Remembered Earth: Identity and Stories of Land

Dr. Brajesh Sawhney
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The present paper intends to discuss the role of place and land in framing individual and communal identity in the native American communities. Generally speaking Native American cultures have an organic and holistic worldview. They believe in ultimate wholeness of existence and strive at maintaining the natural balance they perceive in the universe.

The belief in wholeness and a web of kinship between all beings not only determines the relationship between the individual person and his family and community but also the relationship between the tribal individual and the land where he or she is born and lives. The land, too, is understood to be a living entity, the origin of life and source of everything the people need to survive. It is therefore held sacred. Contrary to the Euroamerican concept, the earth is not meant to be dominated or tamed, it is not subject to man but an extension of his body beyond its shell.

For Native American people, the relationship to the land is largely formed by stories that are told of that land. And those stories are very often connected to specific locations. This issue of the stories that are specific to the lands in case of aboriginals finds a place of importance in the works of contemporary Native American novelists like Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, James Welch, Gerald Vizenor and Greg Sarris. N Scott Momaday's "The Way To Rainy Mountain" is an autobiographical journey that takes the writer back to the land from where he comes and to a place which is a part of his communal identity. The author can not think of talking about himself/ourself without making an epistemological journey for an investigation of the ways available to human beings to understand themselves and the world around them. The journey represents the actual journey of Kiowa when they migrated from northern mountains to the northern plains, a journey of the present day Kiowa through memory who tell stories about that migration, a real and imaginary journey of Momaday in search for his identity, and a vicarious journey of the reader through words. The paper seeks to elaborate the issue of land and Native American identity in contemporary Native American fiction.

Keywords: Native American, Euroamerican
Stream: First Nations and Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Brajesh Sawhney

Reader, Department of English, Kurukshetra University

Ref: H05P0006