“…the Oglalas are my tribe.”

So in my Jason Aaron review, near the end, I go on a bit of a jag about representation and about the comparative flatness of Aaron’s “Rez” compared to his Southerners, and today I came across this apparently fairly famous review/essay by the fantastic Sherman Alexie.

Of course, Frazier writes all of this with transcendent talent, with compelling metaphors and gorgeous description, and I was moved. But something troubled me, and I realized that Frazier and Big Crow had never met each other, that he knew of her only through other people’s stories and newspaper clippings. […] Does he ever admit that somebody from “the rez” has a different life experience than somebody who is just writing about the rez? Does he understand that the title of his book should have been “On Their Reservation?” As he could be accused of objectifying Big Crow, he is also guilty of objectifying the entire Oglala Nation. He claims ownership of the tribe when he states, “By blood and circumstances, I can never be an Oglala; but by long-standing affinity, the Oglalas are my tribe.” I pray that all of you understand the power of Frazier’s use of the possessive “my tribe.” I hope that you realize that an Indian and a white man can both use that possessive and mean two entirely different things.

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