Hi. I’m Dr. Jackie White, Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of English Studies & World Languages, native Illinoisan, proud holder of a U.S. passport, child of the Americas, citizen of the world.
I’m beginning my 10th year at Lewis where I’ve discovered the aptness of my name, as I’ve had the opportunity to become a “Jack(ie) of many trades.” In my first year at Lewis, I was asked to take on the teaching of Native American literature; now teaching that course for the 5th time, I feel as though I am “hitting my stride” in what was a brand-new area of literature for me. I’ll return to that in a moment, but to support my “many trades” claim, I’ll mention, first, some of the other literatures I teach, many of which will be the subjects of my future blogs: Latino/a and Latin American literatures, Poetry and the Creative Writing of Poetry, Early U.S. Literature (five of my doctoral areas of study), and Young Adult Literature (another addition to my repertoire thanks to the opportunities for intellectual growth–life-long learning–that Lewis provides).
Given the preceding list, you’ll understand why I call myself a Hemispheric-Americanist, which is an emerging field in literary study. In fact, as early as 1995, when I was teaching at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, I offered a senior elective entitled “Modern American Poetry” adding “: North and South.” As a student of Spanish and as one committed to global awareness and the promotion of social justice, I had learned that peoples throughout the Americas lay equal claim to the term “American,” and the more time I spend researching and reading in Native American studies, the more sensitive I am to the need for greater historical accuracy, humility, and inclusivity. That is, that those indigenous to the American continent are American(s), and, as Carter Revard (Osage) puts it, the rest of us are Ameropeans or Euroamericans, African-American, or Asian-American, etc. Therefore–also borrowing from Latin American Spanish who refer to citizens of the U.S. as estadounidenses –I have been introducing my students to the more accurate term for ourselves, Unitedstatesian, especially when referring to our citizenship, because, after all, like our Canadian and Mexican neighbors and our more distant continental “roommates”–the Chileans and Guatamalans and all those geographically in between–we are all Americans.
I know that many will argue that other Americans have or should have this perspective on U.S. citizens’ self-referential use of “American,” and, granted, most prefer to be referred to, and refer to themselves in more specific terms (Canadian, Peruvian, Salvadoran), just as most Native Americans prefer to be called, and call themselves, by their specific tribal affiliation (Chippewa, Lakota Sioux, Oglala Sioux, Tlingit). Nevertheless, my students who have traveled throughout the Americas have found a hemispheric global awareness of value and validity as the postcard above illustrates.
But, to return to the Native Natives and to help acquaint you with indigenous America, I encourage you to check out WFLY (Channel 6) TUESDAY 09/30 AT 4:30PM FOR A NEWS FEATURE ABOUT THE Midwest SOARRING POW WOW that took place September 20-21 in Naperville (see more at http://www.midwestsoarring.org/). I’d also like to take this opportunity to invite everyone to hear two Native American Storytellers (Chief Joseph Standing Bear and Myles Stoddard) on TUE., NOV 25TH IN THE D’ARCY GREAT ROOM AT LEWIS. This event is free and open to the public.
At the Pow Wow, my students and I were fortunate not only to witness the drumming and dancing and honoring of Veterans, but also to listen to a Lakota Sioux, Penny, teach us about teepee and family structure:
Thanks for reading, and if you want to read some actual/factual American Indian Literature, check out these titles from the Lewis University Library (and, to celebrate banned books’ week, check out Sherman Alexie (Coeur D’Alene-Spokane)’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian“):
Encyclopedia of American Indian Literature
The Handbook of Native American Literature
Native American Writers of the United States
Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual
Rising Voices: Writings of Young Native Americans
Black Elk Speaks (Lakota Sioux)
Erdrich, Louise (Ojibwe) Tracks
Momaday, N. Scott (Kiowa) The Way to Rainy Mountain
Momaday, House Made of Dawn
Silko, Leslie Marmon (Laguna Puebio) Ceremony
Also, feel free to contact me with any questions. Hoka hey, it’s a good day to be American!
Hoka hey, it’s a good day to learn more!