Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)




Melody Graulich


This master's thesis explores the intersections of labor, socioeconomic class, and constructed American Indian masculinities in the literature of indigenous writers of the Great Plains published after the Native American Renaissance of the late 1960s. By engaging scholars and theorists from multiple disciplines--including Native labor historians such as Colleen O'Neill and Alexandra Harmon, (trans)indigenous studies scholars such as Chadwick Allen and Philip Deloria, and Native literary and cultural critics such as Gerald Vizenor and Louis Owens--this thesis offers an American Studies approach to definitions and expressions of work, wealth, and masculinity in American Indian literature of the Great Plains. With chapters on D'Arcy McNickle's posthumous Wind From an Enemy Sky (1978), Carter Revard's poetry and mixed-genre memoirs, and Thomas King's Truth and Bright Water (1999), this thesis emphasizes the roles of cross-cultural apprenticeships for young Native protagonists whose socioeconomic opportunities are often obstructed, threatened, or complicated by dams, roads, and bridges, both literal and metaphorical, as they seek ways to engage (or circumvent) the capitalist marketplace on their own terms. In highlighting each protagonist's relationship to blood (family and community), land, and memory, the chapters reveal how the respective Native authors challenge and reimagine stereotypes regarding Native workers and offer more complicated and nuanced discussions of Native "traditions" in modernity. (173 pages)