We Did Not Move to the Cities to Die: The Changing Urban Indian, PAMLA (sponsored by MELUS)

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA)
contact email: 

The publication of There There by Cheyanne/Arapaho writer Tommy Orange in 2018 and Sacred Smokes by Lakota writer Theo Van Alst in 2019 marks a shift in Indigenous stories. Unlike so many Native texts before, Oranges places his story not in Indian Country but in the urban setting of Oakland. The figure of the Urban Indian has had negative connotations within Native communities as a mark of assimilation and dilution of Indigenous culture since the figure is removed from traditional homelands and communities. Orange and other Indigenous authors, however, are publishing stories that challenge this connotation and reimagine the Urban Indian. “Urban Indian” can also be used to describe any Native living in places other than their tribal homelands or where the nation currently resides. Such removals and relocations of Indigenous people was designed to assimilate Native Americans but as Orange and Van Alst’s narratives demonstrate, Native people find Indigenous communities regardless of where they find themselves or how they found themselves there.

This panel is focused on the figure of the Urban Indian historically but also how it is in a constant of evolution. This panel seeks proposals focused on stories set in urban settings but anywhere Indigenous people find themselves that is not their tribal homelands. The panel is seeking presentations focused on the Urban Indian but is open to a variety of approaches that include but not exclusive to: Indigenous and Native American studies, multi-ethnic literature, transnationalism, settler colonialism, diaspora, critical race theory, Federal-Indian law and policy, etc.

This panel is sponsered by The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS)