That Dream Shall Have a Name: Native Americans Rewriting AmericaMay 2nd, 2015 | By Leola Tsinnajinnie | Category: 26-4: Tribal College Governance, Media Reviews
By David L. Moore
University of Nebraska Press (2013)
Review by Leola Tsinnajinnie
David L. Moore crafts an extensive, intricate analysis of the literature of five Native American writers: William Apess (Pequot), Sarah Winnemucca (Paiute), D’Arcy McNickle (Salish-Kootenai), Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo), and Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene). Moore acknowledges these writers for being well-known authors who, in their chronological time and space, make vital contributions to telling America’s story. The authors must thoughtfully navigate audiences that include Western settlers, fellow tribal members, and casual readers under the careful eye of publishers.
Moore’s critical objective is to bring to light the ways in which these Native authors tell the story of America, through Native America, that is meaningful and often times political. Moore is aware of his place as a “Eurowesterner” and is clear in his intention to direct his findings toward academic application in the classroom as well as the community. The strength in the text outside the literary analysis is his grasp of Indigenous studies scholarship. The work of scholars such as Taiaiake Alfred (Mohawk), Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (Dakota), and Vine Deloria Jr. (Lakota) is accessed and utilized in appropriate contexts. His analytical spectrum is generally outstanding, with a few instances of simplifying Indigenous positions, particularly in his discussion of military participation.
While Moore provides numerous excerpts from the work of the five central authors, the readers may drift if they are not completely familiar with his subjects and their work. I applaud his effort to decentralize the American story into one that Native Americans rewrite. However, the Euro-American ideal of a truthful and healed America living up to its core values is subtly present. I do not criticize Moore for my perception, but I do feel it is noteworthy. Overall, while lengthy, this book is an impressive study and a great contribution to our literary classrooms. One of its greatest strengths is the recurring theme of sovereignty as sacrifice, which is deeply touching and proper.
Leola Tsinnajinnie, Ph.D. (Diné/Filipino), is from Torreon in the Navajo Nation and teaches Native American studies at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque.