The Colonial Construction of Indian Country : Native American Literatures and Federal Indian Law

SKU: 9781517911331

Eric Cheyfitz
Grade Levels:
Twelve, Adult Education, College, University
Multiple Nations
Book Type:
University of Minnesota Press
Copyright Date:
Publication Date:
(Dec 1/23)

Sale price$37.99


In The Colonial Construction of Indian Country, Eric Cheyfitz mounts a pointed historical critique of colonialism through careful analysis of the dialogue between Native American literatures and federal Indian law. Illuminating how these literatures indict colonial practices, he argues that if the decolonization of Indian country is to be achieved, then federal Indian law must be erased and replaced with independent Native nation sovereignty—because subordinate sovereignty, the historical regime, is not sovereignty at all.

At the same time, Cheyfitz argues that Native American literatures, specifically U.S. American Indian literatures, cannot be fully understood without a knowledge of U.S. federal Indian law: the matrix of colonialism in Indian country. Providing intersectional readings of a range of literary and legal texts, he discusses such authors as Louise Erdrich, Frances Washburn, James Welch, Gerald Vizenor, Simon Ortiz, Leslie Marmon Silko, and others. Cheyfitz examines how American Indian writers and critics have responded to the impact of law on Native life, revealing recent trends in Native writing that build upon traditional modes of storytelling and governance.

With a focus on resistance to the colonial regime of federal Indian law, The Colonial Construction of Indian Country not only elucidates how Native American literatures and federal Indian law are each crucial to any reading of the other, it also guides readers to better understand the genocidal assault on Indigenous peoples by Western structures of literacy, politics, and law.

Eric Cheyfitz co-edited Sovereignty, Indigeneity, and the Law, a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly which won the award for the best special issue of an academic journal in 2011 given by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals and was acknowledged for "Outstanding Indigenous Scholarship" in the same year by the American Indian and Alaska Native Professors Association.

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