American Indian Literature and the Southwest: Contexts and by Eric Gary Anderson

By Eric Gary Anderson

Culture-to-culture encounters among "natives" and "aliens" have long gone on for hundreds of years within the American Southwest—among American Indian tribes, among American Indians and Euro-Americans, or even, in accordance with a few, among people and extraterrestrials at Roswell, New Mexico. Drawing on a variety of cultural productions together with novels, movies, work, comedian strips, and historic reports, this groundbreaking e-book explores the Southwest as either a true and a culturally built website of migration and come upon, during which the very identities of "alien" and "native" shift with each one act of travel.

Eric Anderson pursues his inquiry via an unparalleled diversity of cultural texts. those comprise the Roswell spacecraft myths, Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead, Wendy Rose's poetry, the outlaw narratives of Billy the child, Apache autobiographies through Geronimo and Jason Betzinez, work by way of Georgia O'Keeffe, New West heritage by way of Patricia Nelson Limerick, Frank Norris' McTeague, Mary Austin's The Land of Little Rain, Sarah Winnemucca's Life one of the Piutes, Willa Cather's The Professor's House, George Herriman's modernist caricature Krazy Kat, and A. A. Carr's Navajo-vampire novel Eye Killers.

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Silko’s most daring and complex treatise-narrative about migration is clearly Almanac of the Dead (1991). In this enormous 763-page novel, she almost immediately questions what ‘‘Southwest’’ means and to whom. One of the ways she does so is to set characters and cultures in migratory movement and to circulate the stories they tell and the rumors they generate, so that textual and ideological migrations intertwine in complex ways, across Maya codices, characters’ stories, and Silko’s narrative. Through this process, she also reconfigures ‘‘Native American literature’’ and ‘‘American literature’’ radically.

So too do images of Indians travel, for better and for worse, in both predictable and surprising directions; while these images are often created and regulated by non-Indians, they are nonetheless difficult to separate entirely from various issues and strategies mobilized by American Indian writers. 3 This immense indigenous literature of travel and migration has been underappreciated as a body of work; it has also been underestimated as a political strategy, particularly in the Southwest, where Euro-American migratory styles and motives intervene so problematically with Indians in motion.

I’ve also been in the Virgin Islands, where there is another kind of light, and in the Arctic, where there is yet another kind of light. So all of these are interesting to me. (Woodard, 182) Class issues come into play here as well: Momaday, unlike many American Indian writers, let alone nonwriters, has the prestige, finances, and leisure time necessary to undertake so many world travels. For other Indian writers, a decision to live or travel off the reservation raises very complicated issues; a decision to relocate a hundred miles away from the reservation is difficult enough.

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