|Gerald Vizenor- Chippewa|
Vizenor was a prolific and versatile author writing over twenty-five books and gaining a stellar international reputation. His
works, which include poetry, fiction, autobiography, a screenplay, narrative history, journalism, essays, and critical
theory, display his eclectic knowledge and intellectual sophistication. Revolutionary in style and vision, Vizenor's works
have broken new ground in the field of Native American literature.
Particularly notable are his celebratory representations of mixed-blood identity, his use of a trickster dynamic, and his
blending of the postmodern with the tribal. An inveterate coiner of words, Vizenor consistently challenges the limits of
written language and tries in his works to privilege the oral aesthetic. Vizenor’s Griever: An American Monkey King in
China (1987) received the American Book Award and his novel Interior Landscapes: Autobiographical Myths and
Metaphors (1990) won the Fiction Collective Award.
N. Scott Momaday, in the Columbia Literary History of the United States (1988), calls Vizenor "the supreme ironist among
American Indian writers of the twentieth century." The subjects on which Vizenor has wielded his satire include historical
and literary representations of Native Americans, contemporary identity politics, repatriation of tribal remains, reservation
gaming, American Indian Movement leaders, and Christopher Columbus. His fearsome challenges to romantic Indian
fallacies often situate the author and his literary works in the center of controversy, and he thrives there.
Throughout his life Vizenor has found ways to thrive in circumstances that might have destroyed a less hardy individual.
Born on 22 October 1934 to twenty-four-year-old Clement William Vizenor, a house painter of French and Anishinaabe
(Chippewa) ancestry, and LaVerne Lydia Peterson, a white teenage school dropout, Gerald Robert Vizenor was to
receive little parental nurturing from either.
Vizenor's father had moved from the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota to Minneapolis to find work;
there he had met and married Vizenor's mother, but their union lasted less than a year. Clement Vizenor took Gerald and
moved in with his mother and brothers and sisters. In late June 1936 Vizenor's father was murdered by a mugger; the
crime remains unsolved.
In the ensuing years Vizenor would live in a tenement with his paternal relatives, be reclaimed by his mother and endure
loneliness and desperate poverty, and be abandoned by her to foster homes. Finally, LaVerne Vizenor remarried in
1943 and brought Gerald to live with her and her new husband, Elmer Petesch. Eight years later she abandoned both of
them. Petesch died in an accidental fall down an elevator shaft on Christmas Eve, 1951.
Family, ancestors, and a sense of place have figured largely in Vizenor's artistic vision despite the harsh circumstances
of his childhood and the absence of a stable family setting. In the first chapter of his autobiography, Interior Landscapes,
he traces his connection to the Crane Clan and to the White Earth Reservation and offers brief sketches of several of his
Among those whose influence is felt most strongly in Vizenor's work is Theodore Hudon Beaulieu, editor of The Progress,
the first newspaper to be published on the White Earth Reservation. Vizenor has retold in several of his works the
government challenge to the paper's existence. He celebrates his connection to the tribal orators of the crane clan and
to those who first claimed the right to publish Native American perspectives, and in his own work Vizenor marries this dual
heritage of storytelling and rebellion.
In one of his earliest rebellions Vizenor dropped out of high school at eighteen to join the army. A routine army
intelligence test gave him his first vision of himself as intellectually gifted, and during his time in the service he began to
read seriously and to contemplate the possibility of a college education and a writer's life. Stationed for a time on the
island of Matsushima in Japan, Vizenor was exposed to the Asian literature and culture that would fuel his early writing
and would continue to be an important influence on later works.
Discharged from the army in 1955, Vizenor enrolled at the University of Minnesota. There he received encouragement
from a professor of Asian literature, Edward Copeland, to pursue his interest in haiku poetry. He married Judith Horns in
1959, and their only child, Robert, was born in 1960.
Vizenor earned a bachelor's degree in child development in 1960. From 1960 to 1962 he was a social worker at the
Minnesota State Reformatory. In 1962 Two Wings the Butterfly, his first collection of haiku, was privately printed. He took
graduate courses in anthropology, library science, and Asian studies at the University of Minnesota from 1962 to 1964.
Two Wings the Butterfly was followed by five more haiku collections: Raising the Moon Vines and Seventeen Chirps in
1964, Slight Abrasions with Jerome Downes in 1966, Empty Swings in 1967, and Matsushima: Pine Islands in 1984.
Vizenor's fascination with haiku derives, first, from its use of nature and, second, from the restraint of the form -- the
absence that leaves space for reader response. In the introduction to Matsushima he sketches his understanding of the
form, referring to haiku scholars and practitioners such as Donald Keene, R. H. Blyth, and Daisetz Suzuki.
Through haiku, Vizenor claims, one arrives at a "dreamscape," a moment of transformation or natural harmony. He
quotes Blyth's comment that "Haiku is the expression of a temporary enlightenment, in which we see into the life of
things" and goes on to explain: "Words are turned back to nature, set free in the mythic dreamscapes of a haiku." For
Vizenor, the power of haiku stems from its ability to liberate one from language, to reconnect one to experience.
Vizenor has been recognized as one of the finest American haiku practitioners; his poems have been used as examples
of the form in Louis Untermeyer's The Pursuit of Poetry (1970) and have been anthologized in such collections as The
Haiku Anthology (1974). A poem from the autumn haiku section of Matsushima is representative of Vizenor's style:
squirrels in the eucalyptus
multidimensional experience -- here, by following the visual with the auditory. Other haiku by Vizenor embody the voice
he calls in Matsushima the "street dancer ... the trickster, the picaresque survivor in the wordwars." These haiku often jar
the reader with unusual perspectives. The title poem in Seventeen Chirps is a case in point:
For a sparrow to hop across
My city garden[.]
This "trickster" haiku calls attention to the modern preoccupation with enumerative measurement and, by showing its
inappropriate application in this instance, playfully suggests that one live life rather than count and record each moment.
Vizenor's haiku have many subjects and perspectives, yet the poems all strive, as Vizenor quotes Roland Barthes in
Matsushima, to "halt language" and to arouse in the reader the experience of enlightenment.
In their desire both to reflect and to awaken a visionary experience, haiku are, for Vizenor, kindred to Ojibwa dream
songs. "There is a visual dreamscape in haiku," he says in Matsushima, "which is similar to the sense of natural human
connections to the earth found in tribal music, dream songs." In an unpublished 1987 interview Vizenor claimed that
Ojibwa dream songs "are sort of the Ojibway haiku -- in song."
The similarity between the two extends to form as well as content: both are brief, tightly constructed works offering
succinct images that frequently arise out of experience of nature. It is understandable, then, that during the time Vizenor
was writing his early haiku he also undertook the translation of traditional Ojibwa songs.
His "reexpressions," which make significant use of Frances Densmore's recordings and translations of songs in her two-
volume Chippewa Music (1910), were published as Summer in the Spring: Lyric Poems of the Ojibway in 1965. This
song, of fairly typical form, illustrates the singer's engagement with nature:
echoing my words
with a pleasing sound[.]
People (1970). The two books were combined in 1981 under the title Summer in the Spring: Ojibwe Lyric Poems and
Tribal Stories, and this collection was republished in 1993 as Summer in the Spring: Anishinaabe Lyric Poems and
Stories, New Edition.
At the same time Vizenor was writing and publishing his haiku and his Ojibwa translations, his political interests began to
lead him toward journalism. From 1964 to 1968 he was a community organizer, holding posts as a social worker for the
Waite Settlement House in Minneapolis in 1965 and executive director of the American Indian Employment and Guidance
Center in 1966, and much of his energy was given to earning Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) support for Indians who had
relocated to the cities.
Vizenor began to write articles for the Twin Citian magazine and the Minneapolis Tribune; many of the pieces were
collected in his Tribal Scenes and Ceremonies (1976) and reprinted in an expanded collection, Crossbloods: Bone
Courts, Bingo, and Other Reports (1990). Vizenor's freelance work led to a job as a general-assignment reporter for the
Tribune in 1968-1969; he was an editorial writer for the paper in 1974 and a contributing editor from 1974 to 1976.
Vizenor's reporting on a Lakota premedical student, Thomas White Hawk, who was convicted of murder helped establish
his reputation as a journalist.
He wrote a long essay in which he identified in White Hawk a condition he labeled "cultural schizophrenia" and saw the
young man's case as symbolic of the situation of many Native American people living in a "white-dominated society." The
essay, which first appeared in the Twin Citian, was republished as a book, Thomas James White Hawk (1968); it was
included in Tribal Scenes and Ceremonies and reworked in two of Vizenor's later books.
Vizenor's journalistic pieces covered topics ranging from Indian education and treaty rights to Indian child welfare, but a
series of editorials he wrote on the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1973 attracted the most attention. At a time when
AIM was at the height of its popularity, Vizenor questioned the "confrontation idiom" of the radical organization and
suggested that its leaders capitalized on romantic images of Indians, were mainly interested in publicity, and failed to stay
around to work out the changes that would improve conditions for Native American people. A series of sketches Vizenor
published as The Everlasting Sky:
New Voices from the People Named the Chippewa (1972) could be seen as a counterpoint to the AIM editorials. Here
Vizenor positively characterizes those he calls the "oshki anishinabe" ("new people of the woodland") and outlines some
of their survival strategies and dreams. With this book Vizenor began the deromanticizing of the Indian that continues to
preoccupy him today.
The seventeen pieces in Wordarrows: Indians and Whites in the New Fur Trade (1978) recognize the displacement of
the white/Indian conflict from the literal battlefield to what Vizenor calls "cultural word wars." He illustrates his thesis that
"language determines culture and the dimensions of consciousness" through accounts such as that of White Hawk's
cultural schizophrenia and that of Marlene American Horse, an alcoholic whose true problem Vizenor sees as "internal
word wars" fed by the guilt she has been taught to feel by white society.
In several places Vizenor quotes from Momaday's House Made of Dawn (1968) and "The Man Made of Words" (1970);
the title of the collection refers to Momaday's story of an arrow maker whose survival depended on language. In this book
and in later works Vizenor builds on Momaday's ideas about language, imagination, and storytelling.
Several of the pieces in Wordarrows are said to be taken from "an unpublished novel by Saint Louis Bearheart," which is
described as "a strange book about tribal pilgrims and their grave reports from the word wars."
Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart
The novel, Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart, was actually by Vizenor, and it appeared in the same year as Wordarrows.
A futuristic satire, it is the story of an odd assortment of pilgrims who, when an oil shortage closes down America's
consumer culture, travel from a rural Minnesota reservation to New Mexico in search of the "vision window" to the "fourth
world." Vizenor weaves together themes that he has continued to develop in his later works; among the most important of
these themes is the notion of "terminal creeds," or static beliefs. In the novel the "terminal believers" die, while those who
are able to adapt and change survive. The terminal beliefs exposed by Vizenor center around the romanticized stance of
the "invented Indian."
As Vizenor has related in interviews, and as Louis Owens notes in his afterword to the 1990 edition, Bearheart: The
Heirship Chronicles, the novel has generated strong reactions. Purposely "lost" by several publishers and rejected as
pornography by one typesetter, it has been criticized for its irreverence toward the popular myth of the Indian and for the
sex and violence it depicts. But, Owens contends, the real source of the negative response is "the novel's outrageous
challenge to all preconceived definitions, what Bearheart calls 'terminal creeds.'" In trickster fashion, Vizenor dares to
challenge his readers' most dearly held beliefs.
The style and tone of Bearheart also create a challenge for readers, establishing a pattern that has come to be
associated with Vizenor's work. Vizenor incorporates thinly disguised people, places, and events from history, current
affairs, and his personal experience. The plot, which incorporates elements of tribal myth -- including the "evil gambler,"
the tribal trickster, dream visions, and transformations -- is episodic and resists closure. Alan Velie, one of the first
scholars to explore Vizenor's work, recognized in the book the joining of the postmodern novel with the trickster tradition
that has become Vizenor's trademark.
While Vizenor was making the transition from poetry to journalism and fiction, he was also making the transition to the
college classroom. He served as a summer instructor in a special program on tribal cultures at Bemidji State University in
Minnesota in 1966 and took a one-year teaching job at Lake Forest College in Illinois in 1970. In the 1971-1972
academic year he was back at Bemidji State as director of Indian studies.
Later he taught at several Twin Cities campuses, including Augsburg, Macalester, Hamline, and the University of
Minnesota. In 1976 he accepted an appointment as lecturer in Native American studies at the University of California,
Berkeley, and for several years he split his teaching duties between Berkeley and the University of Minnesota. He was
named the James J. Hill Visiting Professor in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota in 1978; in 1989 he
was provost of Kresge College at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and in 1990 he held the David Burr Chair at
the University of Oklahoma. Although Vizenor's writing continued to draw from his work in the Indian community, it began
to reflect more academic and theoretical concerns.
Vizenor situates several of the stories in Earthdivers: Tribal Narratives on Mixed Descent (1981) in a university setting.
"The Chair of Tears," for example, is a zany account of a university where the Department of Indian Studies is put up for
sale to the highest bidder and a dip is used to adjust the skin of Indian mixed-bloods to a more politically advantageous
color. Vizenor emphasizes the mixed-blood -- what he later calls "crossblood" -- condition in this collection of fiction and
literary journalism, aligning that ambiguous state with that of the trickster and identifying the role of both as "earthdivers."
While the traditional earthdivers dove underwater to bring back the sand from which the earth was built, the "mixedblood
earthdiver," Vizenor writes in his preface, must "dive into unknown urban places now" searching for "a few honest words
upon which to build a new urban turtle island" with which "to create a new consciousness of coexistence."
Vizenor's preface also explores his use of the trickster as a metaphor for the mixed-blood, the theory behind his unusual
use of language, some ideas about autobiography, and a critique of several anthropological trickster theories. Since he
continues to develop all of these topics in his later works, this preface is an important statement of Vizenor's purpose and
method and an early example of his growing concern with literary and cultural theory.
Vizenor's depiction of "earthdivers" continues with his screenplay for the motion picture Harold of Orange , which won the
Film-in-the-Cities Award in 1983. The characters Vizenor calls "trickster founders of this new earth" are the "Warriors of
Orange," a group of Indians who trick a charitable foundation into funding a miniature orange grove on their reservation
and then a pinch bean coffee scam.
The film makes it clear that both sides are playing a game in which each gets what it wants: the foundation receives "a
good name," the Indians "a little money." In this delightful comedy Vizenor comments on Indian stereotypes, repatriation
of tribal remains, and the distortions of history. In one memorable scene Harold Sinseer, the leader of the Warriors of
Orange, suggests that some bones that are on display may actually be not Native American but those of an
anthropologist who was lost in a snowstorm. Vizenor proves in this film, as he says in The Heirs of Columbus (1991), that
"humor has political significance."
The issue of historical distortion raised in Harold of Orange gets much fuller treatment in The People Named the
Chippewa: Narrative Histories (1984), in which Vizenor uses a storytelling method to discuss the problem of imposed
histories and offer alternative accounts of historical events. Vizenor not only challenges the alleged facts but also
questions the motives and methods of historiography:
Indian, renamed the tribes, allotted the land, divided ancestries by geometric degrees of blood, and categorized
identities on federal reservations."
Vizenor creates a collage of voices -- historical, contemporary, mythic, and fictional -- that converge and overlap to offer
a more complete account of events and ideas.
Griever: An American Monkey King in China
In a similar vein, Vizenor's second novel, Griever: An American Monkey King in China , mixes mythical, historical, and
fictional characters and events to critique the political scene of contemporary China. Vizenor had been divorced from his
first wife in 1968 and in 1981 had married Laura Jane Hall, who was of British and Chinese-Guyanese background. The
two taught for several months in 1983 at Tianjin University of China, where Vizenor was struck by the similarity between
the mythical Chinese Monkey King and the Native American trickster figure.
He links the two traditions in Griever, in which the reservation trickster Griever de Hocus becomes a teacher at Zhou
Enlai University. In typical trickster fashion, Griever works for liberation from Chinese strictures at every turn, freeing
birds and prisoners, challenging the one-child rule, and ultimately flying away in an ultralight airplane.
The Trickster of Liberty
More trickster fiction followed as Vizenor published a novel, The Trickster of Liberty: Tribal Heirs to a Wild Baronage
(1988); a collection of short fiction, Landfill Meditation (1991); and two more novels, The Heirs of Columbus and Dead
Voices: Natural Agonies in the New World (1992). Vizenor's trickster is, as he says in Earthdivers, a "compassionate tribal
trickster," an "imaginative trickster, the one who cares to balance the world between terminal creeds and humor with
unusual manners and ecstatic strategies." In an unpublished interview Vizenor has said: "The thing I want to emphasize
about him in my experience and in my writing is that he is liberator."
That key quality is evident in The Trickster of Liberty , an account of a family of Anishinaabe tricksters from Vizenor's
reservation, White Earth. Marked throughout with reappearances of characters from previous works, the novel presents
perhaps Vizenor's most cutting indictment of the "invented Indian." In the chapter "The Last Lecture at the Edge" a group
of "mixedblood educators, tribal radicals, writers, painters, a geneticist, a psychotaxidermist, and various pretenders to
the tribe" deliver one last account of themselves before they take on new names and identities. Through these
confessions Vizenor seeks to liberate his readers from their stereotypes about Indians.
Landfill Meditation brings together revised versions of previously published short stories and such new works as "Almost
Browne" and "Ice Tricksters." "Almost Browne" offers one of Vizenor's most playful renditions of the trickster character.
Almost, who symbolizes the mixed-blood state, describes his origin: "I was born in the back seat of a beatup reservation
car, almost white, almost on the reservation, and almost a real person."
The story plays on the trickster role of mediation as Almost attends a reservation school and then a white school and
interprets the world for his white friend Drain. It emphasizes the role of imagination in literature as the protagonist learns
to read "almost" books, whose pages were burned at the edges in a fire at the reservation library, and finds that the
imagined stories are more real than the words on the page.
The Heirs of Columbus
The Heirs of Columbus, written in connection with the quincentenary of Columbus's arrival in America, tells the story of
Stone Columbus, supposed descendant of the great explorer, who discovers healing genes in Christopher Columbus's
DNA. Thus, the symbol of Native American's demise becomes a means of their survival. Vizenor overturns the enshrined
historical accounts, questioning Christopher Columbus's religious and racial identity, rewriting the romantic accounts of
Pocahontas, and deconstructing the explorers' declarations of discovery.
Dead Voices is organized around a wanaki game, Vizenor's fictional version of an Ojibwa game, in which a player draws a
card that pictures an animal of some sort and must then, through imagination and meditation, experience the life of that
creature for a day and tell stories from its viewpoint. The novel restates and advances many of Vizenor's early concerns
The emphasis in Dead Voices is on the living quality of words that link one, through imagination, to experience; words as
mere concepts, on the other hand, are "dead." Vizenor also draws a distinction between written and oral language and
gives clear preference to the oral because of its dialogic quality and immediacy.
In 1989 Vizenor edited Narrative Chance: Postmodern Discourse on Native American Indian Literatures, which includes
his "A Postmodern Introduction" and his essay "Trickster Discourse: Comic Holotropes and Language Games." He began
to publish theoretical essays and mixed-genre works in journals such as boundary 2 and World Literature Today, and in
1994 he brought many of his essays together in the collection Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance .
This challenging book explores contemporary Indian identity politics, revisits and puts new twists on the notion of "cultural
word wars," and finds a source of tribal survival in the "literature of liberation" of "tribal poets and novelists."
Employing the terminology and ideas of scholars and theorists such as Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, Mikhail
Bakhtin, and Larzer Ziff, Vizenor claims that "Indians" never existed because "the word has no referent in tribal languages
Prior to the publication of his autobiography, Interior Landscapes , in 1990, Vizenor had published several shorter pieces
showing an increasing concern with the form. In Interior Landscapes he uses both the first and the third person, writing
about his own production of his account of his life and including theoretical comments by scholars such as Paul John
Eakin and Avrom Fleishman.
He quotes Eakin's assertion that in the "autobiographical act . . . the materials of the past are shaped by memory and
imagination to serve the needs of present consciousness." Vizenor's telling of his life incorporates myths such as that of
the evil gambler, and he weaves a trickster presence throughout his story. He comments on the various interpretations
he made of the incidents of his life and the stories he created about those incidents. His autobiography does not
emphasize dates and details but imaginative meanings. It is, as the title suggests, as much a rendering and interpretation
of myth and metaphor as it is a biographical account.
The publication of Shadow Distance: A Gerald Vizenor Reader (1994), which includes fiction, autobiography, essays, and
the screenplay for Harold of Orange, attests to the importance and the sheer volume of his work. Known internationally,
with works translated into French, Italian, and German, Vizenor has blazed a path for a new generation of Native
American writers and scholars whose work reflects links to national and international literature, theory, and politics, as
well as to tribal traditions and concerns. Called the "most radically intellectual of American Indian authors" by Owens,
Vizenor continues his campaign to upset the social and literary status quo.
Returning to Berkeley in 1991 after holding appointments at other institutions, Vizenor continued his campaign to have a
campus building named after Ishi, the last Yahi Indian, whose bones had been displayed in the Museum of Anthropology
at the university since 1911. Vizenor repeatedly petitioned the campus officials and criticized the university regents in
Finally, Vizenor succeeded in having an interior court named after Ishi, who had come to symbolize for him both the
"museumized" Indian "specimen" and the tribal survivor. His play, Ishi and the Wood Ducks, was published in Native
American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology, a collection Vizenor edited in 1995, and was performed by the
Red Path Theatre in Chicago in 1996.
Vizenor's recent literary efforts include Hotline Healers: An Almost Browne Novel , to be released in 1997. Here, as in
most of his trickster writing, Vizenor seeks to achieve liberation, survival, and healing through the use of humor. As he
told Joseph Bruchac, "The tricksters in all my work, everywhere, and, in one character or another, disrupt the ambitions
of people, contradict, unsettle, and unglue the creeds. . . . My imagined tricksters are compassionate and comic."
Vizenor's works invite their readers to abandon static beliefs and become comic survivors.
Madsen, D. L. Gerald Vizenor: Texts and Contexts. 2011.
Russell, R. C. Gerald Vizenor 2012.
Velie, A. R. Four American Indian Literary Masters: N. Scott Momaday, James Welch, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Gerald
Works By Gerald Vizenor
Poems: Born in the Wind (Minneapolis: Privately printed, 1960).
The Old Park Sleepers: A Poem (Minneapolis: Privately printed, 1961).
Two Wings the Butterfly: Haiku Poems in English (Saint Cloud: Minnesota State Reformatory, 1962).
South of the Painted Stones: Poems (Minneapolis: Privately printed, 1963).
Raising the Moon Vines: Original Haiku in English (Minneapolis: Callimachus, 1964).
Seventeen Chirps: Haiku in English (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1964).
Summer in the Spring: Lyric Poems of the Ojibway, Interpreted and Reexpressed (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1965); republished
as anishinabe nagamon (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1970); revised as Summer in the Spring: Ojibwe Lyric Poems and Tribal
Stories (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1981); republished as Summer in the Spring: Anishinaabe Lyric Poems and Stories, New
Edition, American Indian Literature and Critical Studies, volume 6 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993).
Slight Abrasions: A Dialogue in Haiku, by Vizenor and Jerome Downes (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1966).
Empty Swings: Haiku in English (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1967).
Thomas James White Hawk (Mound, Minn.: Four Winds, 1968).
anishinabe adisokan: Tales of the People (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1970).
The Everlasting Sky: New Voices from the People Named the Chippewa (New York: Crowell-Collier, 1972).
Tribal Scenes and Ceremonies (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1976); enlarged as Crossbloods: Bone Courts, Bingo, and Other
Reports (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990).
Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart (Saint Paul: Truck, 1978); republished as Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990).
Wordarrows: Indians and Whites in the New Fur Trade (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1978).
Earthdivers: Tribal Narratives on Mixed Descent (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981).
Beaulieu and Vizenor Families: Genealogies (Minneapolis: Privately printed, 1983).
Matsushima: Pine Islands (Minneapolis: Nodin, 1984).
The People Named the Chippewa: Narrative Histories (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984).
Griever: An American Monkey King in China (Normal: Illinois State University Press / New York: Fiction Collective, 1987).
The Trickster of Liberty: Tribal Heirs to a Wild Baronage (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988).
Interior Landscapes: Autobiographical Myths and Metaphors (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990).
The Heirs of Columbus (Hanover, N.H.: Published for Wesleyan University Press by University Press of New England,
Landfill Meditation: Crossblood Stories (Hanover, N.H.: Published for Wesleyan University Press by University Press of
New England, 1991).
Dead Voices: Natural Agonies in the New World, American Indian Literature and Critical Studies, volume 2 (Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1992).
Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance (Hanover, N.H.: Published for Wesleyan University Press by
University Press of New England, 1994).
Shadow Distance: A Gerald Vizenor Reader (Hanover, N.H.: Published for Wesleyan University Press by University Press
of New England, 1994).
Hotline Healers: An Almost Browne Novel (Hanover, N.H.: Published for Wesleyan University Press by University Press of
New England, forthcoming 1997).
Video of Gerald Vizenor the prolific novelist, poet, literary
critic, and member of the Anishinaabe (Chippewa) tribe
discussing how and why he became a writer.
This challenging new book looks at the current reinvention of American Studies: a reinvention that, among other things, has put the whole issue of just what is ‘American’ and what is ‘American Studies’ into contention. The collection focuses, in particular, on American mythology. The editors themselves have written essays that examine the connections between mythologies of the United States and those of either classical European or Native American traditions. William Blazek considers Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine novels as chronicles combining Ojibwa mythology and contemporary U.S. culture in ways that reinvest a sense of mythic identity within a multicultural, postmodern America. Michael K Glenday’s analysis of Jayne Anne Phillips’ work and explores in it the contexts where myth and dream interact with each other. Betty Louise Bell is one of four essayists in this collection who focus their criticism on authors of Native American heritage. In the first part of ‘Indians with Voices’, Bell carefully argues that Roy Harvey Pearce’s seminal Native American studies text Savagism and Civilization fails to acknowledge its white elitist assumptions about what constitutes The American Mind and views Native Americans along a primitive-savage binary that helped to create a twentieth-century ‘national mythos of innocence and destiny’. Other essays include Christopher Brookeman’s study of the impact of Muhammad Ali on Norman Mailer’s non-fiction writing about heavyweight boxing.
Subjects: Language & Literature