FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Christopher J. Pexa to receive MLA Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Languages

Pexa is author of Translated Nation: Rewriting the Dakhóta Oyáte

Dec 14, 2020

 
How authors rendered Dakhóta philosophy by literary means to encode ethical and political connectedness and sovereign life within a settler surveillance state
 New York, NY – 14 December 2020 – The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its fourth MLA Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Languages to Christopher J. Pexa, assistant professor of English and American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, for his book Translated Nation: Rewriting the Dakhóta Oyáte, published by the University of Minnesota Press. Kirby Brown, associate professor of Native American literatures at the University of Oregon, is receiving an honorable mention for Stoking the Fire: Nationhood in Cherokee Writing, 1907–1970, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. The prize is awarded for an outstanding scholarly study of Native American literature, culture, or languages written by a member of the association.

The MLA Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, or Languages is one of eighteen awards that will be presented on 9 January 2021, during the association’s annual convention, to be held online. The members of the selection committee were Eric Gary Anderson (George Mason Univ.), chair; Deanna Reder (Simon Fraser Univ.) and Cheryl L. Suzack (Univ. of Toronto). The committee’s citation for the winning book reads:

Christopher J. Pexa’s Translated Nation: Rewriting the Dakhóta Oyáte examines Dakhóta literature that emerged between the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn and the antipipeline protests at Standing Rock 140 years later. Pexa takes as the basis for his thinking about Indigenous sovereignty and the Dakhóta canon the ethics of the thióšpaye, the idea of extended family or kinship, and grounds his readings of both canonical texts and lesser-known archives (prisoners' letters, interviews with elders) in thióšpaye philosophy. Part literary criticism, part ethnohistory, part language activism (in its pathbreaking reliance on Dakhóta words and phrases to express Dakhóta concepts), and part loving fieldwork centered on the voices and stories of his own grandmothers, Pexa’s work convincingly recovers a sturdy though strategically inaccessible Dakhóta resurgence and compels readers to think more deeply about other tribal peoples’ creative decolonizing work.

The MLA Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Languages was established in 2014 and is awarded under the auspices of the Committee on Honors and Awards. For more information, visit the MLA's official press release.

"Our core values are incredibly resilient": An interview with Christopher Pexa on the occasion of the award announcement.