Stoking the Fire
Nationhood in Cherokee Writing, 1907–1970
by Kirby Brown
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
314 Pages | 6 x 9 | 4 b&w illus., 1 map
Historian Rachel Caroline Eaton (1869–1938), novelist John Milton Oskison (1874–1947), educator Ruth Muskrat Bronson (1897–1982), and playwright Rollie Lynn Riggs (1899–1954) are among the writers Brown considers within the Cherokee national and transnational contexts that informed their lives and work. Facing the devastating effects on Cherokee communities of allotment and assimilation policies that ultimately dissolved the Cherokee government, these writers turned to tribal histories and biographies, novels and plays, and editorials and public addresses as alternative sites for resistance, critique, and the ongoing cultivation of Cherokee nationhood. Stoking the Fire shows how these writers—through fiction, drama, historiography, or Cherokee diplomacy—inscribed a Cherokee national presence in the twentieth century within popular and academic discourses that have often understood the “Indian nation” as a contradiction in terms.
Avoiding the pitfalls of both assimilationist resignation and accommodationist ambivalence, Stoking the Fire recovers this period as a rich archive of Cherokee national memory. More broadly, the book expands how we think today about Indigenous nationhood and identity, our relationships with writers and texts from previous eras, and the paradigms that shape the fields of American Indian and Indigenous studies.
“Stoking the Fire is a major reevaluation of Cherokee literature in the first half of the twentieth century. Kirby Brown’s analysis of Lynn Riggs sets the gold standard for Riggs scholarship going forward.”—Jace Weaver, author of The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000–1927
“Stoking the Fire not only introduces readers to neglected authors and nearly unknown writers, making a persuasive case for their significance, but it also significantly advances the critical case for the perseverance of Cherokee modes of belonging throughout the first decades of the twentieth century. Kirby Brown’s tribalist history of Cherokee writing fills in conspicuous gaps in the record and gives us the opportunity to reclaim a too hastily dismissed past.”—Joshua B. Nelson, author of Progressive Traditions: Identity in Cherokee Literature and Culture