Native American Writers Gather in Milwaukee


Native American writers are gathered in Milwaukee, for a conference that looks at current themes in Native literature, and how things have changed over twenty years.

Michael Wilson is an associate professor of English at UW- Milwaukee, and author of a book on Native resistance literature. Wilson, a member of the ChoctawNation of Oklahoma, says resistance writing challenges the ideathat Native people are disappearing.”And instead argues that native people are surviving, thriving at times,” he says.”It offers a different, and alternative narrative to where Indian people are going. Rather than the predominant narrative of the vanishing race.’

Wilson says resistance literature is one of the themes that set native writers apart from many mainstream authors.UW-Milwaukee Native American Literature professor Kim Blaesersays many Native writers also talk about preserving the planet, andtheir writing is grounded with a sense of place.Blaeser is a member of the White Earth Band of Chippewa and co-organizer of the Returning the Gift Native writers conference taking place in Milwaukee. Blaeser says compared to the group’s first event 20 years ago, much more is being written and published.”Before, if I was to teach a native literature class, it wasn’t that difficult to select my text,” she says.”But now, I did an essay on poetry a couple years ago and there were over a hundred Native poets just in the United States and now i know that number has swelled since then.”

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Blaeser also says the internet helps more writers get out their message.She says a handful of Native writers appear to be doing well financially, but she says most also need to have a day job.