Mixedblood Messages: Literature, Film, Family, Place

Overview

In this challenging and often humorous book, Louis Owens examines issues of Indian identity and relationship to the environment as depicted in literature and film and as embodied in his own mixedblood roots in family and land. Powerful social and historical forces, he maintains, conspire to colonize literature and film by and about Native Americans into a safe "Indian Territory" that will contain and neutralize Indians. Countering this colonial "Territory" is what Owens defines as "Frontier," a dynamic, ...

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Overview

In this challenging and often humorous book, Louis Owens examines issues of Indian identity and relationship to the environment as depicted in literature and film and as embodied in his own mixedblood roots in family and land. Powerful social and historical forces, he maintains, conspire to colonize literature and film by and about Native Americans into a safe "Indian Territory" that will contain and neutralize Indians. Countering this colonial "Territory" is what Owens defines as "Frontier," a dynamic, uncontainable, multi-directional space within which cultures meet and even merge.

Owens offers new insights into the works of Indian writers ranging from John Rollin Ridge, Mourning Dove, and D'Arcy McNickle to N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko, James Welch, and Gerald Vizenor. In his analysis of Indians in film he scrutinizes distortions of Indians as victims or vanishing Americans in a series of John Wayne movies and in the politically correct but false gestures of the more recent Dances With Wolves. As Owens moves through his personal landscape in Oklahoma, Mississippi, California, and New Mexico, he questions how human beings collectively can alter their disastrous relationship with the natural world before they destroy it. He challenges all of us to articulate, through literature and other means, messages of personal and environmental — as well as cultural—survival, and to explore and share these messages by writing and reading across cultural boundaries. 

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Editorial Reviews

Great Plains Quarterly
The book serves as a succinct introduction to the field while taking that field a step further…remarkably readable and provocative.
KLIATT
Readers and teachers of Native American literature, looking for a scholarly picture of its fiction, will want to add this title to their shelves. Owens, "a Native American of both Indian and European ancestry," sees a burgeoning and immensely rich body of work that is well worth incorporating into recognized American literature. In what is the most intriguing part of the book, he dissects the changing portrayal of Indians in the movies. He recognizes the problems of Indians' having to write in English rather than in the languages to which they were born. Non-Indian readers, he affirms, need to be familiar with Indian mythology and conventions and understand the pressures they feel to assimilate. He says of the best Native American fiction, "It is a literature that, often invoking traditional stories, songs, and rituals with discretion, tells the stories of who we are today, not only yesterday, with humor and strength so that we may, as a people, continue to survive." Owens does not explore reservation culture, the growing recognition of the music of the drums (the term for Indian musical groups), or the flowering of art, so the book is limited in scope. But, in writing full of energy and touches of humor, he explores both literature and the social group that produces it in a way that opens the door to wider scholarship. Owens is the author of four novels, including Wolfsong, The Sharp at Sight, Bone Game, and Nightland. Category: Literature & Language Arts. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1998, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Red River Books, 263p. notes. bibliog. index., $14.95. Ages 16 toadult. Reviewer: Edna M. Boardman; Minot, ND SOURCE: KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806133812
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2001
  • Series: American Indian Literature Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 609,906
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.64 (d)

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