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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Writing in brotherhood : reconstituting Indigenous citizenship, nationhood, and relationship at the turn of the twentieth century Taylor, Michael P


The current field of Indigenous literary studies remains overwhelmingly focused on individual authors and their use of traditionally Eurowestern literary genres. While analyzing these individuals’ novels, poetry, essays, and other traditionally single-author literary genres, however, scholars often overlook these same individuals’ participation in the collectivist national and co-national writings of their contemporaneous Indigenous nations and networks. This dissertation argues for the need to (re)center collectivist texts within Indigenous literary studies and highlights the fluid Indigenous literary networks of North America and the Pacific at the turn of the twentieth century. By juxtaposing the constitutions, petitions, and newspapers of the Hui Aloha ‘Āina (Hawaiian Patriotic League), the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Sisterhood, and the National Council of American Indians, I trace the hemispheric and trans-Pacific history of collectivist literary genres in order to provide an innovative Indigenous literary history of genre. I argue that when Indigenous peoples write as a collective body, their writings participate within longstanding Indigenous literary traditions—from the Hodinöhsö:ni’ Great Law (ca. 1090–1500) to the Constitution of the White Earth Nation (2009)—that continue to be overlooked in favor of “orature” and contemporary fiction composed by individual authors. By (re)centering collectivism within the study of Indigenous literatures, this dissertation also introduces the theoretical framework of co-nationalism, the process and potential of Indigenous nations working together while maintaining local distinctions and commitments, in order to attest to the ongoing survival of Indigenous literary communities and coalitions, maintain Indigenous lands as central to Indigenous literatures, and disrupt the definitions of literature that continue to marginalize literary expressions of Indigenous solidarity.

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