Mediating Indianness

Response from Paul Spickard

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Poet.  Fictionist.  Playwright.  Essayist.  Tribal leader.  Teacher of writing for the people.  Feminist pedagogue.  Critic of art.  Of literature.  Of politics.  Of media.  Anthropologist.  Activist.  Romanian.  German.  British.  Pueblo.  Anishinaabe.  White American.  Mediating Indianness offers a cornucopia of voices proclaiming that Native American identity is alive, expressive, and still under construction.  The volume offers a good deal of straight-up criticism of books, plays, and films by and about Native Americans.  And it adds other delights.  One author meditates on the sources and meanings of the Cherokee written word.  Another calls back the pan-Indian organizer and warrior Tecumseh from the mists of history.  A third takes us inside the gendered world of the Northern Ute Bear Dance.  We learn of African-Native American overlaps and interactions, from the race-bending of Okah Tubbee in the 1840s to Native American hip-hop in the 2000s.  We are treated to poetry and creative fiction, to performance and analysis of performativity.  Standing behind the volume, visible here and there in shadowy form, sometimes stepping out into the light, is the archetypal figure of the writer and activist Gerald Vizenor, who has in his long career taken on most of the roles that his co-authors assume here.  All in pursuit of some glimpses of the shapes that Indianness takes, and has taken, and might yet take.

Paul Spickard
Author of Almost All Aliens and Multiple Identities