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Open Access Publications from the University of California


In print since 1971, the American Indian Culture and Research Journal (AICRJ) is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary journal designed for scholars and researchers. The premier journal in Native American and Indigenous studies, it publishes original scholarly papers and book reviews on a wide range of issues in fields ranging from history to anthropology to cultural studies to education and more. It is published three times per year by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center.

Volume 10, Issue 1, 1986

Duane Champagne


Interpreting Native American Literature: An Archetypal Approach

Investigators of traditional Native American literature typically point out arcane dissimilarities between “their literature” and the western (non-Native American) literary tradition. The implication is that they possess special insights and methods that western critics fail to possess. Such an approach can be instructive, but I suggest that unique ethnic approaches to literary criticism are not the only enlightening ways to look at a traditional narrative. On the one hand, I wholly concur with Del Hyme’s suggestion that for a critic to analyze traditional narrative solely for the light it sheds on what interests him (structure, perhaps, or language) is to falsify the tradition from which the narrative emerged. On the other hand, investigating similarities between Native American traditional narrative and western narrative, using an appropriate western method, may also illuminate and inform. I intend to do three things in this article. First, I wish to quarrel with Paula Gunn Allen’s “ethnic approach” to criticism of Native American literature that she uses in her essay, “The Sacred Hoop: A Contemporary Indian Perspective on American Indian Literature.” Second, by using an archetypal approach, which I will demonstrate is transcultural, I will investigate a Hopi traditional story. And finally-almost as a by-product of the above-I wish to point out the accessibility of Native American literature to the non-Indian, thereby supporting a stance for a plurality of interpretations. It goes without saying that in order for a non-Indian to fully and fairly analyze a piece of Native American literature, the investigator must familiarize himself or herself with the traditions of that culture. Such a familiarity is possible today, even for the non-Indian.

Jurisprudence, Peyote and the Native American Church

INTRODUCTION North American Indians have used peyote within religious ceremonies for centuries. Because it is worshipped as a deity, peyote is today still important to the religious beliefs and practices of numerous tribes throughout Central and North America Equally, the history of legitimate peyote use by American Indians must be understood as a struggle to maintain tribal religious traditions against various repressive federal and state governmental practices aimed at eradicating Indian culture. Our purpose in this article is threefold. First, we briefly identify the historical repression experienced by American Indians who have used peyote within their religious practices and the Indians’ responses, including the creation of the Native American Church of North America. Second, we summarize recent federal and state court decisions that deal with Native Americans arrested for illegal peyote possession. Finally, we link repression of peyote use and resulting court decisions to larger questions of American Indian religious freedom.

The Iroquois and the Jesuits: Strategies of Influence and Resistance

The purpose of this paper is to explore interactional processes between the Iroquoian peoples of the Northeast and French Jesuit missionaries who lived and worked among them in the seventeenth century. The analysis will focus on two interrelated aspects of Iroquoian-Jesuit contact. One is the Jesuits' attempts to bring about specific changes in Iroquoian culture. The other is the reactions of the native societies to these attempted changes. This paper will therefore contribute not only to an understanding of the results of intercultural contact but also to an appreciation of the dynamics of influence, reaction, and resistance. In its general form, the Jesuit program of change was directed primarily toward altering the social ideology of the Iroquoians, including norms of personal interaction and responsibility. The underlying goal of the missionaries was the Indians’ conversion to Catholicism, but they well understood that new religious beliefs could not be successfully forced upon a people. They were astute enough observers to realize that Iroquoian ideologies of the social order provided and expressed a world view very different from the one contained in Christianity. These beliefs, therefore, became their main focus of change. The Indians, however, had an equally insightful appreciation of the conflict between their own cultural ideals and those which the Jesuits were introducing. This understanding formed the basis of their opposition to Christian teachings. A focus on the ideological clash between the Iroquoians and the Jesuits does not in any way negate or minimize the importance of economic and political conflict, which existed simultaneously. Together all of these factors contributed to the social and historical reality.

American Indian Reference Works of 1986: Some of the Best

Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. 4th ed. Edited by Barry T. Klein. New York: Todd Publications, 1986. Volume 1-642 pp, Volume 2-302 pp. $90.00 Cloth. Atlas of Ancient America. By Michael Coe, Dean Snow and Elizabeth Benson. New York: Facts on File, 1986. 240 pp. illus. (part col.). $35.00 Cloth. American Indian and Alaska Native Newspapers and Periodicals, 1925-1970. Edited by Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. and James W. Parins. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986. 553 pp. $65.00 Cloth. American Indian and Alaska Native Newspapers and Periodicals, 1971-1985. Edited by Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. and James W. Parins. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986. 609 pp. $85.00 Cloth. A Guide to Cherokee Documents in the Northeastern United States. Compiled by Paul Kutsche. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1986. 531 pp. $75.00 Cloth. A Guide to the Archives of Hampton Institute. Compiled by Fritz J, Malval. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986. 600 pp. $75.00 cloth. Native American Folklore in Nineteenth Century Periodicals. Edited by William M. Clements. Athens, OH: Swallow Press, 1986. 271 pp. $21.95 Cloth. During the 1980s there has been a decrease in the number of reference books published that deal with American Indians. An indication of the decline is seen in the number of titles reviewed in American Reference Books Annual, a major review source for reference books. Between 1975 and 1979 seventy-seven reference books about American Indians were reviewed, while the 1980 to 1984 period had only 61 such books. My impression is that the decline has continued. However, the quality of the books produced has generally improved. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a great many American Indian ”reference books” were little more than repackaged public domain material with a high price tag or, in at least one instance, a fraud. Perhaps the best known example of the problems that accompanied ethnic reference book production in the 1970s is the Encyclopedia of Indians of the Americas: Volume 1: Conspectus (St. Clair Shores, MI: Scholarly Press, Inc., 1974). Volume One was carefully done with many ”name” contributors and this caused many libraries to take advantage of the publisher’s “prepublication, prepayment’’ offer. Unfortunately, no other volumes were published and eventually a number of lawsuits were filed against the publisher naming one or more of the 27 different company names the publisher had used. All of the 27 nonexistent companies ”published” ethnic reference books. This is an extreme example and one that ended in the courts with a great deal of publicity; however, there were many other cases that never would or could have resulted in a lawsuit because it was a matter of ”buyer beware.’’ In the last five or six years there have been very few cases of grossly inaccurate poor quality publications.