- Guest Editors' Remarks
In December 2006 Melissa L. Meyer sent out a competitive call for papers on behalf of the Western History Association. The call invited graduate students and assistant professors to apply to participate in a panel seminar entitled "Working from Home in American Indian History." Senior Indigenous scholars were called on to adjudicate the abstracts and respond to the papers. It was this call for papers and the resulting two panels at the October 2007 Western History Association conference that inspired this special issue of the American Indian Quarterly. Senior scholars Philip Deloria and Donald Fixico have followed through by contributing commentaries. This volume can be read as a window into some of the current historical research done by Indigenous scholars in North America whose focus is on questions of "home" in Indigenous academic scholarship. The contributors discuss home as family, community, and Nation and the joys and complications of coming from and researching those "homes" as Native American academics who write about Indigenous North American history.
The essayists in this volume are part of an emerging cohort of Native American scholars who have benefited from and were influenced by the so-called New Indian History. What does it mean to have grown up in a time after Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was published? How does that shape the creation of a historian who is Native American? The junior scholars participating in this special issue cannot comprehend a time before Dee Brown's text, yet we all are well aware of the fact that it was and continues to be monumental to the discipline of history and, more importantly, to the lives of Native people, regardless of their relationship to the academy. In his concluding commentary to this volume, [End Page ix] Donald Fixico reminds us that "Brown asked [readers] to read the introduction while facing East to give them a sense of what it might be like to be Indian" (555). Brown and a small number of his contemporaries encouraged historians and students of history to broaden their idea of history—to recognize that Native people were not mere scenery on the historical backdrop of colonial America, but that Native people were living participants in historical events that shaped the world we live in today. Despite the ground Brown broke, the presence and perception of Native people within the study of North American history remain hidden or at least minimized nearly four decades after Bury My Heart's initial publication. Of course, the discipline of history and the historical consciousness of North America have broadened over that time; however, much work remains to be done. The inclusion of Native peoples in U.S. and Canadian historical curricula continues to be a key area of that work. Also on the agenda is the presence of Native people within the discipline of history as students, authors, and professors.
Brown's concept of "looking East" has recently been taken up by Charles Mann in 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, a book that urges a new generation of readers to contemplate North American history from an Indigenous perspective. Of course, both Brown and Mann were targeting a non-Indigenous audience, although undoubtedly both were aware that Native people would also constitute a part of their readership. Ironically, the fact that Mann would utilize a theory at least thirty years old demonstrates the fact that the mainstream populace has yet to realize that Native people were, in fact, living participants in North American history.
In this collection of papers six junior Native American scholars of Indigenous histories demonstrate the contributions that they and their peers who also write from within their experiences as Indigenous academics can make not only to the discipline of history, related fields, and the academy in general but also, more importantly, to the awareness, knowledge, and experiences of contemporary Native people and their neighbors. Without a fair and substantial presence of Native history and Native historians, all people lose out, and the discipline is weaker as a result.
As the editors of this special issue, we have struggled with how best to represent...