"All of a Piece": Native Representation and Voice in American Fiction Theses uri icon

  • Overview


  • The oral literature and traditions of North American Indian peoples have sustained Native cultures since the beginnings of time and will continue to do so. However, American literature written by non-Indian authors has been responsible for the "image" of the Indian as we know it today. The purpose of this thesis is to study the emergence of the Indian as a literary figure in American literature, as portrayed in selected works by James Fenimore Cooper and William Faulkner. It goes on to discuss how these often stereotypical representations are now being challenged and recreated by two contemporary Native American authors, N. Scott Momaday and Louise Erdrich, who embody their own uniquely North American understanding of their peoples' experience. In this way, a First Nations perspective on literature is distinct from that of the Western academic and cultural tradition. The thesis will illustrate this difference by examining the issues of representation, voice, and identity. Finally, it will suggest possible approaches for the study and appreciation of Native literature from a Native perspective, since it is only in recent times that words spoken and written in English have provided a means of communication among Indigenous nations. Our stories, past and present, can now be shared in a way that was not available to our ancestors. Therefore, it is now the responsibility of this present generation to ensure that these voices and words are understood and respected.

publication date

  • September 1996