A growing backlash against Sherman Alexie, a famous Native American author who stands accused of sexual harassment, has inspired many social media users to seek out other contemporary Indigenous writers.
The Seattle Times reported yesterday (February 28) that the accusations against Sherman gained momentum after multiple allegations appeared in anonymous comments on a January post about sexual violence in the literature industry by the School Library Journal. More allegations emerged on social media after that post, with author Litsa Dremousis tweeting on February 23 that she knew of at least 20 accusations from women who were afraid of going public. The Santa Fe New Mexico reported on Monday (February 26) that the Institute of American Indian Arts had responded to the growing story by removing Alexie’s name from a scholarship. The author released a statement yesterday in which he apologized ”to those whom I have hurt,” while rejecting Dremousis’ statements.
The controversy prompted social media users to seek out examples of other Native American authors to support. Writer Elissa Washuta, a member of the Cowlitz tribe and an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, answered the call in a Twitter thread on Monday:
I see some non-Native readers looking for recommendations of works by Native writers who aren’t Sherman Alexie. It’s honestly pretty tiring to fight for attention and only get it at times like these, but I’m willing to take the opening and make some recommendations:
— Elissa Washuta (@elissawashuta) February 25, 2018
The whole thread is worth reading in full, both for the list and Washuta’s comments on how many non-Native peoples only seek out Indigenous authors in situations like these. In the interim, here are 10 examples of books and other literature from that thread, starting with one of Washuta’s own works:
1. “My Body is a Book of Rules,” by Elissa Washuta
2. “Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir,” by Deborah Miranda
3. “Perma Red,” by Debra Magpie Earling
4. “Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature,” edited by Quo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda and Lisa Tanonetti
5. “Women in the Fracklands: On Water, Land, Bodies, and Standing Rock,” by Toni Jensen (for Catapult.co)
6. “Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend,” by Erika T. Wurth
7. “Another Attempt at Rescue,” by M.L. Smoker
8. “The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America,” by Sarah Deer
9. “Where Bullet Breaks,” by Cassandra M. Lopez
10. “Naming Ceremony,” by Chip Livingston