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date: 29 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual (2006), David Treuer argued that Native American literature as a category does not exist. Simon Ortiz, in his 1981 essay “Towards a National Indian Literature,” insisted that English and other colonial languages must be claimed for Indigenous intellectual expression and cited colonialism itself for inevitably producing self-consciousness about Indigenous identity and culture. The debate over the relation of culture and literature raises the question of how Indigenous people, not just writers, have thought about culture—traditional culture, specifically—over time. This article examines Jane Johnston Schoolcraft’s writings, including her poetry, to highlight her cultural activism, looking at Schoolcraft’s defense of Ojibwe culture as an important act of resistance. It argues that Schoolcraft offers a significant lesson in both the power of Native voices in the nineteenth century and the sociopolitical forces that Indigenous writers fought in order to be heard on their own terms.

Keywords: Native American literature, colonialism, culture, Indigenous people, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, poetry, cultural activism, Ojibwe culture, resistance, Indigenous writers

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