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Speaking for the Generations
Native Writers on Writing
By Simon J. Ortiz
228 pp. / 5.50 in x 8.50 in / 1997
Paper (978-0-8165-1850-0)
  - Sun Tracks

Related Interest
  - Indigenous and Native American Studies
  - Literature and Essays

Now it is my turn to stand.

At Acoma Pueblo meetings, members rise and announce their intention to speak. In that moment they are recognized and heard.

This tight, well-selected anthology makes its point clearly - namely, that it isn't possible to discuss Native American art without also discussing Native American sovereignty.


[Speaking for the Generations] gives voice to the need to observe the interdependence between land and people, as well as the need to listen to our ancestors.

—Library Journal

Speaking for the Generations, Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz brings together contemporary Native American writers to take their turn. Each offers an evocation of herself or himself, describing the personal, social, and cultural influences on her or his development as a writer. Although each writer's viewpoint is personal and unique, together they reflect the rich tapestry of today's Native literature.

Of varied backgrounds, the writers represent Indian heritages and cultures from the Pacific Northwest to the northern plains, from Canada to Guatemala. They are poets, novelists, and playwrights. And although their backgrounds are different and their statements intensely personal, they share common themes of their relationship to the land, to their ancestors, and to future generations of their people.

From Gloria Bird's powerful recounting of personal and family history to Esther Belin's vibrant tale of her urban Native homeland in Los Angeles, these writers reveal the importance of place and politics in their lives. Leslie Marmon Silko calls upon the ancient tradition of Native American storytelling and its role in connecting the people to the land. Roberta J. Hill and Elizabeth Woody ponder some of the absurdities of contemporary Native life, while Guatemalan Victor Montejo takes readers to the Mayan world, where a native culture had writing and books long before Europeans came.

Together these pieces offer an inspiring portrait of what it means to be a Native writer in the twentieth century. With passion and urgency, these writers are speaking for themselves, for their land, and for the generations.

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