Anda di halaman 1dari 4

Foreword: The problem of national identity is surely the one most frequently discussed in all kinds of publications, almost

all of them seeing the U.S.A. as a melting pot. The paper aims at investigating into American Indian literature heritage as a part of multicultural America. Thesis: Contemporary Indian literature emerged out of the hard struggle of Native Americans to integrate with the mainstream society without loosing their national identity.

What can be passed unnoticed when exploring American Indian literature is a typical for it highlight of white men being in debt to Indians. When looking back at the history of the Indians vs. Europeans conflict a good reason for this becomes obvious. The story starts with Christopher Columbus discovery of the New World. Alvin M. Josephy in The Indian Heritage of America states that European people did not behave entirely civilized having met people with different background. Indian leaders were talked as princes and kings; sriritual guides and curers were called wizards, witch doctors, and medicine men, and all were equaled as practitioners of sorcery. Indian societies generally refined and sophisticated though some of them might be were termed savage and barbaric often only because they were strange, different and not understood by the whites. Josephy claims that the conflict between Indians and Europeans arose because of misunderstanding, limits of authority of Indian leaders, and non-hostile motives of some Indian traits. European attitude to Indians was also influenced by adventurous narrations of travelers. Thus, idealistic image of an Indian man was originated, with emphasis on its freedom and close connection to nature. A famous writer, James Fennimore Cooper contributed much to its creation: These Indians know the nature of the woods, as it might be by instinct! The Last of the Mohicans. 15, ch3. He wrote about the Natives with certain admiration: At a little distance in advance stood Uncas, his whole person thrown powerfully into view by its situation and proximity. The travellers anxiously regarded the upright, flexible figure of the young Mohican, graceful and unrestrained in the attitudes and movements of nature 25, ch 5. However, as conflicts continued, the Europeans got another view on Indians, exactly as bloodthirsty savages, intent of murder, scalping and pillage. After Indian wars ended in the 19th century, the U.S. government started the program of forced assimilation. Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887, which was meant to break tribal lands into individually owned 160 acre plots, left 90,000 Indians landless. What is more, Indians proved to be unprepared for farming. The attempt to enroll Indians to schools was not very successful either. Those who had been forced into missionary or government-run boarding schools were not fitted for either the tribal or the white world. That is when the image of whisky Indian emerged having lost everything, he was trying to drown his sorrows in drink. It made many Europeans regard Indians as degrade, weak, and lacking will people. Another mistake made by the Europeans was that they often left out of scope that there was not a single Indian people, but many different people having each its own culture. The todays rich literary heritage of Native Americans fully reflects the devastation brought by white men. These are the lines from a poem of Mary Mackey, poet and a novelist, and a founder of the Feminists Writers Guild. time after time the boys shot me down and I came back Red witch wild and chanting came back Ghost Dance came back

Cant Forget and Crazy with Grief I know were they went those boys with heir guns theyre still hunting Indians look you can see their names are Spills Blood And Kills-Without-Mercy [126] The poem brightly illustrates the judgmental attitude typical for the major part of American Indian literature, also drawing a parallel between the Native American as victim and woman as victim. In recent years, Native American women have written much about the challenges of their life, precisely about the strikingly different traditions between white world and tribal world and their difficulty in finding the balance. There are also bitter feeling about loosing their national identity: i can eat buffalo meat at the tourist burger stand i can dance to Indian mucis rock-n-roll hey-a-hey-o i can & unfortunately i do nila northSun Moving Camp Too Far 120. Their writing activity gave rise to many communities aiming at preserving cultural heritage and providing communication and support for writers. The interesting one is Voices from the Gaps, which gives all kind of information: VG provides resources about artists and writers. VG forges a collective effort of scholars who digitally interact with each other. VG contains biographical and critical analysis, pedagogical information, and histories of translation. VG archives recorded sound, film, and image collections, interviews, and online conversations with web logs (blogs). There is also a special directory located at Wikipedia called Wiki Native created so that Native American writers could contribute to the archives. Apart from the theme of white men owing apologies to Indians and the challenge of integrating to the mainstream society, Native American Literature demonstrates much irony underlining white men ignorance in Indian culture and consumer attitude to it: How do you do? No, I am not Chinese. No, not Spanish. No, I am American Indi-uh, Native American No, not from India. No, I dont know where you can get peyote.

No, I dont know where you can get Navajo rugs that cheap. No, I didnt make this. I bought it at Bloomingdales. [122] Sure you can ask me a personal question. Diane Burnes. Some of the literary works do not show bitter irony, but a great sense of humour. Louise Erdrich, widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native writers of the Native American Renaissance, said: "It's impossible to write about Native life without humourthat's how people maintain sanity." The story First Indian on the Moon? is the brightest example of such a humour. It tells about NASA doing work for the Apollo moon mission near Navajo Reservation in Tuba City. As Navajo people got noticed they were approached by the NASA personnel. As a Navajo sheep herder learned who they were, he asked if he could send the message to the moon with the astronauts. NASA people agreed. The message translated into English was: "Watch out for these guys, they come to take your land." One more feature common for todays Native writers is their wish to explain their culture to the society. The synopsis for the book Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality by Philip Jenkins reads: America is host to a bewildering array of religions, religious beliefs, and spiritualities. Among the most misunderstood and misused are probably the religious beliefs of Native Americans... Speaking about Indian literature heritage it is impossible not to mention Navarro Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1969, for his novel House Made of Dawn. This achievement inspired many Indian writers, making Momaday one of the most significant authors of Native American Renaissance era. Momaday is a Kiowa from Oklahoma who became a professor of English at the University of California at Santa Barbara and at the University of New Mexico. He is often called a writer warrior, for his determination in tracing the history of his ancestors. In his autobiographical essay The Way to Rainy Mountain he told the story of his search for roots. This essay as well as the novel were the first to become Native American classic, being frequently reprinted and encouraging Indians not to loose their national identity. Obviously, the historical drama have had a huge impact on Native American literature so that it reflected the devastation braught to Indians by the white man, the feeling of humiliation because of being unable to integrate to a new white world society, tossing about between the two worlds. The later literary works, having gained more confidence, exercise more irony about white men attitudes and show the stronger feel of national identity and strive to revive the oral literature of its people.