Abstract: Since the eighteenth century, settler cultures have represented North American burial mounds as ancient “mysteries” and historical “enigmas”—sites of Indigenous vanishing that provide settlers with opportunities for creating scientific discovery, economic profit, and cautionary tales of angry ghosts from “lost” civilizations. But there are other narratives to tell about these sophisticated earthworks, other conceptual frames for understanding not only their functions as technologies for interment but also their ongoing power as symbols for Indigenous presence. Drawing from his new book Earthworks Rising: Mound Building in Native Literature and Arts, Chadwick Allen analyzes works by contemporary Native writers and artists that demonstrate Indigenous conceptions of interment within mounded earth. These provocative “earth”-works unsettle dominant narratives by reactivating Indigenous understandings of burial mounds as active sites of renewal and regeneration.
Chadwick Allen is Professor of English and Adjunct Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he also serves as the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement. Author of the books Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts, Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies, and Earthworks Rising: Mound Building in Native Literature and Arts, Professor Allen is a former editor of the journal Studies in American Indian Literatures and a past president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA).
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