This article addresses how the advent of technology can allow for the inclusion of indigenous stories in American literature history. Thus, this article is rooted in the assumption that may become a part of American literary history. It is the hope that through this integration of Native American culture through oral traditions and artifacts that they can no longer excluded from the study of American literature.
“The advent of digital technology is undoubtedly changing our understanding of the origins and story lines of American literary history, as Randy Bass suggests. This interpretive shift offers a critically important opportunity to think more carefully about the place of Native American expressive culture as an integral, albeit long-neglected, part of “American literature.” While most anthologies in the field now include an opening section on indigenous origins—irresponsibly reducing thousands of years of precolonial storytelling to a few pages—the selections are invariably limited to stories that fit within the parameters of the white printed page. Rather than reviewing this history of exclusion yet again, I will assume here that the field is ready to acknowledge that indigenous stories are indeed part of American literary history, whether they appear in the form of the oral tradition, rock art, narratives woven in wampum belts, or pictographic images inscribed on birch bark. This may be an overly generous assumption. Nonetheless, my point is to demonstrate how digital technology can be utilized to extend the formal boundaries of the field and to create exciting new interpretive opportunities by taking seriously, at long last, the idea that the Ojibwe “epistemology of beginnings” is an intellectually valid interpretive paradigm. In doing so, the Gibagadinamaagoom digital archive, whose name means “to bring to life, to sanction, to give authority,” devotes itself to sanctioning the intellectual sovereignty of indigenous wisdom carriers, so that the question of whether American literary history begins with the Puritans or Columbus becomes moot as we set off in search of much deeper origins, wondering whether we are “worthy to translate wind” or to record “knowledge [that existed] long before humans.”