Cherokee writer William Sanders's 1999 novel, The Ballad of Billy Badass and the Rose of Turkestan, challenges colonial notions of geographical and political boundaries to insist that, although regionally and tribally specific distinctions are quite real, we must simultaneously acknowledge the network of relationships that extends far beyond such borders. Sanders tells the story of Billy Badwater, a Cherokee veteran of the First Gulf War who must stop a radiation monster from another dimension that threatens to consume the entire world. As he revives and adapts this science fictional trope, Sanders resists philosophies of strict regionalism, nationalism, and isolationism, instead encouraging his readers to embrace an Indigenous ethical approach that is grounded in recognizing and respecting difference even as we cultivate alliances. As it simultaneously gestures inward and outward, the novel offers a useful model for the field of Native southern literature. Rather than focusing exclusively on the Cherokee Nation, Sanders looks outward to tell a story that builds connections between all those whose lives have been impacted by systems of settler colonialism. Literal and metaphorical concepts of nuclear power, which is generated at specific sites but which radiates outward to cross both political and environmental boundaries, allow Sanders to strike a balance between the local and the global much as Native southern studies works to delineate the relationship between the regional space of the U.S. South and the increasingly broader field of Indigenous studies.


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pp. 52-73
Launched on MUSE
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