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Cynthia Fowler

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Hybridity as a Strategy for Self-Determination in Contemporary American Indian Art

This article is an examination of the ways in which a key group of contemporary American Indian artists have explored the post-colonial concept of hybridity in their work as a vehicle for the redefinition of themselves as individuals and their culture as a whole. Providing a general summary of hybridity as it is generally used in post-colonial theory, the article also considers the ways in which American Indian theorists Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe) and Gerald McMaster (Plains Cree/member of Siksika Nation) have specifically applied the concept of hybridity to constructs of American Indian identity. The artists discussed in the essay are Faye HeavyShield (Blackfoot), Shelley Niro (Mohawk), Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole/Muskogee/ Diné), Steven Deo (Creek and Euchee), and Gail Tremblay (Onondaga/Mi’kmac). All of these artists have used their art to reveal negative and limiting constructs of Indian identity that continue to prevail within the dominant culture. But even more, they have successfully employed hybridity as a tool to (re)define their cultural identities on their own terms as a strategy for self-determination.

American Indian artists, hybridity, post-Indian, self-determination, survivance

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 63-79