April 06, 2007

Only Indians know Indians?

Lincoln:  Red Stick lit crit“I've gone through the stage where I hated everybody who wasn't Indian, which meant part of myself,” [Joy Harjo] told Joe Bruchac in “Survival This Way.” “We're not separate. We're all in this together.”

Regardless of motive, xenophobia defeats Native and American cultural discourse. Talking stink, as they say on the streets, fouls the common air people share exploring mutually sovereign literacy. Beyond Indian country, can only a Mississippi sharecropper understand race relations in William Faulkner, an Ohio black singly get local dialect in Toni Morrison or a New Jersey shopkeeper exclusively scan the variable foot of William Carlos Williams? Using cultural monopoly for private witness rules out any other tribal classics than one's own, including the Bible and the Great White Roots of Peace, Homer and the Code of Handsome Lake, Dante and the Popol Vuh, and Shakespeare and the Blessingway Ceremony. Do Native writers want to be appreciated by audiences inside and outside their own kin, or misunderstood behind the screen of separatist privilege?

1 comment:

Rob said...

Lincoln is basically arguing that Indians should respect people of other tribes and ethnic groups.