Poetry as Important Part of Art
Since its inception as a form of art, poetry has had significant importance to the culture and identity of Native Americans. Although it is not exotic, the literature of the aboriginal people defines America. The concerns highlighted in the poems are particular to the life and challenges they faced in their lives. They also highlight their identity based on issues of their cultural environment, such as whether they were raised on or off the reserve, their tribe, sexuality, and blood quantum. Their poems bear historical witness and demonstrate the strength of the native American spirit. In addition to this, they also argue crucial social and political issues while illuminating their vibrant cultural heritage. In Jane Johnston Schoolcraft’s poem, “on leaving my children John and Jane in school,” the author speaks of her native land and country (Schoolcraft). This shows the identity of Native Americans through their lands.
Poetry maintains native identity through the message it passes. Most poems are about memorable events in the author’s life or another person’s life. In these cases, a person’s life shows their identity by showing how they were either affected due to their culture or how they lived. Therefore, native identity is maintained by re-living the moment by involving people’s lives. One example of this is seen in the poem ” on leaving my children John and Jane in school” (Schoolcraft). Here, JJS talks of a strong feeling that still binds her to the land as once her forefathers were liberty free but they were then attacked by Europe. This retells the story of her native lands maintaining their native identity.
Native American women writers faced several challenges during their time. Their writings were rarely recognized compared to their male counterparts. They found it hard to publish their works with such perspectives as they mostly reached a limited audience. Being a female writer at the time was seen as a handicap as they were mostly described as a “d——d mob of scribbling women” (cite). From their writing, I get more insight into the challenges they underwent and a different version of the pastoral.
Schoolcraft, Jane Johnston. The sound the stars make rushing through the sky: The writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.