Listening to the Land: Native American Literary Responses to the Landscape

Overview

For better or worse, representations abound of Native Americans as a people with an innate and special connection to the earth. This study looks at the challenges faced by Native American writers who confront stereotypical representations as they assert their own ethical relationship with the earth. Lee Schweninger considers a range of genres (memoirs, novels, stories, essays) by Native writers from various parts of the United States. Contextualizing these works within the origins, evolution, and perpetuation of ...

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Overview

For better or worse, representations abound of Native Americans as a people with an innate and special connection to the earth. This study looks at the challenges faced by Native American writers who confront stereotypical representations as they assert their own ethical relationship with the earth. Lee Schweninger considers a range of genres (memoirs, novels, stories, essays) by Native writers from various parts of the United States. Contextualizing these works within the origins, evolution, and perpetuation of the "green" labels imposed on American Indians, Schweninger shows how writers often find themselves denying some land ethic stereotypes while seeming to embrace others.

Taken together, the time periods covered in Listening to the Land span more than a hundred years, from Luther Standing Bear's description of his late-nineteenth-century life on the prairie to Linda Hogan's account of a 1999 Makah hunt of a gray whale. Two-thirds of the writers Schweninger considers, however, are well-known voices from the second half of the twentieth century, including N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, Vine Deloria Jr., Gerald Vizenor, and Louis Owens.

About the Author:
Lee Schweninger is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. His books include studies of N. Scott Momaday and John Winthrop

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is the best book on the land ethic of Native American writers. Schweninger incisively describes the complexities of the concepts of Native Americans' relationship to the land as depicted by both Natives and non-Natives. His perceptive analyses illuminate the works of Vine Deloria Jr.; Louise Erdrich; Linda Hogan; John Joseph Mathews; Louis Owens; N. Scott Momaday; and Gerald Vizenor."--LaVonne Ruoff, University of Illinois, Chicago

"A thrilling exploration of Native American literary culture and tradition . . . written in a tight, smooth, flowing narrative."--Metro Spirit

"Listening to the Land should be read by anyone desiring a deeper understanding of Native peoples' relationship to place and the natural world. It argues that the environmental Indian stereotype is an inaccurate, oversimplified image that prevents real learning and real action.”--MELUS

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820330594
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Lee Schweninger is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. His books include studies of N. Scott Momaday and John Winthrop.
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Table of Contents

Introduction An Ethical Regard for the Land 7

1 The Land Ethic Stereotype: American Indian Wisdom 16

2 Where the Buffalo Roam: Iconoclasts and Romantics 36

3 Between the People and the Land: Luther Standing Bear, Mother Earth, and Assimilation 57

4 Talking Back: John Joseph Mathews and to the Moon 75

5 "She Gives Me a Metaphor": Survival and Louise Erdrich's The Blue Jay's Dance 96

6 Cultural Identity, Storytelling, Place: Revision and Return in Louis Owens's Wolfsong 113

7 "From the Land Itself': Momaday's Language, Landscape, and Land Ethic 137

8 Living with the Land: Deloria, Landscape, and Religion 149

9 Liberation and the Land: The Environmental Ethos of Gerald Vizenor 165

10 "Changed by the Wild": Linda Hogan's Spirit of Renewal 184

11 Killing the Whale: Sightings and the Makah Hunt 202

Works Cited 279

Index 233

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