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  • Native Lit or Literally Native?

    This essay is on a very touchy subject here in Indian Country. It's about the controversy and issue of Native Literature. And about who gets to write about us and the subject matter of the books in question. I could go on for ever about this on here. It's purely a subjective matter and near and dear to many of us.

    Even those of us who don't really read too many books written by Skins or not, this issue concerns all of us. But I know vast numbers of us love to read! I could say more about this issue, but I'll let my paper speak for itself...

    This essay is copy written, so don't even think of stealing it!!!

    If you don't like my opinions or anything I wrote, at least use constructive criticism.

    But if you really like my paper, well write what ever you want.



    Miigwech,
    James Smith
    Attached Files
    Last edited by OneidaDreamer; 08-15-2007, 07:10 PM.
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  • #2
    My Words

    I know this paper will raise some hackles. But that's why I wrote it. I'm sort of forcing people to think and feel about a something that is very important to all of us.







    Miigwech
    sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      Good one Oneida

      I liked this one....
      I think the topic of Native writers, authors, journalist seem to have taken a backseat to so many other NATIVE issues. So often peeps don't stop to think what is written , who wrote it, who is going to read it and where did the INFO come from.

      Does a Non Native have an advantage over a Native because of a bias view, or does a Native have the advantage because we don't have to RESEARCH what it means to be Native.

      This paper makes you think, makes you question, and these make you INVOLVED!!!!!

      Nice writings Oneida....cant wait to see whats next....
      Comanchemama

      Comment


      • #4
        Anybody should be able to write about anything, because when a thinking reader reads, he/she is not only reading the work, but reading the author. If I were to write about the Dine and claim to be an authority, some would surely believe me, but many would be able to tell I was a fraud, and they would write rebuttal in one form or another. Writing and reading has always been one point of view and then another, and has always stimulated people to think more. Even when people read "twinkie" new age stuff, a lot of them are talking about it, what's right and what's nuts, and this is white people, too. Now, what I'd really like to see is some work by Indians (who have lived as Indians) on non-Indian cultures, for instance, everyday life in white suburbia or an English murder mystery. Bobby Burns would have loved it, too.

        Comment


        • #5
          OneidaDreamer - you are a very talented writer. Was this piece submitted for a class/grade? [The formatting appears to give that impression.]

          What was the intended audience for that piece? Was it intended for both Native and non-Native audiences?

          You covered a lot of ground in that piece. It is fantastic for stimulating discussion here because it touches on so many matters. But if it's a piece for a class, you might get 'dinged' on a number of things. [But then again, that depends on who is subjectively grading it...]

          It would have been a stronger piece if you focused exclusively on your initial question: "Who has the *authority* to write in the Native American genre?" That one little pin-point could have been flushed out to fill as many pages. For a non-Native audience, the Native concept of *authority* is foreign. It is similar enough for non-Natives to mistakenly believe they understand, when they miss some of the finer points.

          In non-Native literature, an authority is one who has the knowledge to write confidently on a topic. They have done what would be considered a 'reasonable' amount of research on the topic. They have reviewed the available literature and sought out the sources available to them. By Native standards, this is not enough.

          The reasons why this is not enough are strong in themselves and could easily support the conclusion to your question and make it a much stronger piece.

          Just off the top of my head... What would be 'reasonable' research in another field/topic would not yield similar results. Viewing Native life from an outsider's perspective would cause you to miss quite a bit of what is actually happening. You don't know enough to look in the right places to catch what is going on. What you do see, you don't really understand and can only understand the parts that you can relate to in terms you know.

          Add to that -- review of the available literature is not the same foundation as it would be for another topic. The available previous literature on Homer's Illiad is much more reliable than previous literature on Native topics. Much of it has been written by outsiders or casual viewers - sometimes with a racist agenda. That cannot be considered a strong foundation on which to start.

          Also, there is the additional concept of tribal differences. [When people are lumped together, this important distinction is missed.] You cannot live with a family for a few weeks and extrapolate your experience to *all* Natives everywhere throughout the march of time... A pinprick of time for an experience gives us a snapshot. To write literature, you must be able to place that snapshot within the larger frame of the movie (speaking figuratively). To inherit the history of a people is to be able to give that snapshot the background necessary - and thereby give it perspective. Comparing that snapshot to the customs and beliefs of another tribe (or other tribes) - which would require more experience than expected from an outsider - would also give it another dimension of depth often missing from non-Native writing.

          On top of all this is the concept of "authority" which relates to "who is authorized to speak for us"...? The concept of permission to speak for a people is important, yet absent from many writings. And that missing key is not known to be missing by many (non-Native) readers. [The old - "Whoever's not here, stand up and state your name."] This is important from the impact on the society being written about and from the perspective of how much faith you should place in the words being written.

          Psst - if it's written for a non-Native audience, you shouldn't insult the reader in the second paragraph... "For it has already been established that the non-Indian community has little scruples pertaining to the authenticity of their authors." The information you provide in the paper should guide the reader to their own conclusions (which should be the same as yours). At the end of the piece, the reader should say to themselves: I didn't know anything about authenticity prior to reading this piece, but now I know better and can live a better life (in this area) because of it.

          I hope this helps and is taken in the way it was intended. You are a strong writer and I would like to see your thoughts and writing taken to a higher level - where it can improve the situation you are writing about.
          For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf
          And the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
          ~ Rudyard Kipling

          Comment


          • #6
            Thoughts in Time

            Originally posted by BlueWolfSpirit View Post
            OneidaDreamer - you are a very talented writer. Was this piece submitted for a class/grade? [The formatting appears to give that impression.]

            What was the intended audience for that piece? Was it intended for both Native and non-Native audiences?

            You covered a lot of ground in that piece. It is fantastic for stimulating discussion here because it touches on so many matters. But if it's a piece for a class, you might get 'dinged' on a number of things. [But then again, that depends on who is subjectively grading it...]

            It would have been a stronger piece if you focused exclusively on your initial question: "Who has the *authority* to write in the Native American genre?" That one little pin-point could have been flushed out to fill as many pages. For a non-Native audience, the Native concept of *authority* is foreign. It is similar enough for non-Natives to mistakenly believe they understand, when they miss some of the finer points.

            In non-Native literature, an authority is one who has the knowledge to write confidently on a topic. They have done what would be considered a 'reasonable' amount of research on the topic. They have reviewed the available literature and sought out the sources available to them. By Native standards, this is not enough.

            The reasons why this is not enough are strong in themselves and could easily support the conclusion to your question and make it a much stronger piece.

            Just off the top of my head... What would be 'reasonable' research in another field/topic would not yield similar results. Viewing Native life from an outsider's perspective would cause you to miss quite a bit of what is actually happening. You don't know enough to look in the right places to catch what is going on. What you do see, you don't really understand and can only understand the parts that you can relate to in terms you know.

            Add to that -- review of the available literature is not the same foundation as it would be for another topic. The available previous literature on Homer's Illiad is much more reliable than previous literature on Native topics. Much of it has been written by outsiders or casual viewers - sometimes with a racist agenda. That cannot be considered a strong foundation on which to start.

            Also, there is the additional concept of tribal differences. [When people are lumped together, this important distinction is missed.] You cannot live with a family for a few weeks and extrapolate your experience to *all* Natives everywhere throughout the march of time... A pinprick of time for an experience gives us a snapshot. To write literature, you must be able to place that snapshot within the larger frame of the movie (speaking figuratively). To inherit the history of a people is to be able to give that snapshot the background necessary - and thereby give it perspective. Comparing that snapshot to the customs and beliefs of another tribe (or other tribes) - which would require more experience than expected from an outsider - would also give it another dimension of depth often missing from non-Native writing.

            On top of all this is the concept of "authority" which relates to "who is authorized to speak for us"...? The concept of permission to speak for a people is important, yet absent from many writings. And that missing key is not known to be missing by many (non-Native) readers. [The old - "Whoever's not here, stand up and state your name."] This is important from the impact on the society being written about and from the perspective of how much faith you should place in the words being written.

            Psst - if it's written for a non-Native audience, you shouldn't insult the reader in the second paragraph... "For it has already been established that the non-Indian community has little scruples pertaining to the authenticity of their authors." The information you provide in the paper should guide the reader to their own conclusions (which should be the same as yours). At the end of the piece, the reader should say to themselves: I didn't know anything about authenticity prior to reading this piece, but now I know better and can live a better life (in this area) because of it.

            I hope this helps and is taken in the way it was intended. You are a strong writer and I would like to see your thoughts and writing taken to a higher level - where it can improve the situation you are writing about.




            It's for all to see. Course not that many non-Indians will probably see it on here; but I'm not going to stop here. I"m going to tweak it a tad then publish it in as many places I can. I don't care if non-Native people get all jacked up over it. They're suppose to. And you'd probably be hard pressed to find an Indian person who doesn't agree with me somewhat.

            It's intended to force thought. Sometimes people need to be forced to think and wake the hell up. The media tells people how to dress, think, behave, love, worship, create, just to name a few.

            The lethargic fog of non-thought is slow to lift from many now-a-days. Or perhaps I should re-word that, stimulating thought. Oh sure people think, I'm not saying they don't. I'm saying that people are often not given the best subject matter to think about. Hell, if someone wants to download my paper and read it in the "CAN" for all I care! In fact I do some of my best and deepest thinking there! AYE! But seriously, as long as it gets people thinking. Shoot, even if they get all the way through it and think it sucks, I don't care! Least they will have had an opinion.

            And just maybe they'll show someone else and then that person will have to start making critical decisions about something perhaps they never thought about before, but it was always in the back of their ole canuckle head just stewing away. Ya never know. Or perhaps it will be a totally new concept to them. Vine Deloria Jr. pisses a whole lot of people off, both non-Indian and Indian alike. In fact I can't even read the guy, he gets gets my blood up way too much!
            Last edited by OneidaDreamer; 04-04-2007, 07:20 AM.
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            Comment


            • #7
              Anytime that anyone writes something, he/she can't be automatically assumed to be the authority. That's why its important to have critical reading and thinking skills to try and figure out if what you are reading is really accurate. I mean, I could use really fancy vocabulary that sounds good to write a paragraph about say, outer space, but it wouldn't be right because I wouldn't know what I was talking about. Yet I think that when people read about foreign cultures, they tend to drop this critical analysis. In movies, fiction, things like that, they call it "suspension of disbelief" which is what the author tries to do to get the audience/reader believe what they are telling. That's how we can believe that Harry Potter can fly on a broom, because they contextualize him in a wizard school and we get rid of our disbelief that a person can't fly. I might argue that western people have a perpetual suspension of disbelief about non-western cultures! C'mon look at all the crazy things that have been written, not just about Indians but of other cultures- Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, etc that white people will naively believe. I think the issue of authenticity when writing about Indian people really needs to reinforce this healthy skepticism and critical thinking to sort out the "wannabe" writers, especially about Indian spirituality, and the ones who are accurately portraying Indian life. Anyway...that's my 2 cents as they say.

              Comment


              • #8
                I am so glad to hear that you are going to take that piece further! You are speaking of topics that need to be thought of and understood. There are many misconceptions that need to be corrected. There are many who think they know ... or think they are doing the right thing... when in fact, they're being (truly) ignorant or unintentionally rude. Once you stimulate them to think about something (and hopefully even talk about it), perhaps they will eventually find the real answers - or at least nudge themselves a little closer to the truth.

                If you're looking to get their attention by irritation - always remember ... people don't get mad at what they don't understand, no matter how insulting it may be. If you call someone a three-headed fish wearing a ballet dress in your native language and they don't speak/understand that language, they will probably imagine that it's some blessing and thank you for it. Just because something is obvious to you (and most people you know) ... it may not be apparent to everyone (especially non-thinkers -- who you're trying to reach). What I'm talking about are things like the dream catcher in the rear view mirror. [I have actually had to *explain* that to people.] Here you can just say that and everyone (or almost everyone) understands. When you broaden your reach with the tweaked piece, you might want to add to that one to make it a bit more obvious.

                Good luck and good writing. I hope you make many people outside of here think the way you do here on the boards.
                For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf
                And the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
                ~ Rudyard Kipling

                Comment


                • #9
                  I will tweak it. But I have to do some other taskers for school. Damn I'm glad this semester flew by.
                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OneidaDreamer - I hope you will consider taking your essay to publications for writers, like "Writers' Digest," and not just stick to the native community. There are plenty of others, of course, but I'd really like to see more of this type of work out in the mainstream where people of all kinds who write will see it and think about it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Finals

                      I will. I have finals ya'll. Holay
                      sigpic

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by OneidaDreamer View Post
                        This essay is on a very touchy subject here in Indian Country. It's about the controversy and issue of Native Literature. And about who gets to write about us and the subject matter of the books in question. I could go on for ever about this on here. It's purely a subjective matter and near and dear to many of us.

                        Even those of us who don't really read too many books written by Skins or not, this issue concerns all of us. But I know vast numbers of us love to read! I could say more about this issue, but I'll let my paper speak for itself...

                        This essay is copy written, so don't even think of stealing it!!!

                        If you don't like my opinions or anything I wrote, at least use constructive criticism.

                        But if you really like my paper, well write what ever you want.



                        Miigwech,
                        James Smith

                        Right on....props to you for touching on these subjects (ps you are a very talented writer). Slightly off subject....I wanted to share a book with you guys that I read a few years ago that talks about misinformation in the history books and all that and how it happens and why and it discusses the misinformation about Natives (especially in relation to the story of Columbus and the Pilgrims) but also about a lot of other issues. It is called "Lies My Teacher Told Me".....I WISH I could remember the author but anyway GREAT book!
                        "To ignore injustice is to allow it"
                        sigpic
                        Peace, Love, and many blessings,
                        White Wave

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by whitewave View Post
                          Right on....props to you for touching on these subjects (ps you are a very talented writer). Slightly off subject....I wanted to share a book with you guys that I read a few years ago that talks about misinformation in the history books and all that and how it happens and why and it discusses the misinformation about Natives (especially in relation to the story of Columbus and the Pilgrims) but also about a lot of other issues. It is called "Lies My Teacher Told Me".....I WISH I could remember the author but anyway GREAT book!


                          Thank you for the compliment Whitewave. I have known of that book for a decade now. Good book.
                          sigpic

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            wow I just read your essay on Lit or Literally Native, you really gave me something to think about. I had no idea that folks where triing to put Native authors into one type of writting, that would be so wrong on so many levels as well as sad. People who have the calling to write should write about what ever they are moved to write about. I also feel that if someone who is non indian wants to write about indians they need to one be sure to learn all they can and two make sure that people understand it is thier piont of view they are writting about. Thank You for your essay! Little owl wings

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by littleowlwings View Post
                              wow I just read your essay on Lit or Literally Native, you really gave me something to think about. I had no idea that folks where triing to put Native authors into one type of writting, that would be so wrong on so many levels as well as sad. People who have the calling to write should write about what ever they are moved to write about. I also feel that if someone who is non indian wants to write about indians they need to one be sure to learn all they can and two make sure that people understand it is thier piont of view they are writting about. Thank You for your essay! Little owl wings


                              Miigwech for your kind words. It brings me joy to know that people get enlightened by my writings. That's what they're there for.

                              Peace
                              sigpic

                              Comment

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