Plateau in Native American Literature


The Native American literature is a rich and diverse collection of works, reflecting the unique and complex cultures of the indigenous peoples of North America. This literature has been consistently growing since its earliest forms, but it was during the 20th century that a significant plateau was reached. This plateau has been shaped by various factors, including historical events, changing social and political landscapes, and the resurgence of interest in traditional indigenous cultures.

One of the defining factors of the plateau in Native American literature is the increase in the number of indigenous writers. Unlike in previous centuries, where Native American literature was primarily produced by non-Native scholars and anthropologists, the 20th century saw a surge of indigenous voices in literature. This shift not only brought a new level of authenticity and diversity to Native American literature but also highlighted the complexity and multiplicity of Native American experiences.

Native American writers have utilized various literary forms and genres, such as novels, poetry, short stories, and plays, to depict their cultures, histories, and struggles. For example, author N. Scott Momaday’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “House Made of Dawn” examined the challenges faced by a young Native American man who returns to his reservation after serving in the military. This powerful and poignant novel not only provided a glimpse into the contemporary realities of Native American life but also served as a significant contribution to the literary canon.

Another significant aspect of the plateau in Native American literature is the exploration of traditional storytelling and oral traditions. In many Native American cultures, storytelling is not just a form of entertainment but a vital means of preserving history and passing down cultural beliefs and values. This aspect has been increasingly incorporated into contemporary literature, as seen in the works of author Leslie Marmon Silko. Silko’s novel “Ceremony” blends traditional stories, prayers, and oral histories to explore the impact of colonialism on Native American communities.

The emergence of Native American literature on the international stage has been another defining factor of the plateau. As these works gained recognition and accolades, they introduced a global audience to the rich and diverse cultures of Native Americans. This exposure has not only fostered a sense of pride within indigenous communities but has also challenged misconceptions and stereotypes about Native Americans.

Perhaps one of the most significant contributions of the plateau in Native American literature is the representation of marginalized voices within indigenous communities. Within the broader Native American literary landscape, there has been an increasing focus on the experiences of women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and those from smaller tribes. This recognition and inclusion of diverse perspectives have expanded the breadth and depth of Native American literature, making it more representative and inclusive.

In conclusion, the plateau in Native American literature has been a crucial milestone in the development of indigenous voices and representation in literature. It has brought an array of diverse, authentic, and powerful works that highlight the complexities and nuances of Native American cultures and experiences. Through their literature, Native American writers have not only contributed to the literary world but have also challenged and reshaped the understanding of Native American peoples and their histories. The plateau in Native American literature continues to evolve and thrive, and we can only anticipate more groundbreaking contributions in the years to come.