Date of Award

5-2015

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Advisor

Margaret Lukens

Second Committee Member

Darren Ranco

Third Committee Member

Tony Brinkley

Abstract

While organization around an umbrella term such as “two-spirit” has certainly provided a great service for and revival of discussion surrounding Native non- heteronormative identity, this paper examines the movement toward more community- oriented and Nation-based scholarship around the topic. Such a conscious decision to exist outside of discourse-driven scholarship would provide the opportunity to incorporate a sense of community and acknowledge the role of collective identity in the work of Native academics. Proving that a Nation-based approach is a feasible way to explore Native non-heteronormative identity in a way that both bypasses the use of Western theory and incorporates a sense of community is the first step toward a decolonized scholarship — and not an easy one.

Though addressing the question “How do Native people move through academia, where one’s professional identity is very individualistic, while keeping their community- oriented and Nation-based identity in tact?” is absolutely unavoidable in the progression toward a more community-oriented, Nation-based approach to scholarship, this paper aims to serve as a launch pad for the discovery of the various ways in which one may respond to such a question. Ideally, the creation of a community of Native academics who address this question as it relates to various issues — not limited to only those of Native non-heteronormative identity, but across all academic disciplines — is what will make a difference in propelling Native scholarship toward a place where community-oriented and Nation-based scholarship is the respected norm.

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