The Massachusetts Review proudly provides resources and background information for our special issue, “A Gathering of Native Voices,” with in-depth interviews, readings, and writing prompts from the contributors. Our hope is that this website will be helpful for both personal enjoyment of the work and for students and teachers who use these works in the high school and college classrooms.
Introduction to the Issue
This issue, as it was first imagined, was set to coincide with and push back against Massachusetts’s planned celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the settlers’ arrival at Plymouth. Instead of commemorating the settler colonial narrative that surrounds the founding of Plymouth Colony, we sought instead to celebrate Indigenous narratives, not only from the Northeast but also from all of what is now the United States.
Amidst all of the events of the past few years, Indigenous writers are writing. Prolifically. So much so that author Erika Wurth (Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee) has argued that we are seeing a second Native American Renaissance. At the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, the low-residency MFA is turning out a multitude of new writers, some of whom are included in this issue. For the first time, the U.S. has a Native Poet Laureate: Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), who edited the first Norton Anthology of Native American Poetry, which was released fall of last year. It is an exciting time for Indigenous literature and art as well. Our issue features the work of Rose B. Simpson, an artist from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. Simpson’s mixed-media art, including our issue’s cover piece, works to challenge stereotypes about Native peoples, especially stereotypes about Native peoples and gender. Her work transforms everyday, overlooked objects, and makes or incorporates them into art that showcases and transforms traditional art.
The issue’s poetry and prose show the depth and range of Native writing in our current moment. We put forward work by both new and established Indigenous writers that is diverse in its aesthetics and comes from tribal people who live all over the country. These writers’ words celebrate the living, mourn for the dead, and show all of us the pain and pleasure of living in America. Some work is set on reservations, some in urban environments, and some in rural places. Some is overtly political, some is deeply personal, and some is the very best mixture of both. All feature precise images, language, or languages, and all deserve as wide and diverse an audience as the territories from which the writers come.
The Massachusetts Review is excited to offer a companion website for our special issue of Native and Indigenous writers: A Gathering of Native Voices. This site is intended to work in concert with the issue, with readings, discussions, interviews, and other resources offered by the writers themselves, as well as the guest editors. We welcome you to explore, investigate, and engage these texts and their backgrounds.
About the Mellon Grant
In January of 2020, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $2.5 million, four-year grant to the Five College Consortium of western Massachusetts, including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The grant will allow the Five College campuses to enhance the teaching, learning, and scholarship of Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS). It is one of the largest grants ever awarded to the consortium, and is one of the largest grant awards from any funder in its 50-year history.