AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

The Sovereignty of Story: The Voices of Native American Women Continuing Indigenous Knowledge and Practice

by Hannah Brady Espinoza

Institution: Bowling Green State University
Department: English/Literature
Degree: MA
Year: 2015
Keywords: American Literature; Ethnic Studies; Language; Literature; Rhetoric; Native American women; decolonialism; storying; collective memoir; Bad Indians; Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country; Deborah Miranda; Louise Erdrich; California missions; Ohlone Coastanoan Esselen; decolonial; decoloniality; Native studies
Record ID: 2058760
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1429270316


Literary studies has historically focused on texts written by Native Americans as reflecting historical aspects of culture and tradition that serve anthropological research. However, recent scholarship in Native studies is pushing for readings that see Native writers past and present as working to build theories of decolonization that will serve purposes of social recognition and political sovereignty amongst other things. This thesis seeks to disrupt conventions of reading Native texts as “histories” or deviations from “oral tradition” that are based on paradigms of Western theory. Instead, this project argues that Native women, by writing memoirs, are building their own theories of sovereignty and decoloniality through literature.Deborah Miranda, Ohlone/Coastanoan-Esselen, writes a collective, or tribal, memoir that works toward a theory of storying and ancestral memory that deconstructs the historical narrative surrounding California Missions and contributes to renewed definitions of sovereignty and ways of belonging to land. Louise Erdrich, Ojibwe, teaches a non-Native audience that knowledge can be made and remembered through continued indigenous lifeways and texts. Both women use memoir as a space in which they can address past grievances of colonialism but also actively contribute to a decolonial future that recognizes and honors indigenous knowledge and sovereignty.