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An adequate ethnocriticism for Native American culture, history, and literature, so far as it may be established at all, I have argued, will not come about by means of a monolithic orientation to hoops and wheels, and ladders and lines, nor to dichotomized references to "biological" or "anthropological" conceptualizations of reality, and the like. Rather, such a criticism, which does not yet exist and, to repeat, may never fully exist in other than tentative, oxymoronic, or catachrestical forms, will only be achieved by means of complex interactions between a variety of Western discursive and


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analytic modes and a variety of non-Western modes of knowing and understanding. The Western modes are quite well known, and I continue to think that, in spite of some inevitable distortions, they are still, at least in some measure, useful for an encounter with Native American literary materials—more so, of course, for the written than the oral. Native modes of knowing and understanding are not well known, and that is in large measure because they have not been formulated as analytic or critical modes apart from the verbal performances they would know and understand. This is something I directly address in chapter 5 of this book.

Traditional Indian expression has many stories about stories, about aspects of language, about various words and phrases. But there are no traditional essays on the nature of language, no rule-governed explicit definitions of the various genres of oral performance, and the like. This is not, of course, to suggest a deficiency or lack, only a difference. Just as, according to Clyde Dollar (see p. 16), modern Brulé Sioux consider the "pursuit of data and facts on which to build veracity in history . . . rather pointless, perhaps ludicrous (D. Tyler 1), so, too, have Native people sometimes considered the questions ethnographers ask about why they sing or tell a song or story this, that, or the other way, and why they begin and end with certain words, and so on, rather pointless, perhaps ludicrous. (It should also be noted, however, that Native people have many times themselves become fascinated by such questions and pursued them in rich and ingenious ways.) But what might be called an "indigenous" criticism for Indian literatures remains to be worked out. Until it is worked out—and there is, as again I note below, no guarantee that it can or even should be worked out—the adequacy of the ethnocriticism I have en-


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visioned must remain at an early stage of development. Thus it cannot help but be the case that the essays in ethnocriticism I offer in the pages to follow, my own limitations aside, will be marked by this incipiency, liminality, and indeed, paradoxicality. Still, one must begin somewhere; and I hope these particular beginnings may prove of use—not only for the understanding of Native American culture, history, and literature, in themselves and in relation to the dominant culture, but perhaps as well for other frontier or border analyses.


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