The author and educator advocated for the inclusion of Indian voices in the mainstream of American literature.
The former UCLA professor helped define the canon of Native American literature, encouraged its development by anthologizing new American Indian writers and nurtured a broader audience for the work.
"This is great literature--American literature," Allen said in a 1990 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "What I want from readers is a fundamental recognition that American Indian culture is alive and thriving."
Allen, a leading scholar and feminist who advocated for the inclusion of Native American voices in the mainstream of American literature, died of lung cancer May 29 at her home in Fort Bragg, Calif. She was 68.
One of the most anthologized essays--"Who Is Your Mother? Red Roots of White Feminism"--asserts that early feminists in the United States owe a debt to women of the female-centered Iroquois, who were their role models.
"When Paula was writing this, the portrayal we had of native women was the docile squaw, or the savage woman, as this kind of sexual prey," said Mary Churchill, a former student and long-time friend who now teaches at Sonoma State. Allen showed the women in crucial roles, vital to their societies.
"A biography of Pocahontas must tell her life in terms of the myths, the spirits, the supernaturals and the worldview that informed her actions and character," Allen wrote in the introduction.
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books.