Memorializing Indigenous History
A Comparative Study of Laurie D. Graham and Layli Long Soldier
When contemplating the history of Indigenous-settler relations in North America, it is important to consider whose stories are being privileged, and why. This paper will offer a comparative study of recent works by Canadian settler poet Laurie D. Graham and Oglala Lakota poet Layli Long Soldier, both of whom address stories of nineteenth century colonial violence against Indigenous people on either side of the Canada-US border. Both poets deal with similar Indigenous-settler dynamics relating to the government takeover of Indigenous lands, but they use different literary techniques to do so. In her poems “Battleford Gravesite” and “Visiting Pîhtokahanapiwiyin’s / Poundmaker’s Grave,” Graham writes about the 1885 Northwest Resistance in Saskatchewan, and the events which lead up to the hanging of eight Indigenous men, which was the largest mass hanging in Canadian history. Long Soldier writes in her poem “38” about the 1862 Sioux Uprising in Minnesota, and the eventual hanging of 38 men, which was the largest mass hanging in American history. Both of these poets question the memorialization of Indigenous history, however Long Soldier ultimately takes her process of remembering further than Graham by suggesting that memorialization should consist of both written words and embodied actions. By looking at these works together, I will investigate the role and value of memorialization of colonial history, and consider what poetry can offer in conversations about Indigenous history and reconciliation in North America.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).