|About the Book|
Even as indigenous oral and cultural traditions gain purchase in a range of disciplines, including the increasingly expansive field of American literature, many texts written by Native Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuriesMoreEven as indigenous oral and cultural traditions gain purchase in a range of disciplines, including the increasingly expansive field of American literature, many texts written by Native Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries continue to be read in strikingly narrow terms. Although many Native American authors writing in English at the turn of the century did so as a result of the civilizing mission of government boarding schools, such texts nonetheless offer complex engagements with the place of the indigenous in the modern world. While popular discourses position the vanishing Indian as endlessly retreating before the dazzling and purposeful advance of the American nation through territorial expansion and technological wonder, an equally trenchant anti-modern nostalgia situates indigenous forms as a remedy for urban malaise and the enervating effects of modern life. The work of these urban New Indians hails pre-reservation and persistent cultural traditions while also resisting the consolidation or erasure of tribal forms through narratives of Americanization. The result is what I call indigenous modernity, a concept that locates concerns about Indian pasts and futures at the heart of American constructions of the modern.-This project addresses wide-ranging texts by writers such as Gertrude Bonnin (Zitkala-Sa), Charles Eastman, S. Alice Callahan, and Luther Standing Bear in order to argue for a more flexible model of indigenous literature, one that encompasses the complexities of emergent networks of pan-Indian affiliation, literary exchange, and print culture in English. Bringing together poetry, transcribed songs, fiction, autobiography, and film, this project demonstrates that just as tribal and pan-Indian discourses fail to map coherently onto either a nationalist literary history or a transnational (or postcolonial) literature of the Americas, the shifting valences of Indianness continue to present potent challenges to literary histories and critical methodologies. Indigenous modernity offers new ways of reading the multiple temporalities and mobile subjects of both American and Native American literature.