Saturday, April 10, 2010

Union Ethics, Tribal Essentialism

Native Literature is not a genre, but it can be a movement.

Don't allow a press, a press release, or the bookstore employee shelving paperbacks to define and categorize your essential personal, cultural, and ethnic identity. Either all Indian authors are Native Lit, or we should all pick up our ball or bat and go home.

Let's spend as much time promoting Native writing of merit as we do clarifying the authors, talented or otherwise who are verifiably non-Native.

There have been urban and rural Indians since before there were White People on this Western Hemisphere; that dichotomy isn't getting us anywhere productive.

If you aren't acknowledging other Indigenous writers, especially those covering other ground than your own, you're out of the club. We'll let you back in when you stop pretending to be the only Indigenous author, or the only real kind.

Ethnicity doesn't skip generations. If your grandmother was Native by descent, so was at least one of your parents, and so are you.

If you are not Native by blood or culture, you don't "write Indian," even if you write like a particular Indian.

Having eagle bone whistles in your work doesn't make it more Indian than having an iPod in there. Indigenous status is not threatened by laptops or pizza delivery. Modernity is not threatened by bear grease in the fridge or that powwow tape in your glove compartment, either.

Schizophrenics and con artists "walk two paths" or "live two lives." Maybe you're just multicultural or an expat when you're off the rez.

Let's be good to each other.

1 comment:

Daniel Rappaport said...

Extremely well said - as usual by this wonderfully prolific author!

Keep up the great posts!

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