The Stories We Tell: American Indian Women's Writing and the Persistence of Tradition

Jodi Byrd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Drawing upon spatial, social, spiritual, and experiential modes of literary aesthetics, stories by and about American Indian women demonstrate the power women have in traditional communities and the intellectual trade routes that oral tradition provides. Typically, when anthologies of American literature attempt to provide a linear progression of women's writing in the United States, what usually follows the obligatory inclusion of oral tradition to signal indigenous pre-historical and pre-literate roots are the Indian captivity narratives from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century New England particularly. American Indian women's writing is transnational from the start; it is concerned with identity and its discontents; it reinvents language and appropriates non-Native textualities to produce texts that, while often new and innovative, are tied to oral traditions and land. The continued assumption that American Indian literatures belong to US national literature is a colonialist assumption that subverts the sovereignty and self-determination of indigenous nations.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge history of American women's literature
EditorsDale M Bauer
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780511735912
ISBN (Print)9781107001374
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • nineteenth-century New England
  • oral tradition
  • American Indian women writers
  • captivity narratives
  • eighteenth-century New England
  • postcolonial tales


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