- From the Editors
This issue of SAIL marks the completion of the first volume year shepherded through the publication process by the new editorial team, and it seems fitting that so much of the issue's content is reflective. The critical essays by Eric Wolfe and Caroline Wigginton offer nuanced analyses of our field's historical archive, drawing compelling understandings from two of the earliest Native writers in English, William Apess and Samson Occom. Whether asking new and important questions of one of Apess's more familiar texts or bringing Occom's least-studied writings to an engaged critical awareness, these scholars highlight the significance of these early writers to both the aesthetic and intellectual genealogies of Native literary expression.
Similarly, the two tributes included in this issue are a reminder that our field is one with a rich textual heritage that, while developed and maintained by a growing community of thoughtfully committed scholars, also has its paradigm-shifting figures without whom the field would be much poorer in both imaginative scope and actual production. On the fortieth anniversary of the publication of House Made of Dawn, Jace Weaver reminds us that the contributions N. Scott Momaday has made to Native literature and American letters go well beyond this Pulitzer Prize–winning novel; if anything, Momaday's far greater significance has been in the subsequent years, especially in the increasing attention he has given to the mysterious power of words to manifest possibility.
Not all reflections are prompted by happy occasions; some [End Page vii] arise from sad events. Our field lost a great mind and even greater heart this year when Paula Gunn Allen passed into the spirit world. Provocative, controversial, inspirational, and passionately committed to the dignity and liberation of Indigenous peoples and other minoritized groups, this Laguna elder worked to make our studies more attentive not only to the literary work of critical analysis but also to the cultural and political work of critical intellectual engagement, as Annette Van Dyke's tribute reminds us.
Yet in looking back, we also look to the present and future of the study of Native literatures to have a better understanding of why we do this work and how we might do it better. In addition to our book review section, we include in this final issue of volume 20 a commentary by Sam McKegney arguing for a particularly engaged ethical approach to Native literature by non-Native scholars. It's a piece intended to elicit response, conversation, and argument, and we welcome readers to do so in a forthcoming issue. We'd like to have an ongoing reader's feedback section in every issue, but to do so, we'll need you to write to us. Share your thoughts on what you've read, what we're missing, what issues need to be taken up more (or less) in the field.
Our commitment in each issue is to offer the best critical and creative voices in dialogue with each other and with the broader scholarly and political issues of significance to the field. We hope you'll join the conversation. Drop us an e-mail (with "Reader's Forum" in the subject line) at email@example.com, or write to our mailing address posted at the front of this issue.
On behalf of book review editor Jane Hafen, current editorial assistants Kirby Brown and Kyle Wyatt, and the members of the editorial board, we'd like to extend our thanks to all our readers for joining us on these first steps of SAIL's current editorial journey. We invite you to continue our travels together in what we anticipate to be an even more compelling and thought-provoking critical landscape. [End Page viii]