indian jewelry



            Native Writer David Treuer

            David Treuer (Ojibwe), from Leech Lake Reservation in northern
            Minnesota, is the author of three novels: Little, The Hiawatha and
            The Translation of Dr. Apelles. He's the recipient of a Pushcart
            Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the
            Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation. Trained as an
            anthropologist at Princeton, where he also studied creative writing
            under Toni Morrison, he turns his intelligent eye on his Native
            culture and history in his most recent book, Rez Life: An Indian's
            Journey Through Reservation Life, a nonfiction work that combines
            research and reportage
            with memoir.

            Treuer delves deeply into the tragic past of the reservation system,
            and how past policies enacted by the United States continue to ripple
            negatively through Native American life today. He also tackles contemporary issues of sovereignty, treaty
            rights, natural-resource conservation and gaming.

            Treuer writes in his novel Hiawatha, "Simon, lost somewhere in between." Referring to his central protagonist
            near the beginning of his novel he introduces the theme at an early stage. Centering on images of place and
            placelessness, this theme--like the novel itself--carries pertinence for current understandings of the Native
            American novel as a literary form and for critical analyses of tribal fiction.

            For Simon--who at the novel's opening has just been released from prison having served a sentence for
            fratricide--the physical and emotional sense of placelessness is a burden that will be endured until the closing
            scene. Most importantly, the narrative closure at the end of the novel does not offer the customary image of
            "the return of the Native," an image that is often read as a panacea to the trials of colonization and is often
            now expected by readers of tribal fiction.

            Instead Hiawatha--its ending and, the narrative as a whole--confounds undemanding and comfortable notions of
            indigenous "return." In this way, the novel engages the stylistic convention of the return, both as this return,
            has appeared in Native fiction and as readers have interpreted it. Through a reexamination of the indigene's
            relationship to place in his novel, Treuer appears to question the extent to which certain images of place and
            notions of home have become conventional to the understanding of Native American literature.

            The novel also questions whether works of indigenous fiction have come to "thematize" home in a way that is no
            longer pertinent either to the production of fiction or to tribal experiences in the contemporary world. In
            this way, his text questions if non-Native readers are more properly responsible for schematizing the notion
            of the return by favoring particular and specific literary conventions or books' over more complex and
            challenging ones, ones that feature quite different structural compositions.

            As such, Hiawatha engages the traditional literary strategies employed by Native American writing, compares
            those strategies to earlier narratives (Native American and canonically American) and offers a reassessment
            of indigenous novelistic structures. It also effectively engages critical responses to tribal fiction, and does
            so in response to the current debate within the field of Native American literary studies.

            References
            Evertsen, S. Native American Literatures: An Introduction. 2004.
            Treuer, D. The Hiawatha: A Novel by David Treuer. 2000.
            Treuer, D. Rez Life by David Treuer. 2013.
              David Treuer