Glancy, Diane 1941-
GLANCY, Diane 1941-
Born Helen Diane Hall, March 18, 1941, in Kansas City, MO; daughter of Lewis and Edith (Wood) Hall; married Dwane Glancy, May 2, 1964 (divorced, March 31, 1983); children: David, Jennifer. Education: University of Missouri, B.A., 1964; Central State University (Edmond, OK), M.A. (creative writing), 1983; University of Iowa, M.F.A., 1988. Religion: Christian.
Home—3508 W. 73rd Terr., Prairie Village, KS 66208. Office—Department of English, Macalester College, 1600 Grand, St. Paul, MN 55105.
Macalester College, St. Paul, MN, assistant professor of English, beginning 1988, became professor. Artist-in-residence of the Oklahoma State Arts Council, 1982-92; has traveled for the U.S. Information Agency to Syria and Jordan.
Fellowship, University of Iowa Writers' Workshop; Pegasus Award, Oklahoma Federation of Writers, 1984, for Brown Wolf Leaves the Res and Other Poems; named laureate for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1984-86; Lakes and Prairies Award, Milkweed Chronicle, 1986, for One Age in a Dream; Oklahoma Theater Festival Award, 1987, for Segwohi; Five Civilized Tribes Playwriting Prize, 1987, for Weebjob; Aspen Summer Theater Award, 1988, for Stickhorse; Iron Woman was selected by Nicholas Christopher as the 1988 Capricorn Poetry Prize winner; Charles Nilon Minority Fiction Award, 1990, for Trigger Dance; fellowship from the National Education Association and Minnesota State Arts Board, and National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship, both 1990; North American Indian Prose Award, University of Nebraska Press, and American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, both 1992, both for Claiming Breath; National Endowment for the Humanities, 1992; Sundance Institute Native American Screenwriter's fellowship, UCLA, 1998; McKnight Fellowship/Loft Award of Distinction in Creative Prose, 1999; Many Voices Fellowship, Playwrights Center, Minneapolis, 2001; Thomas Jefferson Teaching/Scholarship Award, Macalester College, 2001; Cherokee Medal of Honor, Cherokee Honor Society, 2001; National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Stevens Poetry Award, 2001; Arts & Science Dsitinguished Alumni Award, University of Missouri, 2003; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 2003; Juniper Prize, 2004, for Primer of the Obsolete.
Drystalks of the Moon, Hadassah Press (Tulsa, OK), 1981.
Traveling On, Myrtlewood Press (Tulsa, OK), 1982.
Brown Wolf Leaves the Res and Other Poems, Blue Cloud Quarterly Press (Marvin, SD), 1984.
(Editor with C. W. Truesdale) Two Worlds Walking: Short Stories, Essays, and Poetry by Writers with Mixed Heritages, New Rivers Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor, with Mark Nowak) Visit Teepee Town: Native Writings after the Detours, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.
The Shadow's Horse, University of Arizona Press (Tuscon, AZ), 2003.
Trigger Dance, Fiction Collective Two (Boulder, CO), 1990.
Firesticks: A Collection of Stories, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1993.
Monkey Secret (short stories), TriQuarterly Books (Evanston, IL), 1995.
The Voice That Was in Travel: Stories, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1999.
The Only Piece of Furniture in the House: A Novel, Moyer Bell (Wakefield, RI), 1996.
Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1996.
Flutie, Moyer Bell (Wakefield, RI), 1998.
The Closets of Heaven: A Novel of Dorcas, the New Testament Seamstress, Chax Press (Tuscon, AZ), 1999.
Fuller Man, Moyer Bell (Wakefield, RI), 1999.
The Man Who Heard the Land, Minnesota Historical Society Press (Saint Paul, MN), 2001.
The Mask Maker, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2002.
Designs of the Night Sky, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2002.
Stone Heart: A Novel of Sacajawea, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2003.
One Age in a Dream, illustrated by Jay Moon, Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 1986.
Offering: Aliscolidodi, Holy Cow! Press (Duluth, MN), 1988.
Iron Woman, New Rivers Press, 1990.
Lone Dog's Winter Count, West End Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1991.
Boom Town, Black Hat (Goodhue, MN), 1995.
Primer of the Obsolete, Chax Press (Tuscon, AZ), 1998, reprinted, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 2004.
(Ado)ration, Chax Press (Tuscon, AZ), 1999.
The Relief of America, Northwestern University Press (Chicago, IL), 2000.
The Stones for a Pillow, 2001.
Claiming Breath, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1992.
The West Pole, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1997.
The Cold-and-Hunger Dance, University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
In-between Places, University of Arizona Press (Tuscon, AZ), 2004.
Segwohi, produced in Tulsa, OK, 1987.
Testimony, produced in Tulsa, OK, 1987.
Webjob, produced in Tulsa, OK, 1987.
Stick Horse, produced in Aspen, CO, 1988.
The Lesser Wars, produced in Minneapolis, MN, 1989.
Halfact, produced in San Diego, CA, at Modern Language Association Conference, 1994.
War Cries: A Collection of Plays, introduction by Kimberly Blaeser (includes Weebjob, Stick Horse, Bull Star, Halfact, Segwohi, The Truth Teller, Mother of Mosquitos, The Best Fancy Daner the Pushmataha Pow Wow's Ever Seen, and One Horse), Holy Cow! Press, 1997.
American Gypsy: Six Native American Plays, University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK), 2002.
Also author of plays Jump Kiss and The Woman Who Was a Red Deer Dressed for a Deer Dance. Contributor to I Tell You Now: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers, edited by Brian Swann and Arnold Krupat, University of Nebraska Press, 1987; and Talking Leaves, edited by Craig Lesley, Bantam (New York), 1991; Braided Lives: An Anthology of Multicultural American Writing, Minneapolis Humanities Commission, 1991; Stiller's Pond: New Fiction from the Midwest, edited by Jonis Agee, Roger Blakely, and Susan Welch, New Rivers, 1991; The Heartlands Today, edited by Larry Smith and Nancy Dunham, Bottom Dog (Huron, OH), 1991; EarthSong, Sky Spirit: Short Stories of Contemporary Native American Experience, edited by Clifford Trafzer, Doubleday, 1993; Inheriting the Land: Contemporary Voices from the Midwest, edited by Mark Vinz and Thom Tammaro, University of Minnesota Press, 1993; The Pushcart Prize XVIII: Best of the Small Presses, 1993-1994, edited by Bill Henderson, Pushcart, 1994; and Freeing the ! First Amendment: Critical Perspectives on Freedom of Expression, edited by Robert Jensen and David Allen, New York University Press, 1995.
Diane Glancy is a poet, playwright, short story writer, essayist, and novelist who often explores the quest for spirituality among mixed-race characters. One-eighth Cherokee, Glancy identifies herself with the Native American and mixed-blood characters she writes about, and like some other contemporary Native American writers, she experiments with genres and styles in an attempt to give expression to the reality of mixed-blood peoples. "The difference in Glancy's writing has to do with her attempts to construct Native American texts by combining oral and written traditions, fusing the visual and verbal, mixing poetry and prose, and experimenting with the arrangement of the text on the page," noted Julie LaMay Abner in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Though not all of her experiments are successful, Glancy has won numerous awards for her writings and critical applause for her deeply felt, poetic depictions of marginalized characters. Wendy Murray Zoba, writing in Books and Culture, commented on Glancy's quiet childhood, noting that eventually, Glancy "found the one voice that held the others together. Or the voice found her. It came through her writing. The result has been a body of work that defies literary convention." Zoba continued, "If she is hard to categorize, she has nevertheless found readers."
Known first as a poet, Glancy began to garner significant critical attention with the publication of collections of short stories and autobiographical poem-essays. Firesticks, a collection of nineteen stories and novellas, centers on Native American characters in contemporary, urban settings who, critics noted, are hard to distinguish from non-Native Americans in their troubled and dreary lives. "Glancy invests her prose with tremendous emotional resonance … in tales that often seem more like poems than conventional short stories," remarked a reviewer for Publishers Weekly of this work. The Cold-and-Hunger Dance, a collection of essays and poems, shares with the earlier volume an emphasis on "the importance of the written word and the act of writing," observed Mary B. Davis in Library Journal. In the pieces gathered here, Glancy explores the tangle of emotions evoked by witnessing ceremonies held by tribes other than her own, and universalizes her personal experience as the child of parents with differing cultural backgrounds. In pursuit of melding her Christian beliefs with her Nativist spirituality, Glancy reworks several Native legends to "bizarre" effect, according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, who classified The Cold-and-Hunger Dance as "a strange and insipid tome from a writer who has done much better."
Like The Cold-and-Hunger Dance, Claiming Breath is a collection of short, related, autobiographical pieces that often meld genres. Often inspired by long stretches traveling across Oklahoma toward schools where Glancy taught poetry to Native American students in her role as artist-in-residence for the Oklahoma State Arts Council, the author muses on marriage and divorce, the uncanny influence of her Cherokee grandmother on her identity, and attempts to reconcile Native American spiritualism with her own Christian-based beliefs. The result is a "wildly uneven grab-bag in the form of a journal," according to a critic for Kirkus Reviews, who found "fresh language and banality, fine prose-poetry and self-indulgence," side by side in Claiming Breath. Nevertheless, the volume may serve as a model for those who advocate journal writing as "a road to self-actualization," this critic concluded.
The West Pole is another unusual collection of autobiographical prose and poetry musings on Glancy's attempts to define her identity as a Native American writer. But, like Claiming Breath, critics found the pieces of mixed value. "Glancy has a gift for language," proclaimed Library Journal critic Vicki Leslie Toy Smith, "but … she seems to stop writing before she has exhausted a subject." Similarly, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the collection "at best only sporadically rewarding," though Glancy's efforts at "deftly blending Indian beliefs and mythology with European Christianity" are "refreshing" compared to the angrier and more divisive sentiments found in much other Native American writing.
With her first novel, Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears, Glancy retells the grueling tale of the thousands of Cherokee Indians who were forced to leave their home lands in North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee and walk to reservations in Oklahoma. The journey has gone down in history as the Trail of Tears, because so many people died along the way from exposure and disease. Glancy's historical novel centers on a young woman and her family, with numerous secondary characters including soldiers who enforced the march, white clergy, and Indians of all ages whose sufferings are recounted in the first-person. Critics focused much of their attention on Glancy's successful incorporation of a wealth of historical material relating to the forced march, and the evocative voice of her myriad characters to tell "an exquisitely sad tale," in the words of Booklist reviewer Kathleen Hughes. "The voices that comprise the narrative are vigorous, and the period details convincing but not obtrusive," claimed a critic for Kirkus Reviews. Moreover, Pushing the Bear exemplifies, according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly,"the Cherokee conception of story as the indestructible chain linking people, earth and ancestry-a link that becomes, if not unmitigated salvation, then certainly a salve to the spirit."
Almost simultaneously with the publication of Pushing the Bear, Glancy published another novel, The Only Piece of Furniture in the House, a coming-of-age story that, in its focus on the spiritual life of its protagonist, set the pattern for future novels by the author. In The Only Piece of Furniture in the House, Rachel Hume grows up the second oldest of nine children born to a deeply religious mother and her itinerant railway worker husband in the American South and Southwest. When Rachel meets and marries Jim, a soldier, her new life in military housing tests her religious faith as she is surrounded by people who daily break the rules she has learned to live by. In the midst of a postpartum depression, Rachel returns to her childhood home only to realize she must learn to face the world or give up her marriage. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised Glancy's "expressive prose [which] evocatively captures the intriguing complexity of life in the Bible Belt South."
Like The Only Piece of Furniture in the House, the protagonist of Flutie is an adolescent girl struggling to reconcile her powerful spiritual life with the realities of her emotionally and materially deprived surroundings. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews observed that "Glancy demonstrates a strong and very particular gift for catching the way in which spiritual yearnings work on an untutored mind." In this novel, Flutie Moses sees stories in everything and everyone around her, but can hardly speak to anyone with whom she is not intimate, and thus much of the narrative is given over to accounts of Flutie trying to speak. "This quite beautiful novel proves unexpectedly moving in the ways Glancy finds to write the sounds of silence," remarked Grecian A. Decanted in Booklist. Flutie's visions lead her toward a Cherokee spiritualism that is unavailable to the rest of her family, and in a book she gains inspiration from the legend of Philohela, whose brother-in-law cut out her tongue to prevent her from accusing him of raping her. With her newfound powers of speech, Flutie graduates from high school and prepares to attend college to follow her dream of studying geology. The result is "a story of great emotional honesty and power," averred Carolyn Ellis Gonzalez in Library Journal.
As in her earlier novels, the protagonist of Fuller Man is a young woman predominantly struggling with the role of religious faith in her life. Halley Willie, her sister Nearly, and her brother Farley each must find his or her own way among the battles between their devout mother and skeptical father. "In single images, remarks and disjunct scenes, as if from a journalist's notebook, Halley lays out each important moment of her maturation, from grade school to middle age," as she teeters between faith and doubt, according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Like The Only Piece of Furniture in the House, the journey toward spiritual healing in the form of fundamentalist Christianity documented by Glancy's narrative in Fuller Man was noted by critics for its sympathetic treatment, a rare find in contemporary American literature. While the contributor for Kirkus Reviews found Glancy's efforts marred by her unusual, sometimes "cryptic," storytelling methods, "Glancy's determination to plumb an unfashionable question in fiction—how faith or the lack of it shapes and sustains our lives—is admirable."
The Man Who Heard the Land and The Mask Maker come at fiction from a more poetic angle than Glancy's previous novels. In the first, a teacher of environmental literature turns to his Native American roots to begin to get through his depression. The results, according to Mary Margaret Benson in her Library Journal review "are mixed: his life is still troubled … but he has a fuller understanding of himself." The Mask Maker, which Debbie Bogenschutz of Library Journal called a "truly dynamic" experiment, tells the story of a mixed-blood Native American mother, who deals with her feelings and emotions through the traditional artwork of the mask. Glancy accompanies her text with Bible passages and the thoughts of the main character in her own voice, each featured on the side of the page.
Designs of the Night Sky falls somewhere between a collection of stories and a novel; main character Ada works in a library and reads accounts of the Trail of Tears. Confronting problems in her own life and delving into historical accounts of tragedy, Ada seeks comfort in Christianity and at the Dust Bowl roller rink. The novel changes back and forth between the historical forced migration of the Cherokee and Ada's life and the stories of her family members. Debbie Bogenschutz in her Library Journal review called the book "an engaging novel," while a critic for Kirkus Reviews considered the book, perhaps in spite of its non-traditional format, "at its core a probing, honest tale." Howard Meredith, writing for World LiteratureToday, noted, "In every sense, this is Glancy's most ambitious endeavor."
In 2003, Glancy took on the challenge of presenting historical heroine Sacajawea in a novel format. Though it had been done before, Glancy's approach gave the story a new twist; while using a second-person voice to give Sacajawea's perspective on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Glancy featured excerpts from the Louis and Clark journals on a second column on the page. The narrative is two-fold; one gives the historical perspective of the white explorers, the other the thoughts of a young Native American woman. Sacajawea, a Shoshone woman who had been kidnapped by the Hidatasa tribe and then sold to a Canadian trapper as his second wife, was pregnant with the trapper's child when she served as a translator for the expedition. Glancy's depiction of Sacajawea neglects none of her strength of character; Margaret Flanagan of Booklist wrote that "Sacajawea is blessed with an inner vision that puts and earthy and vibrant spin on each individual experience and encounter." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly thought that many of Sacajawea's responses were "predictable," however, the critic concluded, "Glancy's sharply observed details and lyrical stylings make for a lively, thought-provoking read"; a critic for Kirkus Reviews considered the book "a brilliantly artistically ambitious retelling." In Library Journal, Debbie Bogenschutz claimed "the interest in this retelling lies in the contrast between the two parties' journals"; Anne G. Myles in North American Review similarly commented, "This doubling is the narrative's most distinctive and difficult feature, as Glancy executes it literally, graphically on the page." Myles continued, "Such readerly dislocation is surely part of the point: we find ourselves, like the protagonist, out of our element; we have to work out for ourselves what kind of authority two incommensurable perspectives have within the novel and within our understanding of the truth."
Glancy defines herself as a Native American writer, and her fiction and nonfiction writings alike treat the consequences of that self-definition, especially for her spiritual life. Admiring critics point to the evocative language she uses to create characters besieged by inner lives whose expression is not welcome in the worlds they inhabit, which are marked by poverty in the material, emotional, and spiritual senses. "Her work is a refreshingly honest depiction of contemporary American Indian life with common themes that are easily accessible to Indian and non-Indian readers alike: mixed-bloodedness, heritage, colonialism, middle age, feminism, divorce, death, power, and survival," wrote Abner in Dictionary of Literary Biography. While some critics find her autobiographical collections of short prose and poetry less satisfying than her novels, accusing the author of failing to take on the important questions she raises in-depth or with logical precision, the journal-like musings found in Claiming Breath and The West Pole are valued by other critics as a model for readers seeking identity and self-worth in times of trouble.
Diane Glancy contributed the following autobiographical essay to CA:
THE COLD-AND-HUNGER DANCE
… therefore I set my face like a flint
I had a hunger for words. The house I lived in as a child was quiet. I was quiet. I was three before I had a sibling. My mother handled the words. I wanted someone to listen. I wanted someone to talk to.
I wanted my own voice forming my will.
I wanted books. The fortified cities of them.
I wanted to be a maker of those fortifications. A fortifier. Because my parents are gone and they were once young and sturdy. Though they also tore down. And were torn down.
I was born between two cultures. My father was Cherokee. My mother, English and German. But we weren't enough Cherokee to be accepted as Indian, nor was I white enough to be accepted as white. I could walk in both worlds. I could walk in neither. I lived in a no-man's-land. A no-man's-land that moved.
In a poem called "Oklahoma Land Run," in The Relief of America, I have a line, "jiggling like a pea in a, Prince Albert tobacco tin." I always have felt I rolled around.
My father worked for the stockyards in Kansas City. He was transferred several times. I went to several schools in the Midwest. Francis Willard in Kansas City. Flackville in Indianapolis. Normandy in St. Louis. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 1964, from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1983, and from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1988. I have been at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, since then. I write and teach Native American literature and creative writing in its many forms—poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, scriptwriting.
I've always wanted to tell stories. To tell them in my own way. According to oral tradition, I could speak with the trail of voices. I could talk with my own voice, and the process of my words could change the structure of the story. I could speak indirectly if I wanted. Talking about one thing while meaning another.
The Judeo-Christian heritage, which is full of stories of expanding boundaries, and church, where I heard those stories, have been a part of my middle-class life also.
I think I am a Christian because of the words in the Bible. The sturdiness of them. The oratures of them.
He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not torn under them.
He hast set a bound that the waves may not pass over, that they turn not again to cover the earth.
Will ye not tremble at my presence, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea; and though its waves toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over.
I felt an unformedness I wanted form for. Or maybe I wanted boundaries for. It was through words. The stories of them. Their storyness. It was the Word God held out as a pole for me to take a hold of.
There is something in the Bible. A relativity of changeableness, yet an absolute dry-ground in the flood. The waves could come so far, but no farther. Jesus was a construct of voice and a centering in the turmoil I felt.
Sometimes, even in the Native American experience, I hear about Jesus.
In the Newberry Library, during a research fellowship, I found a story.
Now here is a Ute Sundance story told by Mollie Cloud.
this is about the Sundance, it was long time ago; there were two of them, an old man and an old woman, she was his mother, the one who acted as his mother; and he was lonely, the (young) man was, without relatives, they had all perished (in an epidemic); so he would just hunt around, he went hunting, wandering around, through the cedar-grown country, it was around Mancos Creek long time ago;
so as he hunted around, he didn't kill (anything), he didn't kill any deer; so the next day he went out again, having killed no deer (the day before), he again went hunting; and once again he returned (empty-handed);
so then … he became very lonely; he … having no relatives; so then later on he brooded, and he became lonely; so he decided to kill himself, to shoot himself in the head, right there on the rocky slope; he was sitting on a rocky hillside, he was going to kill himself;
so then, having not yet loaded his gun, all of a sudden an owl hooted right behind him; he had hobbled his horse … where he had hobbled it … right behind it there (the owl) cried;
so he quit trying to kill himself, sitting there on the slope, sitting on the rocky hillside; then all of a sudden, for whatever reason, he got angry; "Why is it" he said, "that the owl is calling me? So that I shouldn't kill myself!" he said, he thought;
then his horse … (the owl) kept hooting toward where his horse was, the owl did; when he was sitting, when he was sitting, right behind him, it hooted; and it kept leading him toward the horse, it kept hooting; he had hobbled his horse quite a distance back;
so then, while he was sitting … I mean … he stepped (up on) his horse; then all of a sudden his … he mounted it and turned back, going home; it was very far; then when he arrived, he told his Grandmother: "being so lonely, I almost killed myself" he said, "because I was so lonely" he said; "Why are you so lonely?" asked his Grandmother, "I'm still around, you shouldn't do it!" she said;
well, the next day he went out again; he had a dream in his sleep (that night), of a deer going that way, across the rocky mesa … it was a flat rocky mesa …
so (going across that country), there were indeed tracks, of a deer going across the rocky mesa; then, the young man thought, someone was whistling right there; there was a small arroyo there, and suddenly from across it, there was a whistling; so he looked that way, he kept tracking the deer, its spoor; and right there (in front of him) there was a White-Man standing, on a white horse, all dressed in white; it was a White-Man; "What manner of dress is that?" the Young Man thought. "It must be the White-Man's way" he thought; so he stood and looked at him, and the White-Man called him: "Come here!" he told him; so the Young Man approached slowly; and the White-Man spoke to him then;
he spoke in all languages … then … eee … he spoke English (first), next he spoke Spanish, but the Young Man didn't understand … he then spoke (in the languages of) all the people who live on earth, he spoke all of them;
finally he spoke to him in his own Ute language, finally, but before that he spoke to him in Navajo … and that the Young Man understood; what the White-Man spoke last was Ute, and the Young Man understood it;
now the White-Man showed him … he showed him … he showed him his hand where he had been nailed … and his ribs where he had been stabbed; "How come you are like that?" the Young Man asked; he was indeed a whole person there was nothing … there was nothing missing about him;
the Young Man himself was sort of an orphan he understood (only) when the White-Man spoke Navajo, or in Ute; he didn't understand any English; and he didn't know anything about it, that this was the White-Man who had been nailed (to the cross) on the hillside; of what the White-Man told him he knew nothing; "Who is this one?" he wondered; and indeed, it was Jesus, it was him, he was bearded, he had long hair.
well then … the story goes … "I will talk to you now" Jesus said, "about this business yesterday of you wanting to shoot yourself in the head" he said; "You shouldn't do it, even though you may be an orphan" he said then, "I will talk to you now" he said; "It is because of his influence that you did it" he said; and lo, just next to Jesus there was a Dark Man standing, with a hook nose, like a cowboy, just like that type, wearing a big hat, with spurs, decked up in his finery, riding a well-made saddle; and his horse had fierce eyes, it was pitch black; and lo, it was the Devil himself it was him; so the Young Man stood and watched (him); it was because of his power that he was going to shoot himself in the head (the day before); that's what Jesus told him;
the Young Man was scared, watching the Devil, Jesus showed him to him; then (he said): "I am the one who stopped you (from killing yourself), disguised as an owl, I'm the one who hooted at you, I'm the one who led you away" he told him then; so the Young Man said: "Yes" he said, "I was feeling very dejected when I did it" he said, "That's why I (tried to) do it" he told him, the Young Ute told Jesus;
so Jesus told him: "I will now tell you" he said, "you … you … 'I'm lonely' that's what you said" he said; "Now I'll show you your relatives; your relatives are indeed alive, your older brother" he said, "is standing right there" he said, "indeed I've brought him here" he said;
and lo, right alongside Jesus there was a person standing, his older brother; so the Young Man stood there looking at him; "alright" asked Jesus, "do you recognize him?" he asked; "yes, he's my older brother" said the Young Man, "and he's been dead for a long time"; "No" Jesus told him, "he's not dead, he's alive, up in heaven, up there above the earth": he said, "he's alive there, (together with) many others"; that's what he told him, he told him;
then Jesus continued: "Yes" he said, "he just came to see you, because you were lonely, you said so yourself; now he knows where you live" he said; so the Young Man said: "Alright" he said, "it's alright by me" he said;
then Jesus said: "Now I am going to tell you the story" he said, "of this land, the way it is going to be in the future" he said; "right now I … right now all this land is full of Indians; but just like that (it will fill with) Whites" he said; "They'll speak all (kinds of) language, it will all be mixed" he said, telling him the story; "And these church goers, there'll be all kinds, there'll be all kinds, a jumble of congregations with all kinds of names … church goers …" he said; "They'll have (different) names, those congregations" he said; "And as to these Indians, the ones here now, the Indians, they'll become this way too; now, here standing (next to you) is the one you were longing for" he said; "So what will become of you now? These Indians (around you), they don't … understand (about all this)" Jesus continued; "So … you … we-two will now tell you about the way the Indians will practice (religion); they will eat Peyote, or they will Sundance; of the two, which one do you choose?" "The Sundance … that's the kind I choose" said the Young Man, "the Sundance. But my relatives don't practice any of it" he continued, "they don't Sundance. Of what you describe, they practice nothing. But I will practice that kind" he said;
"Now I … Alright" said Jesus; "You yourself will be the (Sundance) Chief, and I will then give you the things with which you'll do it, what you'll Sundance with, what will be done" he said … that's what he told him … so the Young Man agreed, and he did exactly that way, when he practiced the next summer; when they did it then, they just did it for practice, with only a few people;
the following summer, it was supposed to be very big, with many people doing it; and then the Sundancers were to be all dressed up exactly the same way; the Young Man also had the same outfit, with an Eagle-Whistle and all, and drums … the way they were going to do it … that's what Jesus told him, so that's why the Young Man did it (that way); and when they practiced, they did it with the singing;
now then, after having finished the practice, he … he, one Indian, an envious one, came over across, with his hat … the center pole was very, it was very tall; so he hung his hat up there (on the center pole) after they had practiced; that person went mad afterwards, and he ran away; and lo, his house … inside his hat there was a yellow (cloth) bundle (of bad medicine); he was bad-mouthing (the Sundance), he was a bad one, he did it … so he went mad;
then the Young Man … Jesus had also told him: "that … don't …" (some people) were bad-mouthing the Young Man when he practiced the Sundance; so then he … when they kept doing that to him, that crowd spoke ill of him; so later: "When they speak ill of you, I myself will (come and) take you away (to me)" that's what Jesus had told him … "When you had practiced it (the Sundance), I will take you away (to me), if they speak ill of you, that crowd …"
so then when the Young Man practiced that way, those people indeed bad-mouthed him; Jesus had told him (about it) long before that; at that time he had also told him many (other) things …
so then the next summer … the next day … the next summer when (the Sundance) was supposed to take place, he died then … just … the Young Man died, after they bad-mouthed him; there were quite a few there when he practiced, and they all were dressed exactly the same fine style; well, there was that woman inside there where the crowd (of Dancers) was supposed to be, two women; they were supposed to sit across (from the Sundancers); they weren't supposed to Sundance, only to sit; that's how it was to be, supposedly;
and he had also said … the Son of God … "You must also do like this, I tell you" he said; he told him about everything, about what will become of everything on this earth, the way it will happen, about that, he told him; The Indian will disappear, he said, with only a few surviving, alive; they will have to marry their own kin, he said then, because they would have become so few, he said;
that's how it is nowadays, just as he said, with the White-Men having become so numerous; they all go to churches, and (Jesus said that) they'd all be arguing with each other, all those religions, he told him; they … all over their churches they would be shooting each other; that's what has happened now, Jesus told him (about it), that's what Jesus said …
I myself often sit and think about it, knowing all this; I keep thinking, about that; knowing all this …
so Jesus told him about everything, about all that is on this earth; that's how it is, the way it has become; they even called-up the Indians (to serve) overseas; it has become that way …
long time ago … that way he … it was long ago, there remain other things, that he also said; this earth would break open, he said, and the water would begin to rise, he said; unless they do the Sundance, unless they run it real good and proper, unless he run it well;
that Sundance is powerful Medicine, (that's) where the Sundancing Indian would get his Medicine-power; it's that way that they've come (to have Medicine-Power); and with it in their hands, like this (gesture), they would always ward off (bad medicine); that is, if one does the Sundance well, that's what (Jesus) said, if one does it real well; that wandering young Ute was to become a Medicine man;
nowadays I often sit and think about all this; (about how) they do it the wrong way, those who do it, those who do the Sundance; it is the wrong way, it is;
it is Jesus who said it; when I think about it now … there's much more to it, what I will say, there's much more to it that (Jesus) had said; there's no end to it, the way this (the Sundance) has become; he's the one who said that … it's him, the Son of God; there's much more to it, I myself know only some of it, I don't know all of it, I don't remember (all of) what he said, what he said; whatever it be, it has become like that, the way (Jesus) said it, to him, to the Ute man, it's what he said, to the Medicine-Man; I've said it now, this is just about as far as I know, not very much …
Jesus told him this, to him, to the Ute man: "when you return when you go back home … when you go back, I'll give you one horse" he told him then; so then later the Young Man went back, back home … "That horse will catch up with you" he had told him; "It'll be a black spotted one, a small one, not very big"; and indeed that happened;
but then he couldn't, when he was going back home he couldn't catch it; he came along it four, three (times); but it kept disappearing that-a-way; and then afterwards it would come back, but the Young Man didn't carry anything (to catch it with), he didn't have anything, he wasn't carrying a rope with him, so he didn't catch it then; heee … circling around four times with the horse, he kept coming up to it as he was returning home; but he didn't have … anything with which to catch it; that one … that horse … that's the one that the Young Man was supposed to ride going all over this land; he had said that, he had told him, God … the Son of God; the Young Man saw him; then when he returned home he … then … it was like that … he didn't catch it, the horse ran way, that-a-way; it was supposed to be gentle, the horse, it was supposed to be a good one;
I sit and think about it, this is the story they used to tell me, my long-gone relatives; that's how come I know it, about how the Sundance used to be …
(Here the speaker digressed into how the Sundance is currently done.)
so the young man … he returned home then, and he lived on; but later he died; he is the one who told (his people) about the Sundance; but he did not do it himself; he died (before that);
after he died, when he was lying in state, a rainbow appeared, right above; and everything was there (on the funeral pyre), everything, what the Ute man would have worn dancing, Sundancing, it was all there, the bundle he would have (carried), his eagle whistle, what he was supposed to wear, and whatever else he had; he had done it all properly, it was like that … he was a real Indian;
that's what she said … she used to tell me this, my late mother, when she told me stories … I have told it now, where it all comes from; this is as far as it goes, what I know. (The Ute name for the Sundance, "tagauwunuvaci," means "standing hungry." In this story it is referred to most often as "tagu-nhkapi" ["hunger-dance"]. Sometimes it is also referred to simply as "wunu-vaci" ["standing"]. Some speakers say that the name of the Young Ute man who received the Sundance from Jesus was "tuu-naci-too-pu" ["Black Cane"]. He is said to have been the older brother of Peter Spencer, and thus, the son of a Ute man named "nuu-saaquaci" ["Ghost Person"].)
Those Sundances would go on in secret. The Indian couldn't practice his religion openly until the Religious Freedom Act of 1978. For nearly a hundred years the Sundance was illegal. It wasn't the tradition my father was from anyway. He'd come from northern Arkansas, where his father had been a country doctor and his mother a Cherokee woman. His religion came in the form of church.
My father also liked to travel. From Kansas City, we made trips to my grandparents' farm in Kansas and my father's mother in Viola, Arkansas We went to California to visit my Aunt Helen, and to Itasca State Park in Minnesota.
When we lived in Indiana, we went to Lake Michigan and the sand dunes, Turkey Run State Park, and Washington D.C., Jamestown and Williamsburg. When we lived in St. Louis, we made trips to Florida and to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, where Aunt Mu and Uncle Carl had a cabin.
I remember feeling limits, but when I look at the photo album, there was also migration.
When I was eight or nine, I had to take swimming lessons at Paseo High School in Kansas City. I still have an image of that pool. The shape of it, shallow on one end, deep on the other, something like the state of Oklahoma where I lived much of my adult life. The weight of it filled with water. I was under water, swimming for the surface. I could see light. I swam toward it. When I think back on those early years, it was my father who was the light. My Aunt Mil in her saddle shoes was the one who held out the pole. Because she was never angry with me.
I never did learn to swim.
It was an overwhelming experience that stands as a dominant image of my childhood.
That swimming pool is still in my head. I drain it with my writing. My mother's unhappiness as a mother. Her disapproval of me. Whether it was my darkness intruding upon her, or something disagreeable in me, we had conflict.
But that point of fear and drowning is the undercurrent of my writing.
Words are a netting, a surface of waves, which disrupt the joint of process. Wind patterns on the lake. Interrelated and touching one another. Though it seems they don't. I feel the frustration of words in their bondage of having to explain.
A swimming pool full of waves. That was my adolescence.
He had seven sons and three daughters … and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
Though I felt I was nothing, I knew I had an inheritance. I struggled through self-devaluation and fear and inferiority and isolation. There was a steel wire that ran though my life. Wherever it came from. A combination of several sources, probably. Self-will and determination. An aunt without children, who approved of me. A house with two parents that remained whole though broken. The words from the Bible.
He hath compassed the water with a boundary.
When I write a story, I feel those variables moving in different patterns. I think it's why I write in several genres. The imagination moves across the landscape and enters the text, and takes part in the forming of the creative act, which unites my fragments in a loose bonding, which moves to other bondings of other fragments, and makes sources of energy spots.
Writing is the creating of a source structure.
In wording and naming the act of living, the experience of shaping out of shapelessness, a determination, a determinacy, speaks a continuum of will and fortitude and not giving up.
When I was rejected and rejected and rejected, the words were still there, the writing, that is. I kept writing. And the manuscripts piled up. I sent them out, received them back, sent them out again. The title of my second collection of drama, Cargo, probably came from carrying all those words around.
Now that I'm older, I think, looking back, what it was to live my life. It was long ago and I wanted to write and I wrote when my two children napped, and I had a file cabinet, and then I bought another to hold what I had written. I moved it with me, from Oklahoma to Iowa to Minnesota, and twice since I've lived in Minnesota.
Words are a dynamic of self seeking connection.
Waves cropping a lake.
A lake cropping its waves.
Words are the reflection of water in the pool of the eye.
A place I was looking for
made of images of meaning.
A more-than-one on which to focus.
A flag in the wind.
Someone speaking from far way.
I can see the mouth move.
I see it like a flag in the wind.
There is a crosspool of floodings in the complexities of current. There is a voice saying, "hold on, it will connect and go somewhere," in a broken surface on which words spread into many genres.
From 1964 to 1983, I was married to Dwane Glancy. The image I have from those years was a dream I had once, early in the marriage. I was trying to drive a loaded eighteen-wheeler up a sandy incline.
Those were the years I began writing.
I also wanted to return to school. After I got my BA. at the University of Missouri, it was twenty years before I continued my education. My years as an undergraduate had been unsettled. Insecure. I couldn't study. I didn't think I could. My grades suffered.
The turmoil of my life still circled. Everything fell back on me. I worked with poetry and then story. I worked with creative nonfiction, drama, and the novel. It wasn't until 1984 that I had anything published.
Two early novels, The Only Piece of Furniture in the House and Fuller Man, written during my marriage, weren't published for fifteen years. I began Monkey Secret, my third collection of short stories, as an undergraduate at the University of Missouri. I remember writing one of the sections, "The Wooden Tub," in my first creative writing class. It was nearly thirty years before the other parts of the story were finished and published.
My historical novel, Pushing the Bear, about the 1838 Trail of Tears, the removal of 13,000 Cherokee from the southeast to Indian Territory, took nearly eighteen years to write. In the afterward, I tell how I first saw the outdoor drama in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. My daughter and I had driven from Tulsa to see it. Over the years, the many voices in the novel came to my imagination during research or travel. Or sometimes when I was doing something else, there would be Maritole or Knobowtee. It's where I heard them anyway, in the imagination. A series of voices, a story of many voices walking the trail, telling their side of it.
When I was in New York to talk to my publisher about the novel, I visited the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in the Custom House. I saw a Seminole robe which was a patchwork of color and geometric design. I thought of my novel as a patterning of voices with dialogue and conflicts unfolding in relationship to one another. When I saw a northwestern tribe "button blanket," I thought of my novel as a "voice blanket." My grandmother on my mother's side made quilts. Maybe in sewing the scattered voices together in the novel, I'm doing what she did, only in a different way.
I also thought of Pushing the Bear as the noise of voices after their sound has stopped.
The title came to me when I was at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, down among the shelves in the storage rooms. I saw a small ivory statue of an Eskimo man pushing the rump of a bear. "Pushing the Bear" came immediately to mind.
Sometimes my writing comes quickly. My next novel, Flutie, was written in 1995-96. It's the story of a young woman who is shy and cannot speak, but through circumstance and ceremony and an act of the will, she finds her voice and speaks.
I'm glad each piece comes in its own way. Writing is a continual process, changing as it goes.
I have the title for a new novel, An American Language, and something else called, The Man Who Heard the Land, is there. And something called, America's First Parade, is there after that. I feel my words coming and coming. I don't think I'll ever get them all down.
I have a piece of dialogue from An American Language. "Imagine a place without its own language. Well, it has a language. It's just not its own."
I was thinking about our American language when I was traveling in Germany recently. I said that I felt limited when I traveled because I only had one language. But someone said, "It's the right one."
At the conference in Munich, I was talking about the experimentation I liked to do with the American language. I talked about the possibilities of changing syntax. The possibilities for opening the language to accommodate minority and women's voices. How in not having ownership over language, it expands to do what you want to do as a writer. The Germans said that the German language didn't have that capacity. If you changed a word in German, or tried to stretch it, you'd feel that something was wrong.
Maybe our language is more fluid. Elastic. It's what I want language to be, anyway.
It's also what I want genres to be. I think it's why I began experimenting with the short-story collections I wrote. My first two short fiction books, Trigger Dance and Firesticks, were written in Oklahoma, where I lived with my husband and children. They contain first-person narratives and short short fiction pieces as well as traditional short stories. Firesticks begins with a story about Louis, who is colorblind and tries to imagine color. The book then continues with a personal essay, then a poetic piece about a truck driver, and then the first section of the title piece, "Firesticks." Then there's another personal-voice piece and another chapter of "Firesticks." Then more stories and personal-voice pieces with more parts of "Firesticks" woven between them. I think I wrote the book that way because I felt the fragmentation of my own life, and of my father's heritage, in the breaking up of a solid place.
I've already mentioned Monkey Secret, my third collection. It is also a broken-voice piece. The book is three short stories followed by the novella, "Monkey Secret." That monkeys were once men was an idea I got from the Popol Vuk, the Mayan council book.
On the cover flap, the editor, Reginald Gibbons, writes:
Glancy's tales of Native American life explore the essential American territory, the border-between: between past and present, between native and immigrant cultures, between self and society.
The short novel, "Monkey Secret," combines traditional Native American storytelling and contemporary narrative techniques to explore the coming of age of a young girl of mixed race and heritage in rural northern Arkansas. Jean Pierce narrates her passage from childhood to maturity with typically Native American circularity and digression. Each chapter of "Monkey Secret" is like a single perfect bead on a string; Jean's impressionistic vignettes—growing up with her extended family at their farm in Haran, Arkansas, spending summers at the cabin on Bull Shoals Lake, depparting for college and returning to find her mother dying—are threaded with the twin strands of her complex culture and her desperate love for her cousin Cedric.
In its gaps and hesitations, the qualifications of thought and feeling, the meditative self-reflexiveness, Glancy's work interrogates narrative form while revealing the individuality and authenticity of her characters.
I had wanted to call the novella, "Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman," but I knew I couldn't get into those waters. It's about a young woman who lives in the crevice between the Christian world of her father and the mythic Cherokee world of her mother, and uses words to bridge the two irreconcilable worlds that are always moving apart from one another. One of the sections in the novella, however, is called "Sketches of an Artist as a Young Woman." I remember visiting Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas when we went to see my father's mother. I remember being in a rowboat on big water. I also used the experiences I had at my Uncle Carl's cabin on the Lake of the Ozarks.
During my 1995-96 sabbatical year at Macalester College, I finished my fourth collection of short stories, The Voice That Was in Travel. It also moves between the personal and distant voice, but there is more of a "settledness" of pieces.
In 1995, Trigger Dance was translated into German and published by S. Fischer in Frankfurt. It's the reason I've traveled to Germany several times for readings and conferences. I also went to Italy, Syria, and Jordan for U.S. Information Service tours.
Creative nonfiction is a genre with a moving definition. Memoir, autobiography, diary writing, journal keeping, travel pieces, essays on various subjects, assemblages of experiences and reflections, and experimentation with the variables of composition. Claiming Breath and The West Pole are collections of creative nonfiction, combining lectures and book reviews with personal essays and fragmented prose pieces, all the while moving between traditional and disconnected writing styles, shifting the text, breaking into the sentence structure. Expanding the boundaries. Somehow communicating the ideas.
I'm now working on my third book of creative nonfiction called, In the Spirit of the Mind.
I have nine manuscripts of unpublished poetry I work on at various times. The Relief of America, The Deer Rider, Asylum in the Grasslands, (Ado)ration, Generally He Gave Us Plenty of Room, Necessary Departures. Well, two of them, Still Life with Mazie in the Cornfields and Warrior Woman are chapbooks, and Passionate Visions is a selected work.
Drama is a fifth genre field. War Cries is a book of nine of my plays. Cargo is my second. "Lesser Wars," "American Gypsy," "Cargo," "Jump Kiss," and "The Woman Who Was a Red Deer Dressed for the Deer Dance" are the plays I've worked on recently.
Now I'm working on a piece called, "The Women Who Loved House Trailers." The main characters are three women: Oscar, a welder, Jelly, a weaver of strips of birchbark into small canoes, and Berta, a collector of stories.
Like "The Woman Who Was a Red Deer Dressed for the Deer Dance," which was written after I saw a red papier-mâché dress made by visual artist Carolyn Erler, this piece will also be interdisciplinary.
The house trailers will be the three women who come to terms with themselves. The house trailers will be their roaming hearts. The house trailers will be the groups of their extended families they learn to accept. The house trailers will be the moving stories of their different lives. The house trailers also will be the cultures of several continents, which is another addition to the multidimensional aspect of the new wave of oral tradition I'm trying to create, which is interlocking cultures. Well, I'm just beginning to write this fictional/poetic/dramatic piece, and already I can see the long trail. Jelly will make wheels for her canoes. Oscar will weld wheels. Berta's stories will be mobile. In the three women's relationships, their problems and limitations will be made portable and rolled away. With love and blow kisses from the welder's torch.
Native American storytelling is an act of gathering many voices to tell a story. One voice alone is not enough because we are what we are in relationship to others, and we each have our different way of seeing. NA writing is also an alignment of voices so the story comes through. A relational stance is the construct of the writing. In my short stories, poems, and creative nonfiction I can follow the rules of conflict/resolution, one point-of-view, plot, and the usual, but there is something essential in Native storying that is not included, which is a migratory and interactive process of the moveable parts within the story. It's also the element of Native American oral tradition told with what it is not—the written word—then returned to what it is by the act of the voice. There's not a name for it in the genre field, but I'mm trying to give solid nomenclature to something that is a moving process, and resists naming, other than a new oral tradition.
I think writing exists, in part, for healing, not only in the writer, but also for the reader/hearer. For instance, in Navajo sand paintings, the painter aligns the design in the sand to the hurt in the one needing healing, and the alignment draws the hurt into the painting, and the painting is destroyed, and the ailment along with it. Storying should do the same. It is much needed in a culture with a high alcoholism rate, poverty, and a struggle for racial esteem.
America is taking out of the melting pot what didn't melt: our voices and styles of storytelling. We are a fractured, pluralistic society, which our art should reflect. I think understanding cultures is the byword for our society. It seems to me that art is the medium for understanding not only the differences between cultures, but within cultures as well. There is a vast difference between the Plains Indian and the Woodland cultures.
Sometimes, in the long cold of a Minnesota winter, I think about my writing. Especially when I'm chopping ice that's several inches thick on my sidewalk. Especially when I'm shoveling snow. The last storm, my snow shovel froze in a mound of old snow where I'd jabbed it. I had to shovel with a shovel with a broken handle.
At night, when the ice on the roof shifts, the house moans and knocks with stories.
Over the years, I have written because I was hungry for words.
I have written because I was cold.
I think I've waited my whole life to teach, travel, read my poetry and fiction in bookstores and at conferences.
Like my father, I want to be on the road. The autumn of my sabbatical after receiving tenure, I had a fellowship at the Provincetown Art Center in Massachusetts, I drove from St. Paul to the other side of Cleveland the first day. And from the other side of Cleveland to Provincetown. 1465 miles in two days.
There was something I had to get through. Maybe like a piece of writing.
There were names I found, like Ashtabula County in Ohio, I had to get down.
And there were the trucks—Yellow Transit. National Carriers. Transcontinental Registered Lines. Roadway. Consolidated Freight. Wells Fargo. j B. Hunt.. North American. Burlington. Falcon. Tuscarora. Mayflower.
Some without names.
The turnpikes east of Wisconsin are walled cities. I felt locked on the highway with the truckers. But I was away from classes and department and committee meetings and grading papers.
There were seven tollgates through Chicago alone where I waited in the exhaust of their dust.
Alter two days by myself on the road, weary and spaced, my sense of identity, which is tied to place, was gone. I was one of those nameless trucks floating over the road. Disconnected. But in the movement of my car was place, I remembered. Migration was a state.
And I was in the walled city of my car.
If I could be from anywhere, it would be Ashtabula. If I could be with anyone, it would be one of those truckers. Those wedding-cake grooms up there decorated with lights. I would follow his truck across the Atlantic, if there was a highway there.
My children are grown and my relatives are gone, and I am with my words now.
Water I can't swim.
Water you are blank as I am.
Water you can swim.
Water you can hold me up.
Sometimes I think of my father, who left his rural Cherokee heritage to be a real American—a Boy Scout leader—a provider for his family. I remember the hollowness and anger in him because he had a blank place wheree heritage should have been.
But I had a doll cart with two wheels my father made, and I'd pull my two dolls to a weeded lot by my house and play there all day mashing berries for food, playing out what was in my imagination. There was a life of the mind in which there was the making of metaphor, a development and insight into the relationship of parts—the likeness of differences—the difference of likenesses—the connectives and disconnectives—the making of something. I thhink I continue pushing my doll cart to the woods with my writing.
Because I didn't have music or mathematics or science—I made analogies. I made stories. But the principles of discovery and relationships may be the same.
The language of the imagination has the function of talking through the connections which underlie things. I am in a relationship to something outside myself. I have a connection to words, and as I work, they connect with something larger.
I feel the variability. The layering of expanding thought processes, the opportunities, the options, the embellishment and elaborations. I generate my own life in the development of thought through words.
I have a reliable construction of change and the unexpected. I have a gist of certainty. My writing is a generator. A source of Something—of words—of reasoning—
They brought me to the place where I am now. It's a full life full of ordinariness, really. I had twenty years as a wife and mother. I've been divorced thirteen. My children are on their own in different cities. This was a time dreaded by my mother's generation in the fifties. What do you do after the children are gone? Who are you outside your husband and family?
Those years with my children were meaningful—and I miss them sometimes. But now I get up in the morning and have coffee and read the newspaper and go to my word processoor and go through my thoughts, and go back through them, and find that road into what I am saying. I guess it's always been Main Street under the Elms.
I remember the decency of my parents despite their problems and economic straits—the unfairness they knew. My mother as a woman. My father as a man who had to live without part of himself. I remember the ddisillusionment, the boredom, I guess, of their marriage. The tediousness of life we all know. My anger at them—
But the carcasses of cattle hung upside down in the stockyards where my father worked, and Christ hung right side up on his cross in church. There was faith in the bloodshed of Christ for the atonement of our shortcomings and sins. Christianity as a strained metaphor, so to speak. A thought process that links. Something like sand, which can be a boundary of the sea and a conduit of healing in a painting.
I have my own life now. I have a small house in St. Paul. When it's twenty degrees below or when there are twenty inches of snow in one afternoon, my brother calls from Missouri and asks what I'm doing there. But I can shovel my walk and mow the lawn and reach the windows when I wash them. I have a sense of self in my thinking, which is an internal landscape. There are elements in the world that could wipe me out, but I have a heritage of survival. I just have to hold on to it.
Somewhere as a child, the cold-and-hunger dance passed into me. Awkward. Intrusive. A routine of writing and rewriting and rewriting and waiting.
But there was a Ute Sundance story circling. A mix of cultures. A change in the way of saying. A text you can't quite get ahold of. An accomplishment despite failure.
If someone is deer hunting and can't kill a deer. If someone is alone. A white man on a white horse appears. Before which he'd been an owl. Speaking languages until after he finds the Ute to speak. The Devil on a black horse causing the Ute to deconstruct. The white man showing the Ute his dead relatives while deer hunting and not killing deer. A forecast of the mix of American culture. Religions of varied interpretations. A Sundance to dance a certain way. It was the Ute's choice. Jesus would take him away if anyone laughed. It seems they did. Though the Ute only practiced the Sundance and couldn't really do that. Nor a small black spotted horse the Ute couldn't catch. Robust and he didn't quite have the rope with which to catch. Couldn't seem anything in the haplessness of his story. But the horse was there anyway. And the rainbow appeared over.
The eagle-whistle and drums after overseas service. Through bondage to the fact of slipping. Yet the Ute dying significantly. In the long cold winter of the Sundance where I live.
I am always thinking about the importance of story. I've heard many Native American writers say that our words are our most important possession. They define what we are.
Stories give us our sense of meaning. But what exactly is a story? How does it work?
Dan Taylor, in The Healing Power of Stories (Doubleday, 1996), says that "a story is the telling of the significant actions of characters over time." But where should the definition go from there?
When I was in Germany, I visited the Forum der Technik, the science museum, in Munich. On the second floor, I saw a huge DNA double helix. Somehow I thought, that's how a story works.
Our lives are made of the joining of words into stories into meaning into integral parts of our being. In the same way, maybe, that we're made of DNA, which carries the chemical traditions from generation to generation.
There also was an explanation of genetic coding on the second floor of the museum, and though it was in German, I could see two things linking. I felt, likewise, our minds hold up their hands to hook on to a story. A possibility of meaning. The mind and the story connect and coil with other stories to form the structure of thought. There is a combining of elements.
Later, I was reminded of Reginald Gibbons's comment about the chapters of the novella "Monkey Secret" "threaded with the twin strands" of Jean Pierce's culture and her love for her cousin. There are always undercurrents working in the subconscious to make connections.
When I returned from Germany, Jim Straka, biochemist and visiting professor at Macalester College, talked to me about the DNA I had seen in Germany, since the language explaining it, as I said, had been in German. As he told me about A, T, G, C, the four bases on the strands of DNA, we agreed the DNA structure could be a metaphor for story.
There was the possibility of a correspondence. The meaning and sound of the spoken words, the hearing and interpretation of them, the telling of them again in one's own way.
The four bases holding hands. Their carefulness in which hands they hold.
The DNA making protein, which, in combination with the DNA, makes cells to make organs to make organisms. There is a circularity in the fact that DNA makes protein which is necessary to make more DNA.
As story must be heard and processed to make more story.
The drift and change.
Somehow I could make the transference.
It's always been those small connections. I lived in Oklahoma when I met Gerald Stern at a writers' conference in Tucson. He encouraged me to apply to the Iowa Writer's Workshop. I was in the farmhouse I rented in Iowa when Alvin Greenberg called from Macalester College. Could I come up and look the school over? He'd heard my name at an Associated Writing Program's conference where he had asked for names when he was thinking of changing and expanding the English Department faculty.
And I was there with determination like flint that was going to spark. I came from no intellectual tradition or background. I was supposed to be quiet, invisible, to survive. But I could feel the fortifier moving. I could feel the spark of the human mind.
I could move to Minnesota and teach. I could step to one place after another in the landscape of the classroom: writing and Native American literature. I could take one trip after another in a continual migration of readings: from the Hungry Mind Bookstore in St. Paul, to the Loft in Minneapolis, to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, to the Phillips public Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to the Summer Writer's Conference at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, to the Just Buffalo Literary Center in Buffalo, New York, to the Olean Public Library in Olean, New York, to the Conference on Christianity and Literature at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, to Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma, to the Quartz Mountain Writer's Conference for the Oklahoma Arts Institute in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, to Hope College, Holland, Michigan, to a roundtable discussion, "Myth and Ritual, Desire and Cognitive Science," at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, to a Writer's Conference at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, to the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, to the University of Arizona in Tucson, to the International Conference for the Short Story in Ames, Iowa, to the Arts Guild Complex in Chicago, to the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish, South Dakota, to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, to the Left Bank Bookstore for the Writer and Religion Conference at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, to the Modern Language Association presentation of my play Halfact, in San Diego, California.
I could take research trips, driving back along the Trail of Tears from Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, stopping at state parks and museums along the way. In the same two-year period, I could travel to Rosebud Reservation and drive across Montana. I could fly to the Squaw Valley Writers' Conference in California for a screen-writing workshop. I could drive to Provincetown, Massachusetts, for a month's fellowship. Another time, I could drive through New England.
I could spend two months in Australia. I could go to Japan in addition to the U.S. Information Service trips. All of which I've done and written about in my poems and stories and novels and creative nonfictions.
I could read for Fiction Collective II, the University of Oklahoma Press, and the Native American Prose Award for the University of Nebraska Press. I could be on the 1995 National Endowment for the Arts panel, the Jerome Travel Grant panel, and serve as judge for several poetry competitions, such as the National Federation for State Poetry Societies.
I could follow the turns of narrative truth in their pivotal and moving processes. Their several directions and points of departures and returns. I could see truth as a collaborative work, a country of imagination, a series of integral histories integrated into how one reads the narrative.
In other words, my words could be about the impossibility of arriving at one place of wholeness, but getting somewhere in the neighborhood.
I could feel the parts of myself, unthreaded by my name also. Helen Diane Hall Glancy. With an Indian name someone gave me that means "Happy Butterfly Woman." A name I would need in the moving and changing places I've lived my life. I was named after my Aunt Helen, my mother's sister. But I've never been called by that name, though it appears as my name on official documents. And my married name, Glancy, speaks of an Irish heritage I don't have.
But when I married, a long time ago, I don't remember the option of keeping my own name, Diane Hall, or returning to it once I had children.
I've turned one blank space after another forming my identity, but all those spaces, threaded one after one, coiling together like rope, is who I am.
GEOGRAPHIES OF LANGUAGE
Diane Glancy contributed the following update in 2004:
I am a sojourner as my fathers were.
I can't put my finger on it as yet. But I feel the borders of it. A book of roads.
I find notes I've made of the land. The late October trees were red; the sky, mauve; the underclouds, a brownish, rust red. On that particular trip on I-94 across North Dakota, I listened to the Psalms as I traveled—they rolled by as a moving landscape—the Psalms were taken out of their numbered order, though I knew that each verse had iits place within the Psalm, and that each Psalm had its place within the Psalms, and that the book of Psalms had its place among the other books in the Old Testament. But listening while driving, instead of reading in a chair in my room, the Psalms traveled the road.
A stunting of Psalm 136:
to him who paved the earth above the waters
to him who made the sun to rule the day
the moon the stars to rule the night
who struck Egypt in their firstborn
and brought Israel out from among them
who divided the Red Sea
and made Israel pass through
but overthrew Pharaoh and his army
to him who led his people through the wilderness
who slew kings and gave their land for a heritage.
Who is this God? I still ask. It is the same God the people believed in who came to this country and displaced the native tribes. But it is this God who gave meaning to my life. I hear his voice in the migration across the land, maybe the same way my ancestors knew the Maker by their movement across the land, only now I know his name is Christ. Migration was not only to get from one place to another, summer to winter camp, or following buffalo herds during the hunt, but migration was a process for the development of oneself as a human being—for knowing one's relationship to the larger, spiritual realm.
I made note of the outgoing of the evening across the North Dakota furrows: the land was a roadshow. Words from the land filled the hollow of driving across it. I liked the migratory aspect, the spatial positioning. I saw the earth by the geography of its language.
On another trip, this time down I-35 to visit my family in Kansas City, a duck flapped its wings to get over the interstate, not graceful, not soaring hawk-like over the road. Often I feel I flap like the duck to possible marshlands or wetlands that may be nearby. There are long streaks across the sky where planes crossed. I make this trip once a month, sometimes more, while teaching full time and traveling to conferences and readings. 439 miles. Six and a half hours. A stop in Des Moines for gas and two short rest stops. On the road, because I have done it so often, there is a sense of purpose, of destination, of task, of achievement. I am cut off from small duties. I am connected to larger ones: thought, endurance, survival. There is a heightened sense of being when I am on the road.
My road trips began as a child. My mother's parents lived on a Kansas farm seventy miles south of Kansas City, Missouri. I don't remember exactly how many times we traveled there, but according to the photos in my mother's old album, it was often. I got used to going. My father's mother was in Arkansas, though we didn't travel there often.
While I was growing up, my father worked for Armour's and was transferred several times: from Kansas City, Missouri, to Indianapolis, to St. Louis, to Reading, Pennsylvania, back to Kansas City, to St. Joseph, Missouri, to Denver, to Chicago, to Iowa. The old packing houses with wooden floors were deteriorating. It was my father's job to make recommendations: leave them for a few more years or take them down.
I have moved many times on my own. I also drove for a living. During the 1980s, I was Artist-in-Residence of the State Arts Council of Oklahoma, getting out my Oklahoma map every Sunday, finding the small western Oklahoma town where I would spend a week, teaching writing, helping students read their work in front of a class, and whatever else the teacher required.
Travel has been a part of my writing process also. For Pushing the Bear, my novel of the 1838-39 Cherokee Trail of Tears, I drove the nine hundred miles from New Echota, Georgia, to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. It was in driving the land, that I found the voices of the characters. For Flutie, my novel of a native girl so shy she couldn't speak, I made trips from Minnesota back to Oklahoma to pick up images of the land and to remember the voices. For Stone Heart: A Novel of Sacajawea, about the young Shoshoni woman who traveled with Lewis and Clark, I spent the summers of 2000 and 2001 following the Missouri and Columbia rivers from Fort Mandan, North Dakota, to Fort Clatsop, Oregon, while listening to The Journals of Lewis & Clark on tape. The second summer, I continued onto Texas, for the wedding of my son, a journey of nearly six thousand miles from St. Paul back to St. Paul.
For the Native American, stories often were embedded in journey, and the journey or migration usually was followed by teepee-drawings depicting experiences during the journey. Now a journal replaces the drawings:
The sun will not smite you (Isaiah 49:10) was the verse I started with on the second, longer trip—comforting since I was going to make a long, circular journey that included a drive through the Nevada desert on my way to Texas. Amusing also, because June 24th when I left, I passed through a downpour west of Minneapolis around 7:00 a.m. I wrote: lightning, thunder, downpour, miles of incoming traffic, water across the road in low places, thunder, lightning, a lighter sky, windshield wipers down a notch. Open sky. Open road.
I had several purposes for the trip: a poetry conference in Oregon, continued research on Stone Heart: A Novel of Sacajawea for the two hundredth anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the wedding. The previous summer I had driven along the Missouri and Columbia rivers, but had not been through the Bitterroot Mountains in Idaho, especially the two mountain passes, Lemhi and Lolo, where Lewis and Clark nearly starved and froze to death in the late autumn of 1805.
Lemhi Pass in Idaho is on a single-lane dirt road that climbs through the pines to just over seven thousand feet, and then descends. I had several boxes of books to take to the conference, my wedding clothes for my son's wedding in Texas, a large suitcase for the twenty days I would be gone, a small bag to carry into the motel at night. I even had my grandson's car seat in the backseat my daughter had given me the last time I was in Kansas City so they wouldn't have to carry it to the wedding in Texas on the plane. I also travel with a file box where I keep projects on which I'm working, another box of maps and tablets of paper and books on tape such as the Bible and The Journals of Lewis & Clark. I had a case of Chippewa Spring Water. I also had my old cat carrier because my son found a litter of four motherless kittens, and I was going to bring back one or two. Of course, I had my lap top and portable printer. A large purse. Hanging clothes. Loose shoes and assorted other articles. A few rocks and pine cones I picked up along the way. All this I took up the hairpin curves and dust of the dirt road to Lemhi pass, my ears popping in the altitude, my car continuing to climb.
My car had 65,161 miles on the odometer when I left June 24th. It had 71,110 miles when I returned July 13th. The car was a few boxes of books lighter. But basically everything returned with me in good order. I even forgot to leave the car seat at my daughter's when I passed through Kansas City on I-35 on my way back from Texas to Minnesota. But I would be returning the next weekend for my second grandson's Dedication. I also returned with my cat carrier, though I left the cats in Texas.
After the poetry conference, I drove to Texas: south through Oregon, northern California into Nevada because I wanted to see Walker Lake and Grant Mountain where the Ghost Dance began, an interesting phenomena among Native Americans in the late nineteenth century. When I write about something, I have to be on the land where the story happened. I pick up the setting, and a sense of the story. Land informs the piece. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? (Psalm 137:4) How can I write words that don't connect to the land? I think the land somehow carries the voices that have passed there, or some vestige of them. It's where I get the words I write. As I am finishing one project, such as Sacajawea, I like to start another. Or several others. This new project is called, The Dance Partner, and is about the Ghost Dance, or the Messianic dances that took place among the Native Americans when they realized their way of life was coming to an end. No one knows what happened, but after reading an account by Kicking Bear, it seems like there was divine intervention, or some sort of revival, to prepare the Indians for what was ahead. Did Christ appear in America to the Indians in visions and dreams during the Ghost Dances from 1888-1890? Does anything like that happen any longer? Did nothing happen and it only seemed like something? It was an issue I wanted to pursue.
I picked up a rock from Walker Lake, made some notes, and continued the trip. From Nevada, I crossed into Arizona at Hoover Dam. Ahead, there was a checkpoint before the drive across the dam. There was a line of cars and a long wait. Maybe it was slow because it was tourist season. Maybe it was the aftermath of 9/11, cars pulled off to the side, trunks open. Then I drove across Arizona, New Mexico, and into Texas. My son now lives in Rhome which is about twenty miles northwest of Fort Worth. Those three days I drove from Oregon to Texas, all that way through the Nevada desert and the southwest, there was cloud cover. So there was the promise. It was still hot. And there was sun from time to time. But there was cloud cover and the sun did not smite me.
I like to be on the road by myself, for a while anyway. I want to do it because I can. My family is raised. I am alone. I want to do it while I still can. Besides, I couldn't figure out any other way to get everywhere I had to go with everything I needed to take. There wasn't time to go one place, fly back home, fly to another place. Research was part of the trip also.
I had worried about the long trip before I left. I worried about my responsibility for the wedding. The rehearsal dinner for thirty-seven people. The flowers. I also helped with other expenses because my son teaches high-school and his funds are limited. My daughter's-in-law parents are gone, so she had no one to help her. My former husband is gone also. I was the only parent able to help. Last winter, I received one invitation after another to give a talk or reading, for which I get paid. The money for the wedding began to collect and everything is paid for.
I also worried about my ability to drive day after day without anyone to talk to, with the loneliness of traveling alone (though I like it, as I said), of having the responsibility of deciding where to eat, where to sleep, where to stop for gas. I remember buying gas and passing the next station where it was ten cents a gallon cheaper. I remember driving in Montana and looking at my gas tank and seeing it nearly on empty and how did I let that happen where gas stations are far apart? Fortunately I made it to Billings, though I couldn't have gone much farther. I remember the motels by the traintracks I didn't notice when I checked in. The motels with thin walls and creaking doors when I was trying to sleep.
I was not around the rivers that were flooding in Texas that summer, but on the high, northern plains. My minety year-old former mother-in-law, hearing on television of the water, thinking all of Texas had flooded, and forgetting my son was on his honeymoon, called and told him to drive to the nearest hotel on high land and stay there. When she understood it was me who was in the house, she told me to do the same. As always with her, I said I would without trying to explain the situation.
I killed my first scorpion in Texas. I knew they were in the house. My son had told me. It was small, I didn't have to fight it with a broom, just lift my shoe and stomp it several times. A hawk made off with one of the four kittens. I saw him circling the next few days as I stood outside guarding the kittens when I let them out of the hot garage. My son wants them to be outside cats, and I honor what he wants, though I don't always agree.
My son is thirty-seven. I have been with him during low points in his life. He had surgery to repair holes in his lungs when he was in high school. Later, he had surgery to repair the passage that goes from the kidney to the bladder. He was in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm. Then he lived with me in St. Paul while he went to Bethel College. This was seven or eight years ago. Then he went off to Texas by himself to teach high school. At the wedding I saw him dancing with his new wife, surrounded by friends.
We have been made low. We have been brought high.
A passage I found in the Bible as I read during my travels: I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my father has appointed unto me; That you might eat and drink at my table in my kingdom (Luke 22:29-30.) I have given you a kingdom. I felt that kingdom in Texas. The kingdom of my family who had come for the wedding: my son and daughter, my son-in-law and new daughter-in-law, Joseph and Charlie, my two grandsons with a third child on the way, my brother and his family, my two cousins.
The importance of family is another aspect of native life (even though alcohol, drugs, neglect, child and wife abuse are epidemic in the poverty of reservation life).
On the return trip, I listened to a tape, The Gift of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels, by Thomas Cahill. Our values, ethics, ideas, our western civilization, itself, came from the Jews. The Jews broke cyclic thinking. All things became possible: history, the individual, even the concept of time itself. The history of the Jews is the story of God breaking into the human consciousness. We see the change from gods made with human attributes to humanity made in God's image.
It is in the private time on the road that I return to myself. Often, it is a time to think. A time of seeing in the light of the road. A time in which I pick up the rhythms of writing. The long stretches of development. Driving always is a release.
As a Christian, I have a foundation of strength, yet I'm often broken, weeping, groaning. I am made of dust, yet I am clothed with a house which is from heaven (II Corinthians 5:2). At my death, my mortality will be swallowed up into life. Sometimes I can almost feel real life start. In prayer. And those times of long travel when I feel that connection to the beyond—it is just a step into travel across the universe that must be waiting, something like the journey into the beyond during thhe Ghost Dance.
This is about a journey. It also is about contradictions:
To receive, I must give.
On the road, I often have watched the hawks with their wings outspread, gliding on the air currents that rise from passing traffic.
Christianity began with a Diaspora, an outward movement from its center. By the time John wrote the book of Revelation, he was writing to seven churches all with different understandings and practices of Christianity. By the third century A.D. Constantine ruled Rome and made Christianity the official religion and bound it to the state or Empire. This was the rise of the Catholic Church which remained until Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the Wittenberg door in 1517 proclaiming, "The Just Shall Live by Faith." Luther broke Christianity into Catholic and Protestant. The Protestant tried to return to the New Testament roots—a sense of personal commitment to Christ without a priest, but it resulted in a range of believers united mainly by their diisagreements on the interpretation of the scripture. Since the reformation, there has been further splintering of the splintered. Further denominations within denominations. (Christianity also has its brutal history of Crusades, Holy Wars, Inquisitions, and the burning of heretics that it should acknowledge, as America should hear the voices from its history.)
But somewhere in all the brokenness and contradiction, Christ reigns.
These are the words I receive. Encouragement mostly. Sometimes correction.
In Texas, there is the flat land, a few clumps of trees in the distance, the sky with clouds so bright and heavy you think Jesus will step through any minute.
Because I asked to know things. To see things I had not seen. To travel further than I had traveled. Because I asked to be more than I am. I asked to drive that migration of faith across new land. I asked for another kingdom: of travel, of road.
I have a colleague from the east coast who says the driving I do must be different from the driving she is used to. She dreads driving on the crowded roads. But my driving usually is by choice and it is on the open road. Driving in traffic at rush hour is not the road travel I'm talking about.
Returning to Minnesota, I drove north through Texas and Oklahoma. It was good to see again the red soil, the red ponds. There was a terrible rain storm as I passed through Oklahoma City. At times, I could hardly see the road, but I knew where I-35 turned right and where it veered left. Then I continued north through the flint hills of Kansas, into Missouri, staying a night with my daughter and her family in Kansas City, before continuing through Iowa back to Minnesota.
The only problem on the whole trip was inside the Minnesota border when I filled the car with gas one last time, but couldn't find my wallet. I take care of my wallet when I travel. Money, credit card and a photo i.d. are a life-line when you are miles from anyone you know. You are nothing without them. It's what people want from you. It makes the travel happen. I took everything out of my large purse, my file box of maps, and books on tape I carry in the front seat on the rider's side. I looked under both front seats. I had paid for gas in Bethany, Missouri; I was sure I put the wallet back in my purse. I had stopped at a rest stop in Iowa. Had I forgotten to lock the door? Did someone reach inside and take it? No, I was sure I had locked the doors. I couldn't figure out what had happened. I went through everything again. No wallet. I went inside with my check book. The clerk wouldn't take my check. Someone would have to come and pay. I didn't know anyone who would drive one hundred miles from St. Paul to pay for my gas. I asked to see the manager. He would only take a check if I had a photo ID. I said, it's in the wallet I can't find. We talked a long time. They had gotten too many bad checks. My check was not bad, I said. I had nowhere to turn. He finally made a call to my bank, and said he would take my check. As I got in the front seat of the car, the seat pulled away a little from the console, and I saw where my wallet had fallen. I don't know how it got there. As I said, I always take care to put it back into my large purse, which is always on the floor board in the front seat. I went back inside and told the clerk I could pay cash since I'd found my wallet, but she only wanted to write my driver's license number on the check I had given her.
It is awful to be on the road without money. It must be what it feels like to live without faith, or worse, to be near death without Christ as Savior.
It is finished, yet gird yourself. There is a long way to go.
Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written. Psalm 40:7
Are my wanderings not in a book? Psalm 56:8
Are there not many books within the book?
A book of the records of the fathers? Ezra 4:15
A book of records of the chronicles? Esther 6:1
A book of remembrance? Malachi 3:16
A book of the road?
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 175: Native American Writers of the United States, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.
Native North American Almanac, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Notable Native Americans, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995.
Booklist, August, 1996, p. 1881; March 15, 1998, p. 1201; December 15, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Flutie, p. 787; January 1, 2003, Margaret Flanagan, review of Stone Heart: A Novel of Sacajawea, p. 847.
Books and Culture, May, 2001, Wendy Murray Zoba, "The Voice that Found Her," p. 32.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 1992; June 15, 1996; February 15, 1998; September 1, 1999, p. 1331; September 15, 2002, review of Designs of the Night Sky, p. 1348; November 15, 2002, review of Stone Heart, p. 1642.
Library Journal, February 1, 1989, p. 66; December, 1990, p. 162; March 1, 1992, p. 91; April 1, 1993, p. 134; July, 1996, p. 158; November 1, 1996, p. 106; March 15, 1997, p. 70; March 1, 1998, p. 127; November 15, 1998, p. 67; September 1, 2001, Mary Margaret Benson, review of The Man Who Heard the Land, p. 233; March 1, 2002, Debbie Bogenschutz, review of The Mask Maker, p. 138; September 1, 2002, Nancy Pearl and Jennifer Young, "Native Voices, Old and New," p. 244; September 15, 2002, Howard Miller, review of American Gypsy: Six Native American Plays, p. 62; November 1, 2002, Debbie Bogenschutz, review of Designs of the Night Sky, p. 128; January, 2003, Debbie Bogenschutz, review of Stone Heart, p. 154.
Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, August, 1994, p. 28.
New York Times Book Review, April 11, 1993, p. 29; October 1, 1995, p. 32; January 5, 1997, p. 18; May 17, 1998, p. 40.
North American Review, November-December, 2003, Anne G. Myles, "Writing the Go-Between," pp. 53-58.
Publishers Weekly, February 1, 1993, p. 76; June 17, 1996, p. 47; October 7, 1996, p. 59; February 10, 1997, p. 76; March 16, 1998, p. 55; August 31, 1998, p. 57; May 31, 1999, p. 89; August 23, 1999, p. 45; December 23, 2002, review of Stone Heart, p. 43; October 6, 2003, review of The Shadow's Horse, p. 81.
World Literature Today, July-September, 2003, Howard Meredith, review of Designs of the Night Sky, p. 151.