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The story must be told as it is: colonial spiritual self-identification and resistance in Leslie Marmon Silko and Luci Tapahonso

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This thesis will examine the novels and poetry of Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna) and Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), exploring how they are working to maintain, control, protect and develop their spiritual

This thesis will examine the novels and poetry of Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna) and Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), exploring how they are working to maintain, control, protect and develop their spiritual Indigenous identities. I link their literary work to Article 31.1, from the United Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that “Indigenous people have the right to maintain, control, and protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies, and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.” I argue that both Silko and Tapahonso create narratives and characters that illustrate how indigenous identity is self-determined and maintained through resistance to colonization and assimilation. I examine how these stories and characters incorporate new knowledge, about modern lifeways, into traditional Indigenous oral traditions and histories. Both Silko and Tapahonso connect nature and history, as they illustrate how oral traditions are passed down through the continual sharing of inter-generational stories and ethnobotanical information about plants, animals and food. This study will track how oral stories help the characters (re)connect with the land, and with foodways, by re-establishing a relationship of resistance against the exploitation, assimilation, and colonization of indigenous peoples, lands, and resources and the maintenance of spirituality through oral traditions.

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  • 2016