39.3 • Summer 2016
Alice Te Punga Somerville and Daniel Heath Justice
Rather than being focused on Indigenous biographies as such, this special issue of Biography was conceived by Alice Te Punga Somerville (Māori), Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee Nation), and Noelani Arista (Kanaka Maoli) as a wide-ranging conversation among Indigenous scholars, writers, artists, and filmmakers about the ethics, relations, practices, and considerations of representing Indigenous lives. The introduction by Te Punga Somerville and Justice offers observations about the process of bringing together a large community of Indigenous thinkers from a wide range of geographic, ancestral, and disciplinary contexts to this topic, and how this discursive approach shifted their understanding—individually and collectively—of the power and possibility of Indigenous biography.
K. Tsianina Lomawaima
Vine Deloria, Jr.’s principle of relativity directs Indigenous biographers to search for relationships. Examples from biographical projects focused on Curtis Thorpe Carr and other survivors of Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, and early twentieth century Creek performer Tsianina Blackstone, highlight key absences and presences that both trouble and enrich Indigenous biography.
David A. Chang
Elle-Máijá Apiniskim Tailfeathers
This article presents a conversation between three Indigenous filmmakers, Elle-Máijá Apiniskim Tailfeathers (Blackfoot, Sámi), Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe), and Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot’in), along with a preamble and concluding thoughts from Tailfeathers. In the conversation, the filmmakers discuss the process and motivations of and responses to their (auto)biographical films, Bihttoš, Suckerfish, Su Naa, and My Legacy.
Mārata Ketekiri Tamaira
Focusing on a single autobiographical story by Lakota/Kiowa Apache storyteller Dovie Thomason, this article argues that “life-telling” should be recognized as an important Indigenous art form, one that remains a vital and living practice. By paying attention to the performative elements of storytelling and its Indigenous contexts of ceremony, territory, and community, the article shows how oral autobiography enacts Indigenous sovereignty.
Te Rauparaha is one of the most well-remembered nineteenth century Māori leaders of Aotearoa New Zealand (Niu Tireni). This article investigates the ways in which his son Tāmihana (Katu) Te Rauparaha biographed his father across a range of formats, including writing, oil portraiture, and statuary, thus ensuring that his father’s life would be remembered.
Mary Jane Logan McCallum
Alyssa Mt. Pleasant
Deborah A. Miranda
This essay argues that the immense and powerful reservoir of “ethnographic notes” is actually the Indigenous storyteller’s body of work. Focusing exclusively on the narratives of Carmel Indian Isabel Meadows about a Carmel woman named Estéfana Real, the lens of Athabascan scholar Dian Million’s “felt theory” establishes Isabel as a storyteller, scholar, and cultural activist who essentially uses Harrington as a note taker for communicating with future Indian communities through Indigenous storytelling strategies.
This article traces the history of biographies about Indigenous Australian people, and suggests key differences in approach between Indigenous and non-Indigenous biographers. Through a study of two Aboriginal men—Gogy and Bungin—this article suggests that by emulating Indigenous approaches and explicitly acknowledging our connection and attachment to the subject, we can better discern the lives of historical Indigenous figures as individuals.
Ashley Glassburn Falzetti
Joseph M. Pierce
This paper argues that biography in Māori art has many forms, from the individual named taonga, to the artist, to the life of the art form itself. As such, the nature of biography is not fixed and static, but rather is reflexive and reflective of time and space, as well as cultural values.
Cresantia Frances Koya Vaka‘uta
What forms does biography take in my community, Musqueam? My experience listening to storytellers gathered together demonstrates a) the inseparability of narrating lived experiences and carrying forward Musqueam’s distinct teachings; b) the collective nature of telling and remembering; and c) how this form of oral tradition—of life-telling—requires its own set of listening skills. I conclude that group storytelling can inform other forms of representation such as biography and ethnography.
Hōkūlani K. Aikau