Transcultural Transformation: African American and Native American Relations

Posted in Anthropology, Dissertations, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2011-08-26 02:27Z by Steven

Transcultural Transformation: African American and Native American Relations

University of Nebraska
November 2009
139 pages

Barbara S. Tracy

A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The intersected lives of African Americans and Native Americans result not only in Black Indians, but also in a shared culture that is evidenced by music, call and response, and story. These intersected lives create a dynamic of shared and diverging pathways that speak to each other. It is a crossroads of both anguish and joy that comes together and apart again like the tradition of call and response. There is a syncopation of two cultures becoming greater than their parts, a representation of losses that are reclaimed by a greater degree. In the tradition of call and response, by denying one or the other something is lost. Claiming the relationship turns transcultural transformation into a powerful response. Working from Henry Gates’ explanation of signifying combined with Houston Baker’s description of blues literature, I examine signifying, call and response, and blues/jazz elements in the work of three writers to discover the collective lives of African Americans, Native Americans, and Black Indians. In the writing of Black-Cherokee Alice Walker, I look for the call and response of both African and Native American story-ways. I find these same elements in the writing of Spokane/Coeur d’Alene writer Sherman Alexie, in his blues writings and his revision of Robert Johnson’s and other stories. In the work of Creek/Cherokee Craig Womack, I examine a Creek/Cherokee perspective of Black Creeks and Freemen. In all of these works, I find that the shared African American and Native American experience plainly takes place in these works in a variety of ways in which the authors call upon oral and written story, song, and dance, and create a response that clearly signifies the combined power of these shared experiences. This is a fusion of shared traditions with differences that demonstrate the blending of voices and culture between two peoples who have been improvising together for a long time.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Speaking of Things Yet Unspoken: Native Americans, African Americans, and Black Indians
  • 1. The Red-Black Center of Alice Walker’s Meridian: Asserting a Cherokee Womanist Sensibility
  • 2. Crossroads: The African American and Native American Blues Matrix in Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues
  • 3. “Red is Red”: Transcultural Convergence and Craig Womack’s Drowning in Fire
  • Conclusion: Common Ground: Let the Music Start
  • Works Cited

Read the entire dissertation here.

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As We Are Now: Mixblood Essays on Race and Identity

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Canada, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2011-03-25 21:37Z by Steven

As We Are Now: Mixblood Essays on Race and Identity

University of California Press
January 1998
282 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780520210738

edited by

William S. Penn, Professor of Creative Writing
Michigan State University

The thirteen contributors to As We Are Now invite readers to explore with them the untamed territory of race and mixblood identity in North America. A “mixblood,” according to editor W.S. Penn, recognizes that his or her identity comes not from distinct and separable strains of ancestry but from the sum of the tension and interplay of all his or her ancestral relationships. These first-person narratives cross racial, national, and disciplinary boundaries in a refreshingly experimental approach to writing culture. Their authors call on similar but varied cultural and aesthetic traditions—mostly oral—in order to address some aspect of race and identity about which they feel passionate, and all resist the essentialist point of view. Mixblood Native American, Mestizo/a, and African-American writers focus their discussion on the questions indigenous and minority people ask and the way in which they ask them, clearly merging the singular “I” with the communal “we.” These are new voices in the dialogue of ethnic writers, and they offer a highly original treatment of an important subject.

Table of Contents

William S. Penn

Cutting and Pinning Patterns
Erika Aigner-Varoz

Howling at the Moon: The Queer but True Story of My Life as a Hank Williams Song
Craig Womack

Crossing Borders from the Beginning
Alfonso Rodriguez

Carol Kalafatic

What Part Moon
Inez Petersen

Tradition and the Individual Imitation
William S. Penn

On Mapping and Urban Shamans
Kimberly Blaeser

Race and Mixed-Race: A Personal Tour
Rainier Spencer

Visions in the Four Directions: Five Hundred Years of Resistance and Beyond
Arturo Aldama

Between the Masques
Diane DuBose Brunner

From the Turn of the Century to the New Age: Playing Indian, Past and Present
Shari Huhndorf

Rolando Romero

Ritchie Valens Is Dead: E Pluribus Unum
Patricia Penn Hilden

Notes on Contributors

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