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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Indian"

Without alerting me, Dissident Voice added a footnote to my latest Postcard, "1 At least one DV editor finds that referring to the Indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere as incorrectly being from the Indian subcontinent is bad form," so I've just asked them to include this also:


Author's explanation: When I was in Wolf Point, the word "Indian" was routinely used by people with Sioux, Assiniboine or Chippewa blood to describe themselves. As for the allegations of abuse of children in the Wolf Point schools, I first became aware of the issue from reading a long article by Christine Rose, a prominent activist who maintains the website, racismagainstindians.org, with an Indian Education Resources page, among other features. In the article, Rose routinely uses "Indian" when referring to the Wolf Point children. Since I don't presume to be more correct than the people of Wolf Point or Christine Rose, I've used "Indian" in my Wolf Point Postcard. While "Indian" is obviously a historical misnomer, "Native American" is itself problematic since the people who were here before Columbus never saw themselves as Americans. In the end, a Sioux is no more a "Native American" than a Palestinian a "Native Israeli," but we're trapped in talking about a colonized people in the colonizers' language. As Russel Means has pointed out, English is itself a problem. Finally, if you come to Wolf Point next month, you can attend a pow wow in neighboring Poplar. The participating tribes call it Poplar Indian Days.




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10:16 AM update: After Dissident Voice refused to run my explanation, I've asked them to remove my Postcard from their website, so they have.





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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.