Allen, Paula Gunn (Vol. 84)
Paula Gunn Allen 1939–
American poet, critic, essayist, novelist, educator, and editor.
The following provides an overview of Allen's career through 1993.
A renowned literary figure, an eminent scholar, and dedicated feminist, Allen attempts to educate mainstream audiences about Native American themes, issues, and concerns by promoting Native American literature as a viable and rich source of study. Her fiction and poetry frequently refer to her identity as a mixed blood and, like her critical essays and the numerous anthologies she has edited, emphasize the status of Amerindian women in various Native cultures.
A registered member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, Allen was born in Cubero, New Mexico, a rural land grant situated next to the Laguna Pueblo reservation, the Acoma reservation, and Cibola National Forest. Her mother was of Laguna Pueblo, Sioux, and Scottish descent, and her father, who grew up on a Mexican land grant in the American Southwest and once served as lieutenant-governor of New Mexico, was of Lebanese ancestry. Allen credits these mixed origins as a major influence on her writing as well as a source of hope and inspiration: "I think in some respects the whole world is a multicultural event, and it's possible, if it's possible for me to stay alive, then it's possible for the whole world to stay alive. If I can communicate, then all the different people in the world can communicate with one another." Spending her early years in Cubero, Allen was sent to a Catholic boarding school in Albuquerque at age six, and her Christian upbringing is often reflected in her writings. An avid reader, Allen encountered the works of Gertrude Stein in high school, and she notes that her early attempts at writing were highly influenced by the American novelist and poet. Allen also cites American poet Robert Creeley, under whose direction she once studied writing, and Kiowa novelist N. Scott Momaday as individuals who have had a strong impact on her work. Initially intending to become an actress, Allen attended various schools before earning a B.A. in English in 1966 and an M.F.A. in creative writing in 1968 from the University of Oregon. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies and American Indian Studies from the University of New Mexico in 1975. Since then she has taught there and at the University of California-Berkeley, the University of California-Los Angeles, and San Francisco State University. Allen has also been the recipient of numerous prizes: she has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and was awarded the 1990 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for Spider Woman's Granddaughters (1989).
Much of Allen's work is preoccupied with her identity as a woman, mixed blood, and lesbian in Laguna and white society. Focusing on the themes of assimilation, self-identity, and remembrance, she frequently examines the quest for spiritual wholeness. For example, her poetry collections, which include The Blind Lion (1974), Shadow Country (1982), and Skins and Bones (1988), often emphasize the female journey to spiritual transcendence. The search for self-actualization and an integrated self are also central to her 1983 novel, The Woman Who Owned the Shadows, in which the protagonist, a lesbian half blood, eventually learns to accept her sexual orientation and cultural identity rather than conform to social stereotypes. This work, which is dedicated to the Native American deity Thought Woman, additionally emphasizes the importance of storytelling in Native American culture, incorporating such diverse narrative modes as folk tales, letters, legends, dreams, and Pueblo "thought singing." Allen's scholarly works, including her popular essay collection The Sacred Hoop (1986), deal with women's issues, the oral tradition, lesbianism, and female deities. In Spider Woman's Granddaughters, an anthology of tales by Leslie Marmon Silko, Linda Hogan, Louise Erdrich, Anna Lee Waters, Pretty Shield, and other Native American women, Allen attempts to introduce "tribal women's literature" to non-Native readers. She similarly collects creation myths concerning Native American goddesses in Grandmothers of the Light (1991), projecting historical fact and her own insights onto these tales.
Allen's works have generally received positive acclaim. Her poetry is recognized for its musical qualities and her novel, though faulted at times for its broad focus, has been praised for its examination of racism and sexism. While occasionally criticized for their lack of documentation, her nonfiction works have been lauded as attempts to preserve Native American culture for all individuals regardless of their ethnic heritage. Elizabeth I. Hanson has asserted: "Where Allen registers her strongest Western literary key is in the shade and movement of her hymns to the sacred in Native American experience. By discovering her own mode of American sacred, Allen creates her own myths; she reinvokes primordial sacred time with a contemporary profane time in order to recover and remake her self. That restored, renewed self suggests in symbolic terms a revival within Native American experience as a whole. Like Allen's own vision of self, contemporary Native Americans exist not in a romantic past but instead in a community which extends through the whole of American experience."
The Blind Lion (poetry) 1974
Coyote's Daylight Trip (poetry) 1978
A Cannon between My Knees (poetry) 1981
Star Child (poetry) 1981
Shadow Country (poetry) 1982
Studies in American Indian Literature: Critical Essays and Course Designs [editor] (essays and nonfiction) 1983
The Woman Who Owned the Shadows (novel) 1983
The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions (essays) 1986
Wyrds (poetry) 1987
Skins and Bones (poetry) 1988
Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women [editor] (short stories) 1989
Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman's Source-book (stories and essays) 1991
(The entire section is 84 words.)
SOURCE: "The Now Day Indi'ns," in his Native American Renaissance, University of California Press, 1983, pp. 183-221.
[An American educator and critic, Lincoln is the author of several books on Native American literature and culture. In the excerpt below, which appeared in 1982 as the foreword to Shadow Country and which appeared in slightly different form in the Summer 1982 issue of Four Winds: The International Forum for Native American Art, Literature, and History, he offers a thematic and stylistic analysis of Shadow Country.]
Laguna mother, Lakota grandfather, Lebanese father, life on the margins of mainstream and Indian: Paula Gunn Allen lives somewhere between American norms and Native American closures. She writes in the shadows of visions, "fingering silence and sound" with a poet's touching measure. She sings of desire and grief, confusion and rage over a horizon note of loss. Shadow Country: that marginal zone of interfusions, neither the shadower, nor the shadowed, both and neither, in liminal transition. "I looked about me and could see that what we then were doing was like a shadow cast upon the earth from yonder vision in the heavens, so bright it was and clear," Black Elk remembered [in Black Elk Speaks; Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, 1932]. "I knew the real was yonder and the darkened dream of it was here."
(The entire section is 2058 words.)
SOURCE: "Paula Gunn Allen and Joy Harjo: Closing the Distance between Personal and Mythic Space," in American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring, 1983, pp. 27-40.
[In the following excerpt, Ruppert discusses Allen's use of personal and mythic space in her poetry.]
Much of Allen's work is a search for meaning, an attempt to understand natural harmony and to place the individual in that fusion of person, land, and spirit. Each moment is placed on a web of history, natural harmony and traditional understanding. Through this perceptive act, the moment is given significance such as in the poem "Jet Plane/Dhla-nuwa," where the flight on the plane is seen in scientific historical terms, personal historic terms and in mythological terms or, as in "Affirmation," where Grandmother Spider's webs and thoughts are seen throughout the world and the narrator sees "each journey retracing some ancient myth."
Allen's stance is a highly meditative one wherein she forges connections between mundane and mythic space. Making these connections is frequently referred to as "going home," for we see the physical journey often combined with the mythic journey and the personal search. However, as in the poem "Displacement," we see a world today where "nothing stays in the any sense where it belongs" and home is, consequently, hard to find.
Allen's work is personal in the sense that it often...
(The entire section is 1362 words.)
SOURCE: An interview in Survival This Way: Interviews with American Indian Poets by Joseph Bruchac, Sun Tracks and the University of Arizona Press, 1987, pp. 1-21.
[A member of the Abenaki tribe, Bruchac is an American short story writer, poet, editor, novelist, translator, and critic whose works are informed by his experiences as a Native American. In the following interview, originally conducted in 1983, Allen discusses Laguna society and culture, her upbringing, her influences, and thematic and stylistic aspects of her work.]
[Bruchac]: In [your poem] "Recuerdo," there are images of movement, of loss, and of searching, images I see in many of your poems. What is it that is lost or looked for?
(The entire section is 7058 words.)
SOURCE: "Ephanie's Ghosts," in The New York Times Book Review, June 3, 1984, p. 18.
[Hoffman is an American novelist, scriptwriter, and short story writer. In the following mixed review, she faults The Woman Who Owned the Shadows for its sentimentality, didacticism, and broad focus, but praises it as an "exploration of racism … [and] a powerful and moving testament to feminism."]
In one of the many legends told in this ambitious first novel [The Woman Who Owned the Shadows], a father forces his daughter to marry a sorcerer. Each time the young woman's courage is tested by impossible deeds, she manages to succeed. But her powers are mistrusted by her ailing husband and the other sorcerers. They advise him to uproot the tree of light and persuade his wife to jump into the hole. Arrogant, tricked into believing that she can float like a petal, the wife jumps. They replace the tree so she can never return, and the world as we know it is begun on the shining blue globe below.
A Guadalupe Indian girl—Ephanie—makes a similar leap. Challenged by a jealous boy, she tests her daring in a catastrophic jump from an apple tree. Ephanie breaks two ribs and punctures a lung, but the scars go much deeper—this moment of weakness changes Ephanie's vision of herself, and even when the incident is forgotten, it continues to haunt her. She abandons bravery and becomes a good girl, one...
(The entire section is 791 words.)
SOURCE: A review of Studies in American Indian Literature, in Western American Literature, Vol. XIX, No. 2, Summer, 1984, pp. 170-71.
[In the excerpt below, King discusses the strengths and weaknesses of Studies in American Indian Literature.]
Studies in American Indian Literature is a collection of essays on Indian oral literature, autobiography, and Indian women's literature. There is a section on modern and contemporary Indian literature, a section on the Indian in American literature, and a section on available resources in the field such as anthologies, texts, and scholarly articles. Each of the major sections in the book is followed by suggested course outlines and suggested reading lists. It is a text that is designed for the teacher who wishes to teach a course in this area rather than for the student.
As a secondary source book, Studies in American Indian Literature has much to recommend it. Many of the articles such as Patricia Clark Smith's "Coyote Ortiz," LaVonne Ruoff's "American Indian Literatures," and James Ruppert's "Discovering America" are first rate. While the level of the other articles tends to vary, the majority are competent.
The most obvious problem is that several of the articles are out of date and should have been revised prior to publication. Paula Gunn Allen's "The Sacred Hoop," which discusses oral literature, is one...
(The entire section is 349 words.)
SOURCE: A review of The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions, in Parabola, Vol. XI, No. 4, November, 1986, pp. 102, 104.
[An educator, editor, and critic, Jahner teaches English and Native American Studies. In the review below, she offers a thematic discussion of The Sacred Hoop, praising Allen's incorporation of personal experiences and beliefs.]
Paula Gunn Allen is a leading American Indian poet, novelist, and essayist. The current collection, The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions, reprints the best of her earlier essays and adds several new ones. The twenty pieces that make up the new book represent attempts to measure her distance from any sensibility or historical paradigm imposed by cultural outsiders, and through that measuring to situate events and texts within alternative historical codes. In such a project, the writer's own position is basic. Her background is certainly not one that belongs to any "dominant culture" in America or the western world in general. She comes from New Mexico where she grew up participating in the Laguna Pueblo traditions of her mother's people and in the Lebanese ways of her father's side of the family. Her formal education, which includes a Ph.D. and an M.F.A., gave her access to the analytic perspectives of mainstream culture, but the necessity to enter these alternative histories as...
(The entire section is 1119 words.)
SOURCE: A review of The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions, in Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 25, 1987, p. 11.
[Karvar is known for her English translations of Ponca and Lakota histories and myths. In the review below, she favorably assesses The Sacred Hoop.]
My great-grandmother told my mother: Never forget you are Indian. And my mother told me the same thing. This, then, is how I have gone about remembering, so that my children will remember too.
In [The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions], a collection of 17 essays representing more than a decade of cultural research, Native American author and scholar Paula Gunn Allen challenges five centuries of misconceptions surrounding the role of Native American women in many "pre-contact" tribal societies; misconceptions the author contends have "… transformed and obscured what were once woman-centered cultures…."
In her first section, "The Ways of Our Grandmothers," Allen explores the relationship between female creation deities and their teachings and the pre-eminent status of women as creators and teachers of the rituals and laws that defined tribal consciousness, and the significance of mother and grandmother in Native American culture.
Allen also probes the effects of...
(The entire section is 564 words.)
SOURCE: An interview in This Is about Vision: Interviews with Southwestern Writers, William Balassi, John F. Crawford, and Annie O. Eysturoy, eds., University of New Mexico Press, 1990, pp. 95-107.
[Eysturoy specializes in American Studies. In the following interview which took place in March, 1987, after a poetry reading held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Allen discusses the impact of the American Southwest on her work, her literary beginnings and aims, her cultural identity, the writing process, and feminist issues.]
[Eysturoy]: You were born and raised here [in Albuquerque.] How has that influenced you and your work?
[Allen]: My work is all tangled up with landscape around here. But landscape for me does not mean "the landscape"; it does not mean something that great dramas are enacted upon. Maybe that's because so much of the drama in the Southwest is the land, not the people. We are, to me, the background against which the land enacts her drama, and by landscape I don't mean only the mountains and those vast plains, but the weather, the climatic conditions and rainstorms, the overpowering thunderstorms.
So it is the power of the landscape, more than anythig else, that has left an impression on you?
Right. It has given me an entirely different notion of how women are supposed to be. Other people in America keep thinking...
(The entire section is 6858 words.)
SOURCE: "Above All, Keep the Tale Going," in The New York Times Book Review, May 14, 1989, p. 15.
[Le Guin is an American novelist, short story writer, nonfiction writer, critic, editor, poet, playwright, and author of children's books. In the following, she discusses the arrangement and focus of the stories collected in Spider Woman's Granddaughters.]
Louise Erdrich has become a best seller, and Leslie Marmon Silko, Linda Hogan and other Native American women rank high among modern writers. First with her critical essays in The Sacred Hoop, and now with this fine collection of stories [entitled Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women], Paula Gunn Allen gives us a much needed context for their work. In her introduction and in notes to the stories, Ms. Allen, a professor of Native American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, discusses who these writers are, why they write as they do and how they are linked by tradition, by experience as women and as Indians, and above all by an understanding of what a story does.
For underlying these narratives, conventional as some of them appear, is a very different idea of the function of art than the Euro-American one. The difference is exhilarating. Ms. Allen helps us to appreciate it and to use it to get past the merely ethnic to the value of the stories...
(The entire section is 1497 words.)
SOURCE: "Many-Colored Poets," in The Women's Review of Books, Vol. VI, No. 12, September, 1989, pp. 29-31.
[An American poet, short story writer, and editor, Randall frequently writes on Hispanic themes. In the excerpt below, she offers a positive assessment of Skins and Bones, asserting that these are "poems of identity: moving back in time, conjuring, inventing, reclaiming memory and using it powerfully."]
Paula Gunn Allen, recently 50, is a Laguna Pueblo/Sioux/Lebanese woman whose critical work as well as her poetry and fiction have reached a powerful maturity. Born in 1939, she was raised on a Spanish land grant in New Mexico. Her life and work move back and forth between the landscapes of her growing, her culture in its traditions, and the scholarship that has made that heritage a documented resource for us all.
Allen is best known for The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Before that there was the volume of critical essays and course designs she edited, Studies in American Indian Literature, published in 1983. Her novel, The Woman Who Owned the Shadows reminds us of her great richness with words. Skins and Bones is her sixth book of poems; previous volumes go back to 1975. Allen teaches Native American Studies at the University of California in Berkeley….
In her moving effort to retrieve a...
(The entire section is 735 words.)
SOURCE: A review of Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women, in Parabola, Vol. XIV, No. 4, November, 1989, pp. 98, 102.
[An editor and critic, Bruchac helped establish the Greenfield Review Magazine and Press, which frequently promotes and publishes Native American literature. In the review below, she praises Spider Woman's Granddaughters as "unique historically, culturally, and creatively."]
Paula Gunn Allen's anthology, Spider Woman's Granddaughters, combines traditional...
(The entire section is 966 words.)
SOURCE: A review of Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women, in World Literature Today, Vol. 64, No. 2, Spring, 1990, pp. 344-45.
[In the following negative review of Spider Woman's Granddaughters, Berner claims that the book is at times historically inaccurate and that Allen's editorializing and rhetoric have the potential to mislead readers and reinforce stereotypes.]
[In Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women] Paula Gunn Allen has combined several traditional stories with short works by seventeen writers, eleven of them contemporary. One can only hope that anyone who buys her book will read the stories and ignore her introduction and notes, which are marred by extraordinary historical errors. Some of them, such as referring to the Dawnes Severalty Act (Dawes) and John Rolling Ridge (Rollin) and implying that Calhoun was Jefferson's secretary of state, may be due in part to careless editing; but others, such as saying that "the Allies liberated … Greece or Lebanon earlier in this century," can only be blamed on her faulty grasp of historical fact. These lapses are nothing compared to her claim that in the twenty-five years after the Civil War "the Anglo-Americans" slaughtered "millions" of Indians, a process of which she says later, "No holocaust in this...
(The entire section is 517 words.)
SOURCE: A review of The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions, in Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 103, No. 408, April-June, 1990, pp. 245-47.
[In the following, Milspaw faults the uneven quality of the essays included in The Sacred Hoop, but argues that the collection "is enormously important to our understanding of the growing body of superb Native American Literature."]
Paula Gunn Allen's collection of essays on contemporary American Indian literature [The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions] focuses on her conviction that Native American cultures were essentially gynocentric, and, as a result, Native American literature is inherently feminist. Arguing from her position as a feminist, an American Indian, a poet, a novelist, a critic, and a scholar (she teaches Native American Studies at Berkeley), she presents her material forcefully, gracefully, and at times, quite convincingly.
Her major argument is built around the centrality of Woman (in her guises as Mother, Grandmother, Old Woman Spider, Thought Woman, or Kochinnenaka, Yellow Woman), in her own Keresian Pueblo/Sioux tradition. She extends her argument to include much of Native American literature. But a second theme, that of the interchangeability of the spirit world and the natural world, of "real" time and ceremonial time, quickly emerges as...
(The entire section is 1172 words.)
SOURCE: A review of Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women, in Belles Lettres: A Review of Books by Women, Vol. 5, No. 4, Summer, 1990, pp. 40, 42.
[In the review below, Goodluck positively assesses Spider Woman's Granddaughters and praises the collection's focus and organization.]
Paula Gunn Allen, the editor of Spider Woman's Granddaughter, is a Laguna Pueblo/Sioux scholar, feminist, and professor of Native American studies. In The Sacred Hoop, she gave her audience a vision of the feminine in traditional native thought and literature. In this book [Spider Woman's Granddaughters] she has gathered views, ideas, and wisdom about surviving personal and social conflict, written by women from a number of different tribes. Stories about women warriors and their resistance to white encroachment accompany prose, by traditional and contemporary Native American women, concerning stress, conflict, loss, separation, relocation, death, rebirth, and revitalization.
Allen's review of historical events in her excellent introductory chapter is important in understanding the Native American struggle, as is her discussion of pertinent values and belief systems, such as community versus individuality. Her analysis of the philosophical and political differences between Western and Native American canons of...
(The entire section is 519 words.)
SOURCE: "The Journey Back to Female Roots: A Laguna Pueblo Model," in Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions, edited by Karla Jay and Joanne Glasgow, New York University Press, 1990, pp. 339-54.
[In the essay below, Van Dyke offers a thematic analysis of The Woman Who Owned the Shadows, arguing that Allen employs tribal concerns to discuss alienation, sexual identity, lesbianism, and, more specifically, "a journey to healing—a journey to the female center."]
Paula Gunn Allen is a mixed-blood Native American lesbian who says she is Laguna Pueblo/Sioux/Lebanese-American and that she "writes out of a Laguna Indian woman's perspective" (Sacred Hoop). Allen continues her cultural traditional in her novel by using it in the same way in which the traditional arts have always functioned for the Laguna Pueblo. She has extended traditional story-telling into the modern form of the novel by weaving in the tribal history, cultural traditions, and mythology of the Laguna Pueblo to create a form of curing ceremony for her readers.
Allen published her novel The Woman Who Owned the Shadows, in 1983. She has many scholarly articles and chapbooks of poetry, and she has edited Studies in American Indian Literature (1983). A major book of poetry, Shadow Country, was published in 1982; her new book of poetry is entitled Wyrds, and a novel, Raven's...
(The entire section is 6556 words.)
SOURCE: Paula Gunn Allen, Boise State University, 1990, 50 p.
[In the excerpt below, Hanson provides an overview of Allen's literary career through 1983.]
At the center of Paula Gunn Allen's vision of self and art is an individual alienated within. For Allen the idea of the "breed" reflects a preoccupation with alienation as a personal and as an aesthetic experience. Allen's biography, her understanding of Native American literature, and her works of art and criticism are informed by the consciousness that "breeds" are aliens to traditional Native Americans and yet also aliens among whites. To know Allen's life and work is to reflect deeply on the meaning of "breed" in Native American experience. Also, to know her life and work is to gain peculiar insight into the transformative art concealed within the alien's exceptionally acute visionary power. To stand outside, to be and yet not to be, becomes, at least in Allen's case, a source of subtle self-exploration as well as extraordinary art….
Allen turns to the images of ancient Keres traditions to determine her principles of literary criticism. Ancient Native American aesthetics and her own self-divided sense of the "breed" experience shape her most important critical ideas. For Allen, her criticism of Native American texts and cultures emerges so that readers may learn to view themselves and Native American...
(The entire section is 10467 words.)
SOURCE: "Myth America," in VLS, No. 100, November, 1991, p. 26.
[Ruta is an American short story writer. In the following, she praises Allen's storytelling skills, focus on Native American myth, and incorporation of historical fact in Grandmothers of the Light.]
Paula Gunn Allen is a lesbian feminist scholar of Native American literature, a critic (The Sacred Hoop), an anthologist (Spider Woman's Granddaughters), a mother, a grandmother, Laguna Pueblo and Lakota Sioux by birth, Cherokee by marriage. Grandmothers of the Light is a collection of Native American creation myths in which goddesses do all the work and even get the credit. But goddesses is probably the wrong word for these divinities, who don't dazzle or attack from distant thrones. Like the cultures that nourished them, they're down to earth, egalitarian, democratic, and resourceful, plunging their arms into the clay, the corn dough, the ashes, to come up with what's needed to create or sustain life. The Quiché Maya grandmother Xmucané grinds corn and mixes it with water to create the first men and women, after her previous attempts with mud and wood were comic failures. Spider Woman, another grandmother, is the Cherokee Prometheus. Old, slow, and weak in the joints, she invents pottery to carry a spark of fire back to her people from a neighbor country.
Unlike your run-of-the-mill tape-recorder...
(The entire section is 998 words.)
SOURCE: "Sorcery of Her Own," in American Book Review, Vol. 14, No. 5, December, 1992–January, 1993, p. 12.
[Author of various critical essays on such Native American writers as John Milton Oskison and Leslie Marmon Silko, Ronnow has served as vice-president of the Association for the Study of Native American Literatures. In the following, she offers a mixed assessment of Grandmothers of the Light.]
Paula Gunn Allen's Grandmothers of the Light—A Medicine Woman's Sourcebook is divided into three main parts—"Cosmogyny: the Goddesses," "Ritual Magic and Aspects of the Goddesses," and "Myth, Magic, and Medicine in the Modern World"—plus an introductory essay, a postscript that explains the tribes involved, a glossary, and a bibliography. Allen writes in the preface that she has "gleaned from the vast oral tradition of Native American" twenty-one stories that have served as her own "guides and sourcebook [to] navigate the perilous journey along the path that marks the boundary between the mundane world and the world of the spirit." She asserts that "each of the stories in this collection contains information central to a woman's spiritual tradition" since each speaks of the creative power of the goddesses of myth and ritual. She draws from a variety of "ethnographic and literary sources, from the oral tradition, and from direct communication from her own spirit guides."
(The entire section is 1515 words.)
Gomez, Jewelle. "Who Tells the Stories Rules the World." The Women's Review of Books VI, Nos. 10-11 (July 1989): 8.
Favorable assessment of Spider Woman's Granddaughters.
Karvar, Quannah. "Tribal Women Speak." Los Angeles Times Book Review (9 July 1989): 10.
Praiseworthy review of Spider Woman's Granddaughters. Karvar notes: "These remarkable narratives represent the oral tradition as it journeys into its contemporary form, bringing with it all that is sacred and significant to tribal women and tribal people as a whole."
McEwen, Christian. "Tribes That Bind." The Village Voice XXXIV, No. 38 (19 September 1989): 57.
Offers praise for Spider Woman's Granddaughters. The critic argues that the stories in this volume are "war stories" in that they present "a means of making order in the universe, of maintaining harmony and balance, of strengthening personal and cultural identity."
Njeri, Itabari. "The Compelling Stories of a Conquered Nation." Los Angeles Times (19 October 1990): E1, E7.
Feature essay relating biographical information about Allen and critical reception of Spider Woman's Granddaughters....
(The entire section is 182 words.)