Saturday, May 18, 2019


There are not enough (if any, to my knowledge) awards for writing by indigenous North American authors about indigenous North American characters, so I think I'll just invent one.  At least I can frame the desiderata for such an award.  It would be a start.

This pretend award is for fiction, but the reason it is fiction may be discussed in the manuscript. Being both poetry and fiction is acceptable.

How do we know the author is truly indigenous?  THIS WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT THEME FOR THE MANUSCRIPT. It's a matter of great importance even to people who claim to be indigenous but qualify mostly by claiming to "know" arcane stuff they got from pop anthropology.  The current legal requirements for BQ -- which vary by tribe -- are based on PROVENANCE, descent from people considered authentically indigenous at the time of contact.  

This is a matter of genomics rather than DNA.  If there were truly markers in DNA code for who or didn't inherit them, the markers would not match the genealogy because DNA's function is to vary the genome. One set of descendants with the same parents might not all have the right code set.  It would not be inherited by everyone.  Genetic DNA does not match with genealogies.  It is a great hoax that both words begin with "gen" for "gens" which means people, which suggests that the words are interchangeable when they are not.  

Genealogy is family.  Genomics is about molecules in the nuclei of cells.  Blood cells have no nuclei.  If blood quantum were about blood as a fact instead of a metaphor, it would be empty of evidence of relationship.  The word "blood"is so compelling that it overcomes inaccuracy with emotion. 



This imaginary award I'm proposing for writing is going to be based on a point system.  The importance of each fraction will be expressed in percentages.

*Thirty per cent will be based on the subject of who is or is not indigenous and what difference it makes.  More points will be awarded for a story about people who are tribally enrolled and live on a reservation identified with them.  At least one character must be authentically indigenous, not necessarily proven by authorities.

Points can be awarded for fractionated inheritances and residence off the rez, maybe even out of the country, so long as it is meaningful in the story.

No points will be awarded for gender affiliation, whether cis or trans or mixed or imaginary.  These matters have impact, but the impacts will be considered rather than the status.  I mean, what is the consequence of the stigma, not the cause.

No points will be awarded for level of education achieved by the author or by characters in the story.  In fact, the narrator or characters need not be human so long as it can be argued that they are locally indigenous.

If groups such as classes, wished to write an entry together, that would be welcome.

No points will be awarded for social standing, whether stigmatized or elevated, chief or slave, historical or contemporary.  No points will be awarded for misery of the characters.  It can BE there, but must be explained as to why it's misery, not just assumed as "life".

No point will be awarded for reviews of the submission by white people or in prestigious publications by white people.  Points will be awarded for those considered by indigenous publishing houses or media.  

*Double points will be given for using the native (natural, tribal) language of the characters.  Triple points if the meanings of the words can be understood by context rather than in a glossary.

*One tenth of the points will be for how well the plot and moments of the story are demonstrations of the point of the whole.  That is, if a wolverine is in the character's experience, the writer must convince us of what a wolverine is really like.  Then a characteristic of a wolverine -- fierceness, tenacity, persistence -- must count as a factor in the story.  But if a character's fatal flaw were rage like a wolverine's, that would be relevant.

High points if we are surprised but still believe in what we are told happens.

Length is an open question.  Long enough to do the job.  Not omitting something that ought to be there, even if it makes the story long.

Maps are fine.  All natural science is welcome.  Myth is okay, but be careful about slipping them from one tribe to another and so on.

Politics are fine at any level: church, council, graduating class, county, state, cosmic.  Practical plans are fine, but are transcendent goals and beliefs.  No need to be upbeat.  

Watch out for the supernatural.  It better not be just a cop-out.  But time jumping is okay if there's a point to it.

**Points may be added or subtracted by judges except for the ones with stars.

This blog post is what they call "spit-balling."  Just fantasy.  There is no real competition.  But a tribal college could create one, right?

Feel free to suggest changes or organize your own awards.  The field is wide open.

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