Picking the Bones of Indigenous Literature

Author: Sherrie L. Stewart (University of Arizona)

  • Picking the Bones of Indigenous Literature


    Picking the Bones of Indigenous Literature



Indigenous literature reflects the diversity of peoples across the globe. Works by indigenous authors present a plethora of landscapes, architectures, asthetics, music, traditions, and religious rituals. Although each culture is unique, this analysis utilizes Arnold Krupat's Indigenist critical literary theory to scrutinize burial rituals revealed in three novels portraying similarities from diverse communities. Some traditional rituals support a belief in regeneration or reincarnation while others secure a path to an afterlife. Regardless of the intended outcome, these ritualistic preparations of human bodies and bones denote the reverence of groups of indigenous peoples for the dead and their skeletal structure. The three novels are Louis Owens' Wolf Song, LeAnne Howe's Shell Shaker, and Keri Hulme's The Bone People. Each novel reveals burial practices and includes three basic concepts: Transference of indigenous knowledge from elder to youth, a specific process to care for the bodies and bones of the dead, and the purpose for following that process carefully - to insure the transference of the soul to the desired realm.

How to Cite:

Stewart, S. L., (2014) “Picking the Bones of Indigenous Literature”, Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 3, 76-100.

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Published on
07 May 2014
Peer Reviewed