"To Put the Sun Back in the Sky:" Nurturing Kinship Ties and Recovering the Ancestors in D'Arcy McNickle's Wind from an Enemy Sky

Stefano Bosco

Abstract


Native American cultures have always devoted a great deal of attention to the memory of the ancestors and the importance such memory assumes in perpetuating a specific tribal identity across different generations. This may seem to be quite an obvious statement, given the frequency with which such phrases or notions as ‘respect for the ancestors,’ ‘ancestral wisdom,’ ‘ancestral worship,’ ‘legacy of the ancestors,’ and so on have come up in serious and less serious accounts of American Indian cultural traditions—ranging from biographies to collections of myths and folktales. This notion, however, has also become easy prey to oversimplifications and misappropriations on the part of non-Indian subjects, especially with respect to the complex mechanisms of knowledge production oriented toward a Western audience fascinated with ‘remote’ or ‘exotic’ cultures. In American fiction and popular culture, all of this can be seen in the persistence of stereotypes like that of the old Indian shaman, and in the popularity of narrative schemes where the discovery of Indian ancestry or the proximity to Indian elders provide a (usually white or mixed-blood) character with a regenerative, even mystical experience that grants a privileged access to the secrets of life.

Keywords


American studies; native american studies; American literature; D'Arcy McNickle

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2014.i4.518

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