Native American Indian literature is an active, potentially activist literature. This is not to suggest that it is unentertaining, unfunny, or that it has no aesthetic impact. Yet it is hard to read the great diverse mix that is Native American literature simply on those terms or to read it passively as an ethnic literature whose message need not necessarily have an impact upon our thinking elsewhere. If we are to read Indian-authored literature and open ourselves up to its transformative impact, we are forced to consider some of the intellectual matters that are most important to us, including our understanding of American history and the past more generally on the American continent, our approach to things material and spiritual, our understanding of kinship and balance in terms of the environment, capitalism, and human and non-human relationships, the impact of colonialism and cultural destruction upon succeeding Indian survivor generations, and our stance in terms of what, if anything, may now be owed to them. Thus, several critics have suggested that when we approach Native American Indian literature we specifically adopt an active stance. For example, Gerald Vizenor, who is of mixed Euro-American, French, and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe or Chippewa) heritage, has suggested that readers adopt a strategy of “active listening,” and Susan Berry Brill de Ramirez suggests that they take a “conversive” approach capable of encompassing a requirement for reciprocal dialogue between both texts and communities.
Porter, J. (2009). The Rediscovery of the Native American. In D. Seed (Ed.), A Companion to Twentieth-Century United States Fiction (183 - 195). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444310108.ch15