My Nez Perce name is Sik-no-wit-Tats which means “Good Speaker,” which was given to me by my tribal elders as a nod that I am to be a “voice” for our people.
“Oh Uncle Adrian, I am in the reservation of my mind,” is a passage from Adrian C. Louis’s literary work, Elegy for the Forgotten Oldsmobile. It is the same one line written by a different author and in a different context which affirms a biography of oppression in living on an Indian reservation; and the intellectual and emotional understanding that fuses together the immense communicative power of language. For Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, who grew up destitute where literary dreams were more than beyond reach, Louis’ passage opened his eyes to the potential of writing. Alexie soon went on to write several novels, for example: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, War Dance, First Indian on the Moon, Indian Killer; and and Smoke Signals (1998), a critically acclaimed movie based on one of Alexie’s short stories and for which he co-wrote the screenplay Smoke Signals (1998), a critically acclaimed movie based on one of Alexie’s short stories. Sherman Alexie’s writing has cleared a mental, emotional and spiritual path for others wanting to ‘fancy dance’ a new Indian reality though writing.
For some however, moving beyond reservation borders is more difficult — a place where poverty, despair and alcoholism have often shaped the lives of many Native Americans living on reservations. But what about Indians who grew up off reservations with desires of wanting to write a different experience?
In a series of e-mails Alexei Auld, Pamunkey-Tauxenant, Graduate, Columbia School of Law, and a Sundance Native Writing alum whose work has been featured in E! True Hollywood Story, Fondo Del Sol, and numerous curated festivals and publications has recently penned a must-read book titled Tonto Canto Pocahontas to answer my inquiry.
Auld asserts, “It is difficult, but as human beings, we cope in different ways. It was easier for me to move beyond the 'reservation mind' because I never grew up on one. And I'm not making a judgment, it's just my reality.” He continues, “I have always participated in the culture. My grandmother was in an arranged marriage with my grandfather to 'keep the blood strong'. My cousin, who was the Chief's brother, married my wife and I. I was a member of a Lumbee Indian church in Baltimore (they were originally from North Carolina, so they were experiencing the whole off-Rez urban experience as well). I worked the powwow circuit with my parents until I left for law school in NYC. Served as president of Columbia Law's Native American Law Students Association. Organized the first unity pow wow between Columbia's undergraduate and graduate Native American student organizations.”
I recently completed an enjoyable reading of Uprising, a 2010 novel by Douglas Bland. It’s a fictional portrayal of modern day Canada amidst a resilient Native insurgent uprising.
Thomas King (Cherokee and Greek) is an amazing, funny, provocative writer. His award-winning fiction works, some under pseudonyms, explore the worlds of Native life in North America.
In my hometown of Billings, Mont., the hoopla surrounding the group of parents who want to see Sherman Alexie’s book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, end its run as part of the Skyview High School’s curriculum came to full fruition at a community meeting to discuss its s
John Collier was the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1933 to 1945, during the New Deal era of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When Collier was first appointed to that post, he had a typical view that Indigenous cultures would die out as a result of “civilization” and “progress.”
As we approach the 200th year since the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed in battle, by American forces on the River Thames in North America, on October 5, 1813, a tremendous wave of activism by the Original Nations and Peoples of Turtle Island has suddenly swept across the geog
Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects is a new book about the campaign to break indigenous social structures by removing the children: "Governments…paid agencies and c
In 1987, while I was staying at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawai’i, I had a strange dream. In my dream I encountered several priests from long ago who were wearing grey hooded robes.
To Leonard Peltier supporters, the fact that Barack Obama has taken such personal interest in the U.S. government’s relations with American Indians renews hope of a presidential pardon after he was denied parole in 2009 for his role in the murder of two FBI agents on June 26, 1975.
In Sir Arthur Helps’s book The Spanish Conquest in America (1855), we find a memorable and heart wrenching story of Spanish cruelty and treachery.” A female Indian leade
Edward Curtis was a star at the start of his monumental work, "The North American Indian." At the halfway point, his fame had vanished, though his stupendous effort to record the "vanishing Indians" continued. By the time he finished, he lived in obscurity, his work almost forgotten.
In his book Metaphysics of Modern Existence (1979), Vine Deloria, Jr.