That Dream Shall Have a Name: Native Americans Rewriting America
David L. Moore
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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.
opposite. For both cultural and historical reasons, binary narrative structures tend to support stories as told by the invaders: winners versus losers; civilization versus wilderness; even Indian versus white. As Native American writers might think of sovereignty, community, identity, and authenticity in complex, often humorous or ironical ways, then America might gradually think beyond the binaries of history. What I discovered further is that those five areas of social interaction also tend to
society.” Indeed against ideological and material obstacles, a thread of utopianism or, perhaps more simply, faith weaves through these narratives. As James A. Banks writes, “The margins of U.S. Society, to which people of color have often been confined, have usually been the sites for preserving and defending the freedoms and rights stated in the founding documents of the United States when they were most severely challenged” (Multicultural Education vii). This long history has seen many
he and his fellow Paiutes are willing to cooperate and work hard as well. Yet when the fruits of their labor are seized by the new, corrupt agent, that official thievery changes the terms of mutual community. The simple respect intrinsic to reciprocal relations is replaced by disregard on the one hand and resentment on the other. Again through the lens offered by classic Marxist analysis, we might consider briefly the shift of dynamics away from Winnemucca’s sense of order in Paiute community in
Culture 344). Eventually they evoke a different body politic, a new individual and national identity. This subversive refusal of dialogism to fit into the linguistic categories of the dominant dialectic invokes different ways of knowing the world, of using language, of perceiving and relating across cultures, different identity structures. A dialogical ethics translates into an aesthetics. The very exchange processes of identity formation that Native Americans have developed in infinite ways over
view of nature as stable and unchanging, McNickle’s sense of nature, like culture, is ever in flux. Colonialism is the de facto process of changing the land, as the fences in The Surrounded and the dam in Wind from an Enemy Sky attest.2 By his reckoning Indigenous people have learned to be always alert to changes on the land. From millen178 The Soul of the Indian Is Immortal nial changes in glacial and temperate climate to earthquakes, floods, and simple seasonal transformations, daily shifts