Native Americans in Science Fiction and Fantasy

That was the name of my very first panel at a convention. And by very first panel, I don’t mean the first one I’ve ever attended. I mean the first one where I was a panelist.

What can I say about the experience? It’s simple, really.

HOLY CRAP!

Let me tell you, I was a bundle of nerves leading up to the day of the panel. I was reading and re-reading books, writing and re-organizing notes, referring back to emails I had exchanged with Dr. Eric Gary Anderson (who teaches at George Mason University, has an encyclopedic knowledge of Native literature and totally unrelated random horror movies, and is generally an all-around awesome person to know). I was both excited and nervous about being on the panel, wanting to make sure I contributed something of worth (or at least didn’t totally derailing it with verbal diarrhea), and hoping that people got something out of the event other than an air-conditioned room to sit in.

It turns out I needn’t have worried as much as I did. And why was that?

Because the audience and the moderator for the panel were AWESOME!

The panel was moderated by L.M. (Linda) Davis, and included Diane Hughes, a panelist from last year’s panel on the same topic. Linda met with us briefly while people were drifting in for the panel and went over how she wanted to approach the discussion this year. She said she’d go ahead and let us introduce ourselves, and then she’d turn it over to the audience for questions, to see what kinds of things they wanted to talk and know about. During our brief powwow (see what I did there?), I learned that Linda knew Eric. Oh, Native American Studies academia…it’s such a small world, sometimes.

Quite honestly, the audience for the panel had some of the best questions I’ve heard about Native culture, literature, etc. Plenty of things to get and keep me thinking – and perhaps provide some fodder for upcoming entries here, as I continue to mull over the topic.

In the lead-up to the panel, I went ahead and wrote up a recommended reading list for folks interested in science fiction and fantasy (and horror and mystery) that incorporated Native culture in some way. I was asked to share this list in a public forum and, hey! Whaddayaknow! I have a blog! So, for those of you interested, here is a jumping off point for Native Americans in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Some of these authors are Native, others are not. Ultimately, that’s not what I was looking at. I was looking at “Who has shared a good story?” I hope you find their work as enjoyable as I have. My hope is to continue adding to this over time.

Kirk Mitchell – Turnipseed and Parker series

  • Cry Dance
  • Spirit Sickness
  • Ancient Ones
  • Sky Woman Falling
  • Dance of the Thunder Dogs

Charles de Lint

  • The Onion Girl
  • Medicine Road
  • Someplace To Be Flying – one of the best descriptions of what it means to be a storyteller that I have found so far

Patricia Briggs

  • Alpha and Omega series (to a lesser degree)
  • Mercy Thompson series – particularly River Marked

Kat Richardson

  • Greywalker series – particularly Underground

Orson Scott Card

  • Alvin Maker series

Neil Gaiman

  • American Gods

C.E. Murphy – The Walker Papers series

  • Urban Shaman
  • Banshee Cries (novella in Winter Moon anthology)
  • Thunderbird Falls
  • Coyote Dreams
  • Rabbit Tracks (short story online)
  • Walking Dead
  • Demon Hunts
  • Spirit Dances
  • Raven Calls

Louise Erdrich

  • Tracks – I recommend starting here

Stephen Graham Jones

  • The Bird is Gone: A Manifesto
  • Demon Theory
  • It Came From Del Rio
  • Zombie Bake-Off (comes out this year)

Gerald Vizenor

  • Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles

Sherman Alexie – in particular

  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (the movie Smoke Signals was adapted from this)
  • Flight
  • Indian Killer

Louis Owens

  • Bone Game

A. A. Carr

  • Eye Killers

Joseph Bruchac

Amy H. Sturgis

Drew Hayden Taylor

Daniel Heath Justice

Leslie Marmon Silko

Michael Nicoll Yahguhlanaas

  • Red: A Haida Manga

Trickster: Native American Tales – A Graphic Collection

Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction – edited by Grace L. Dillon

Minisinoo – a fanfic writer who has done marvelous work with Native characters, particularly from the X-Men Universe. I recommend starting with

In addition to the list I put together, I got some suggestions from the crowd. Here they are:

Michael Chabon – Summerland

Scalped comic book

Oh! And for those who asked if I had anything published…here is some of my folklore work. I have not yet found a home for other folklore papers, but, if you’re interested in other pieces, just let me know. And yes, to the people who asked about the “other” work, I have links to that as well, but it has nothing to do with my folklore or usual fiction work.
Also, if you were at the panel, I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve got questions that didn’t have a chance to get asked, or if there’s something that’s crossed your mind since then, send me a message! nerfgunbobbinsATgmailDOTcom

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