Tradition and the Contemporary Queer

Mark Rifkin

in When Did Indians Become Straight?

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755455
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894888 | DOI:
Tradition and the Contemporary Queer

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Chapter 6 explores Creek scholar and novelist Craig Womack’s Drowning in Fire (2001). The novel presents a reconnection with traditional forms of family and community-making as predicated on a rejection of imposed norms of sexual moralism that are themselves embedded in efforts to justify continued U.S. control over native peoples. The novel suggests that the critique of heterosexism in the present leads toward an archaeology of the ways it came to be part of everyday Creek consciousness. More specifically, he juxtaposes different time periods to illustrate how the kinds of assaults and restrictions on native sovereignty addressed in Chapters 3 and 4 are not simply in the past but continue to constrain Creek self-understandings, including conceptions of proper homemaking and familyformation. The novel suggests that longstanding forms of collectivity organized around clan membership and town belonging remain submerged beneath the apparent ubiquity of ideologies of straightness which validate a limiting liberal conception of politics. Making visible queerness among contemporary Creeks becomes part of a project not only of revealing the presence of homoeroticism in earlier periods but of connecting resistance to the heteronorm to ongoing struggles against the U.S. management of native peoplehood.

Keywords: Craig Womack; Creeks; talwa; Oklahoma; homophobia; Crazy Snakes; Green Corn

Chapter.  19981 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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