Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Penelope Kelsey

Second Advisor

Cheryl Higashida

Third Advisor

Steven Lamos

Fourth Advisor

Danika Medak-Saltzman

Fifth Advisor

Charles Woodard

Abstract

Dakota literature is often regarded as an extinct and thus irrelevant oral storytelling tradition by EuroAmerican, and at times, Dakota people. This dissertation disputes this dominant view and instead argues that the Dakota oral storytelling tradition is not extinct, but rather has been reimagined in a more modern form as print literature. In this dissertation, I reconstruct a genealogy of the Dakota literary tradition that focuses primarily (but not exclusively) upon the literary history of the Santee Dakota from 1836 to present by analyzing archival documents – Dakota orthographies, Dakota mythologies, and personal and professional correspondences – to better understand how this tradition has evolved from an oral to a written form. In addition to reconstructing elements of a Dakota literary tradition, I also examine the various literary strategies and rhetorical devices used by five different writers and scholars to imagine and reimagine the Dakota nation. Specifically, I analyze the published and unpublished writings of Gideon Pond, Samuel Pond, Stephen Riggs, Ella Cara Deloria, and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Each of these five writers has used his or her translations and/or literary representations to engage in what I frame as acts that colonize and/or decolonize the Dakota nation. In this dissertation, I contend that tracing the evolution of the Dakota literary tradition will help re-conceptualize this tradition, shifting thinking away from one that configures Dakota literature as an extinct oral tradition intended for study by anthropologists toward more critical discourse that accounts for the interplay between orality, literacy, and translation, thus legitimizing the rich and complex Dakota literary tradition for future generations of writers and scholars.

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