(Masterpieces of American Literature)

This volume shows the range of Vizenor’s work over a twenty-year span. The pieces included present him as the investigative reporter he was in the early 1970’s and as the creative and academic writer he became. The collection is somewhat rag-tag, but it is significant for showing the author’s development.

The book is divided into two major sections. The first, “Crossblood Survivance,” deals with the problems of those who, like Vizenor, are not pure-blooded. These “crossbloods” constitute the largest group among those who claim to be Native Americans. To survive in their Native American environments, Vizenor says, these people sell out much that their forbears held sacred. They redefine treaties, reaching compromises that promise short-term gains. They are instrumental in bringing gambling to reservations, and they abrogate the hard-won fishing and hunting rights for which their ancestors fought.

With the money these compromises generate come the problems that accompany gambling and other easy-money schemes. Vizenor implies that American Indians are losing their selfhood or, more accurately, are selling out to the highest bidder. Tribal pride, once the hallmark of the reservation, is being subordinated to immediate gain.

“Crossbloods and the Chippewa,” one of the more recent contributions to the volume, focuses compellingly on some of the major problems facing Indians. Some of these problems are caused by the...

(The entire section is 439 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Blaeser, Kimberly M. Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.

Hochbruck, Wolfgang. “Breaking Away: The Novels of Gerald Vizenor.” World Literature Today 66 (Spring, 1992): 274-278.

Isernhagen, Hartwig. Momaday, Vizenor, Armstrong: Conversations on American-Indian Writing. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.

Lee, A. Robert, ed. Loosening the Seams: Interpretations of Gerald Vizenor. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Press, 2000.

Owens, Louis, ed. Studies in American Indian Literatures 9 (Spring, 1997). Special issue devoted to Vizenor.

Vizenor, Gerald. Interior Landscapes: Autobiographical Myths and Metaphors. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990.