In Indigenous Cities Laura M. Furlan demonstrates that stories of the urban experience are essential to an understanding of modern Indigeneity. She situates Native identity among theories of diaspora, cosmopolitanism, and transnationalism by examining urban narratives—such as those written by Sherman Alexie, Janet Campbell Hale, Louise Erdrich, and Susan Power—along with the work of filmmakers and artists. In these stories Native peoples navigate new surroundings, find and reformulate community, and maintain and redefine Indian identity in the postrelocation era. These narratives illuminate the changing relationship between urban Indigenous peoples and their tribal nations and territories and the ways in which new cosmopolitan bonds both reshape and are interpreted by tribal identities.
Though the majority of American Indigenous populations do not reside on reservations, these spaces regularly define discussions and literature about Native citizenship and identity. Meanwhile, conversations about the shift to urban settings often focus on elements of dispossession, subjectivity, and assimilation. Furlan takes a critical look at Indigenous fiction from the last three decades to present a new way of looking at urban experiences, one that explains mobility and relocation as a form of resistance. In these stories Indian bodies are not bound by state-imposed borders or confined to Indian Country as it is traditionally conceived. Furlan demonstrates that cities have always been Indian land and Indigenous peoples have always been cosmopolitan and urban.
Laura M. Furlan is an assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
"In her lucid exploration of the historical contexts and central tropes of contemporary urban Indian fiction, Furlan . . . argues for a reconception of Indigenous Americans’ identities and their need and ability to reconfigure concepts such as tribe, community, relationship to “the land,” and spirituality."—M. F. McClure, CHOICE
“A groundbreaking study of the literary representation of Native peoples as complex, cosmopolitan entities. This ambitious project is a vitally important book that reconceptualizes how we think about the relationship between land and nationhood. I know of no book like it.”—Dean Rader, author of Engaged Resistance: American Indian Art, Literature, and Film from Alcatraz to the NMAI
“A welcome rejoinder to scholarship that continues to marginalize the urban and the intertribal, a recognition that, like so many Native lives, Native American literatures have been shaped by Indian relocation and by generations of Indians reclaiming—and remaking—city spaces as Indigenous.”—Chadwick Allen, author of Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction 1. An Indigenous Awakening 2. The Urban Ghost Dance 3. Roots and Routes of the Hub 4. The City as Confluence Epilogue Source Acknowledgments Notes Bibliography Index