Saturday, July 28, 2007
Stories for a Winter's Night: Fiction by Native American Writers, edited by Maurice Kenny
Stories for a Winter's Night: Fiction by Native American Writers is one of those books. Published by White Pine Press in Buffalo, NY, it came out in 2000. In 2001, Skipping Stones included it on their 2001 list of Honor Award books. I learned of it, I think, through Richard Van Camp.
Stories written by Native authors...
Well known writers like Joseph Bruchac and James Welch whose works teachers and librarians are familiar with...
Writers the general public knows (those that read Native lit): Wendy Rose, Kimberly M. Blaeser, Simon Ortiz, Leslie Marmon Silko...
In all 37 stories and poems, by 36 different Native writers. Some you know, some you don't, some you should.
The collection is wide-ranging in scope. There's a boarding school story, a traditional story... Stories about children, and animals. By living writers, and some who've passed on, this book will be terrific in a high school English lit class. The stories will generate much discussion. I'll include one below, as a sample.
Here is a list of each story/poem and its author. And, the intro is by esteemed scholar of Native literatures, A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff.
The Stolen Girl - Traditional Cheyenne Story (Grinnell)
The Flood - Joy Harjo (Muscogee-Creek)
White-Out - Phyllis Wlf (assininiboine/Ojibway)
Needles - Ray Fadden (Tehanetorens; Mohawk)
Coyote Meets Raven - Peter Blue Cloud (Mohawk)
Dlanusi - Robert J. Conley (Cherokee)
Deer Dance - Evelina Zuni Lucero (Isleta-San Juan)
Nothing to Give - Gail Trembley (Onondaga-Micmac)
The Hunter - Larry Littlebird (Laguna/Santa Domingo)
Subway Graffiti - Wendy Rose (Hopi/Miwok)
The Car Wreck - Dwayne Leslie Bowen (Seneca)
Hogart - Ted Williams (Tuscarora)
King of the Raft - Daniel David Moses (Delaware)
Shapechanger - Ines Hernandez-Avila (Nez Perce/Chicano)
Brewing Trouble - Kimberly M. Blaeser (Anishinabe)
Benefit Dinner - Eric Gansworth (Onondaga)
Peter Schuyler and the Mohican: A Story of Old Albany - Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki)
We're Very Poor - Juan Rulfo (Mexican Native)
Webs - Lorne Simon (Micmac)
Earl Yellow Calf - James Welch (Blackfeet/Gros Ventre)
Hici - Craig Womack (Muscogee-Creek/Cherokee)
On Old 66 - Carol Yazzi-Shaw (Navajo)
A Child's Story - Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (Santee/Yankton Sioux)
The Bear Hunt - Louis Littlecoon Oliver (Muscogee-Creek)
Yellow Cat Incident - Louis Littlecoon Oliver (Muscogee-Creek)
Train Time - D'Arcy McNickle (Salish/Metis)
The Blanket - Maria Campbell (Metis)
Haksod - John C. Mohawk (Seneca)
History - Gloria Bird (Spokane)
Oh, Just Call Me an Indian - Drew Hayden Taylor (Ojibway)
Tahotahotanekentseratkerontakwenhakie - Sallli Benedict (Mohawk)
Che - Anna Lee Walters (Otoe/Pawnee)
His Wife Had Caught Them Before - Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna)
She Sits on the Bridge - Luci Tapahonso (Navajo)
The Panther Waits - Simon J. Ortiz (Acoma)
Piegan Still Life - Stephen Graham Jones (Blackfeet)
The Derelict - E. Pauline Johnson (Mohawk)
NOTHING TO GIVE
The woman was young, blond, beautiful
like the girls in slick magazines who model
jeans. She chose to wear a bone choker
with an ermine tail as though it is possible
to appropriate a culture by wearing its artifacts.
She read a poem in which she said that she was
the white girl who always wanted to be Indian
when she grew up. I sat feeling sick, recognizing
that strange phantom pain in the gut, listening
to her romantic distortions about Eagle boy dancing
in her dreams, about cruel Indian men who undressed
her and then scolded her for being naked before
them when she was on her moon. She invented
unreality because she refused to witness the real
hard work of living in a world distorted by forced
assimilation, by faked authenticity, by loss
that beat in counter rhythm near the heart
and made the whole world seem out of balance.
She did not speak of struggle, stolen land,
the Earth raped so that strangers could reap great profits no matter what the cost. Her desire
was for vision to fill an empty life. One more
taker, she invented ceremonies that mystified,
that made healing seem a hollow exercise untied
from the web of light that weaves things seamlessly
into being, untied from the people who for generations
shared a sense of what made things whole in a given
place. I sat and watched speechless, caught, too paralyzed to walk away and make a scene,
aware how often revelation is impossible to explain.