Episode 4: "Savage Ecstasy"
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, BITCHES!
Join us and commemorate the genocide of thousands of indigenous cultures by reading this boring-ass book about Lakota warrior Grey Eagle and how he's fucking wasted on this white woman who's improbably named Alisha. Definitely do not thrill to see her end every sentence with an exclamation point! You will absolutely fail to gasp with excitement as they have the same transformative sex over and over and over again and then misunderstand one another in the morning, many times! You may actually be surprised that it isn't as racist as you're expecting it to be! (I mean, it's racist. But it's not as racist as we thought it was going to be.)
This book does have emotional and (sometimes extreme) physical abuse and non-consensual encounters, but they're within the context of a fantasy relationship. I'd call it a "hard ravishing". It also features lovingly detailed depictions of torture and extreme violence because Janelle Taylor is a hardcore bitch despite expectations:
That vest conceals a freaky-ass heart.
So if you're not reading about Noble Savage stereotypes on the couch while you undo the button on your eatin' pants and your drunk MAGA hat wearing uncle (who absolutely did not forget to vote this month) remains unpunched, what are you doing instead?
Decolonize your day off!
Decolonize your kitchen!
Our snacks this episode came from The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen, 2018 James Beard winner for Best American Cookbook.
I'll warn you that a lot of the ingredients are "exotic", meaning they're food that lives right outside your door but you don't know how to eat it anymore. I made the amaranth crackers and they're both easy and tasty; I was also trying to make amaranth cookies with raspberry rose hip syrup but MY OVEN BROKE FIVE DAYS BEFORE THANKSGIVING because fuck me that's why.
Decolonize your reading list!
Romance novels by Native American authors:
Thanks to Book Riot for doing the legwork here - always a good place to start if you're trying to diversify your bookshelves.
Cogewea: The Half Blood by Mourning Dove
This is a 1927 novel by an Okanogan of eastern Washington and one of the first known novels by a Native American woman. It's "the story of a half-blood girl caught between the worlds of Anglo ranchers and full-blood reservation Indians; between the craven and false-hearted easterner Alfred Densmore and James LaGrinder, a half-blood cowboy and the best rider on the Flathead; between book learning and the folk wisdom of her full-blood grandmother." All of which sounds totally up my alley (I've got this on my desk waiting for me right now, actually.)
Her Land, Her Love by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie
This is the first in a series by a Navajo author. "Ninaanibaa’s heart belonged to Hashké Yił Naabaah (The Warrior Who Fights with Anger). She loved him for protecting his awéé’ (babies), K’é (kinship), Naabeehó (Navajo people) and Dinétah (land). Hashké Yił Naabaah is summoned on a pursuit to restore peace and harmony to Dinétah. Nínááníbaa’ gently placed her hand over her heart and wondered if her own heart was prepared to never feel love again. She stopped to think about life without love, the kind of love that her husband showered upon her. Leaving their sacred land was a painful decision forced upon them but Hashké Yił Naabaah and Nínááníbaa always relied on their love, prayers, and kinship in overcoming hardship, loneliness, and suffering. Will they escape the shackles of war and reunite with their children within the four sacred mountains of Dinétah?"
Eternal Lovers by V.S. Nelson
This is the first in a series. When two hidden worlds collide near modern day Lake Michigan, Jennifer, a young Native American, is confronted with the reality not everything is as it seems and things do go bump in the night. The questions she has long since asked are answered in this epic tale of self discovery when she meets Gabriel; the director of Guardians Incorporated. Born in New Tuat, Netchkhet, now known as Gabriel, came to Earth some five thousand years ago to protect the human race, Disillusioned because of an unfulfilled prophecy, he has become cold and distant - even from those of his kind. Secretly, he waits for his enemy to take his head so he may leave this world for good. Can a tiny Selkie melt his hardened heart and restore his faith in a power far greater than himself? When history repeats itself, can he save her from death's embrace or will they be robbed of a future again?" This sounds completely bonkers and I think I need it.
Romance authors who are not Native Americans but are good allies and write good sympathetic well rounded Native characters:
Kathleen Eagle has written a metric buttload of romance novels with Native American characters. Her husband and children are Lakota Sioux and she taught at a reservation school in North Dakota for over a decade, and plus she went to Mount Holyoke and we women's college bitches have to stick together.
Beverly Jenkins is the queen of African American romance. Many of her historicals have characters who are of mixed African American and Native American heritage. Topaz has been sitting on my desk for weeks:
"Ambitious newspaper reporter Kate Love's determination to unmask a railroad stock swindler has led her to the brink of matrimony with the wealthiest, most eligible black man in the East—the very scoundrel she intends to expose! But at the last possible moment a champion appears to whisk her away from the altar: Dix Wildhorse, a Black Seminole marshal from Oklahoma's Indian country.
A daring black knight whom Kate's father sent to rescue—and wed—the free-spirited ebony hellion, Dix ignites fires within her with just a touch, a whisper, a brazen kiss. But Kate isn't about to abandon her career to become the dutiful wife of a lawman who wants to keep her wrapped up in a protective cocoon. As the battle of wills intensifies, the heat of their passion blazes with unmatched fury. And only total surrender will unleash the sweet ecstasy of love."
Yeah, I can definitely get into that.
Decolonize your playlist!
I made you a Spotify playlist with a bunch of contemporary Native American musicians because your Uncle Billy will shit his pants when you play it at Thanksgiving dinner. (This was so much fun to do and there's some really good stuff on there.)
Decolonize all those tabs you've got open!
Gimme Shelter: a really interesting blog post on captivity narratives and the ways the captivity device plays out in romances
20 Native American Authors You Need to Read: a good starting list if you want more indigenous voices in your general fiction.
It omits Rebecca Roanhorse, however - I assume she hit after that list was made - and she is awesome. You can read her Hugo award winning short story, Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience, for free. LeVar Burton read it on his podcast too!
Project 562 is a multi-year national photography project dedicated to photographing over 562 federally recognized tribes in The United States resulting in an unprecedented repository of imagery and oral histories that accurately portrays contemporary Native Americans.
Amazon links are affiliate links.