Writers Consider Native American Identity and Cultural Belonging

Edited by Diane Glancy and Linda Rodriguez

254 pages
4 illustrations


May 2023


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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May 2023


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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May 2023


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About the Book

Unpapered is a collection of personal narratives by Indigenous writers exploring the meaning and limits of Native American identity beyond its legal margins. Native heritage is neither simple nor always clearly documented, and citizenship is a legal and political matter of sovereign nations determined by such criteria as blood quantum, tribal rolls, or community involvement. Those who claim a Native cultural identity often have family stories of tenuous ties dating back several generations. Given that tribal enrollment was part of a string of government programs and agreements calculated to quantify and dismiss Native populations, many writers who identify culturally and are recognized as Native Americans do not hold tribal citizenship.

With essays by Trevino Brings Plenty, Deborah Miranda, Steve Russell, and Kimberly Wieser, among others, Unpapered charts how current exclusionary tactics began as a response to “pretendians”—non-indigenous people assuming a Native identity for job benefits—and have expanded to an intense patrolling of identity that divides Native communities and has resulted in attacks on peoples’ professional, spiritual, emotional, and physical states. An essential addition to Native discourse, Unpapered shows how social and political ideologies have created barriers for Native people truthfully claiming identities while simultaneously upholding stereotypes.

Author Bio

Diane Glancy is an emerita professor of English at Macalester College. She is the author of numerous books of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, including most recently Home Is the Road: Wandering the Land, Shaping the Spirit and A Line of Driftwood: The Ada Blackjack Story. Linda Rodriguez is the author of Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, the Skeet Bannion series, and three books of poetry. She is the coeditor (with Diane Glancy) of The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East.


“This remarkable collection of stories and essays about Indigenous identity shakes off the tired tropes established under colonial dominion to bring urgency and honesty to a divisive topic. Each of the contributors brings an incredible wealth of personal narratives and emotional integrity to a much-needed conversation that is a necessary balm to the vitriol of our internet age.”—Lee Francis, executive director of Native Realities

Table of Contents

Introduction by Diane Glancy

Show Your Papers
Kim Shuck
Things You Can Do with Your Chart for Calculating Quantum of Indian Blood
Deborah Miranda
The White Box
Kimberly L. Becker
Seeking the Indian Gravy Train
Steve Russell
Diane Glancy

Finding the Way
On Chumash Land
Terra Trevor
A Salmon-Fishing Story
Abigail Chabitnoy
Confessions of a Detribalized Mixed-Blood
Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
Thinking with Bigfoot about a Jackpine Savage: Cryptogenealogical Reflections
Carter Meland

Identity Wars
“You Don’t Look Indian”
Michele Leonard
Pretend Indian Exegesis: The Pretend Indian Uncanny Valley Hypothesis in Literature and Beyond
Trevino Brings Plenty
Dead Indians. Live Indians. Legal Indians.
Ron Querry
The Animals’ Ballgame
Geary Hobson
We Never Spoke
Linda Boyden

Why We Matter
On Being Chamorro and Belonging to Guam
Craig Santos Perez
Aunt Ruby’s Little Sister Dances
Kimberly Wieser
Buffalo Heads in Diners: Remnant Populations
Denise Dotson Low
And Thus the Tribes Diminish
Linda Rodriguez
Source Acknowledgments