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Our Fire Survives the Storm

A Cherokee Literary History

2005
Author:

Daniel Heath Justice

Our Fire Survives the Storm

Asserts the strength and diversity of Cherokee identity through its rich literary tradition

Daniel Heath Justice traces the expression of Cherokee identity in that nation's literary tradition through protest writings, memoirs, fiction, and retellings of traditional stories. In Our Fire Survives the Storm, Justice employs theoretical approaches that have emerged out of Cherokee social history to interpret diverse texts composed in English, a language embraced by many as a tool of both access and defiance.

Daniel Heath Justice has provided an overview of Cherokee literature that is unparalleled. He rescues Cherokee narratives from the limitations of isolated literature and reminds his readers that our stories are the vessels of our strength and sovereignty.

Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Once the most powerful indigenous nation in the southeastern United States, the Cherokees survive and thrive as a people nearly two centuries after the Trail of Tears and a hundred years after the allotment of Indian Territory. In Our Fire Survives the Storm, Daniel Heath Justice traces the expression of Cherokee identity in that nation’s literary tradition.

Through cycles of war and peace, resistance and assimilation, trauma and regeneration, Cherokees have long debated what it means to be Cherokee through protest writings, memoirs, fiction, and retellings of traditional stories. Justice employs the Chickamauga consciousness of resistance and Beloved Path of engagement—theoretical approaches that have emerged out of Cherokee social history—to interpret diverse texts composed in English, a language embraced by many as a tool of both access and defiance.

Justice’s analysis ultimately locates the Cherokees as a people of many perspectives mingled into a collective sense of nationhood. Just as the oral traditions of the Cherokee people reflect the living realities and concerns of those who share them, Justice concludes, so too is their literary tradition a textual testament to Cherokee endurance and vitality.

Awards

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Our Fire Survives the Storm

Daniel Heath Justice is assistant professor of Aboriginal literatures at the University of Toronto.

Our Fire Survives the Storm

Daniel Heath Justice has provided an overview of Cherokee literature that is unparalleled. He rescues Cherokee narratives from the limitations of isolated literature and reminds his readers that our stories are the vessels of our strength and sovereignty.

Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Our Fire Survives the Storm moves beyond a simplistic reading of Cherokee culture as a case study for becoming civilized.

Craig Womack, author of Drowning in Fire and Red on Red

This book is a good resource for students, educators, writers and those interested in Cherokee culture.

News From Indian Country

With Daniel Heath Justice’s approach in hand, college-level students of Native American literature have a fine method of analyzing stories for strengths, purpose, and direction.

California Bookwatch

Justice makes an important, striking contribution to the growing body of tribal-centered criticism.

Choice

Justice writes well, and I recall someone's observing once that Sigmund Freud became influential not only for his theories but for the passionate, compelling prose with which he delivered them. Justice’s passages about Nanye’hi (Nancy Ward) and Tsiyu Gansini (Dragging Canoe) are good examples of this. In terms of Justice’s articulating the dichotomy between the Chicamaugua (War Chief) tradition and the Beloved Path (Peace Chief) tradition, the portraits of Tsiyu and Nanye’hi are crucial. The stories of these two important Cherokee historical figures are compelling, and Justice’s prose brings the story to life. Our Fire Survives the Storm is a good book, valuable for both libraries and classrooms.

Great Plains Quarterly

The defense of his pedagogy is both provocative and profound.

The American Indian Quarterly

Our Fire Survives the Storm

Contents

Map of the Pre-Removal Territories of the Cherokee Nation
Acknowledgments
A Note on Terminology

Part I. Deep Roots

1. Beyond the Civilized Savage

Part II. Geographies of Removal

2. The Trail Where We Cried
3. Unruly Cherokees in the Indian Territory

Part III. Regeneration

4. Readings in Contemporary Cherokee Literature

Afterword: The Stories That Matter

Notes
Bibliography

Index