Issues Facing Native-American Writers

  • Misperception that Native‐American people are dying out, that they are uneducated and donʹt read, and consequently have little potential to become writers or book buyers. In fact, Native Americans read and write about many subjects, not just history.
  • Assumptions that Native‐American writers write only about spirituality, or that they do not write books and are more interested in oral history, or that their writing cannot be contemporary.
  • Non‐native writers who take on a Native‐American persona are published by naive editors who cannot distinguish between pseudo and real Native culture. Editors seek books with Native‐American characters based on settings and themes written by non‐native writers, instead of actively seeking out Native writers. This common practice leads to co‐option of Native‐American history and culture by non‐native writers.
  • There is a perception that native writers who have lived on a reservation may not be competitive, and are less likely to be tapped into publishing networks.
  • Editors are focused more on what tourists want to read than on what Native writers know from experience. “It seems that the white manʹs version of who we are is still more credible than what we have to say ourselves.” (Beth Brant, member, Mohawk Nation and NWU).
  • Editors are unaware of native novelists who publish with smaller publishers far from mainstream publishers in Manhattan.
  • Native authors need their own agents, editors, magazines and reviewers.