Smoke Dancing

Overview

The power struggle between traditionalists and progressives on a modern-day reservation is at the center of Eric Gansworth’s latest work of fiction. Through the characters and their unique “voices,” he deftly develops the multiple viewpoints and arguments that currently exist on many reservations. These voices include a traditional chief and a modern-day group of young adults who, as neglected children, banded together in a traditional dance group. The narrative thread that connects these characters uses the ...

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Overview

The power struggle between traditionalists and progressives on a modern-day reservation is at the center of Eric Gansworth’s latest work of fiction. Through the characters and their unique “voices,” he deftly develops the multiple viewpoints and arguments that currently exist on many reservations. These voices include a traditional chief and a modern-day group of young adults who, as neglected children, banded together in a traditional dance group. The narrative thread that connects these characters uses the metaphor of traditional dance and its relationship to the integrity of Iroquois culture.
     A number of the dance group have come to work in the growing empire formed by one of their members—selling tax-free cigarettes and gasoline on reservation land. This new economic base alters the balance of power on the reservation. At the center of the conflict is Fiction Tunny, a dancer and developing love interest of a man in the smoke business. She is also the illegitimate daughter of the chief, who refuses to acknowledge her; to admit she exists would be to admit he is not fit for his role of chief. Fiction’s resentment of her father and the sometimes archaic nature of his life and government are juxtaposed with the predatory nature of the entrepreneur who begins pursuing her sexually at all costs. Fiction seeks a balance, a path that will ground her identity in tradition while following her ever-changing culture into the future.

 

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What People Are Saying

Clifford E. Trafzer
Onondaga author and artist Eric Gansworth has done it again. He has written a magical story, a good read filled with realism, humor, and insight. Smoke Dancing invites you into an Indian world complete with colorful characters and fascinating stories—stories within stories. From the first page, you will be hooked…—Clifford E. Trafzer, author of Exterminate Them!
Diane Glancy
Each story shifts with each telling and each telling shifts the one telling it. This book is a rising smoke dance, turning, braking, and turning again.—Diane Glancy, author
Joseph Bruchac
Smoke Dancing is one of those books that you'd like to take time with…Like many of the best novels by the new generation of Indian authors, it uses multiple perspectives…I cannot think of another novel I've read in the last few years that has been more true to contemporary Indian life, richer and more satisfying. If you don't read this book, you are really missing something special.—Joseph Bruchac, author of Children of the Longhouse
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870137082
  • Publisher: Michigan State University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 235
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Gansworth, an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, was born and raised at the Tuscarora Indian Nation in Western New York. He received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in English from Buffalo State College. He is Professor of English and holds a position of Writer in Residence at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. His previous work includes a novel, Indian Summers, and a collection of poetry, Nickel Eclipse: Iroquois Moon; numerous Native literature anthologies include his poetry and fiction. Eric is also an active artist and has painted the cover illustrations for a number of his books.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue : women's shuffle 1
Pt. 1 Rabbit dance (a women's choice dance for couples) 5
Ch. 1 The last dance 7
Ch. 2 Redman's drop 19
Ch. 3 Harvest moon eclipse 37
Ch. 4 Unfinished business 47
Ch. 5 A six-chair night 59
Ch. 6 Curbside phoenix 71
Pt. 2 Standing quiver dance (a group war and hunting dance) 87
Ch. 7 The sharpest vision 89
Ch. 8 Frostbite 101
Ch. 9 Winter garden 119
Ch. 10 Commodities 137
Ch. 11 Fighting and flying 149
Ch. 12 Undercurrents 163
Pt. 3 Smoke dance (an individual competition dance) 175
Ch. 13 Snap shots 177
Ch. 14 Bloodstone mortar 189
Ch. 15 Washed in the blood of the land 201
Ch. 16 Mourning rituals 211
Ch. 17 Rites of passage 219
Ch. 18 The first dance 227
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