Monday, June 29, 2009


The above url is reference for what follows, which will be quotes and comments on this website by Chris Schedler. It’s ten years old now and relevant as it ever was. These were the forces of thought when I first got onto Native American Literature bulletin boards, so they have shaped many of my understandings and opinions. They were educated and temperate. Linden, one of the gentlest, died of a systems disorder that caused him great pain and disability. It was a great loss. Schedler, I think, is a professor at Western Washington University unless he’s moved recently.

I’m just going to cut and paste them from the site:

John Berry (B.A. and M.A. California State University, Fullerton; MLS, University of Missouri, Columbia) is Assistant Director of the Graduate College at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. He is of Choctaw, Cherokee, Scots-Irish, and German descent and currently serves as President of the American Indian Library Association (1999-2000) and President of the Native American Faculty and Staff Association at OSU.

Linden Gilbert was born on the Flathead Reservation in Montana in 1948, but his family moved to Los Angeles in 1954 to escape prejudice and a lack of employment opportunities. He has been, at various times, a musician, a painter, a poet, an actor, a writer, a producer/director, a graphic designer, a set and lighting desiger, a "roadie," and professional stage technician. From 1991-1994, he worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, as a part-time faculty member and full-time Assistant Operations Manager. He relocated to the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area in 1998.

Revamariah S. Gover is currently a graduate student at Oklahoma State University, where she is working on her second creative writing thesis consisting of poetry. A member of the Tohono O'odham and Skidi-Pawnee nations, she presently resides in Pawnee, Oklahoma, with her seven year old son Daniel.

Philip H. Red Eagle is the author of Red Earth - A Vietnam Warrior's Journey and the originator and a co-founder of The Raven Chronicles - Journal of Art, Literature & the Spoken Word. He lives and writes out of Tacoma, Washington.

Carter C. Revard (B.A. Tulsa; B.A. Oxford; Ph.D. Yale; Professor Emeritus of English, Washington University, Saint Louis) grew up on the Osage Reservation in a mixed-blood family and was given his Osage name in 1952. He has published scholarly works in various journals and collections, three books of poems (Ponca War Dancers, 1980; Cowboys and Indians, Christmas Shopping, 1992; An Eagle Nation, 1993), and a collection of essays (Family Matters, Tribal Affairs, 1998). He lives and continues to work in St. Louis.

Chris Schedler (doctoral candidate in English, University of California, Santa Barbara) is presently completing his dissertation, Modernist Borders of Our America. He has published one article in Arizona Quarterly, and two other articles will appear in forthcoming issues of The Hemingway Review and Texas Studies in Literature and Language. His current web project is Weaving Webs, a course linking Native American Literature, Oral Traditions, and the Internet.

Lew Soens (B.A. Harvard; M.A. and Ph.D. Princeton; Professor Emeritus of English, Notre Dame) has edited an edition of Sidney's Defence, edited and compiled a collection of American Indian classical poetry in translation, and written several articles on Renaissance fencing and drama. His interests include Renaissance drama, Shakespeare, 18th century literature, and Pope and Swift. He has also served as fencing master for 39 productions of Shakespeare and as a Fullbright Scholar at Magdalen College of Oxford University.

Not everyone on this list is genetically Native American. The subject is oral literature. The discussants note that it’s different to hear a story with a group of people you know and can smile at or nudge over references.

Soens says, “The interaction in storytelling flows through a channel the storyteller establishes and shapes. That would be lost when the narrator and the audience don't sit in the same room. Interaction on the net works either through no channel, or through a series of set events (choosing different alternatives in a story line, for example). What is lost are the myriad subliminal bits of information that the story- teller spurs and rides without, perhaps, consciously noticing them all.”

Philip H. Red Eagle responds: “A really good way to remember all these conversations would be if we had them live. Fresh coffee smells. The smell of grits and fritters hanging in the air. Burnt toast smoke and smell drifting through the house. Cottonwood burning in the iron stove. Laughing at each other jokes and word plays. Blue Jays laughing outside the window. Crows taunting every other bird. We would all sit around in big cushy chairs and tell stories. Carter would relate all those little things that characterize our Anglo buddies and their cruel ways. I would remember that.”

Linden says: “I'm curious why, in these discussions, there seems to be an assumption that the Web or electronic, hypertext media is proposed as a REPLACEMENT for either printed literature or traditional storytelling. I think this is a faulty assumption and I don't know of anyone, nor have seen anyone on this list, propose such a thing. Simply that the new media is just that, a new media, and offers it's own possibilities which are just beginning to be explored, an additional alternative, not a replacement for anything. Granted a lot of hype flows in that vein, but it's just hype. Maybe kids buy into it, but on the other hand, maybe introducing them to literature and/or storytelling via a medium that excites their interest has the capability to move them into the "real thing" in a way handing them a book or telling them to sit down and pay attention doesn't (and can't, anymore, no matter what we think of that).”

I hope that ‘s enough to get you to read the whole thing.

I say, in the present, that this conversation was taking place before YouTube, which has more than captured young people! The subject matter may not be classical in those vivid bits of image and music, but they are compelling, iconic, even mythic, and the kids OWN them in ways that the old people owned their stories, because they come out of their experience and suggest who they are or could be.

I suppose it will take another ten years to get them to smell and/or taste. Maybe more. I’m happy to wait.

1 comment:

Diggitt said...

My 25-year-old daughter shares a huge community with other lovers of fantasy. She entered this community when she was perhaps ten years old.

Whenever she visits a new city -- at least in the U.S. -- she winds up meeting an old friend for the first time.

There are many fantasy subcultures online. Every time a new technology appears, they absorb it into the media they use together. I can't even begin to describe it, because I am outside of it myself. But I agree that these are in addition to, not replacing, other ways of communication and creating a literature together.