Busca en el resumen del documento
Native American Literature &
Gaia Fior Patricia García Hernández Sonia Padilla Hernández Sara del Pozo González David Simancas Martín Mª Begoña Trujillo Jiménez
The Native American literature of the 18th and 19th centuries is seen as a literature of transition. The period goes from the arrival of the European people on the continent to the early 1960’s, date considered the beginning of the Native American Renaissance ("Early Native American Literature").
The first Native American stories were transmitted orally. These works showed the strongly connection of the native people with the nature which surrounded them. We can see in them the relation of equality of humans, animals and plants, which created a spiritual kinship and equilibrium on Earth. It was maintained from generation to generation and connected by a direct and lively way, on the contrary to the written one, which was considered something solitary (“Native American Literature”).
By combining narrative with the traditional storytelling, the writers created a hybrid literary form. The main theme in early Native American writing is the struggle of the authors to find their own voice within the American culture. It was not until the 1960’s that they began to write about the humiliating treatment experienced by the white people. As we know, the Indian Removal Act, authorized by President Jackson, took place in the early 19th century. According to this law, all Indians in the territory east of the Mississippi River were taken to the dry lands west of the river. Moreover, Native Americans were denied the rights that white people enjoyed ("Early Native American Literature").
Literature, thus, was used as a tool to change attitudes. The early Native writers had to fight against the literary tradition of the time, a tradition that condoned and sentimentalized the death of Indians. Moreover, the Europeans were hostile to the native literary success ("Early Native American Literature"). Actually, it was not until the 60s that the reading public was aware of works by Indians in mainstreams genres (Velie 8).
Nevertheless, this situation changed with the publication of House Made of Dawn by Scott Momaday in 1968. This was the starting point of the Native American Renaissance. After Momaday, the next writer to succeed was James Welch, literary figure that we will comment later (Velie 8).
The first generation of novels which have become the classics of the American Indian Literary Renaissance (House Made of Dawn, Winter in the Blood, Ceremony, Love Medicine) generally present a bleak picture of life in Indian tribes. However, although the protagonists are poor, shiftless, heavy-drinking drifters who are usually out of work and often in jail, the authors treat their subjects with humour and compassion, and the reader gets a full sense of the characters' essential humanity ("An Overview of Post- 1960 Native American Literature").
Later, in the 80s, important figures such as Gerald Vizenor (The Griever), Leslie Silko (The Ceremony) and Louise Erdrich (The Love Machine) appeared. What differentiates them (and other Native writers) from white authors is that Indians work with both novel and poetry, whereas few whites do the same (Velie 8).
Other important authors are Maurice Kenny, Carter Revard, Paula Gunn Allen, Simon Ortiz, Geary Hobson, Rayna Green, Lance Henson, Charlotte DeClue, Linda Hogan, Joy Arjo, Richard Aitson and Leanne Howe (Velie 8).
JANET CAMPBELL HALE
She was born in 1946, in Riverside, California. Her father, a full blood Coeur d’Alene Indian (Idaho), was a veteran of the Great War and a carpenter. Her mother was a Kootenay Indian and Irish descendent. She lived on the Coeur d'Alene and Yakima reservations when she was a child, attending high school in Wapato, Washington.
She writes poetry since she was 15 years old. Her first poems reflect the dream of becoming a writer at some stage (Moris Bakken, Farrington 131).
She graduated in 1974 with a degree in rhetoric in the University of California at Berkeley. Then, she studied law at UC Berkeley for 2 years and later she returned to the university to do a MA in English ("Janet Campbell Hale").
She has taught literature courses in several universities in California, Washington and Oregon. She currently lives on the Coeur d’Alene reservation and she has painted a mural at the Coeur d'Alene Tribal School, as she is also an artist. In fact, Campbell painted the cover for her book of short fiction, Women on the Run (1999) ("Janet Campbell Hale").
Concerning her writings, her first novel was The Owl's Song (1972). The she wrote a collection of poems titled Custer Lives in Humboldt County and Other Poems and her master thesis The Jailing of Cecelia Capture (1987) (Moris Bakken, Farrington 131). In the last one, Hale shows that, unlike her contemporaries Allen, Silko or Welch, she does not rely on oral tradition as a unifying element. In the novel, the protagonist has no place, pueblo or tradition to come back to. She is represented as an isolated individual ("Janet Campbell-Hale: Native American Novelist").
Her work is mainly autobiographical. In her writings, she shows her traumatic childhood and her failed marriage. In The Owl's Song for instance, she includes his alcoholic father, as in the story of Billy White Hawk, his father is alcoholic too ("Janet Campbell-Hale: Native American Novelist"). Another example is Cecelia Capture, who is also a law student at Berkeley. In Bloodlines: Odyssey of a Native Daughter (1993), she reflects on her past and Indian heritage (Moris Bakken, Farrington 131).
Hale has been awarded with the New York Poetry Day Award (1964) or the American Book Award for Bloodlines for Odyssey of a Native Daughter (1995).
JAMES WELCH (1940-2003)
James Welch was born in 1940 in Browning, Montana. He grew up on an Indian reservation in Glacier County (near to Glacier National Park) and attended school on Blackfeet and Belknap reservations. Regarding his higher education, he completed his degree on English literature at the University of Montana and, in addition, Welch went to the Northern Montana State University. Some years later, he taught at the University of Washington and at Cornell, not forgetting his service on the Parole Board of the Montana Prisons Systems and on the Board of Directors of the Newberry Library D'Arcy McNickle Center (Saxon 2003).
James Welch wrote both poetry and prose and his works were deeply influenced by his native origins. Thus, regarding his prose novels, we can highlight as the most
important ones: ''Winter in the Blood'' and ''The Death of Jim Loney '' which were set in his familiar haunts. ''Fools Crow'' told the story of a group of Blackfoot Indians in the Montana Territory of the 1870's. ''The Indian Lawyer'' reflected the great division between the Native American and white peoples. ''The Heartsong of Charging Elk'' (2000), his last book, had as its protagonist an Oglala man who as a child witnessed the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 and, rejecting the reservation’s life, he joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, touring Europe with dreadful consequences.Taking into account his poetry works, ''Riding the Earthboy Forty'' (1971), his first novel, dealt with the landscape, people and history he grew up with. Besides, “Last Stand at Little Bighorn”and“Christmas Comes to Moccasin Flat”are some of his main significant books on poetry (Saxon 2003).
As a remarkable fact, he had been honoured several times. His first prize was on 1986 with an American Book Award, Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a Northwest Book Award to “Fools Crow”. On 1997 he was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award for literature from the Native Writers’ Circle. An Emmy Award was also given to him for his documentary “Last Stand at Little Bighorn”. The latter accolate, on 2000 prized as Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture. (“Native American Authors”)
"An Overview of Post- 1960 Native American Literature." Writers of the Native American Renaissance. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <http://nativeamericanlit.com/>.
"Early Native American Literature." Nativeamericanwriters.com. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <http://nativeamericanwriters.com/>.
"Janet Campbell-Hale: Native American Novelist." Nativeamerican-authors.com. Web. 11 Dec. 2015. <http://nativeamerican-authors.com/campbell-hale.html>.
M. Strom, Karen. "Janet Campbell Hale." Hanksville.org. 1999. Web. 11 Dec. 2015. <http://www.hanksville.org/storytellers/jchale/>.
Moris Bakken, Gordon, and Brenda Farrington. Encyclopedia of Women in the American West. SAGE Publications, 2003. Print.
"Native American Authors." James Welch. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <http://www.ipl.org/div/ natam/bin/browse.pl/A7>.
N.p., n.d. Web. <http://faculty.weber.edu/kmackay/native_american_literature.htm>.
Saxon, Wolfgang. "James Welch, 62, an Indian Who Wrote About the Plains." The New York Times. The New York Times, 8 Aug. 2003. Web. 11 Dec. 2015. <http:// www.nytimes.com/2003/08/09/arts/james-welch-62-an-indian-who-wrote-about- the-plains.html>.
Velie, Alan R. American Indian Literature: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Norman: U of Oklahoma, 1991. Print.