Although Vizenor and his publisher call The Heirs of Columbus a novel, it takes an act of faith to accept it as such. The book, an occasional piece written to mark the quincentenary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World, is fanciful, taking great liberties with the facts that historians have unearthed. The concept of the book and the social problems it poses, which are similar to those on which Vizenor has often focused, are significant. Also important are his use of Native American mythology and his emphasis on the trickster tradition that is a fundamental part of Native American lore.
Stone Columbus is a talk-show host made rich by his floating bingo parlor on the Mississippi River—a riverboat destroyed by fire—whose activities were protected by treaties Stone’s forefathers forged with the white invaders of their land. Stone claims direct lineage from Christopher Columbus, whom he declares to be a crossblood with Mayan ancestors who visited Europe before Columbus visited the New World.
Stone claims his lineage through Samana, a “hand talker,” among the first people to greet Columbus when he landed in San Salvador. The explorer was burdened by an incredibly large, deformed penis, twisted in such a way that any sexual experience was excruciatingly painful to him, a fact substantiated by historians, some of whom Vizenor cites in his book. Samana, nevertheless, engages in intercourse with Columbus, who...
(The entire section is 425 words.)