Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 September 2020
This chapter focuses on performance at the crossroads of Native and non-Native cultures in early America. It considers in particular the literary depictions of those performative cultures and the literary productions that arose from them. Sacred, militaristic, political, juridical, theatrical, and communicative performances appear throughout colonial and Indigenous archives. Their presence deeply informs Native American literary history and increasingly drives the evolution of North American literary history. The chapter considers the literary record of strategic performances of Indianness whereby Native Americans claim authority over their identity within colonialism. It then considers how this knowledge should necessarily impact the content of literary anthologies and the literary surveys they serve. Attending to the performative cultures of early America makes visible the formative and persistent influence of Indigenous culture on non-Native expression. But it should not encourage a disregard for cultural distinctions or, more specifically, for the sacred.
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