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ERIC Number: EJ841982
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
What's Wrong with a Little Fantasy? Storytelling from the (Still) Ivory Tower
Miranda, Deborah A.
American Indian Quarterly, v27 n1-2 p333-348 Win-Spr 2003
The author found "This Bridge Called My Back" at the local public library when she was, at age thirty-three, finally beginning to write again, and write honestly. There were Indian voices in "Bridge"--a few poems or personal narratives that moved her, but which barely began to represent the range of the writers or the astonishingly diverse Native communities from which these writers emerged. The author wanted to belong to this book, she wanted to own this book, she wanted her struggles as an "Indian woman" to be present and "part" of this beautiful, incredible book! In many ways, the book was somebody else's story. She felt that in order to have some claim to the book's power, she needed to become a sort of "generic" woman of color, lose her Indianness. The underrepresentation of Native women in "Bridge" is by no means an anomaly. The author has not found Indian women's voices to be truly present in most publications or forums, academic coursework, readings, conferences, or critical analyses of American literatures and culture (including projects by and about women of color). American Indian experiences are still absent from a communal discourse about racism, representation, academic life, literary theory, or the powers of love. The call for papers for this look back at "Bridge" has brought all these frustrations, never far away from the author, back full force. Women of color still need to talk about what it's like to be an Indigenous person alive in her still-colonized homeland; someone who, when she looks at that homeland, sees few traces of an Indigenous presence, or none that are recognizable--and yet, "knows that Indigenous presence is there because she is it." What does this do to their hearts, their sanity? What does it do to the other cultures and communities living in this homeland? The author has struggled to find the words for telling this, but perhaps the best way is through her own story as an Indian woman in academia in the late twentieth century. Four years into the academy, the author is only beginning to bridge the gaps found there--and to do it without using her own back as the bridge, refusing to learn "conditioned subservience," or bear the burdens of dehumanizing absent histories and voices. Some of her Indian friends have fled or abandoned academia, disgusted or exhausted by the constant battle; some have graduated with degrees only to find that non-Native scholars fill many of the positions in Native studies; others have simply turned their tremendous gifts and energies in other directions, discounting the university as a place with the potential to make a difference. So far, the author has stayed--isolated as a student, as a part-time lecturer, as a writer. She no longer fear that she will be judged "unable" to separate her mind from heart; instead, she acknowledges that she is "unwilling" to separate intellectual work from the work of the heart. (Contains 11 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North America; United States