Parallel Voices: Indians and Others -- Narratives of Cultural Struggle

Gail Guthrie Valaskakis (Concordia University)

Duke Redbird (1975) tells a story about a non-Indian who is looking for the road to the Duck Lake powwow. He sees an old Indian sitting outside his house and he calls out, "Where's the road to the Duck Lake powwow?" The old man never looks up as he answers, "Don't know." The man in the car mumbles "Dumb Indian." And the old man looks up and says, "I might be dumb, but I'm not lost."

This story held special meaning for First Nations in 1992, a year in which Americans celebrated the quincentennial of Columbus and Canadians continued to digest the meaning of what became known as the "Oka crisis," the 78-day stand-off between Indians and Army which occurred in Quebec in the summer of 1990. Indians know that when Columbus sailed to America, he was lost; and for many Native North Americans, this paradigm of Columbus's encounter with the "New World" is an apt description of the society precipitated through his voyage. The conflicting quincentennial visions of Indians and non-Indians are represented in the titles of the PBS television program Columbus and the Age of Discovery and the Indian-made video entitled Surviving Columbus. The experiences which are expressed in these very different stories of conquest are indicative of the wider conflict which polarizes Indians and Others in the United States and Canada--which celebrated 125 years of nationhood in 1992. As Coco Fusco (April 6, 1992) suggests, "Columbus" has become a buzzword for a wider, equally polarized debate over identity politics which involves everything from "p.c."--defined by some as "politically correct" and by others as "patriotically correct"--to environmental issues. Indians are deeply implicated in this politicized struggle over national culture and its ethnocentric or pluralist extensions. Some Native people, like Laurie Weahkee (1992) of the Navajo and Cochiti Nations, "see 1992 as a resistance and a memorial..."; other Indians agree with Gerald McMaster & Lee-Ann Martin (1992, p. 12) that 1992 marks a time of reflection on the " `meeting of cultures,' addressing such issues as historicity, cultural conquest, Aboriginal title, identity and sovereignty." And from the perspective of cultural identity, representation, and resistance, the debate over Columbus has been co-opted into the essentialist discourse that positions the Indian in an historical past constructed in stereotypes which are removed from the cultural and political reality of contemporary Indian life.

Across North America, there is increasing anger and frustration among people of the First Nations, increasing distrust between Natives and non-Natives: warriors and artists, politicians and writers. Their expressions of anger, frustration, and distrust are grounded in the politics of difference and its oppositional strategies of cultural and political struggle. These are parallel voices, distortions of the communication symbolized in the Two-Row Wampum Treaty of the Iroquois Confederacy, which represents the historical pact between Indians and newcomers in two discreet blue beaded lines that run across a sea of white beads, never intersecting, never imposing upon one another in a respectful relationship of separate nations represented in the Indian canoe and the settler's sailing ship. Today, we are all caught in a web of conflicting interests and actions, confrontations constructed in dominant cultural and political process and the Native experience of exclusion, or stereotypical inclusion and appropriation. For people of the First Nations, this involves the subaltern experience rooted in the lived reality and the representation of the "insider," the "outsider," and the "other." As Coco Fusco (1990, p. 77) writes, "For me, the issue of `the other' is one of power, of a dynamic between those who impute otherness to some and those who are designated as other. So the questions I ask about otherness have to do with how others or the other are spoken of, who is speaking about them, and why have they chosen to speak of the other at the given historical moment." For Indians at this time in history, otherness is related to issues of identity and cultural struggle entrenched in representation and appropriation, in how they are represented, and how these representations are appropriated by others in a political process which confines their past as it constructs their future.

Discourse and Indians

Indians, of course, have always been spoken of, and have spoken about, the other. The discourse of the Indian as noble and savage, the villain and the victim--most recently represented in the media coverage of the Mohawk warriors of Kahnawake and Kahnesatake and the spearfishing Gitchdon and Gitchedonque of my own reservation in Wisconsin--is threaded through the narratives of the dominant culture. As Robert Berkhofer (1979, p. 72) writes, "For most of the past five centuries, the Indian of the imagination and ideology has been as real, perhaps more real, than the Native American of actual existence and contact." And what Keith Basso (1979) calls in another context "Portraits of the `Whiteman' " are embedded in the tales of Indian experience which circulate within the oral traditions of First Nations.

But today, there is new concern about competing narratives among artists, writers, and academics. In Canada, what has become known as the Women's Press Debate "began with whether White writers should be allowed to publish work in which they adopted the voices of persons of color" (Begamudre, 1989, pp. 11-12). And among artists and curators, the debate over what one Indian artist calls "the politics of primivitism" ( Jacobs, 1986) recently re-emerged in controversy over a painting entitled Femme au Banane, a representation of a "traditional" Black woman painted by a White artist which was rejected from a show sponsored by Concordia University's Women's Centre in Montreal. This struggle over who can represent whom, who can tell the stories of others--and how they should be told--tends to focus on issues of censorship and political correctness, masking the lived experience and problems of people of Colour and people of the First Nations; neglecting the relationship between representation, appropriation and access, and social and political formations which position people of Colour and Native North Americans as other and unequal.

It is, of course, not suprising that the current Canadian debate over representation and appropriation involves images of women. Feminist writing has, along with cultural studies and some ethnographic critique, brought these issues to the surface by posing questions which address the subaltern experience. What does it mean to be placed within competing articulations of power, to be positioned as subaltern, in relation to race, class, and gender, in the hegemony of discursive constructions, academic and popular? How is cultural practice formed and transformed in interwoven experience and memory: historical and current, real and imagined, collective and individual, ambivalent and prescribed, remembered and lived? How is identity negotiated, appropropriated, enacted, and acted upon in the discourse of competing representations and narratives? What is the nature of cultural struggle, of power and resistance, exclusion and cultural persistence? And what does all this mean for artistic and media practice?

In addressing these questions, feminist work has recovered the lives and experience of women in research and writing which critique the ways in which gender organizes social experience. But we remain caught in the nexus between competing narratives, between what some call the narrative and the counter-narrative, in trying to find ways to express and act upon the cultural and political reality of difference. It is through the prism of parallel voices, of competing narratives, expressed in public text--in literature, art, music, ceremony, and media--that we can access the subaltern experience, expand our concepts of inquiry, and approach our points of connectedness.

Our stories have always been recognized as a window on who we are, what we experience, and how we understand and enact ourselves and others. But stories are more than a window on identity. We actually construct who we are in discourse through a process which involves an individual's identification with the images and cultural narratives that dominate our ways of seeing and representing the world. The work of Stuart Hall (1985, 1986, 1989) clarifies the importance of cultural narratives and representations in composing our identity as social subjects. For Hall, identity is not formed in internal conceptions of the self, but in the adoption of transforming, open-ended representations and narratives. These representations and narratives are articulated in the processes of experiencing and forming community within the power relations of different groups and interests. Like the terrain of social struggle in which it is articulated, identity is continually contested and reconstructed. It is built and re-built in the discursive negotiation of complex alliances and relations within the heterogeneity of community; in discourse which is based not in unity or belonging, but in transformation and difference. Within this understanding, representations and cultural narratives are central sites of cultural struggle. As discursive constructions with different ideologies and meanings, representations and narratives are formed in lived experience and public text, in the discourse of everyday action and events--individual and collective, dynamic and diachronic, interactional and mediated. This conceptual framework locates artistic and media images within the ideological struggle of power relations and the dynamic process of building individual and collective identity. And for Indians, this identity has drawn forcefully on the power and purpose of Native narrative.

As Art Solomon (1990, p. 14), an Ojibway Elder who lives in Sudbury, reminds us, Indian stories are teachings, prayers, songs. First Nations reflect different environments, different cultures; but they share this understanding of stories rooted in the common experience of oral tradition. And it is the power of narrative as teaching, prayer, song experienced through collective heritage which makes stories so valued and so important in Indian country.

Indian stories tell experiences in their lives or the lives of people they know--real or imagined--set in narratives that uncoil the spiraled meaning of their reality. Art Solomon (ibid., p. 132) says of his narratives, "I have borrowed this story from someone who had borrowed it from someone else who had borrowed it from someone else...." It is the borrowed quality of Indian stories that stitches narrative to collective heritage, to a polyvocal past experienced in the present. Passed on through kinship and gossip, ceremony and social drinking, stories carry the experience of being Indian from generation to generation. And in Indian country, that experience is rooted in the continuity of a relationship with each other, with the land, and with non-Indians. Robin Ridington (1990, p. 190) writes, "The oral traditions of people who are native to this land are a form of discourse that connects them to the land and to the generations that have gone before." Like Gloria Anzaldua's (1987, p. 67) stories, they are "acts encapsulated in time, `enacted' every time they are spoken aloud or read silently." It is this imaginative power of the word enacted in the practice of daily life that continually renews the experience of being Indian. As N. Scott Momaday (1976, p. 22) writes about the experience of being Kiowa, "Some of my mother's memories have become my own. This is the real burden of the blood." In our narratives, we transform and live the collective cultural identity which is grounded in our endless connection to the land.

Indian stories are, of course, no more monolithic than Indians themselves. Our narratives draw upon the prism of experience which we live, including all the dualities which are rooted in the contingent perspectives of individual and collective memory; Indian and non-Indian experience; historical and transforming culture. Maggie Hodgeson (1990), Director of the Nechi Institute in Edmonton, tells a borrowed story which expresses the significance of this prism. The story she tells is a long and wonderful story, which I have shortened here, about a wolf who was blinded in an accident on his journey through life. In his travels, he comes across a mouse and asks him for his eyes. The mouse agrees to give him one eye, and the wolf continues on his way. But with the mouse eye he can only see one tiny bit of the world at a time, one person, one tree, one footprint. Then he meets a buffalo. He asks him for his eyes. The buffalo agrees to give him one eye, and with this eye, the wolf can see the full range of the world in which he lives. And so the wolf continues on his journey, now able to see with both his mouse eye and his buffalo eye, sight which reveals the simultaneity of past and present, individual and collective, Indian and non-Indian.

Narratives of Indian Women

Within this prism which dynamically interweaves the vision of the mouse eye and the buffalo eye, the narratives and counter-narratives which represent and construct the experience of Indian women occupy a special place. The cultural struggle of Indian women which is revealed in these stories is best expressed, I think, in the images of the "Indian princess" and the "squaw." For Indian men, the dominant image of the last century is clearly the "war-bonneted `warrior' " (Albers & James, 1987, p. 35). Visual images of Indian women have been less prevalent and more varied; but in their analysis of postcards of Indian women, Patricia Albers & William James point out that "if a uniform caricature (of Indian women) has existed, it has been the image of the Indian `princess' "; and that "the visual image of Indian women as `maiden' or `princess' has increased in popularity over time" (ibid., pp. 35, 48).

The representation of the Indian princess has been of interest to me for a long time. As tourist postcards of Indians, they attracted me because they were such forceful contradictions to the daily life we lived on the Lac du Flambeau Indian reservation. I could not understand the connection between these postcard images--sometimes captioned Indian princesses, sometimes squaws--and my great-grandmother, who lived across the road. I listened to her narratives of our struggle for empowerment until I was eighteen, when I went away to college and she died. I knew women who identified as Indian princesses, and women whom we identified as Indian princesses; but what did this representation mean in the lived experience of my great-grandmother, who was enrolled as a Band member when the reservation was established--and who, at ninety, bought a car and did not speak to my father for two months because he did not want her to get a driver's licence? The ambiguous representation of Indian women has been with us since the colonization of North America. Transformed from the Caribbean and Brazilian Queens of the late 1500s to the Mother-Goddess figure in the 1600s and the more independent Princess image of the 1700s, the Indian woman symbolized the New World (Green, 1976, pp. 702-703). But from the image of the princess Pocahontas to her darker twin, the "squaw," both the nobility and the savagery of Indian woman have been defined in relation to White males--rescuing them, sexually satisfying them, abandoning their Indian nation for them. The progression of the narratives of the Indian princess and the squaw which are so deeply entrenched in North America's history is summarized in an excerpt from Monique Mojica's (1991, pp. 20-21) play, entitled Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots:

Princess, Princess Amazon Queen.
Show me your royal blood,
Is it blue? Is it green?
Dried and brown five centuries old,
singed and baked and
covered with mold?
Princess, priestess Caribe Queen,
What are you selling today,
Is it corn, tobacco, beans?
Snake oil or a beaver hat.
Horse liniment,
You just can't beat that!
Princess, Princess, calender girl,
Redskin temptress, Indian pearl.
Waiting by the water
For a white man to save.
She's a savage now remember--
Can't behave.

In later years, representations of Indian princesses move from buckskin-clad maidens looking wistfully at handsome warriors through advertising for cigars and Swamp-Root cures and food products, to the "red tunic" stage of the early calendar princesses of the early 1920s and the 1930s, posed with mountains, waterfalls, or moonlit lakes. Later calendar princesses are more enticing, with low necklines, net stockings, and outfits that are more sexually alluring. There are Indian maidens, princesses, and "Chieftain's daughters" in textbooks, stories for children, popular songs, movies, and dime novels. And from the early 1900s to the present, there are postcard images of smiling princesses, some wearing warbonnets. In decided contrast to the representations of the Indian squaw, the image of the princess share one thing in common: they all look like replicas of Brooke Shields. As Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (1987, p. 72) writes, "The models for the original paintings were not American Indian women but attractive Caucasian women who frequently besieged the artists to be allowed to pose as an Indian princess." These models were engaging in what Rayna Green (1988, p. 30) calls "playing Indian," a "performance" which she finds is "one of the oldest and most pervasive forms of American cultural expression, indeed one of the oldest forms of affinity with American culture at the national level."

The representation of the Indian princess has played a powerful role in constructing the identities of both Indians and non-Indians. Vine Deloria (1969, p. 11) writes in Custer Died for Your Sins:

Whites claiming Indian blood generally tend to reinforce mythical beliefs about Indians. All but one person I met who claimed Indian blood claimed it on his grandmother's side. I once did a projection backwards and discovered that evidently most tribes were entirely female for the first three hundred years of white occupation. No one, it seemed wanted to claim a male Indian as a forebearer....A male ancestor has too much of the aura of the savage warrior, the unknown primitive, the instinctive animal to make him a respectable member of the family tree. But a young Indian princess? Ah, there was royalty for the taking. Somehow the white was linked with a noble house of gentility and culture if his grandmother was an Indian princess who ran away with an intrepid pioneer.

Feminist writers recognize the contradictory images of Indian women in the ambiguous, male-oriented representations of all women. But the meaning of the image is negotiated in the context of culture and experience. From the experience of being fur traders' "country wives" which Sylvia Van Kirk (1980) documents in her book, Many Tender Ties, to the "Bush Lady" of Alanis Obamsawin's poignant song of a reserve woman in the city, Indian women have re-appropriated and lived the narrative now transformed in Indian country into the representation of the "powwow princess." And their struggle with Indian identity--and Indian men--is complex, confusing, and painful. In Canada, the national Native women's organization sued the Assembly of First Nations for equal status at the Constitutional negotiation table, and lost. In the United States, women continue to challenge the male dominance entrenched in Tribal Councils since their establishment through the Indian Re-organization Act of 1934. And everywhere, Native women struggle to make visible their experience of wife-battering, child-abuse, and sexual abuse.

But Indian women know that the narratives of the princess and the squaw have not been experienced by women alone. Through the difference of their gendered experience, Indian men and women are yolked together in the community of subalterns, and in cultural heritage. And women play a special role in the continuity of that community. In the words of Art Solomon (1990, pp. 34-35) "The women is [sic] the foundations on which nations are built. She is the heart of her nation. If that heart is weak, the people are weak...the woman is the centre of everything"; and he tells us why: "The women `were of the earth.' They were connected to the Earth Mother and to the grandmother moon whose work was to govern when all things were to be born, plants, animals, humans."

From a feminist perspective, this essentializing representation of women as close to nature is, of course, problematic. As many writers point out, the assumption underlying this conception is that nature is more basic than culture; and because the project of Western culture is to transform nature, culture is conceived as not only different from, but superior to, nature. Women are defined by essential qualities in opposition to men; and since men, not women, are identified with the institutional and symbolic forms of Western cultural change, this distinction supports the suppression of women. From this perspective, the physiology and social role of women which constitutes women "the heart of the nation" in Native cultures contains the ideology which constructs both the romanticized image of nature's pristine beauty, the Indian princess and her earthy, beast-of-burden sister, the squaw.

Indian women, of course, enact the identity of the contradictory and essentializing images related to the nature/culture paradigm of the dominant society. But their identity is also constructed in the discourses of Native traditionalism and treaty rights, including womens' relationship to the land, to nature, and to each other. Native culture is not frozen in the past of representations forged in ethnographic and artistic practice. And Native traditionalism is neither lost in transformation nor revived as a privileged form of resistance. Native culture is living traditionalism: the practice of everyday life experienced collectively and individually as heritage, a multi-vocal past re-enacted daily in the ambiguous play of power and identity. Native women live the meaning of their traditional association with Mother Earth and grandmother moon which is the basis for the unbroken circle unifying nature and culture in all Aboriginal cultures. It is their connection to the power of the earth and the Creator--spiritual and natural--which encodes the practice of Mohawk Clan Mothers and Ojibway Gitchedonque. And within the cultural and political struggle of contested identities among Indian women and men, the unity of culture and nature is grounded in the constant reality of the elders and the land.

It is the land--real and imagined, lived in heritage and current political process, and expressed in discourse--which constitutes the connection between nature and culture for Indians. And the struggle over appropriation of the discourse related to land and to nature, over land rights and treaty rights, New Age spiritualism and art, in forms that we often label protest or resistance, challenges the identities and the representations of both Indians and non-Indians. The current contestation of ideologies and the diversity of Indian identities can only be understood in the unity of common culture and history, experience, and political purpose: in collective memory and the continual formation of community. It is the negotiation of relations of power articulated in contested ideology and identity which both fractures and binds Indian communities in their struggle with an oppressive past and an uncertain future. And the reality of this lived experience frames both the current debate over Native representation and appropriation and the possibility of connectedness between Natives and non-Natives, particularly women.

Patricia Montour (1992), a Mohawk lawyer, says in a narrative, "I used to shrivel when people called me a feminist. The issues that feminism has tried to focus on are not the issues that occupy First Nations lives." And she adds, "We have to remember to respect Mother Earth. A lot of ways women are treated on this earth is reflective of the ways Mother Earth gets treated." Today, Indian and non-Indian women recognize a connection between domination of the land and domination of people on the basis of race, class, and gender. In asserting that "ecology is a feminist issue" (Warren, 1987, p. 4) which exposes the link between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature, Eco-feminism suggests the possibility of understanding the connection between what we call ecology today, and the lived reality of traditional Indian life. Eco-feminism, of course, is caught in the circularity of its own essentialist argument. But the point of connectedness among women--and men--which is emerging through the cultural and political struggle over clear-cutting forests and diverting rivers and building nuclear waste dumps, is expanding to include Indian land rights and treaty rights. And this may move Eco-feminism to recognize the reality of difference, to act upon the construction of plural narratives, plural representations.

Appropriating Narratives

To non-Natives steeped in the fictive image of the Indian as noble or savage, land rights and treaty rights are often paradoxical. Non-Indians often view treaties as the historical products of benevolent conquest, artifacts of reasonable (if not equitable) surrender. To First Nations, treaties are a process, exercises of ritualized land acquisition and resource exploitation. For Indians, there is no surrender, only mutual sovereignty, nations abstracted from nation-states, recognized through agreements in which the self-determination of the Two-Row Wampum Belt is the common ground. This is not the self-government of Indian councils grafted onto Canadian and American municipalities; but self-determination "bound up with sovereignty in all its ramifications--social, cultural, political, economic; that which in the Mohawk language, translates as `carrying ourselves' " (Tribune Juive, 1989, p. 5). The political difference between this reality and the historically-bound and current representations of Indians as the villain or the victim is clear. As Margaret Atwood (1972, p. 105) points out, neither representation allows newcomers to identify Native peoples as equal, to recognize them as "real inhabitants of a land." And in fact, these narratives of Indians as romanticized or primitive historical artifacts are used to protest Indian land and treaty rights, and to call for the abrogation of Indian treaties themselves.

The protest against spear-fishing Chippewa of my reservation in Wisconsin, which is led by organizations named "Equal Rights for Everyone" and "Stop Treaty Abuse," has drawn heavily upon the counter-narrative written by James Clifton. His books entitled The Invented Indian (1990) and Being and Becoming Indian (1989), argue the destructive essentialist perspective that the traditionalism of Indians never existed. In this analysis, the Indian never lived as keepers of the land, in the harmony and circularity of nature and culture. The values which orient traditional Indian cultures, and the treaties which acknowledge them, are fictive inventions of the non-Indian psyche and the manipulation of political process. And, the argument goes, even if there were traditional Indians, there are not any now. Traditional Indian cultures are dead, gone the way of the full-blooded Indians who were the only Indians treaties were meant to recognize. Treaties should be abrogated, making all North Americans "equal," a manoeuvre which would benefit Indians by privatizing land and re-inforcing entreprenurialism. The argument asserts that Indians today are mixed-bloods living on welfare, in houses not teepees or wigwams, who spear fish during spring spawning season using boats and miner's caps and metal spears--all, from this culturally-oppressive perspective, "non-traditional."

This argument may seem far-fetched; but it is lived daily in the homes and high schools and in the border towns and spearing grounds of Indian country. And the fictive representation it constructs is always present in the ambiguity of images of Indians, no matter how well-intentioned the practice of artists, writers, and the media.

In Canada today, Indians are experiencing a new battlefield of appropriated identity rooted in the salient representation which was constructed during the Mohawk occupation at Oka: the media warrior. In television and newsprint and political cartoons, media's warriors were transformed primitives, monolithic representations of Indian activists: the military masculine, criminalized through association with terrorism and epitomized in the ultimate warrior, Ronald Cross. Cross, code-named "Lasagna," became both the darling of the media and, through the dynamic process of re-appropriating identity, what one reporter called, "a media slut" (Pindera, 1990). As non-Indians transpose this new representation of the savage Indian warrior, Indian communities struggle with the factionalism entrenched in the threats and promises of appropriated identity, narrative and counter-narrative.

The ambiguity of appropriated representations is more subtle but no less problematic in Coco Fusco's (1992) tribute to 1992. She and a colleague presented a piece of performance art at museums in the United States, Spain, and Australia which involved spending three full days in a cage in the museum, dressed as "primitives" who cannot understand English. They danced or sang or posed for photographs for a fee; ate mush; and were taken to the bathroom on a leash. The artists were amazed at how many spectators failed to read their satire on the Indian as museum artifact and were convinced that they are "real Indians." Representations, especially appropriated images, are a double-edged sword, as the White artist discovered when she submitted what she intended as a dignified portrait of a traditional Black woman carrying bananas on her head. Primitive Indians in a museum cage may be conceived as an act of resistance; but the discourse of this performance, like the conception of resistance as movement--either "moving forward" or "moving backward"--negates the most important understanding about Indians: First Nations' resistance is cultural persistence; the social memory and lived experience of traditionalism continually negotiated in the discourse and practice of everyday life. People of the First Nations are "traditional." But in the struggle between pluralism and essentialism, between different forms of resistance to undermine hegemonic constructions, the meaning of Indian traditionalism is masked in conceptions of resistance as action, or identity as historical memory striped off, then pasted back on to become "revitalization" (Minh-ha, 1989, p. 59). And these conceptions are perpetuated in the appropriated voices and representations of Indians through a dangerous game: "playing Indian." What Rayna Green (1988, p. 49) calls the "script" that is enacted in "playing Indian" obscures two important points about North America: "the true Indian-ness of America" and the fact that "the play-Indian roles depend on dead Indians." As Green (ibid.) writes:

In order for anyone to play Indian successfully, real Indians have to be dead. Americans have to believe them dead or kill them off. The Cult of the Vanishing Indian was merely practice for the ritual enactment. Note, for example, how important it has been historically in America to take fish, water, trees, buffalo and deer away from Indians in order to celebrate their oneness with Nature, their status as First Ecologists. If Indians were still in charge of the land, Americans could not lament their own impoverished stewardship of that land through memorializing the Indians they took it from.

Indians live the political struggle represented in the dead Indian. But appropriation involves other issues of identity and power as well. Filmmaker Loretta Todd (1992, p. 72) tells a borrowed story "of how a European painter in the nineteenth century journeyed into the great plains of this continent to `record' Native people, a common occurrence of the time, born of the ethnographic. While he was painting a Native man on a horse, another Native man observed the artist's work and remarked how his painting was wrong. The Artist, painting the horse from the side, had shown only two legs of the horse and one leg of the rider. The Native man reminded the artist that the horse had four legs and the rider two, which should all be shown."

The difference between the artist's horse and the Indian's horse is, of course, compounded through appropriation. Whether one is appropriating Native spiritualism through the White Buffalo Society or the books of Lynn Andrews, or representations of Indians in history and art, the horse has only two legs. And in expressing the narrative of the two-legged horse, we limit both Native access to voice and the critique of our own pluralistic experience.

This issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication includes writers who cross borders to critique Native culture and communication from a variety of perspectives. Moira McLoughlin writes about the role Canadian museums play in promoting, on one hand, the narrative of Indian cultural stasis and, on the other, the politicized reality of pluralistic Native experience. Valda Blundell works from a semiological perspective to analyze the contemporary meaning of Indian powwow in the post-Oka era. Marilyn Burgess analyzes the role of the Indian in the Calgary Stampede and Banff Indian Days to draw out the "history" of the Indian in western regionalism. Lorna Roth writes about the appropriation and recontextualization of Mohawk radio during the "Indian summer" of 1990. And Marian Bredin discusses Aboriginal media in the context of communication and ethnographic critique.

Each of these articles voices a prism of the kaleidoscope that is Native--and non-Native--cultural experience. We are all rooted together in the recollection and expression of our personal and collective experience of each other and the land, in the representations of the two-legged horse and the four-legged horse which construct our identity and enact our ideology. This historical moment moves Canadians and Americans toward discursive constructions of the other drawn from an increasing sense of, on one hand, individual rights and, on the other, collective cultural empowerment. I agree with Gerald McMaster that 1992 was a year for reflection on ourselves, on who we are, and how we are all represented in the discourse of history and art and literature, feminism and resistance, land rights, treaty rights, sovereignty, and self-determination. In 1993, the International Year of Indigenous Peoples, we must recognize--and act upon--the intertwined past and present of our two worlds, our parallel voices.


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