- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay engages recent scholarship in queer Indigenous feminist studies to reread and reframe Sun Chief: The Autobiography of a Hopi Indian (1942) and the figure of its author, Don Talayesva (1890–1976), in ways that address canonical scholars’ (mis)interpretations. Throughout Sun Chief, Talayesva identifies their self as “twins twisted into one,” male and female siblings who were united in their mother’s womb prior to being born. Reading Sun Chief as a work of Hopi literature rather than a social scientific study, I recover Talayesva’s narration of their self-conception as twins twisted into one as an expression of a sovereign erotic: a resource of spiritual power and felt knowledge rooted in their body as well as in Hopi land and community. My close readings of the text focus on examples of Talayesva’s indiscipline, my term for Indigenous peoples’ resistance to settler colonial disciplinary institutions and assimilation policies designed to individualize Native peoples by breaking up relational identities and ties to land, tribal communities, and Indigenous epistemologies.