Lolita last star : a theoretically informed narrative of survivance

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Common missteps by non-Native writers lead to literary representations of Native Americans as tragic figures slumping towards inevitable annihilation, as museum Indians and simulations of the real, mystical and noble "savages," (yes, this still occurs in contemporary film and literature), or simply as inactive members of contemporary life. Authors also attempt to unveil and profit from sensitive spiritual and personal secrets, and offer explanations that do not match reality, leading to grave offenses, and the continuation of harmful stereotypes. In this respect, Lolita Last Star intentionally avoids discussions of spiritual and cultural traditions, or the actual personal lives of "real life" people, because these areas are guarded for good reasons, and instead focuses on native presence in contemporary American life, in the surprisingly complex, globalized space of the Rocky Mountain West. In other words, the final product is a narrative of Survivance; a concept first explored academically by Anishinaabe scholar Gerald Vizenor, in his book Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance. Survivance, I would argue along with many others, may not be as theoretically complex as it first appears. At its most basic level, "Survivance is a practice, not an ideology, dissimulation, or a theory." The concept of Survivance only becomes difficult when we look to the spectrum of responses to conditions that inspire the need to do more than survive. Survivance is coping, but it is also subversion, creation, amusement, ingenuity, reimagining, the provision of new explanations, and recapturing one's own destiny. The characters and their actions in Lolita Last Star respond in illustrations of full human vibrancy that transcend space and time, definitions, borders, accusations of authenticity, oppression, domination, petty moralities, victimry, and they move us all one step closer to self-sovereignty and human dignity. They show that if anything westerners contain cultural universes and are better for it. The only frauds are the people too scared to step out of their narrow focus of what a westerner, an Indian, a firefighter, or a cowboy is. They are never afraid to ask, "Where the hell are we supposed to go from here?"




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