N. Scott Momaday, from The Way to Rainy Mountain"

  1. What is the significance of the title? Of Rainy Mountain?
  2. What are some features of Kiowa history which he remembers? From where did the Kiowans come? What were their worst defeats?
  3. What were features of Kiowa religion? Why can this religion no longer be readily practiced?
  4. What do we learn about Momaday's grandmother? About Momaday? Why is she important to his account?
  5. What is significant about the essay's ending? Is it an allegory?

"Sacred and Ancestral Ground"

What is important about the journey undertaken by the writer? Is it more meaningful because shared with others?

What places does he visit? What is significant about the Medicine Wheel? Is its original purpose known, and if not, what does this indicate about our relationship with its creators?

What is emphasized in the friends' encounter with another traveler? (shared sense of spiritual presence--stranger has come far to witness this place)

What do we learn about the Rock Tree? What story is associated with this place, and how does the author interpret it? (native peoples are associated with the heavens)

What is the purpose of concluding with the friends' description of Jurg as a pilgrim?

In what ways in Momaday a good writer? How does his account balance the personal and the representative?

Gerald Visenor, “Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance”

1. What is meant by “manifest manners”? Is it a positive term?

2. What historical instance does Vizenor give of a distortion of Native history? (1978)

3. Why does Vizenor call the present-day Indian population postindian?

4. What in his view is wrong with the dominant portrayals of Native peoples? (misrepresented, renamed, silenced, distorted, portrayed as victims--e. g. in movies)

5. What does he dislike about recent movies which maintain a degree of sympathy? (1979)

6. What insight from Jane Tompkins does he cite? (1979)

7. What meaning is given to the term “simulation”? Can simulations be good or bad?

8. What seems to be meant by the term “survivance”?

9. What brings survivance” (1982-85--humor, imagination, the trickster tradition, oral stories, autobiographies, oral performance, accounts of Indian life in the present)

10. What does Vizenor belief is especially important about the trikster tales? (1984)

11. Why is the portrait of Russell Means painted by Andrew Warhol and titled, “American Indian,” not that of an Indian? (1985-86) What would Vizenor wish to see substituted for the Warhol painting?

12. Are some of Vizenor’s points also those reinforced by Paul Gunn Allen? What are the differences in his focus?

13. How would you describe Visenor’s style? What purpose is served by its distinctive features?

selections from Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2001