Unpapered is a collection of personal narratives by Indigenous writers exploring the meaning and limits of Native American identity beyond its legal margins. Native heritage is neither simple nor always clearly documented, and citizenship is a legal and political matter of sovereign nations determined by such criteria as blood quantum, tribal rolls, or community involvement. Those who claim a Native cultural identity often have family stories of tenuous ties dating back several generations. Given that tribal enrollment was part of a string of government programs and agreements calculated to quantify and dismiss Native populations, many writers who identify culturally and are recognized as Native Americans do not hold tribal citizenship.
With essays by Trevino Brings Plenty, Deborah Miranda, Steve Russell, and Kimberly Wieser, among others, Unpapered charts how current exclusionary tactics began as a response to “pretendians”—non-indigenous people assuming a Native identity for job benefits—and have expanded to an intense patrolling of identity that divides Native communities and has resulted in attacks on peoples’ professional, spiritual, emotional, and physical states. An essential addition to Native discourse, Unpapered shows how social and political ideologies have created barriers for Native people truthfully claiming identities while simultaneously upholding stereotypes.
About the Author
Diane Glancy is an emerita professor of English at Macalester College. She is the author of numerous books of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, including most recently Home Is the Road: Wandering the Land, Shaping the Spirit and A Line of Driftwood: The Ada Blackjack Story. Linda Rodriguez is the author of Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, the Skeet Bannion series, and three books of poetry. She is the coeditor (with Diane Glancy) of The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East.
“This remarkable collection of stories and essays about Indigenous identity shakes off the tired tropes established under colonial dominion to bring urgency and honesty to a divisive topic. Each of the contributors brings an incredible wealth of personal narratives and emotional integrity to a much-needed conversation that is a necessary balm to the vitriol of our internet age.”—Lee Francis, executive director of Native Realities