Story as a Weapon in Colonized America


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Virginia Tech


From first contact, Europeans and Euro-Americans have been representing North American indigenous peoples in literature. Non-Indian authors colonized American Indian stories and re-presented them through a Western worldview, which distorted and misrepresented Indian peoples. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?s piece, Song of Hiawatha, published in 1855 is an early example of this, and Ann Rinaldi?s children?s book, My Heart Is on the Ground, is a contemporary example. However, Indian peoples are not mere victims. Using story as a weapon for ?decolonization,? American Indian authors have self-re-presented and, through literature, have fought for a more accurate, tribal specific presentation of self to the dominant culture. Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Bonnin) authored decolonizing, autobiographical articles and short stories as early as 1901 and collected and published these in her text American Indian Stories in 1920. James Welch continued a legacy of tribal specific, American Indian authored literature with his 1986 publication, Fools Crow. Both texts work as weapons in the decolonization of American literature.



Literature, Colonization, American Indian, Decolonization