VII TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. The 1970s, during which Silko’s short story “Lullaby” was first written, were a significant time in the history of Native American struggles with mainstream American culture. Learn more about the political, cultural and economic struggles of Native American tribes from the 1960s through the 1990s. What national organizations of Native Americans are active today? What has changed as a result of these struggles? Was has not changed?
2. Many of Silko’s stories address the issue of the role of tradition in contemporary Native American culture, and particularly the role of the storyteller. Read a short story by a different contemporary Native American writer such as Paula Gunn Allen, Louise Erdrich, or Sherman Alexie. In what ways does this author address similar or different issues within Native American culture? What role does tradition play in the story, as compared to Silko’s story? How do the characters in the story reconcile Native American tradition and history with the conditions of contemporary Native American life?
VIII IDEAS FOR REPORTS AND PAPERS
1. There are hundreds of Native American tribes on the North American continent (such as Navajo, Cherokee, Chippewa, Pueblo, etc.), yet one complaint many Native Americans have is that mainstream American culture does not recognize the tremendous diversity of cultures among these tribes. Find out more about the history, traditions, and contemporary conditions of one particular Native American tribe. In what ways is it different from or similar to that of other tribes?
2. In addition to fiction, Silko and other writers of the 1970s Native American literary renaissance wrote collections of poetry. Pick one Native American writer and read several of her or his poems. In what ways do they address similar or different concerns from those addressed in Silko’s fiction? In what ways does the poetic form communicate ideas differently from the fictional prose form?
3. Learn more about contemporary Native American visual art forms, such as drawing, painting, jewelry-making, and other crafts. In what ways do these visual forms grapple with similar concerns about the role of tradition in contemporary Native American culture? To what extent are the forms, process, and use of this art different from or similar to that of traditional Native American culture? What role does art play in contemporary Native American culture?