Research Paper on Gerlad vizenor

Research Paper on Gerlad vizenor (Native American (Anishinaabe) Writer)


Vizenor was a native Anishinaabe writer born during 1934, and registered as a member of Chippewa tribe of Minnesota. He is a prolific writer with more than thirty literature books. His early life was difficult as he grew up without the love of his father who died while he was still very young. He was left under the primary care of his Anishinaabe grandmother in Minneapolis as his Swedish American mother was struggling to give his attention. Later on he was adopted by several foster parents and caseworkers who made a big part of his life. He later joined the army at a tender age and served in Japan when it was recovering from nuclear attack effect (Madsen Para 2). His stay in Japan during the Korean War inspired him to write literally work especially his haiku interest. He later went back to America to join university and married afterwards. Due to his exposure to literally work of other nations, his works depart from traditional techniques and forms, which many Native American writers were fond of. For instance, he used literally experiences to create originality in a piece of work. Through this, he was able to address issues that faced America with mixed blood face. It was his life in another world before coming back to his homeland that helped him to have his rich literally knowledge (McCaffery et al. 50).

Activism and styles

One of his distinctive characteristics was his use of post-modern techniques. His works used mystical characters and fantastic events and took into consideration the various narratives and development of plot (Vizenor 1). This style challenges readers to deal with their fear of defeat or diminishment in the occurrence where other entities are taken to be persons. Postmodern fictions are thus important to make human think of the persons they might be (Hoilman, 11). Vizenor used irony, satires and humor in his works. His knowledge about Native Americans was shaped when he was working as a community advocate. He interacted with dislocated Native Americans living in the reservations, where many of them were unable to survive in a culture dominated by the white racism and full of challenges such as cheap alcohol. As a result, most of his works were inspired by real events. His interactions with Native American conditions made him suspicious of Native American movement under certain leaders, whom he saw to be inclined on benefiting themselves as opposed to being concerned on the condition natives were living under.

In addition, through his work, he challenged justice system and influenced determination of cases that guaranteed justice to the weak. Through his investigative journalism, he was able to unearth many cases of hypocrisy and drug trafficking executed by leaders of Indian movements, which earned him threats of being murdered. He used irony to attack these leaders whom he considered to be in dilemma of serving the white cultures and their native origins (Madsen Para 4).

Manabozho, who is the trickster of Anishinaabe, plays a game of chance with a sinister being. Within this game, Manabozho has one chance to throw the dice and save or cost the Anishinaabe people. This myth of the gambler is a tradition in Native American, which is like a test to a culture hero or trickster, whereby Gambler holds the life of his victims at his hands (Hoilman 15). His satirist writing enabled him to criticize the politics of his time. His poetic work describes in a very natural way the experiences he had while growing up. These poems have in most cases reflected the changing reality of Anishinaabe experience both modern and in the past. They provide loud laughter, grieve, and sharp criticism and spiritual insight. Using trickster, irony, dreams and words he challenges many issues. Some of his common poetry includes raising flag and matsushima: Pine Island.

According to him the tribe known today as Indian, was a creation of the white invaders, this is seen in the argument that before Columbus landed Indian did not exist, but there were just various tribes like Dakota and Anishinaabe (Haileman 43). He uses humor and irony to deconstruct the concept of Indian. In the Heirs of Columbus for instance, he claims that Columbus was a Mayan Indian attempting to go back home.

Teaching career

His writing career developed further when he joined the teaching career. He joined teaching in 1970 shortly after publishing Seventeen chirps in 1968, when he received a call from Illinois Lake Forest College. The department liked his haiku books and this earned him a place in the college. One year later he went back to Minnesota to direct a federal desegregation program for teacher designed for the school district. Later on he got hired by Bemidji State University as Director of Indian Studies. Then a bush grant made him to go back for studies at Harvard University in 1973 and he left his editorial work at Minneapolis tribune in 1976, a position he continued to hold while working in the University of California as an academia. During this period he still continued to teach in Minnesota University and was honored in 1978 in the State (Vizenor 1).

He got married to a British student in Berkeley in 1981 and they taught in china at the University of Tianjin for one year. Later on when they returned, he went back to teach in the university of California. Here he served as a Kresge college provost between 1989 and 1990. The following year he was appointed the David Burr chair of letters in Oklahoma University. Then in the subsequent year went back to Berkeley as a full professor. As he continued to develop his academic career, he also published several scholarly works. Some of his popular works in this period include Survivance: Narratives of native presence, which was done in 2008. He also did several editorial works for the University of Oklahoma and facilitated publishing of several books (Madsen 43).

Fiction Writing

Vizenoir has several collections of haiku, short stories, plays, poems and traditional tribal tales translation. However it is his first novel in 1978 called darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart and revised edition known as Bearherat: the Heirship chronicles edited in 1990, which gave him fame in the fiction world. It is a rare occurrence as it’s among the few collections of fictions by Native American. It depicted tribal pilgrims’ demonstration through dreamlike, dystopian background of an America that was going through a disaster perpetrated by White gluttony for oil. Drawing from Anishaabe trickster stories and Poststructuralist theory, Vizenor described the world as being under what he believed to be system that was incapable of transforming itself. One of his popular characters Belladonna Darwin, state publicly that natives are clean and better than whites who are poisoned with cookies for racial segregation. His fiction is humorous, lighthearted and allusive, but eventually critical when dealing with the conditions of the Native America.

Non Fiction Writing

His non-fiction work is concerned with his effort to deconstruct the likeness of Indians. His title fugitive poses is an example of his belief that the term Indian is a construction of social-science that substitutes fugitive natives. On the other hand manifest manners have to do with the manifest destiny continue dominance. That is native continued domination by narratives that substitute them with Indian. Manifest destiny is theoretically used to describe how natives were forced to adapt to Euro-American culture often by force. Education became the tool for destroying the indigenous culture. Native children were taken from their families to boarding schools where they were prohibited from speaking their language or practicing their traditions (Carson 444).

Instead of grouping natives as Indians, he suggests that they be denoted as tribal or simply put in the context of their tribe. To talk about more obvious native studies, he prefers to think of tribes that is only joined by attitude and any actions by natives towards the white. He uses a Survivance neologism which according to him hold too meanings, which is endurance and survival. It is used to describe how minority tribes by use of storytelling, community and ceremonies, sustain themselves in spite of the assimilation pressures. In his Fugitive poses survivance is more than just survival or endurance. The survivance stories depict active existence. Therefore these stories not only claim the existence of indigenous people but also form part of resistance against the dominant cultural stories (Carson 444).

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