This Introduction makes available for both student, instructor, and affcianado a refined set of tools for decolonizing our approaches prior to entering the unfamiliar landscape of Native American literatures. This book will introduce indigenous perspectives and traditions as articulated by indigenous authors whose voices have been a vital, if often overlooked, component of the American dialogue for more than 400 years. Paramount to this consideration of Native-centered reading is the understanding that literature was not something bestowed upon Native peoples by the settler culture, either through benevolent interventions or violent programs of forced assimilation. Native literature precedes colonization, and Native stories and traditions have their roots in both the precolonized and the decolonizing worlds. As this far-reaching survey of Native literary contributions will demostrate, almost without fail, when indigenous writers elected to enter into the world of western letters, they did so with the intention of maintaining indigenous culture and community. Writing was and always remains a strategy for survival.
About the Author
Drew Lopenzina is Associate Professor at Old Dominion University and teaches in the intersections of Early American and Native American literatures. His 2017 book, Through an Indian's Looking Glass (University of Massachusetts Press), is a cultural biography of nineteenth-century Pequot activist and minister William Apess. Lopenzina is also the author of Red Ink: Native Americans Picking up the Pen in the Colonial Period (SUNY Press 2012). The journal American Studies has called Red Ink an impressively thorough and often compelling study that extends the bounds and enriches our understanding of Native American Literary history. Lopenzina's essays appear in the journals Early American Literature, Native American and Indigenous Studies, American Literature, American Quarterly, Studies in American Indian Literature, American Indian Quarterly, and others.