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Tribal Secrets

Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions

1994
Author:

Robert Warrior

Tribal Secrets

“Robert Warrior writes at once to the memories of tribal survivance and the critical confidence of his generation; he ascertains intellectual histories that have been largely unconsidered in other studies of Native American Indians . . . a courageous comparative textual criticism.” --Gerald Vizenor, University of California, Berkeley

“Robert Warrior writes at once to the memories of tribal survivance and the critical confidence of his generation; he ascertains intellectual histories that have been largely unconsidered in other studies of Native American Indians . . . a courageous comparative textual criticism.” --Gerald Vizenor, University of California, Berkeley

“Robert Warrior writes at once to the memories of tribal survivance and the critical confidence of his generation; he ascertains intellectual histories that have been largely unconsidered in other studies of Native American Indians and centers a courageous comparative textual criticism on selected publications of Vine Deloria, Jr. and John Joseph Mathews.” Gerald Vizenor, University of California, Berkeley

"Robert Warrior writes at once to the memories of tribal survivance and the critical confidence of his generation; he ascertains intellectual histories that have been largely unconsidered in other studies of Native American Indians . . . a courageous comparative textual criticism . . ."
Gerald Vizenor
University of California, Berkeley

As American Indian literature continues to push the boundaries of creativity, its counterpart in criticism has remained content with the narrowest, most parochial focus. Tribal Secrets lays the groundwork for a new and richer American Indian critical studies. In a comparative interpretation of the works of Vine Deloria Jr. and John Joseph Mathews, two American Indian intellectuals of this century, Robert Allen Warrior recovers an intellectual tradition with profound implications for contemporary Indian critical thought.
Warrior presents a narrative account of the literary productions and political and cultural interactions of American Indian writers of this century. This neglected history provides a context for Deloria and Mathews, whose work points away from the assimilation and accommodation favored by their predecessors.
Reading these works, particularly Mathews's novel Sundown, Warrior identifies new strategies and categories for making sense of American Indian fiction. From Deloria and Mathews, he draws a framework for understanding contributions of these writers and scholars as part of the struggle for tribal sovereignty. Throughout, Warrior argues that the contemporary reality of Indian people-including issues of economic class, gender inequality, and sexual orientation-can and should be part of a critical understanding of the past, present, and future of Indian America.

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Gerald Vizenor

"Vizenor appears to be the Isaac Bashevis Singer of the Chippewa: he combines an extremely keen eye for detail and an appreciation for an interesting story with a scrupulous sense of honesty."
Alan Velie, Four American Indian Literary Masters
ISBN 0-8166-1848-8 cloth, $17.95 (1990)

Tribal Secrets

Robert Allen Warrior teaches American Indian literature and intellectual history in the Department of English at Stanford University. He is the coauthor, with Paul Chaat Smith, of Like a Hurricane: How Wounded Knee II Changed Indian America (1994).

Tribal Secrets

“Robert Warrior writes at once to the memories of tribal survivance and the critical confidence of his generation; he ascertains intellectual histories that have been largely unconsidered in other studies of Native American Indians and centers a courageous comparative textual criticism on selected publications of Vine Deloria, Jr. and John Joseph Mathews.” Gerald Vizenor, University of California, Berkeley

Robert Warrior's Tribal Secrets is a significant contribution to our understanding of American Indian intellectualism. With sharp insight, Warrior reveals the emphasis on land, community, and intellectual sovereignty that permeates the works of John Joseph Mathews and Vine Deloria, Jr., long neglected by scholars and critics.

A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff, The University of Illinois at Chicago

“Warrior compares and contrasts two of the most important American Indian writers of the 20th century on the issues of Indian sovereignty and survival. The work shows that there is much more to Native literary output than transcriptions of myths from the oral tradition.” Kirkus

“Warrior takes what could have simply been an esoteric examination of Native american intellectual trends and created an insightful study about the tremendous problems facing the Native American community. While any scholar could write on this topic, Warrior, as a Native American, brings a special viewpoint. . . . . This work manages to provide a broad perspective on Native American life.” Academic Library Review

“Tribal Secrets make a case for conscientious examining of modern Native American intellectual history, scrutiny demanding a vigorous debate and self-analysis that Warrior rightly observes has so far been lacking among Indian historians of their postreservation past. He proves the value of well-researched intellectual contexts by a superb revaluation of the Osage writer John Joseph Mathews. . . . . Warrior plays off against Mathews’ accomplishments and influence the writings of Vine Deloria, Jr., who came to prominence some twenty years later.” Common Knowledge

“In Tribal Secrets, Warrior establishes himself as a groundbreaking scholar by skillfully demonstrating that the American Indian community already has a long-standing intellectual tradition available to it.” World Literature Today

“Warrior speaks as an Indian regarding the intellectual tradition (and its various manifestations) of Indians writing in English since 1890. His tone and approach to this potentially volatile topic are both equivocal and self-assured. He asserts that the future of Indian intellectual (and by inference, political) life lies in a transcendent leap out of the quagmire of the traditionalist-assimilationist impasse.” The Bloomsbury Review

“Drawing upon a combination of literary theory, history, and personal experience, Warrior, an Osage Indian, proposes developing a frameowrk to engage issues central to the future of the Indian criticl studies and through which contemporary American Indian intellectual discourse can confront the challenges of the present and future. Warrior brings to the forefront the responsibility of the Native American critic to be both a historian and a critic.” College Literature