Aesthetics, Autonomy and Contemporary Native American Writing
Chapter 2 Who’s Afraid of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn? Nationalism and Voice in Aurelia
“[I]f I am not going to nation build / I don’t need to write”1 — Elizabeth Cook-Lynn Midway through Elizabeth Cook-Lynn’s Aurelia: A Crow Creek Trilogy (1999)2 the omniscient narrator provides an account of contemporary Dakotah history. In doing so, the teller recounts how, in the not so dis- tant past, the tribe “put down their weapons and relinquished their war ponies” before setting “about making new lives in a reconstructed, yet familiar world.”3 This striking image of “a reconstructed, yet familiar world” is fundamental not only to an understanding of Aurelia, but is, in fact, something of a leitmotif within Cook-Lynn’s writing in general. Indeed, her scholarly essays and fiction are greatly informed by this con- cept of continuance, and the Crow Creek writer has reiterated, time and again, her straightforward conviction that Native American fiction must be concerned with the creation of a “nation-specific creativity and politi- cal unification.” That “unification” will, in turn, “guide the development, continuation and defense of a coherent national mythos” she argues.4 It is 1 Notebooks of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, 7. 2 Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Aurelia: A Crow Creek Trilogy (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 1999). 3 Aurelia, 157. 4 Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Anti-Indianism in Modern America: A Voice from Tatekeya’s Earth (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 35. 40 Chapter 2 hardly surprising then, that the central protagonist of Cook-Lynn’s three novel cycle, Aurelia, should be described as “a Dakota Sioux female char- acter, a storyteller and a witness”—a woman who...
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