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Why Indigenous Literatures Matter (Indigenous Studies)

4.63  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Part survey of the field of Indigenous literary studies, part cultural history, and part literary polemic, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter asserts the vital significance of literary expression to the political, creative, and intellectual efforts of Indigenous peoples today. In considering the connections between literature and lived experience, this book contemplates fou ...more
Kindle Edition
Published March 8th 2018 by Wilfrid Laurier University Press (first published February 28th 2018)
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Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Teachers and librarians will gain immensely by reading this book. What they learn will help them do a better job at preparing instructional materials and/or selecting (and deselecting) materials in a library.

Writers will gain a lot, too, about their biases. Are they, for example, creating stories that depict Native peoples as deficient? Are they *aware* that they are doing that? A close study of this book--and perhaps using it in writers workshops--will help with that particular problem.

Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 24in48
Amazing, with great recs for Indigenous writers.
“We will have done our jobs as good ancestors if the world we leave is one more fully alive with the stories of our time and those before, if the struggles of those who came before is honoured and shared, if the justice of our fight and the rightness of our relations carry on beyond us.” (p 156).

Stories matter, profoundly; they’re the way we’re made and make ourselves; they’re the way we make our place(s) ours and known – where we’re from and where we are. And yet this fabulous, engaging and luc
Big Al
A very cool overview on some of the major thematic concerns in many works of Indigenous literature (without trying to be too generic or stereotypical). The work is centred around four main questions about human existence, so the analysis tends to be both literary and philosophical. Daniel Heath Justice includes a lot of excerpts from lesser known texts in his analysis, so let’s just say my TBR has grown exponentially after reading this >:)
In beautiful, sobering, and expansive ways, Daniel Heath Justice strongly supports his argument that Indigenous literatures matter. There are so many reasons why they matter. Two he gives that I will mention are: Indigenous people and lives matter and the stories about Indigenous people, think in a broad sense, have been deadly and destructive, so we need to heed their stories that are life-giving and restorative. Let's face it. We really need these voices. Kim Tallbear recently tweeted in refer ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, queer-etc
There is so much wonderful in this book: Literature analysis and recommendations for Indigenous authors and writings, obviously. A reflection on the author's own history. And a meditation through a queer, Indigenous lens on what literature is and why it matters at all.

The book is structured into chapters around four important questions that Indigenous literature can help try to answer: How do we learn to be human? How do we learn to be good relatives? How do we learn to be good ancestors? And h
Jenna (Falling Letters)
April 26 2020: Almost two years to do the day since I first picked this book, I started reading it once again during Dewey's April Readathon and this time I finished it!

May 8 2018: Will have to finish this when I get back from my summer job, as the library there doesn’t have a copy.
Amy Sturgis
This is an immensely useful work, not to mention a challenging and even inspirational one. I read/teach/write in this field, and I covered this with highlights and sticky notes so I could return to key passages and citations. I most certainly will be sharing this with my students.

Meant to inspire conversation and further reading (both of which it is certain to do), Why Indigenous Literatures Matter is part survey of the field of Indigenous literary studies, part cultural history, part literary p
Marla Taviano
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had a profound and powerful impact on me. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I’ll be thinking about it, studying it, and quoting from it for a long time. I’ve shared a handful of books from Indigenous authors but not nearly enough. Daniel Heath Justice has given me more resources than I could ever read, and I’m so excited.

First paragraph of the preface: “This is a book about stories and some of the ways they matter. It’s about the many kinds of stories Indigenous peoples tell, an
Highly recommend if you are interested in literary criticism of Indigenous literatures, but also encompasses more than that. An appendix includes all of Daniel Heath Justice's 365 tweets for the movement he did where he tweeted an Indigenous author every day for one year to show that Indigenous authors do exist and they are plenty - so there's no excuse for saying you can't find Indigenous authors to read. I also discovered Justice received the Order of Canada this year for his work, which is a ...more
I was interested in themes and intentions that come through in Indigenous literatures, as related to author’s cultures, communities, and navigations with loss and survival: Justice provides a phenomenal overview of writing from many different starting points, genres, and ways of telling stories. I was please that Justice, a queer person himself, included many examples of queer authors and queer sexuality in texts, as well as some explanatory notes about the use of two-spirit as a term among Indi ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful and deeply researched survey of the importance of Indigenous literature. Justice divides the book into four main sections, each titled with a question: "How do we learn to be human? How do we become good relatives? How to we become good ancestors? How so we learn to live together?" Indigenous texts and authors have always addressed these deep and vital concerns, and they continue to do so today. Justice pulls quotes from novels, poems, plays and essays that especially address these ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very readable, solidly grounded academic work that should be of interest to any thoughtful reader. While he discusses many books by indigenous writers, his focus is the bigger context, as shown by his title. The chapters each examine one of four guiding questions: How do we learn to be human? How do we behave as good relatives? How do we become good ancestors? How do we learn to live together? His thoughtful examination of these questions not only gave me specific new insights but also deepene ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A passionate manifesto concerning Indigenous literature throughout the world. Daniel Heath Justice focuses on North America but shows that indigenous authors are writing around the globe. His main points circle around the idea of relationships and show how Indigenous authors regularly reflect on our place in the world and the responsibilities and obligations we have towards ourselves and others. Here he enters into a definition into person hood and successfully demonstrates that it goes both bey ...more
Igpy Kin
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The amount of time it took me to finish this is a reflection of a lot of conflict going on in my life this summer, and not at all reflective of the accessibility of the book; it is hard to find books that survey vast bodies of literature that are at all enjoyable to read, let alone ones that are written beautifully. This book was an absolute pleasure to read, and its many recommendations and reflections sent me spiralling that much deeper into the bottomless abyss of my Goodreads "Want to Read" ...more
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not the biggest fan of nonfiction, so that's why I marked it down a star, because I know I wouldn't have picked this up on my own. However, when I got to reading it this book was a good read. I learned a lot about literature and life from this book, which you can't say about a lot of books in this genre, which over intellectualize everything and do not really make their contents applicable to life. ...more
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In the face of a powerful colonial society that rewrote Indigenous loss as a story of innate Indigenous deficiency rather than intentional settler violence, betrayal, and subterfuge, Indigenous peoples have storied our experience to empower the struggle of the present and to make the truth of the struggle clear to future generations."

This is a powerful and important book. It's well researched and well written, and should be required reading in North American classrooms.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well-thought out, lots of research and list of sources. Very though-provoking--took me a while to read because I was stopping to highlight passages and thinking about the concepts and questions posed throughout the work.

"To write of our lives today is to affirm, firmly and undeniably, that Indigenous people are still very much part of the world now."
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
I recommend this beautifully articulated book very highly. I learned so much, both about indigenous literatures and about teaching and thinking about literature period. I got many ideas for things to talk about with my students and think about in my readings and a good list of future reads.
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love reading theory. Intelligent writing about literature helps me better understand why I like the books I like, what those books are doing, and what I want my writing to do. Justice’s book is a must-read to better understand the amazing things that are happening in Indigenous Literature.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I finished reading Why Indigenous Literatures Matter by Daniel Heath Justice. It was an interesting read. It was very well written.
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal read.
Barbara McVeigh
A great academic resource. Gives insight on how to read and understand Indigenous literatures. An important book for educators!
Kurt Lewin
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book!
Cam Hudson
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
everyone should read this
A necessary book if you want to read Indigenous literature in a culturally sensitive way. Justice is an engaging writer and I thoroughly enjoyed his narrative.
Katie Souza
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wish I could rate it higher. Informative and yet very personable and easy to read.
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly was actually amazing. Combined theory with practice beautifully.
James Fisher
Why Indigenous Literatures Matter was a pleasure to read, for I was learning new ways of viewing not only the Indigenous world but discovering new ways of looking at myself (as a settler Canadian) and my relationships with others, Indigenous or otherwise. Highly recommended reading.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,5* A much needed book, highly relevant and well-written. Very inspiring!
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Daniel Heath Justice (b. 1975) is a Colorado-born citizen of the Cherokee Nation/ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ, raised the third generation of his mother's family in the Rocky Mountain mining town of Victor, Colorado. After a decade living and teaching in the Anishinaabe, Huron-Wendat, and Haudenosaunee territories of southern Ontario, where he worked at the University of Toronto, he now lives with his husband in shís ...more

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