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On crossing this border, the Natives must assume a new, all-Indigenous, identity: they are stripped of their English names and told to hide Western features such as blue eyes or blonde hair behind black wigs and brown contacts. The resulting community is a homogeneous mass of people who share the same looks, the same colonial history and, supposedly, the same vision of an anti-Western and anti-colonial future. Since utopia in literature aspires to represent a radically different alternative, this form of writing inescapably encounters and questions its own representational borders.

Utopia is not an exclusively Western format. The inhabitants of these utopian enclaves pursue a way of life notably different from mainstream culture. In Bearheart , the Red Cedar Circus is a fictional Indigenous nation that was created as a peaceful sanctuary from repressive tribal governments. In contrast, the Territories in bird do not grant the Indigenous people more freedom than the society they previously lived in. Yet the Territories are not a sanctuary; the inhabitants feel trapped and hopeless.

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What Courtney feels is the weight of a traumatic history of colonization shared by all the inhabitants of the Territories, a collective pain threatening to stifle her. Colonial wars and ideology alongside enduring neo-colonial forms of oppression have damaged Indigenous cultures and caused deep-seated, transgenerational trauma.

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Nevertheless, like many cultures that survived catastrophe, Indigenous people imagine decolonization and alternate societies in their stories:. There are no Indian cultures in the United States that remain wholly unaffected by the presence of Euro-Americans … In effect, the old world of our ancestors has come to an end … This is not to say that the worldview that previously informed the cultures has also become defunct.

It simply means that American Indians are in the process of building new worlds—worlds that are true to our history but cognizant of present realities. Gross, Indigenous utopias are not simply pleasurable speculation, but address the very serious question of survival in light of colonial trauma.

In contrast, reservations in bird imply a history of colonial oppression that is foregrounded, rather than glossed over. In bird , Indigenous separatists are mocked. Significantly, white tourists disappear in both places: Linda, the mother of John Savage in BNW is discovered on an Indigenous reservation decades after she vanished in the New Mexican desert, while a group of forty tourists inexplicably goes missing in bird. However, the novels differ in their treatment of Indigeneity and history.

In BNW , the obsolete nature of traditional values is emphasized by their association with Indigenous people who, according to conventional colonial code, represent bygone times. Stereotypes addressed in this manner in bird include the belief that all Natives have long black hair, hence those with brown or blonde hair must dye it black or cover it up with a wig; and that all Natives hunt buffalo and eat meat, which is why Courtney is forced to give up her vegetarianism after moving to the Territories.

King, 53— The Territories are marketed as the last enclave of pure nature and uncorrupted ancient civilization, and the inhabitants are exploited by companies.

The harm this exploitation causes is exemplified by the desperate act of a character called Cat Stand who, as a girl, had been the face of a successful US-American milk commercial. Even though she survives, she is left mute and subsequently unable to speak out against her rapist, a metaphor for the many unheard, abused and silenced Native women in US-American history, on and off reservations.

The irony, however, is also evident: even in attempted suicide, Cat cannot escape the role of representative of her culture; she will be read as an Indigenous signifier regardless of her own wishes. Indigenous utopia in bird thus dislodges the utopian tradition. Offering a critique of contemporary society, this form of utopia is explicitly concerned with the ongoing violence of colonial history. The speculative reimagination of Native stereotypes and quest for meaningful ways to articulate trauma through narrative is a premise for a better, decolonial future, i.

Not surprisingly, bird shows utopia at the border: using a familiar Western narrative form to discuss Indigenous history and futures also means exploring the limits of a genre that has itself been associated with Western progress and colonial ventures into Indigenous land.

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By directing the gaze to the margins of the literary canon where Arnold Krupat has famously located Indigenous voices, bird investigates how Indigenous literatures should treat utopia. Of course, the question of whose utopia is not hard to answer. They offer refuge to a society the West has deemed simpler, more fragile, and antithetical to their own fast-paced capitalist culture.


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The creation of the Territories thus has a distinct colonial flavor. Conservation Act —n. Jones, This, they state,. As this report reveals, the colonial task of civilizing Indigenous people is driven more economic interest than Christian mission. Reservations were the end product of Removal, a process that was supposed to clear the land for settlers and relocate Indigenous nations further West. It is a term frequently used in legal documents, for instance in bills passed by US Congress, to designate the region beyond US state borders to which Indigenous people were being removed throughout the 19th century.

Federal laws subsequently prohibited Natives from leaving the reservation. Removal, however, was only a temporary solution:.

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Of course, moving Indians around was not enough. Native people were always in the way, always under foot. God knows North America spent a great deal of time and money—Allotment in , Termination and Relocation in the s, Termination once again in the late s, but this time in Canada—trying to find places to put them. King, Under the guise of reversing colonization, the fictional Conservation Act thus perfects it.

The Territories constitute the consummate form of American Indian Removal policy: relocated to two of the least populous states, Indigenous nations have arrived at their final, government-mandated destination.

The Bird is Gone: A Manifesto

During her investigation, Agent Chassis Jones moreover comes across what seems to be the remainder of another kind of forced removal. While millions of Indigenous people crossed the border into the new Territories, white families seem to have been forcefully removed from the Dakotas. Among them, apparently, was Enil Anderson, a white US-American citizen who later visits the Territories and becomes one of the forty missing tourists. The son is nowhere to be found.

Chassis Jones] told him, an introduction. In this function, her mission is to uncover hidden mechanisms and lay them bare for the reader to see. Pink eye was all the rage. All the Councilmen had it for the [AllSkin basketball] tournament. They were so Indian the anthropologists launched themselves past with catapults, shutters clicking. It was like a plague of locusts. A colonial logic seems to pertain to the utopian belief in perfectibility, radical purity, and spatial separatism. Of course, utopia itself has moved on from these notions.

The heterogeneity of utopia is precisely what makes it a viable concept for Indigenous writers. As Sargent points out, postcolonial writers make use of the larger concept to lay bare colonial structures while negotiating the possibility of a utopian future created on their own terms Sargent, a: — The Territories are a colonial reality and, even though their specific shape is a fictional construct, in bird there is nothing hypothetical or speculative about their horrors.

That those tribes cannot exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.

Such has been their fate heretofore, and if it is to be averted—and it is—it can only be done by a general removal beyond our boundary and by the reorganization of their political system upon principles adapted to the new relations in which they will be placed. The experiment which has been recently made has so far proved successful. Jackson, The existence of the Territories is crucial for the US-American self-image: they constitute a part of a purer past, a pastoral idyll that according to the logic of Manifest Destiny had to give way to progress and civilization.

Its preservation provides American civilization with historical depth. On crossing the border into the Territories, then, tourists are permitted a rare glimpse into the past. The fact that only a small number of them are granted visas—and only to visit the border towns—further contributes to the myth.

Without tangible information about life in the Territories, Americans are free to project their dreams of utopia onto them. The dysfunction caused by transgenerational trauma triggers suicides, PTSD, rape, murder, and domestic abuse, raising the question of essence within this hollowed-out utopian dream. While piecing together the puzzle of the vanishing Americans—in this case the white tourists—the reader finds themselves asking whether utopia can be Indigenous at all.

Part murder mystery, part declaration of independence, The Bird is Gone: A Manifesto takes Native American writing where it has never gone before - into a future where the Dakotas are Indian Territory again. The Traditionals now cling to their microwaves, while the Progressives live on the grassland with the buffalo. Everybody in the place is listening: Mary Boy, the Jesus tattoo on his arm still bleeding; Cat Stand, about to peel off her last undershirt; Back Iron, checking the run in his nylons; and LP Deal who, in spite of the AllSkin tournament under way and the swarm of anthropologists at the border, is writing it all down.

Stephen Jones writes with a whole new aesthetic and moral sense. He doesn't sound like any of the rest of us, and I love that.

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And yet, extraordinarily, its originality never overwhelms its humanity. What a thrill it is to see the world through Stephen Jones's sensibility. Every year more and more jobs are out sourced to other counties, in total 14 million jobs have been out sourced to other countries by US companies though out the years. This jobs loss is due to corporations wanting to make more money, rather than helping the average American by providing them a job.

Most of all of Fords factories for car manufacturing are overseas except their manufacturing plant in Wayne, Michigan which produces one car, the Ford Focus, and is planned to be moved to China.