chapter  Chapter Three
34 Pages

Critical Warriors and “Hang-Around-the-Academy” Indians: Toward an Indigenist Criticism

WithJoanne R. DiNova

This chapter begins with a fragment of woodland trickster discourse seemed appropriate given that the focus is on Native criticism and given that a prominent figure among Native critics has been Gerald Vizenor. The protagonist of the novel is Stacey, a high school senior in the 1950s who is the shining star and bright hope of her Salish community. The turmoil in Albuquerque, over Native high school students’ being denied permission to wear their traditional regalia to graduation ceremonies, suggests that “looking Indian” continues to function as an overt act against colonization. Wresting control of Native Studies from anthropologists and social scientists may not seem entirely undesirable, given the troubling number of faulty constructions of “Indian-ness” and downward social gazes produced by the disciplines. Aboriginal theory, takes a more fluid, less atomistic, view of language, such that, rather than emphasizing a lack of fixable reference, the emphasis is on the unavoidability of reference.