Growing Up Native American

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The short stories and excerpts from novels that make up GROWING UP NATIVE AMERICAN, which include both nineteenth and twentieth century works, provide various views of the many tribulations and the occasional triumphs that constitute the experience of growing up with one foot in traditional Native American society and another in European American society. Among the authors who are represented here are well-known figures such as Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, and Leslie Marmon Silko, as well as many other writers who deserve to be much better known.

The volume begins with a section entitled “Going Forward, Looking Back,” which includes an autobiographical essay by Simon Ortiz that discusses the author’s experience of learning English while retaining the rich linguistic heritage of his native Acoma. It is an ironic fact that Ortiz’s forced education in English is enhanced by the appreciation for words and their significance that is instilled in him by his traditional Acoma upbringing—an irony that is paralleled in the fact that many of the authors whose works are included in this anthology have used English, the language of their oppressors, as a tool with which to reaffirm their cultural roots and defy those forces that would strip them of their heritage. The second work in the section, Anna Lee Walters’ “The Warriors,” is the moving story of a Pawnee man who seeks to transmit the values and traditions of his people to his young nieces,...

(The entire section is 445 words.)