The Truth to Be Told: Trauma and Healing in Selected Writing by Contemporary North American Indigenous Women
AuthorRoberts, Christina Ann
Committee ChairKolodny, Annette
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the manner in which contemporary Native women writers reveal the various traumas North American Indigenous individuals and communities have inherited from a colonial past. The two main chapters focus on two genres--poetry and fiction--and closely examine writings by Deborah Miranda (Esselen and Chumash), Ester Belin (Navajo), Kimberly Blaeser (Ojibwe), Eden Robinson (Haisla), and Betty Louise Bell (Cherokee). My discussion is tribally specific and takes into account the different historical and cultural influences surrounding each text. Using this approach, I develop two methods for analyzing contemporary writing by Native women of Canada and the United States. Through an analysis of Robinson's Monkey Beach (2000) and Bell's Faces in the Moon (1994), I propose that Native women are symbolically healing the wounds of the pasts through the narrative journeys of the protagonists. In these two books, Robinson and Bell write about intergenerational traumas, or traumas that have been inherited from the specific colonial pasts of their Native communities. These traumas originate deep within families and communities and stem directly from governmental attempts at cultural extinction, including the various Indian Acts in Canada (1868, 1876) and the Allotment Act (1887) in the United States. In developing an approach to the poetics of Native women, I examine three collections: Blaeser's Absentee Indians (2002), Belin's From the Belly of My Beauty (1999), and Miranda's Indian Cartography (1999). These collections reveal the consequences of both land loss and the dramatic changes that have taken place in Native communities across North America, but they also reveal the ways Native women navigate the tragedy and beauty of their histories. Through their fiction and poetry, these writers are exposing the continued existence of colonialism within their communities and are also expressing a fresh sense of hope and healing for many Native individuals and communities dealing with similar traumas. Indigenous women of the United States and Canada are telling their own stories and the stories of their communities for the first time with honesty and a significant sense of what they have faced as Native women.