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ERIC Number: EJ787756
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
Claiming Europe: Native American Literary Responses to the Old World
Schweninger, Lee
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v27 n2 p61-76 2003
In Osage writer Carter Revard's short story, "Report to the Nation: Claiming Europe," the narrator claims much of England, France, Spain, Italy, and Greece for the Osage Nation. After asserting his claim, the narrator questions whether or not the French actually understood that their country therefore belonged to the Osage Nation. When he talks of the Osage people actually settling in Europe, he echoes the words of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European colonists in the New World. In a sense, then, Revard as a Native conquistador leads the way into Europe. He is followed by Gerald Vizenor ("Heirs of Columbus", 1991), James Welch ("The Heartsong of Charging Elk", 2000), Leslie Marmon Silko ("Gardens in the Dunes", 1999), and Louise Erdrich ("The Master Butcher's Singing Club", 2002). All four well-known authors send their characters to Europe, compelling the former colonial powers to deal with this insurgence of Native writers and characters. Although there are significant differences among the works by these Native writers, they all share an important similarity: the return to Europe, to a place where each of the authors, if not always the characters, has an ancestral history. Thus, each author confronts some aspect of that ancestry and tells a story from a Native point of view. These authors make the conscious and deliberate choice to investigate this other homeland. Despite (or perhaps because of) critical attention to a character's coming to terms with his or her Native American place and identity, scholars have paid relatively little attention to writers and characters investigating Europe or their European heritage. Similarly, only a handful of critics and/or authors have addressed the issue of Native American literary responses to being in Europe, the other homeland. Before exploring Europe with Revard and other Native American authors, in this article, the author looks at how several Native authors address issues of mixed heritage and of homeland. By claiming Europe, this community of well-established and by-now-canonized writers has chosen to challenge mainstream conceptions of what constitutes Indian literature by offering Native American critiques of Europe. They're writing from positions of privilege and choice--and thus of power. By defying cultural and historical roles imposed by the dominant culture they are emancipating themselves. To choose to claim or not to claim a European heritage is a declaration of sovereignty and a form of liberation that these authors are prepared to make. (Contains 47 notes.)
American Indian Studies Center at UCLA. 3220 Campbell Hall, Box 951548, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548. Tel: 310-825-7315; Fax: 310-206-7060; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A