That Dream Shall Have a Name: Native Americans Rewriting America

That Dream Shall Have a Name: Native Americans Rewriting America

David L. Moore

Language: English

Pages: 488

ISBN: 0803211082

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The founding idea of “America” has been based largely on the expected sweeping away of Native Americans to make room for EuroAmericans and their cultures. In this authoritative study, David L. Moore examines the works of five well-known Native American writers and their efforts, beginning in the colonial period, to redefine an “America” and “American identity” that includes Native Americans.   

That Dream Shall Have a Name focuses on the writing of Pequot Methodist minister William Apess in the 1830s; on Northern Paiute activist Sarah Winnemucca in the 1880s; on Salish/Métis novelist, historian, and activist D’Arcy McNickle in the 1930s; and on Laguna poet and novelist Leslie Marmon Silko and on Spokane poet, novelist, humorist, and filmmaker Sherman Alexie, both in the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. 


Moore studies these five writers’ stories about the conflicted topics of sovereignty, community, identity, and authenticity—always tinged with irony and often with humor. He shows how Native Americans have tried from the beginning to shape an American narrative closer to its own ideals, one that does not include the death and destruction of their peoples. This compelling work offers keen insights into the relationships between Native and American identity and politics in a way that is both accessible to newcomers and compelling to those already familiar with these fields of study.  

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can we discuss community or sovereignty without a redefinition of authenticity; and so on.18 Where appropriate, I intersperse comparisons and conversations with mainstream American approaches to these terms. All the spokes of the wheel are necessary for the national narrative to roll forward. Between the isolating death of tragedy and the animating life of comedy the conceptual sphere of these terms offers various positions for Native voices in history. Each writer is unique in complex context.

ideological, of tribal sovereignty in its midst. The point here is not to absorb Native into American literature but to read how a complex insistence on difference in Native literature maintains and sustains both Indigenous dynamics and potential American pluralism as its original principle. To round out this preliminary introduction to the ways Native writers are rewriting the nation, we have to more fully acknowledge the obstacles to reading Native self-representation, which range across

phrasing is concise on this point: “Some critics persist in misreading the project of writing about a people or its literature as writing for that people, in effect as speaking for them. Speaking for Indians is the furthest thing from my mind” (The Invention of Native American Literature 16). By entering the conversation about both autonomy and inclusion, this study offers an exchange across and around the exclusive cultural frontier that Fiedler et al. have shown is a colonial construct at the

race, class, gender, and other pluralities, including the diversity of earth’s resources, to maintain its hierarchical nightmares. While the hierarchical model writes history, this distinction between a dream of dominance and the reality of pluralism is one of Native America’s clearest literary gifts to America. Of course, in a winner-take-all society, political pluralism is also a dream, however actual the plural realities of the body politic may remain. Tim Schouls explores possibilities for

Removal policy, is still energized by America’s millennial and revolutionary idealism—toward a reversal of colonial dispossession and repression of New England Natives. Then Winnemucca around 1880 is driven to desperation by the convincing nineteenth-century pattern of continued dispos108 A Plethora of Animistic Factors session and repression in America’s westward push. Her courage and despair follow the downward pressure of federal Indian policies of conquest, annihilation, and assimilation.

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