows / Sherman Alexie. Brooklyn, N.Y. : Hanging Loose Press, c1996.  139pp.  Main Library PS3551.L35774 S86 1996 :  The seven sections of poet/novelist Alexie's new collection of poetry are intensely elegiac, documenting ravages to a Native American identity and, one finally feels, to contemporary American identity itself. Alexie's search for meaning gives "tragic features" of "indigenous people" a sense of nobility as they struggle to maintain dignity in a world given over to hatred of the authentic. Intergenerational native dances, powwow, drum music (entertainment and prayer), and traditional song provide somber rhythm to correlate places Alexie visits with "secrets" of Native American culture always in the back of his mind. "The reservation waits for no one," Alexie concludes. "Acre by acre, it roars past history." The legacy of American history is difficult. This worthy poetry makes an important contribution to coming to terms with it.

Ten Little Indians : stories / Sherman Alexie.   New York : Grove Press, c2003. 243pp. Main Library PS3551.L35774 T46 2003 : With Ten Little Indians Sherman Alexie offers nine new stories about Native Americans who, like all Americans, find themselves at personal and cultural crossroads, faced with heart-rending, tragic, sometimes wondrous moments of being that test their loyalties, their capacities, and their notions of who they are and who they love.   Contents - The search engine -- Lawyer's league -- Can I get a witness? -- Do not go gentle -- Flight patterns -- The life and times of Estelle Walks Above -- Do you know where I am? -- What you pawn I will redeem -- What ever happened to Frank Snake Church?  Note : lost, try interlibrary loan until replacement arrives.

Thunder Boy Jr. /  by Sherman Alexie.  Little Brown, 2016.  40pp.  on order : Echoes of Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian resonate in this vibrant first-person tale, illustrated in a stormy palette by Morales (Niño Wrestles the World). "I am the only Thunder Boy who has ever lived," says the young narrator. "Or so you would think. But I am named after my dad. He is Thunder Boy Smith Sr., and I am..." Here, his mother pops in from the right lower margin to complete the sentence: "Thunder Boy Smith Jr." The boy confides that his father's nickname, Big Thunder, sounds impressive, while his own nickname, Little Thunder, "makes me sound like a burp or a fart." After confessing "I hate my name!" with a chorus of screaming snakes, wolves, and bears driving the point home, Thunder Boy proposes several profound or funny alternatives, including "Star Boy," "Old Toys Are Awesome," and "Drums, Drums, and More Drums" because he "love powwow dancing." In the end, his father understands his ambivalence and bestows a new name, although some readers may wish the boy, having spent several pages trying on new identities, had come up with it himself. Regardless, Alexie's first picture book showcases his ear for dialogue and sideways sense of humor, and Morales uses voice balloons and other comics elements to complement the characters' dynamic poses. Thunder Boy's energy is irresistible, as is this expansive portrait of a Native American family. Ages 3–6.

The Toughest Indian in the World / by Sherman Alexie.  New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000.  238pp.  Main Library PS3551.L35774 T68 2000 : A prolific novelist, poet and screenplay writer, Alexie (Indian Killer; Reservation Blues) has been hailed as one of the best young writers of his generation. This dexterous second collection of stories contains what may be one of the best short fiction pieces of the year. "The Toughest Indian in the World" follows a young Spokane Indian who works at an all-white newspaper in Seattle and, in a forlorn attempt to reconnect with his roots, has his first homosexual experience with a tough Lummi fighter. It's a moving story that skillfully employs symbolism and flashbacks to construct an ending that is both uplifting and sorrowful. Many of the eight other stories in this collection also deal with urban Indians who are straddling two worlds: an intimate but indigent life on the reservation and an affluent but strange and sometimes hostile white middle-class existence. Their solutions to this double bind are rarely ordinary. "Assimilation" tells of a Coeur d'Alene woman who deliberately cheats on her white husband, only to rediscover her affection for him in the middle of a traffic jam. "Class" features a Spokane who sometimes tells white women he's Aztec, because "there were aphrodisiacal benefits from claiming to be descended from ritual cannibals." In "South by Southwest" a white man and a fat Indian nicknamed Salmon Boy, who declares he's not homosexual but does believe in love, set off on a nonviolent killing spree. Two tales, "Saint Junior" and "A Good Man," deal with marriage and death on the rez. The anger in these narratives is leavened by Alexie's acerbic wit and his obvious belief in the redemptive power of love. One exception, however, is "The Sin Eaters," an apocalyptic tale in which America's Indians are rounded up into massive underground prisons where soldiers force them to breed and give up their blood. Humorous, disturbing, formally inventive and heartwarming, Alexie's stories continually surprise, revealing him once again as a master of his craft.

War Dances / by Sherman Alexie.  New York : Grove Press, c2009.  209pp. Main Library PS3551.L35774 W37 2009 : Fresh off his National Book Award win, Alexie delivers a heartbreaking, hilarious collection of stories that explores the precarious balance between self-preservation and external responsibility in art, family, and the world at large. With unparalleled insight into the minds of artists, laborers, fathers, husbands, and sons, Alexie populates his stories with ordinary men on the brink of exceptional change. In a bicoastal journey through the consequences of both simple and monumental life choices, Alexie introduces us to personal worlds as they transform beyond return. In the title story, a famous writer must decide how to care for his distant father who is slowly dying a “natural Indian death” from alcohol and diabetes, just as he learns that he himself may have a brain tumor. Alexie dissects a vintage-clothing store owner’s failing marriage and his courtship of a married photographer in various airports across the country; what happens when a politician’s son commits a hate crime; and how a young boy discovers his self-worth while writing obituaries for his local newspaper. Brazen and wise, War Dances takes us to the heart of what it means to be human. This provocative new work is Alexie at the height of his powers.

Thunder Boy Jr. / Sherman Alexie; illustrated by Yuyi Morales.  New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2016.  32pp. Children's and Young Adult Collection  picture PZ7.A382 Th 2016  : Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder. But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name... a name that is sure to light up the sky.

For more info, use Sherman Alexie to search by keyword in our online catalog.

Native American Writers : Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

Background :

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn  : (1930-) Biographies, Criticism, Journal articles, Work overviews.  Farmington Hills, MI : Gale, 2003.  Online resource (Criticism and interpretation)

Web Biography

Web Biography from the University of Minnesota, Department of English and Programs in American Studies,  Voices from the Gaps

Publications:

Aurelia : a Crow Creek Trilogy / Elizabeth Cook-Lynn.  Niwot, Colo. : University Press of Colorado, c1999.  462pp.  Main Library PS3553.O553 A9 1999 : The first novella in this collection, "From the River's Edge" is the story of John Tatekeya's efforts to obtain reparation in a white man's court for forty-five head of stolen cattle. Even as Tatekeya's trial is proceeding, his people are suffering from the flooding of the Missouri River, an event precipitated by the construction of new hydropower dams upriver from the Crow Creek Reservation.In "Circle of Dancers", Cook-Lynn follows Aurelia Blue, John Tatekeya's lover of nearly ten years. She is pregnant and must decide about both the baby and the father, Jason Big Pipe, even as she struggles with her own identity as a Dakota Sioux woman. As the story progresses, she and Jason fight for survival in the face of the further political and economic consequences of the destruction of the Mni Sosa, one of the greatest environmental disasters to strike the Northern Plains. In the final volume, "In the Presence of River Gods", Aurelia, now the mother of two, leaves Jason and moves with her dying grandmother to Eagle Butte on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, two hundred miles away from Crow Creek.

From the River’s Edge / Elizabeth Cook-Lynn.  New York : Arcade Pub., c1991.  147pp.   Main Library PS3553.O5548 F76 1991 : Set in the Northern Plains and based on an actual trial concerning stolen cattle, Cook-Lynn artfully depicts the sorrows and frustrations experienced by Native Americans in this spare and poignant novel.

I remember the fallen trees : new and selected poems / by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn.  Cheney, Wash. : Eastern Washington University Press, 1998.  139pp. Main Library PS3553.O553 I14 1998 : Elizabeth Cook-Lynn is well acquainted with Saeva indignatio, that Swiftian sensibility which troubles the spirit of one who speaks for a people whose lands have been stolen from them, whose means of livelihood have been all but extinguished, whose spiritual valor has been derided and caricatured by their oppressors - while at the same time they are envied for their constancy and respect for life in all its rich forms. This generous collection of her poems will undoubtedly be as controversial as her previous book of essays, Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner (Wisconsin, 1996); but her bold satires and eloquent lyrics are hardly likely to be misunderstood. In this work, without casting aside the mantle of a foremost scholar of Indian history and current cultural affairs (she is editor of the eminent Wicazo Sa Review), Ms. Cook-Lynn joyfully and courageously embraces the people and the world she knows and loves: scolds their detractors, scarifies their enemies, sings and dances with them, loves them as much for their sins as for their virtues; venerates them. Thus through her sorrowful, mocking, searing indignation, we participate in her celebration of the indestructible human spirit.

Notebooks of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn / Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Tucson : University of Arizona Press, c2007. 194pp. PS501 .S85 v.59  v.59 : An eclectic collection of poetry, prose, and politics, Notebooks of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn is a text, a narrative, a song, a story, a history, a testimony, a witnessing. Above all, it is a fiercely intelligen, brave, and sobering work that re-examines and interrogates our nation’s past and the distorted way that its history has been written. In topics including recent debates over issues of environmental justice, the contradictions surrounding the Crazy Horse Monument, and the contemporary portrayal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as one of the great American epic odysseys, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn stitches together a patchwork of observations of racially charged cultural materials, personal experiences, and contemporary characterizations of this country’s history and social climate. Through each example, she challenges the status quo and piques the reader’s awareness of persistent abuses of indigenous communities. The voices that Cook-Lynn brings to the texts are as varied as the genres in which she writes. They are astute and lyrical, fierce and heartbreaking. Through these intonations, she maintains a balance between her roles as a scholar and a poet, a popular teacher and a woman who has experienced deep personal loss. A unique blend of form and content that traverses time, space, and purpose, this collection is a thoroughly original contribution to modern American Indian literature. Moreover, it presents an alternative narrative of the nation’s history and opens an important window into the political challenges that Natives continue to face.

The power of horses and other stories / Elizabeth Cook-Lynn.  Tucson : University of Arizona Press, 2006.  131pp.  Main Library PS501 .S85 v.56  v.56 : Composed in a spare style that is more folkloric than minimalist, this slim but powerful first collection of 15 short stories by Cook-Lynn focuses on Native Americans in various periods of the 20th century. Dominated by dysfunctional families, economic hardship and sudden violence, her characters struggle to survive and also to maintain their dignity--in some cases, merely to ask why their tribal culture is one in which "strange events were witnessed with inexplicable but characteristic tolerance." Whether writing of a young Vietnam veteran, of a family burying the violent head of its household or of a divorcee fighting for custody of her children, Cook-Lynn masterfully shows how Native Americans are caught in a double bind: trapped with white society in a relationship marked by a sense of betrayal and mistrust, and haunted by the symbolic forces of nature, with reservation lands generally seen as "repositories of sacred worlds unknown to all but the most ancient tenants." The author is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe in South Dakota, and is an associate professor of English and Native American Studies at East Washington University.

For more info, use Elizabeth Cook-Lynn to search by keyword in our online catalog.

Native American Writers : Ella Cora Deloria

Waterlily / Ella Cara Deloria ; biographical sketch of the author by Agnes Picotte ; afterword by Raymond J. DeMallie.  Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c1988.  244pp.  Main Library PS3554.E44445 W3 1988 : Deloria was a Sioux Indian and an ethnologist who worked with anthropologist Franz Boas. Written in the early 1940s and now published for the first time, this culturally detailed novel of 19th century Sioux life focuses on a young girl named Waterlily. When her mother Blue Bird is deserted by her husband, she and her daughter are welcomed by relatives at their tiyospaye (encampment of related households) on the western plains. Deloria portrays Waterlily's maturation, daily tribal life and the crucial "kinship rules." As the author wrote elsewhere, the Sioux concept of kinship meant "achieving civility, good manners, and a sense of responsibility toward every individual dealt with." Waterlily learns she must show altruism and generosity, be courteous, demure and truthful, and highly value each family member. While this novel's plot is slight, Deloria clearly accomplished what was probably her true goalpresenting an authoritative, expertly researched account of Sioux beliefs, social conventions and ceremonies. As such, it is an absorbing document.

Native American Writers : Michael Dorris

Background :

Michael Dorris : (1945-1997) Biographies, Criticism, Journal articles, Work overviewsFarmington Hills, MI : Gale, 2003.  Online resource (Criticism and interpretation)  Founded the American Indian Studies program at Dartmouth University, prolific writer, but his personal life is rather complex and controversial.

Publications :

The Broken Cord / Michael Dorris ; with a foreword by Louise Erdrich.  New York : Harper & Row, c1989. 300pp.  Main Library RG629.F45 D67 1989 : This is a moving account of a child with fetal alcohol syndrome adopted by Dorris and his wife, the writer Louise Erdrich. Dorris recounts the heartbreak and fear of dealing with a problem that is undiagnosed and powerfully disturbing. Critics find the account as riveting as Dorris's fiction. Complicating and enriching the book is the fact that it occurs within a Native American context, and the author wrestles with individual responsibility and the role society has to play in taking care of such children.

Cloud Chamber : a novel / Michael Dorris.  New York : Simon & Schuster, 1998, c1997.  316pp. Main Library PS3554.O695 C55 1998 : Ten years after his "dazzling" (San Francisco Chronicle), "unforgettable" (Newsday) bestselling debut novel, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, Michael Dorris returns to the family at the core of that work to write the rich score of the "full-blown, complex opera of his new novel, Cloud Chamber" (Robb Forman Dew). Opening in late-nineteenth-century Ireland and moving to Kentucky and finally to the high plains of Montana, Cloud Chamber tells the extraordinary tale of Rose Mannion and her descendants. Over a period of more than one hundred years, Rose's legacy of love and betrayal is passed down from generation to generation until it meets the promise of reconciliation in Rayona, the indomitable part-black, part Native American teenage girl at the center of A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. Cloud Chamber is truly a tour de force, a powerful, rich tale about the energy and persistence of love.

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water / Michael Dorris.  New York, NY : Warner Books, 1988, c1987.  372pp.  Main Library PS3554.O695 Y4 1988  : The emotional terrain of lives led without the steady presence of fathers or husbands is common ground for the three generations of American Indian women who successively tell their stories in this absorbing novel. Rayona, 15, half black and half Indian, is abandoned by her mother and in turn abandons her Aunt Ida. She disappears from their Montana reservation one summer and gains independence through a job at Bear Paw Lake State Park and a surprising foray into rodeo stardom. Her mother faces what appears to be the last days of her often wild life in the kind company of a misunderstood man who was both a childhood friend and enemy on the reservation. Linked to both is Aunt Ida, the stony family matriarch who lost her favored son to the Viet Nam War and now warms her heart before the electronic fires of television soap operas. The bitter rifts and inevitable bonds between generations are highlighted as the story unravels and spills out a long-kept family secret. Rayona wishes that if she could stare long enough at a yellow wooden raft in the blue waters of the lake, her troubles would be resolved. Readers, too, will wish for the best in the lives of these wonderfully unique characters.

For more info, use Michael Dorris to search by keyword in our online catalog.

Native American Writers: Louise Erdrich

Acclaimed author Louise Erdrich is the winner of the 2015 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

Background:

Louise Erdrich : (1954-) Biographies, Criticism, Journal articles, Work overviewsFarmington Hills, MI : Gale, 2003.  Online resource (Criticism and interpretation)

Louise Erdrich.  An Oxford Bibliography Online bibliographic essay by Connie A. Jacobs appearing in the American Literature collection.

Web biography from the University of Minnesota, Department of English and Programs in American Studies,  Voices from the Gaps.

Publications:

The Antelope Wife : a novel / Louise Erdrich.  New York, NY : HarperFlamingo, c1998.  240pp.  Main Library PS3555.R42 A8 1998 : Family stories repeat themselves in patterns and waves, generation to generation, across blood and time." Erdrich (Love Medicine, etc.) embroiders this theme in a sensuous novel that brings her back to the material she knows best, the emotionally dislocated lives of Native Americans who try to adhere to the tribal ways while yielding to the lure of the general culture. In a beautifully articulated tale of intertwined relationships among succeeding generations, she tells the story of the Roy and the Shawano families and their "colliding histories and destinies." The narrative begins like a fever dream with a U.S. cavalry attack on an Ojibwa village, the death of an old woman who utters a fateful word, the inadvertent kidnapping of a baby and a mother's heartbreaking quest. The descendants of the white soldier who takes the baby and of the bereaved Ojibwa mother are connected by a potent mix of tragedy, farce and mystical revelation. As time passes, there is another kidnapping, the death of a child and a suicide. Fates are determined by a necklace of blue beads, a length of sweetheart calico and a recipe for blitzkuchen. Though the saga is animated by obsessional love, mysterious disappearances, mythic legends and personal frailties, Erdrich also works in a comic vein. There's a dog who tells dirty jokes and a naked wife whose anniversary surprise has an audience. Throughout, Erdrich emphasizes the paradoxes of everyday life: braided grandmas who follow traditional ways and speak the old language also wear eyeliner and sneakers. In each generation, men and women are bewitched by love, lust and longing; they are slaves to drink, to carefully guarded secrets or to the mesmerizing power of hope. Though the plot sometimes bogs down from an overload of emotional complications, the novel ultimately celebrates the courage of following one's ordained path in the universe and meeting the challenges of fate. It is an assured example of Erdrich's storytelling skills.

The Beet Queen : a novel / by Louise Erdrich.  New York : Holt, c1986.  338pp. Main Library PS3555.R42 B4 1986 : The power and virtuosity of Love Medicine are again evident in Erdrich's second, more ambitious novel. Its action spans 40 years, starting in 1932, when three fatherless children are abandoned by their mother as well. Eleven-year-old Mary seeks haven for the family with Aunt Fritzie Kozka; but the baby is kidnapped; 14-year-old Karl, a drifter and dreamer, lights off alone; and only practical, hardheaded Mary takes root. Bizarre coincidences, taut blood tangles, and surreal fantasies challenge the ordinary as relationships bloom and wilt, including one between homosexual Karl, who moves in and out of the action, and Mary's best friend, with whom he fathers a child. At times the shifting voices strain continuity, yet Erdrich's brilliance is such that we believe deeply in her people, are dazzled by her words. An engrossing and breathtaking novel.

The Bingo Palace /  Louise Erdrich.  New York, NY : HarperPerennial, 2006.  274pp.  Main Library PS3555.R42 B5 2006  : Immediately upon returning to his North Dakota Chippewa reservation, Lipsha Morrissey--having failed in the outside world--falls head over heels in love with the beautiful Shawnee Ray. She is the fierce and ambitious mother of the illegitimate son of Lyman Lamartine, owner of the Bingo Palace and a powerful force on the reservation. Lyman is determined to marry Shawnee Ray, who is just as determined to elude him and go to college. When Lipsha goes to work for Lyman, he also enters into a battle for Shawnee Ray's affections, calling first on the magic of tribal elder Fleur Pillager, then on luck, and finally on traditional tribal religion. Erdrich's fourth novel is at once comic and moving, magical and realistic, and filled with evidence of her awesome descriptive powers. The affecting ending makes the reader hungry for more; those who haven't already read Erdrich's previous novels will want to begin with Love Medicine.

Four Souls : [a novel] / Louise Erdrich.  New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2004.  210pp.  Main Library PS3555.R42 F68 2004 : A strange and compelling unkillable woman decides to leave home, and the story begins. Fleur Pillager takes her mother's name, Four Souls, for strength and walks from her Ojibwe reservation to the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. She is seeking restitution from and revenge on the lumber baron who has stripped her reservation. But revenge is never simple, and she quickly finds her intentions complicated by her own dangerous compassion for the man who wronged her....The two narrators of Four Souls are from utterly different worlds. Nanapush, a "smart man and a fool," is both Fleur's savior and her conscience. He tells Fleur's story and tells his own. He would like a calm and discriminating love with his sweetheart, Margaret. He is old and would like to face death with his love beside him. Instead the two find themselves battling out their last years. When the childhood nemesis of Nanapush appears and casts his eye toward Margaret, Nanapush acts out an absurd revenge of his own and nearly ends up destroying everything. The other narrator, Polly Elizabeth Gheen, is a pretentious and vulnerable upper-crust fringe element, a hanger-on in a wealthy Minneapolis family, a woman aware of her precarious hold on those around her. To her own great surprise the entrance of Fleur Pillager into her household and her life effects a transformation she could never have predicted. Sequel to Tracks.

The Last Report On the Miracles at Little No Horse / Louise Erdrich.  New York : HarperCollins, c2001.  361pp.  Main Library PS3555.R42 L37 2001 : For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved people, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Compelled to his task by a direct mystical experience, Father Damien has made enormous sacrifices, and experienced the joys of commitment as well as deep suffering. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. He imagines the undoing of all that he has accomplished - sees unions unsundered, baptisms nullified, those who confessed to him once again unforgiven. To complicate his fear, his quiet life changes when a troubled colleague comes to the reservation to investigate the life of the perplexing, difficult, possibly false saint Sister Leopolda....Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Sister Leopolda's piety, but these facts are bound up in his own secret. In relating his history and that of Leopolda, whose wonder working is documented but inspired, he believes, by a capacity for evil rather than the love of good, Father Damien is forced to choose. Should he reveal all he knows and risk everything? Or should he manufacture a protective history? In spinning out the tale of his life, Father Damien in fact does both. His story encompasses his life as a young woman, her passions, and the pestilence, tribal hatreds, and sorrows passed from generation to generation of Ojibwe. From the fantastic truth of Father Damien's origin as a woman to the hilarious account of the absurd demise of Nanapush, his best friend on the reservation, his story ranges over the span of the century....In a masterwork that both deepens and enlarges the world of her previous novels set on the same reservation, Louise Erdrich captures the essence of a time and the spirit of a woman who felt compelled by her beliefs to serve her people as a priest. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is a work of an avid heart, a writer's writer, and a storytelling genius.

Love Medicine : a novel / Louise Erdrich. New York : Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, c1984. 275pp. Main Library PS3555.R42 L6 1984 : Erdrich writes with wit and tenderness about the lives and relationships of seven characters from two families, realistically portraying Native American life and the cultural connection of individuals.

The Painted Drum / Louise Erdrich. New York : HarperCollins, c2005.  277pp.  Main Library PS3555.R42 P35 2005 : When a woman named Faye Travers is called upon to appraise the estate of a family in her small New Hampshire town, she isn't surprised to discover a forgotten cache of valuable Native American artifacts. After all, the family descends from an Indian agent who worked on the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation that is home to her mother's family. However, she stops dead in her tracks when she finds in the collection a rare drum -- a powerful yet delicate object, made from a massive moose skin stretched across a hollow of cedar, ornamented with symbols she doesn't recognize and dressed in red tassels and a beaded belt and skirt -- especially since, without touching the instrument, she hears it sound....From Faye's discovery, we trace the drum's passage both backward and forward in time, from the reservation on the northern plains to New Hampshire and back. Through the voice of Bernard Shaawano, an Ojibwe, we hear how his grandfather fashioned the drum after years of mourning his young daughter's death, and how it changes the lives of those whose paths its crosses. And through Faye we hear of her anguished relationship with a local sculptor, who himself mourns the loss of a daughter, and of the life she has made alone with her mother, in the shadow of the death of Faye's sister....Through these compelling voices, The Painted Drum explores the strange power that lost children exert on the memories of those they leave behind, and as the novel unfolds, its elegantly crafted narrative comes to embody the intricate, transformative rhythms of human grief. One finds throughout the grace and wit, the captivating prose and surprising beauty, that characterize Louise Erdrich's finest work.

The Plague of Doves / Louise Erdrich.  New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, c2008. 313pp.  Browsing Collection (1 East) PS3555.R42 P55 2008 : Louise Erdrich's mesmerizing new novel, her first in almost three years, centers on a compelling mystery. The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subsequent distortions of truth transform the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation and shape the passions of both communities for the next generation. The descendants of Ojibwe and white intermarry, their lives intertwine; only the youngest generation, of mixed blood, remains unaware of the role the past continues to play in their lives....Evelina Harp is a witty, ambitious young girl, part Ojibwe, part white, who is prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a seductive storyteller, a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. Nobody understands the weight of historical injustice better than Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, a thoughtful mixed blood who witnesses the lives of those who appear before him, and whose own love life reflects the entire history of the territory. In distinct and winning voices, Erdrich's narrators unravel the stories of different generations and families in this corner of North Dakota. Bound by love, torn by history, the two communities' collective stories finally come together in a wrenching truth revealed in the novel's final pages....The Plague of Doves is one of the major achievements of Louise Erdrich's considerable oeuvre, a quintessentially American story and the most complex and original of her books.

The Red Convertible : selected and new stories, 1978-2008 / Louise Erdrich.  New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2009.  496pp.  Browsing Collection (1 East) PS3555.R42 R44 2009 : This unique volume brings together for the first time three decades of short stories by one of the most innovative and exciting writers of our day. A master of the genre, Louise Erdrich has selected these pieces—thirty works that first appeared in magazines as well as six unpublished stories—from among a much larger oeuvre. She has ordered them chronologically but also by theme and voice....Erdrich is a fearless and inventive writer. In her fictional world, the mystical can emerge from the everyday, the comic turn suddenly tragic, and violence and beauty inhabit a single emotional landscape. Each character in these stories is full of surprises, and the twists and leaps of Erdrich's imagination are made all the more meaningful by the deeper truth of human feeling that underlies them....In "Saint Marie," the ardent longing that propels a fourteen-year-old Indian girl up the hill to the Sacred Heart Convent and into a life-and-death struggle with the diabolical Sister Leopolda fuels a story of breathtaking power and originality. "Knives" tells of a homely butcher's assistant, a devoted reader of love stories, who falls for a good-looking predator, a traveling salesman, with devastating consequences for each of them. "Le Mooz" evokes the stinging flames of passion in old age—"Margaret had exhausted three husbands, and Nanapush had outlived his six wives"—with unexpected humor that turns suddenly bittersweet at the story's close. A passion for music in "Naked Woman Playing Chopin" proves more powerful than any experience of carnal or spiritual love; indeed, when Agnes DeWitt removes her clothing to enter the music of a particular composer, she sweeps all before her and transcends mortality and time itself....In The Red Convertible, readers can follow the evolution of narrative styles, the shifts and metamorphoses in Erdrich's fiction, over the past thirty years. These stories, spellbinding in their boldness and beauty, are a stunning literary achievement.

The Round House : a novel / Louise Erdrich.  New York : Harper, 2012.  321pp.  Main Library PS3555.R42 R68 2012 : When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, fourteen-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.

Shadow Tag / Louise Erdrich.  New York : Harper, c2010.  255pp.  Browsing Collection (1 East) PS3555.R42 S53 2010 : When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary—hidden where Gil will find it—into a manipulative farce. Alternating between these two records, complemented by unflinching third-person narration, Shadow Tag is an eerily gripping read....When the novel opens, Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis about George Catlin, the nineteenth-century painter whose Native American subjects often regarded his portraits with suspicious wonder. Gil, who gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wife—work that is adoring, sensual, and humiliating, even shocking—realizes that his fear of losing Irene may force him to create the defining work of his career....Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: fourteen-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unraveling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an eleven-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realize, at the beginning of the end....As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. But her attachment to Gil is filled with shadowy need and delicious ironies. In brilliantly controlled prose, Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival and redemption.

Tales of Burning Love / Louise Erdrich.  New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c1996.  452pp.  Special Collections Rare Book PS3555.R42 T3 1996 (Circulation copy available too) : Some of the excitement that greeted Erdrich's first book, Love Medicine, will be rekindled with the publication of her captivating fifth novel. While building on the strengths for which she is noted (she again portrays several Native American families whose interconnected life stories coalesce into a unified narrative), Erdrich here broadens her range and ambitions. She constructs this book with a more conventional novelistic form and sets most of it outside the reservation. A robust richness of both plot and character, and an irresistible fusion of tension, mystery and dramatic momentum, add up to powerful, magical storytelling. Two epochal, whiteout North Dakota blizzards 23 years apart define the major events of Jack Mauser's life. During the first, in 1972, his young Chipewa wife, whom he has just married after a few hours acquaintance during a drunken binge, leave his car to perish in the cold (an event foreshadowed in The Bingo Palace). During the second, in 1995, Jack's succeeding wives, all four of them, are trapped overnight in Jack's van, having come together for his funeral. In this quartet of personalities, Erdrich creates a gallery of indelible portraits, each of them distinct, vivid and human in their frailties. What they have in common, their love for charming, preening, self-destructive Jack, is their means of survival through the frigid night. Each woman tells her tale-always full of passion, but often farcical, too-of how Jack wooed, wed, frustrated, drove to distraction, liberated and deserted her. These stories provide both catharsis and insight, allowing each to understand how she in turn contributed to Jack's destruction. And the dialogue, especially the bickering among claustrophobically confined women, is pungent and smart. Erdrich reveals here a new talent for unexpected plot twists and cliff-hanger chapter endings, some funny, some melodramatic. If there are a few too many coincidences (Jack, who is presumed dead but is not, reluctantly kidnaps his own infant son, who in turn is kidnapped by Jack's fifth wife's ex-husband, also presumed dead), it all seems quite plausible in the context of Erdrich's adroit manipulation of interlocking plot strands. Her eye for sensual detail is impeccable, whether it is the evocation of the landscape and weather of the North Dakota plains or the many erotic couplings that Jack's wives, and Jack himself, remember. Jack, too, is a triumph; he's a real scamp and philanderer with other deplorable character traits, but Erdrich limns him with tolerant humor and compassion. Erdrich has definitely gone commercial here, and some readers may miss the ethereal, mystical qualities of her early work. But like several characters who are psychologically or almost literally reborn, reinspired and reset on life's path, Erdrich has granted her literary reputation refreshing new potency.

Tracks : a novel / Louise Erdrich.  New York : Harper & Row, 1989, c1988.  226pp. Main Library PS3555.R42 T73 1989  : Set in North Dakota at a time in this century when Indian tribes were struggling to keep what little remained of their lands, Tracks is a tale of passion and deep unrest. Over the course of ten crucial years, as tribal land and trust between people erode ceaselessly, men and women are pushed to the brink of their endurance--yet their pride and humor prohibit surrender. The reader will experience shock and pleasure in encountering a group of characters that are compelling and rich in their vigor, clarity,and indomitable vitality.A young Indian women defects from her North Dakota tribe as it struggles to keep its land from the hands of an encroaching white society at the turn of the century. 

For more info, use Louise Erdrich to search by keyword in our online catalog.

Native American Writers: Janet Campbell Hale

Background :

Janet Campbell Hale : : (1947-) Biographies, Criticism, Journal articles, Work overviewsFarmington Hills, MI : Gale, 2003.  Online resource (Criticism and interpretation)

Web biography

Publications :

The Jailing of Cecelia Capture / Janet Campbell Hale.  Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, [1987], c1985.  201pp.  Main Library PS3558.A356 J3 1987 : On the day after her thirtieth birthday, Cecelia Capture, a mixed-blood Native American law student, wakes up in a holding tank in the Berkeley jail. Booked on a drunk driving charge, she begins to contemplate her life through a series of flashbacks. Her search for identity goes back to the Idaho reservation where she was raised by an alcoholic fullblood father and a crazy half-breed mother. As she reflects on the various phases of her life, including a bittersweet romance with a soldier just leaving for Vietnam who becomes the father of her son, and her loveless marriage to a white liberal teacher, she begins to see patterns in the apparent meaninglessness of her life. Despite pain and setback, Cecelia is a survivor, and her Native American identity gives meaning and purpose to her life. She comes close to suicide, but her vision of what she can be for her people and herself carries her on. "She was not able to return to the beginning, of course, and remake her life more to her liking, but now she was free to go on with the life she did have." The author, a member of the Coeur d'Alene tribe, writes in a calm and dispassionate voice with real understanding of how it feels and what it means to be Native American today. To reach Cecelia's point of self-identity, to really like oneself, requires an often painful self-examination, a process that Janet Campbell Hale explores brilliantly in this book.

The Owl's Song / Janet Campbell Hale.  Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday [1974]  160pp.  Special Collections Rare Books PS3558.A356 O87 1974 : The Owls Song is the story of Billy White Hawks struggles to find his way toward manhood by leaving the Beneway reservation in Idaho and moving to the city to live with his older half-sister, Alice Fay. First published in 1977, The Owls Song remains a groundbreaking work and a milestone of contemporary fiction.  Circulating copy also available : Main Library PS3558.A3566 O85 1991.

Women on the Run / Janet Campbell Hale.  Moscow : University of Idaho Press, 1999.  178pp.  Main Library PS3558.A3566 W66 1999  : In these six intriguing if uneven tales, young and old Native American women struggle against adversity and often draw strength from their roots. Plucky 79-year-old Claire LaFromme, or "She-Is-Free," the protagonist of the eponymous "Claire," escapes from a hellish nursing home disguised as a man and pawns her jewelry to buy bus tickets back to the reservation. Along the way, she takes courage from her memories of her flight as an eight-year-old from a repressive Catholic mission school. In the charmingly droll "Dora Lee in Love," a young woman rescues a drifter from drowning. When he poses as the man of her dreams, she thinks she's in heaven, but time will prove she's in another place altogether. The ambitious and often perplexing title story meshes two plot lines, one concerning a successful writer whose imagination is in overdrive, and the other dealing with a political fugitive, an Indian activist whose colorful life inspires the novelist to attempt a biography. "Deborah and Her Snakes" (subtitled a "cautionary tale") features a recurring dream that prompts a desperate young mother to gamble, with unfortunate results. Another young mother, in "Alma," resolves to escape the cycle of poverty. When she becomes pregnant after a one-night stand, she has an abortion and gets on with her life. As if to reinforce the feminist message here, Hale appends a fable in which a determined female frog outwits a villainous male coyote. The fierce determination of the Native American sisters in these sometimes rambling but always vivid stories is the quality that makes them appealing.

For more info, use Janet Campbell Hale to search by keyword in our online catalog.

Native American Writers : Linda Hogan

Mean Spirit : a novel / Linda Hogan.  New York : Atheneum ; Toronto : Collier Macmillan Canada, 1990.  374pp.  PS3558.O34726 M4 1990 : Set in Oklahoma during the oil boom of the early 1920s, this brooding and profoundly moving first novel focuses on two doomed Osage Indian families, the Blankets and the Grayclouds. The brutal murder of Grace Blanket, owner of oil-rich land, witnessed in horror by her young daughter Nola and Nola's friend Rena Graycloud, is only the first of a series of violent events designed to coerce the tribes and put their lands into the hands of the oil barons. Justice is slow and ambiguous. When Stace Red Hawk, a policeman with the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, finds his inquiries blocked and his efforts frustrated by evasive and corrupt federal officials, he travels from Washington, D.C., to Oklahoma to investigate firsthand. Soon, like many of the Indian families depicted here, Stace is torn between the glitter of 20th-century life and the pull of sacred traditions. Hogan, a poet, professor and member of the Chickasaw tribe, mines a rich vein of Indian customs and rituals, and approaches her characters with reverence, bringing them to life with quick, spare phrases. Her absorbing novel pays elegiac tribute to the slow and irrevocable breakup of centuries of culture.

People of the Whale : a novel / Linda Hogan.  New York : W.W. Norton, c2008.  303pp.  Main Library PS3558.O34726 P46 2008 : Raised in a remote seaside village, Thomas Witka Just marries Ruth, his beloved since infancy. But an ill-fated decision to fight in Vietnam changes his life forever: cut off from his Native American community, he fathers a child with another woman. When he returns home a hero, he finds his tribe in conflict over the decision to hunt a whale, both a symbol of spirituality and rebirth and a means of survival. In the end, he reconciles his two existences, only to see tragedy befall the son he left behind....Linda Hogan, called our most provocative Native American writer, with "her unparalleled gifts for truth and magic" (Barbara Kingsolver), has written a compassionate novel about the beauty of the natural world and the painful moral choices humans make in it. With a keen sense of the environment, spirituality, and the trauma of war, People of the Whale is a powerful novel for our times.

Power : a novel / Linda Hogan.  New York : W.W. Norton, c1998.  235pp.  Main Library PS3558.O34726 P6 1998 : A mythical, far-reaching masterpiece from one of our best Native American writers. It is the night of an ominous storm when sixteen-year-old Omishto, a member of the Taiga tribe, witnesses her Aunt Ama kill a panther--an animal considered to be a sacred ancestor of the Taiga people. That single act will have profound consequences for Omishto, whose name means "the one who watches." Suddenly, she is torn between her loyalties to her Westernized mother, who wants her to reject the ways of the tribe, and to Ama and her traditional people, for whom the killing of the panther takes on grave importance. But Omishto's quest in this timeless, lyrical novel goes far deeper. As she tries to understand the mystery that lies behind Ama's actions, she must reckon with her own spiritual connection to her people, to nature, and to the world itself. She is caught in a web of powers: the power of the legal system over native peoples, the mythic power that ancestral stories hold over her, and the power that is part of the great mystery of life. This is an extraordinary work about a young girl at a crossroads who must determine her place in the world. Spellbinding and unforgettable, Power will endure as a classic--ensuring Linda Hogan's stature as one of this country's most important and urgent writers.

Solar Storms / Linda Hogan. New York : Simon & Schuster, 1997, c1995.  351pp.  Main Library PS3558.O34726 S58 1997 : Solar Storms is a coming-of-age story about Angela, a troubled 17-year-old girl who returns to her Native American family’s homeland. Hogan beautifully describes the land as Angela discovers herself and her heritage....The award-winning Chickasaw poet, essayist, and novelist chronicles the story of five generations of Native American women and their struggle to preserve their way of life.

Native American Writers : Helen Hunt Jackson

Ramona / Helen Hunt Jackson. Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1912.  490pp.  Main Library PS2107 .R3 1912 : Ramona is a love story between a young orphan girl and Native American boy that depicts the tragedy of prejudice. Jackson’s romantic novel is largely based on fact and reveals the condition of Native American life in 19th-century California.  1900 print edition and electronic edition also available.

Native American Writers (Canadian) : Thomas King

Background on Thomas King

Wikipedia entry

All my relations : an anthology of contemporary Canadian native fiction / edited by Thomas King.  Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c1990.  220pp.  Main Library PR9197.33 .I53 A55 1990 : The impressive breadth and variety of expression among Native Canadian writers is demonstrated in this fine collection. Contained in the volume are short stories, poems, selections from novels and an excerpt from a play. Some pieces--such as Peter Blue Cloud's and editor King's funny and ironic Coyote tales and Harry Robinson's lengthy poem about an Indian who becomes a circus hit in England-- are clearly designed to be read aloud, reflecting their continuity with oral tradition. Others, like Bruce King's eerie and ominous story of the Hookto, an evil entity that sucks the life out of its victims, seem more in the tradition of Stephen King than what most readers would think of as Native fiction. Not all the pieces are set in Canada--locations range as far as Oklahoma and the Southwest, and city dwellers as well as reserve Natives are depicted. The unsentimental, uncompromisingly authentic work thus reflects the increasingly pan-tribal nature of much Native art and discourse. Free of sentimentality and un compromisingly authentic, this volume will help give readers a picture of the diversity of Canada's one million Native people.

Green grass, running water / Thomas King.  Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1993.  360pp.  Main Library PR9199.3.K4422 G7 1993 : Fresh, inventive, funny and intriguing, this latest novel from King is an imaginative exploration of contemporary Native American culture. The plot revolves around the escape from a mental hospital of four very old Indians called Ishmael, Hawkeye, Robinson Crusoe and the Lone Ranger. These, however, are no ordinary natives. They may be the last survivors of the Indians interned at Fort Marion in Florida in the 19th century. Or perhaps they are the first human beings, as described in tribal creation myths. Their repeated breakouts--37 to date--have coincided with disasters: the 1929 stock market crash, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, etc. Their mission this time brings them into the lives of an eccentric Canadian Blackfoot family: Lionel Red Dog, who sells TV sets and has no ambition; his sister Latisha, who owns a restaurant that bilks thrill-seeking tourists by purporting to serve them dog meat; Uncle Eli Stands Alone, a former university professor who is determined to prevent the operation of a dam on Indian land; and Charlie Looking Bear, a smarmy lawyer who works for the company opposing Eli's cause. Wavering emotionally between Lionel and Charlie is Alberta Frank, who dates both of them and wants a baby but knows that neither man is husband material. King, a professor of Native American studies at the University of Minnesota, skillfully interweaves Native American and EuroAmerican literatures, exploring the truths of each. He mixes satire, myth and magic into a complex story line that moves smartly from Canada to Wounded Knee to Hollywood, and to a place beyond time where God and the native trickster, Coyote, converse. With this clever, vastly entertaining novel, he establishes himself firmly as one of the first rank of contemporary Native American writers--and as a gifted storyteller of universal relevance.

Medicine River / Thomas King.  Markham, Ont. : Viking, c1989, 1990.  261pp.  Main Library PR9199.3.K4422 M42 1989 : Medicine River is a small town near an Indian reserve in Western Canada. Narrated by the town's only Native American photographer, the loosely woven episodes revolve around Harlen Bigbear, whose specialty is providing "general maintenance" to his friends and acquaintances. There is humor and warmth, whether Harlen is persuading Will--who is over 40--to play on the all-Native basketball team or to court Louise Heavyhands, or whether he is arranging the lives of his neighbors and friends. Interwoven into the story are the narrator's bittersweet experiences of growing up with his brother, James; enduring the eccentricities of his Native American mother; and wondering about the white father he doesn't remember. These characters all fall within the mainstream of American cultural experience, yet they should expand reader's multicultural awareness.

One good story, that one / Thomas King. HarperPerennial, 1993.  147pp.   Main Library PR9199.3.K4422 O54 2000 : "The 10 stories in this collection are mischievously told, slyly exposing the underside of Native-white relations. Adolescents who don't like to read will get caught up in these stories."

A short history of Indians in Canada : stories / Thomas King.  Toronto : HarperCollins, c2005.  232pp.  Main Library PR9199.3.K4422 S56 2005 :

Truth & Bright Water / Thomas King.  New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c1999.  266pp.  Main Library PR9199.3.K4422 T78 1999 : Truth is a railroad town in the United States, and Bright Water, an Indian reserve right across the river in Canada. Tecumseh is a 15-year-old who regularly crosses between the two with his dog, Soldier, and his cousin and almost constant companion, Lum. The novel is written in the first person, and the action takes place during a few short weeks in the summer. "Indian Days" are coming to Bright Water, attracting tourists from around the world. Vagabond aunt Cassie has arrived for one of her brief visits, and "famous Indian artist" Monroe Swimmer has also returned home. One evening, the cousins watch as a woman conducts a strange ritual at "the Horns" (twin stone pillars on the American side). She dances, sings, and throws something into the river and then jumps in after it. Later, Soldier retrieves a child-size human skull from the river, but there is no sign of the woman. Her story is just one of the mysteries Tecumseh hopes to solve this summer. His quest to discover family secrets and find his place in the tribal society will take him through immense changes before "Indian Days" draw to an end. King (Green Grass, Running Water) is perhaps Canada's best-known Native writer.

The truth about stories : a native narrative / Thomas King.  Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2005.  172pp.  Main Library PR9199.3.K4422 Z477 2005 : "Stories are wondrous things. And they are dangerous." In The Truth About Stories, Native novelist and scholar Thomas King explores how stories shape who we are and how we understand and interact with other people. From creation stories to personal experiences, historical anecdotes to social injustices, racist propaganda to works of contemporary Native literature, King probes Native culture's deep ties to storytelling. With wry humor, King deftly weaves events from his own life as a child in California, an academic in Canada, and a Native North American with a wide-ranging discussion of stories told by and about Indians. So many stories have been told about Indians, King comments, that "there is no reason for the Indian to be real. The Indian simply has to exist in our imaginations." That imaginative Indian that North Americans hold dear has been challenged by Native writers - N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louis Owens, Robert Alexie, and others - who provide alternative narratives of the Native experience that question, create a present, and imagine a future. King reminds the reader, Native and non-Native, that storytelling carries with it social and moral responsibilties. "Don't say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You've heard it now."

Native American Writers : Winona LaDuke

Last Standing Woman / by Winona LaDukeStillwater, MN, U.S.A. : Voyageur Press, c1997.  303pp.  Main Library PS3562.A268 L37 1997 : Native American activist LaDuke, a Harvard-educated member of the Anishinaabe Nation, has given us a powerful first novel that presents the lives of seven generations of Anishinaabe (Ojibwe/Chippewa) from initial contact with whites in the 1860s to a surprisingly utopian peak in conditions early in the next century. LaDuke's characters are as vital and fully realized as any in a Louise Erdrich novel, but instead of dwelling on the quiet desperation of their lives, as Erdrich so often does, LaDuke finds ways for them to surmount their circumstances and offer support for one another. Following the lives of a series of women named Last Standing Woman, LaDuke's chronicle moves to the beat of the drums that symbolize Native culture and its survival despite the odds.

Native American Writers : D'Arcy McNickle

The Surrounded / D'Arcy McNickle ; introd. by Lawrence W. Towner.  Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, [1978] c1936.  305pp.  Main Library PS3525.A2844 S8 1978 : As The Surrounded opens, Archilde León has just returned from the big city to his father's ranch on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. The story that unfolds captures the intense and varied conflict that already characterized reservation life in 1936, when this remarkable novel was first published....Educated at a federal Indian boarding school, Archilde is torn not only between white and Indian cultures but also between love for his Spanish father and his Indian mother, who in her old age is rejecting white culture and religion to return to the ways of her people. Archilde's young contemporaries, meanwhile, are succumbing to the destructive influence of reservation life, growing increasingly uprooted, dissolute, and hopeless. Although Archilde plans to leave the reservation after a brief visit, his entanglements delay his departure until he faces destruction by the white man's law.

Native American Writers : N. Scott Momaday

House Made of Dawn / N. Scott Momaday. New York : Perennial Classics, 1999. 198pp.  Main Library PS3563.O47 H6 1999 : A Pulitzer prize-winning novel that richly describes Native American life from the author’s first-hand knowledge, House Made of Dawn chronicles the life of a young Native American boy, Abel, and his struggles with reservation life after World War II.

In the Bear's House / N. Scott Momaday.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.  96pp.  Main Library PS3563.O47 I46 1999 : The Pulitzer-winning novelist  offers this mixed media collageforty paintings, a dialogue, twenty or so poems, and two poetic prose sectionsall on the subject of the bear (or Bear), an animal of cosmic and spiritual significance among Momadays Kiowa Indians. Momadays blend of biblical and Native American spirituality and language seems almost old-fashioned in light of the more separatist studies that have dominated since he first arrived on the scene back in the 60s. In fact, his traditional verse forms and expressive clarity will remind us of his tutelage under Yvor Winters, and Janet Lewis (to whom this volume is dedicated). The longish, eight-part dialogue between Yahweh (or Great Mystery) and Urset (the primal Bear) covers issues of essence and nature, dreaming and storytelling, time and evolution. Momaday reshapes Christian and Kiowa myth into a witty and plain-spoken cosmic exchange, and provides a perfect gloss to the seemingly simple poems that follow. Momadays clean and sharp measures enhance a number of well-made poems that date mostly from recent times, but include a stunning portrait of a bear first written in 1963. The Blind Astrologers captures the dual essence of Bear as mythic and mundane; To An Aged Bear encourages a bear to prepare for his spirit journey after death; The Print of the Paw understands the bears mark as a wondrous thing, the imprint suggesting a grand whole; and a few rhymed couplets and quatrains perfectly describe the bears grandeur in life and art. The bold brushstrokes of Momadays paintings echo the power and precision of his poetry and prose.

The Way to Rainy Mountain [by] N. Scott Momaday. Illustrated by Al Momaday.  Albuquerque] University of New Mexico Press [1969]  88pp.  Main Library and Special Collections (Rare Book) E99.K5 M64 / Also available online : Rainy Mountain, a "single knoll [that] rises out of the plain in Oklahoma," is an old landmark for the Kiowa people. It is a land of bitter cold, searing heat, summer drought, and "great green and yellow grasshoppers." It is a land of loneliness, where the Kiowa were drawn after a long journey from the northwest through many types of lands....The Way to Rainy Mountain is about the journey-in myth, in drawings by Momaday's father Al, in reminiscences, and in historical snippets. All reveal aspects of Kiowa culture, life, philosophy, outlook, spirituality, and sense of self-the beauty and the desolation, how the introduction of the horse revolutionized Kiowa life, the story of Tai-me, and the richness of the word and the past. It is a literal journey as well; Momaday, in Yellowstone, writes, "The Kiowas reckoned their stature by the distance they could see, and they were bent and blind in the wilderness."...This is a small gem of a book, beautifully written, illustrated, and designed. It has moments of insight, beauty, and sadness, as the ending of the Sun Dance, telling as the sun is at the heart of the Kiowa's soul-a soul that survives in every word and drawing of The Way to Rainy Mountain.

Native American Writers : Sam Pokagon

Ogimawkwe mitigwaki = Queen of the woods : a novel / by Simon Pokagon ; with a foreword by Philip J. Deloria, and essays by John N. Low, Margaret Noori, and Kiara M. Vigil.  East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, c2011.  215pp.  E99.P8 P65 2011  :  Simon Pokagon, the son of tribal patriarch Leopold Pokagon, was a talented writer, advocate for the Pokagon Potawatomi community, and tireless self-promoter. In 1899, shorty after his death, Pokagon's novel Ogimawkwe Mitigwaki ( Queen of the Woods ) -- only the second ever published by an American Indian -- appeared. It was intended to be a testimonial to the traditions, stability, and continuity of the Potawatomi in a rapidly changing world. Read today, Queen of the Woods is evidence of the author's desire to mark the cultural, political, and social landscapes with a memorial to the past and a monument to a future that included the Pokagon Potawatomi as distinct and honored people. This new edition offers a reprint of the original 1899 novel with the author's introduction to the language and culture of his people. In addition, new accompanying materials add context through a cultural biography, literary historical analysis, and linguistic considerations of the unusual text.

Native American Writers : Greg Sarris

Grand Avenue : a novel in stories / Greg Sarris.  New York : Hyperion, c1994.  229pp.  Main Library PS3569.A732 G7 1994 : Set in a small city in northern California, these ten stories focus on Santa Rosa's poorest neighborhood, Grand Avenue. The most noticeable population on Grand Avenue is a clan of Native Americans, Pomo Indians who live in dilapidated army barracks at the end of the street. Drunkenness, family fights, welfare payments, and illegitimate children abound. Each of the stories is narrated by a different character, yet all the speakers sound the same. The message is that there are no individuals on Grand Avenue; everyone is related by blood and guilt. A particularly good example is "Joy Ride," a tale of a good husband undone by a teenaged temptress. Many of the stories are narrated by middle-aged women, sisters or half-sisters. Surprisingly, timely doses of dark humor and human hope imbue this collection.

Watermelon nights : a novel / Greg Sarris.  New York : Hyperion, c1998.  425pp.  Main Library PS3569.A732 W38 1998 : In the tradition of Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie, a multi-generational epic novel about the love and forgiveness that keep an American Indian family together.
Told from the points of view of Johnny Severe, his grandmother, Elba, and his mother, Iris, Watermelon Nights reaches to the past and toward the future to uncover the secrets behind each of these characters' extraordinary powers of perception. When twenty-year-old Johnny contemplates leaving his grandmother's house for the big city, he discovers there's more than his floundering used-clothing store keeping him where he is. As the novel shifts perspectives, tracing the history of the tribe, we learn how the tragic events of Elba's childhood, as well as Iris's attempts to separate herself from her cultural roots, make Johnny's dilemma all the more difficult, and his choices more crucial.

Native American Writers : Leslie Marmon Silko

Almanac of the Dead : a novel / by Leslie Marmon Silko.  New York : Simon & Schuster, c1991.  763pp.  Main Library PS3569.I44 A79 1991 : When the ex-mistress of a sinister cocaine wholesaler takes a job as secretary to a Native American clairvoyant who works the TV talk show circuit, she begins transcribing an ancient manuscript that foretells the second coming of Quetzalcoatl and the violent end of white rule in the Americas. Witches and shamans across the country are working to fulfill this prophecy, but the capitalist elite is mounting a dirty war of its own, with weapons such as heroin and cocaine. This novel belongs on the same shelf with Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo ( LJ 10/1/72) and Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975). Occult conspiracies multiply at a dizzying pace, and eco-radicals actually do blow up the Glen Canyon Dam. Silko succeeds more as a storyteller than a novelist: the book is full of memorable vignettes, but the frame story of apocalyptic racial warfare is clumsy comic book fare.

Ceremony / Leslie Marmon Silko. New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, 1986, c1977.  262pp.  Main Library PS3569.I44 C4 1986 :  Ceremony remains one of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing. Tayo, a World War II veteran of mixed ancestry, returns to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation in New Mexico. He is deeply scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and further wounded by the rejection he encounters from his people. Only by immersing himself in the Indian past can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power.

Gardens in the Dunes : a novel / Leslie Marmon Silko.  New York : Simon & Schuster, c1999.  479pp.  Main Library PS3569.I44 G37 1999 : Silko is widely considered a master of Native American literature, but in this third novel, as always, the poet, short-story writer and essayist soars beyond the simpler categorizations that might circumscribe her virtuosic and visionary work. Indigo is one of the last Sand Lizard people, who for centuries have cultivated the desert dunes beyond the river. Young Indigo's story opens like a folk tale, outside place and time, but gradually circumstances become plain. It's the turn of the century, Arizona is on the verge of statehood and an aqueduct is being constructed to feed water from the Colorado River to Los Angeles. Displaced peoples strip the desert gardens, and Grandma Fleet takes Indigo and Sister Salt to Needles. There the girls' mother has joined the encampment of women dancing to summon the Messiah, who, to Indigo's wonderment, appears with his Holy Mother and his 11 children. Soldiers raid the celebration; soon Indigo and Sister Salt are captured and separated, and Indigo is sent to school in Riverside. She escapes and is found hiding in a garden by intellectual iconoclast Hattie, who adopts the child and takes her first to New York, then to Europe. The novel, expanding far beyond its initial setting and historical themes, is structured around intricate patterns of color and styles of gardening: the desert dunes are pale yellow and orange; in Italy, a black garden is formed from thousands of hybrid black gladioli. Significantly, there's also a parrot named RainbowAalong with a monkey named Linnaeus and a dog circus. Silko's integration of glorious details into her many vivid settings and intense characters is a triumph of the storyteller's art, which this gifted and magical novelist has never demonstrated more satisfyingly than she does here.

Native American Authors : Gerald Robert Vizenor

Father Meme / Gerald Vizenor.  Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, 2008.  120pp.  Main Library PS3572.I9 F38 2008 : Father Meme, a sleazy priest, abused three altar boys at the Indian Mission Church of the Snow, located on an Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota....The sexual abuse evolves at the mission, at Saint John's Abbey, and on a houseboat at Lake Namakan in the Voyageurs National Park. The altar boys refuse to be victims and stage various strategies of resistance, simultaneously ironic, tricky, and grisly, including the Fourteen Torments founded on the Stations of the Cross. Father Meme is justly sacrificed by the altar boys in a winter fish house on Wiindigoo Lake....This modern fable of wicked priests, sin, sacrifice, and survivance is told to a visiting lawyer and cultural historian from France, a bygone association of the Fur Trade and the Anishinaabe, or Chippewa, Indians of the Great Lakes....Father Meme is a singular, memorable novel that confronts clerical sexual abuse and denounces the reluctance of the Catholic Church to punish pedophile priests.

The heirs of Columbus / Gerald Vizenor.  [Middletown, Conn.] : Wesleyan University Press ; Hanover, NH : University Press of New England, c1991.  189pp.  Main Library PS3572.I9 H45 1991 : Stone Columbus, the famous explorer's heir and namesake, is a Mississippi bingo tycoon and radio talk show host; he's part Mayan, as, he claims, was Christopher Columbus. In 1992 Stone and his listeners establish Point Assinika, a chunk of the Northwest, as a sovereign Native American nation. Their goal is to make available the Mayan "healing genes," isolated by scientists, to save the world. But tribal robots, a kidnapping and a federal disinformation campaign imperil the new nation, in whose harbor stands a copper statue, the Trickster of Liberty. Writing with manic inventiveness, Vizenor ( Griever ) casts the story of Columbus's invasion of the New World as a lyrical trickster tale, full of twists, shamans and subversive humor. Although Vizenor, a mixed-blood Chippewa, punctures the Eurocentric worldview, much of the humor is strained, as in his caricature of Christopher Columbus as a romantic with an enormous, clubbed, twisted penis.

Native American Writers : James Welch

The Death of Jim Loney / James Welch.  New York : Harper & Row, c1979.  179pp.  Main Library PS3573.E44 D4 : James Welch never shied away from depicting the lives of Native Americans damned by destiny and temperament to the margins of society. The Death of Jim Loney is no exception. Jim Loney is a mixed-blood, of white and Indian parentage. Estranged from both communities, he lives a solitary, brooding existence in a small Montana town. His nights are filled with disturbing dreams that haunt his waking hours. Rhea, his lover, cannot console him; Kate, his sister, cannot penetrate his world. In sparse, moving prose, Welch has crafted a riveting tale of disenfranchisement and self-destruction.

Fools Crow / James Welch.  New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Penguin Books, 1987, c1986.  391pp.  Main Library PS3573.E44 F66 1987 : Suspenseful and moving, written with an authenticity and integrity that give it sweeping power, Welch's third novel is a masterful evocation of a Native American culture and its passing. From their lodges on the endless Montana plains, the members of the Lone Eaters band of the Pikuni (Blackfeet) Indians live in harmony with nature, hunting the "blackhorns" (buffalo), observing a complex system of political administration based on mutual respect and handing down legends that explain the natural world and govern daily conduct. The young protagonist is first called White Man's Dog, but earns the respected name Fools Crow for meritorious conduct in battle. Through his eyes we watch the escalating tensions between the Pikunis and the white men ("the Napikwans"), who deliberately violate treaties and initiate hostilities with the hard-pressed red men. At the same time, the feared "white scabs plague" (smallpox) decimates the Lone Eaters communities, and they realize that their days are numbered. There is much to savor in this remarkable book: the ease with which Fools Crow and his brethren converse with animals and spirits, the importance of dreams in their daily lives, the customs and ceremonies that measure the natural seasons and a person's lifespan. Without violating the patterns of Native American speech, Welsh writes in prose that surges and sings. This bittersweet story is an outstanding work.

The Heartsong of Charging Elk : a novel / James Welch.  New York : Doubleday, 2000.  440pp.  PS3573.E44 H4 2000 : Inspired by actual historical fact, James Welch's The Heartsong of Charging Elk tells the story of an Oglala Sioux who travels the extraordinary geographical and cultural distance from tribal life in the Black Hills of South Dakota to existence on the streets of Marseille. As a young boy, Charging Elk witnessed his people's massacre of Custer's Seventh Cavalry at Little Big Horn, followed by years of futile fighting and wandering until the Sioux were finally lured to the Pine Ridge reservation. But he prefers life in the Stronghold, living by his wits and skills in the old way....Ironically, it is Charging Elk's horsemanship and independent air that cause Buffalo Bill to recruit him for his Wild West Show, which travels across "the big water" to create a sensation in the capitals of Europe. Charging Elk and his Sioux companions are living a life touched by fame and marked by previously unthinkable experiences - until he falls ill in Marseille and, through a bureaucratic mix-up, is left behind in a hospital while the show travels on. Scared, disoriented, Charging Elk escapes - only to fall into a series of events, including a love affair with a prostitute and a shocking murder, that will change his life utterly beyond his imagination.

The Indian Lawyer / James Welch.  New York : W.W. Norton, 1990.  349pp.   Main Library PS3573.E44 I5 1990 : Sylvester Yellow Calf, a Blackfeet Indian lawyer, is a nontraditional character whose past and present worlds collide and then threaten to destroy him. Elements of fear are introduced in this thoughtful, evenly paced novel, not in the form of blood or violence, but rather by virtue of wrong decisions, unforeseen consequences, and the dread of loss. Yellow Calf is a fully realized character, a complex, self-made man who overcomes the adversities of parentage and poverty. He is on the verge of an unplanned political success when his very human, normal behavior in a seemingly insignificant incident sets in motion a fall from grace. Welch shifts the story's focus back and forth between a state prison and Helena, where Yellow Calf has created his own version of the American dream. His relationships with several different women add to the rich texture of the novel and provide the seeds for his undoing. As events threaten Yellow Calf's security, a fascinating third world unfolds: the reservation childhood he has tried to leave behind. It is from his past that Yellow Calf eventually finds the truth about himself and the strength to do the right thing. An absorbing psychological tale that should fascinate mature readers.

Winter in the Blood / James Welch.  New York, Harper & Row [1974]   176pp.  Main Library PS3573.E44 W5 :  Welch chronicles a few days in the life of a Native American man living on a reservation in Montana, giving an authentic portrayal of Native American life in 20th-century America....During his life, James Welch came to be regarded as a master of American prose, and his first novel, Winter in the Blood, is one of his most enduring works. The narrator of this beautiful, often disquieting novel is a young Native American man living on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana. Sensitive and self-destructive, he searches for something that will bind him to the lands of his ancestors but is haunted by personal tragedy, the dissolution of his once proud heritage, and Montana's vast emptiness. Winter in the Blood is an evocative and unforgettable work of literature that will continue to move and inspire anyone who encounters it.

Honorary Native American Writer : Dee Brown

In the late 1960s, Dorris Alexander (Dee) Brown began working on his masterpiece, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Published in 1970, it was the first history of the westward expansion of the United States to look from the Native American perspective and told a shocking story of conquest, humiliation and genocide, a powerful revision of the romanticised histories which predominated at the time. The book relied heavily on eyewitness accounts of the events, which Brown was able to retrieve from the national archives - particularly the accounts of Black Elk, a Sioux holy man who witnessed the terrible massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. The book sold more than five million copies and has been translated into 15 languages and had a huge impact on how Americans viewed their history and the plight of the Native Americans as the New York Times put it Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee showed the Indian Wars ‘as the dirty murders they were’. Though widely praised by critics and readers, Brown said the best compliment he ever received for the book came from a Native American: “You didn't write that book. Only an Indian could have written that book!”

Other noteworthy works include Creek Mary’s Blood (1980) an epic novel about a Creek woman and her descendants. In 1993 he published Dee Brown's Folktales of the Native American a captivating retelling of traditional Native American folk stories for a modern audience.

Source : Dee Brown entry  from the Folio Society.

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