Settler colonial belonging is indigenous erasure: TiaAnna Tidwell, Settler Colonial Belonging and Indigenous Erasure in The Snow Child and The Raven’s Gift, MA Dissertation, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2017


Abstract: This research examines two contemporary Alaskan works of literature: Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child and Don Rearden’s The Raven’s Gift. I have engaged with (post) colonial theoretical frameworks to describe the settler colonial dynamics at work in each text. By comparing these two works I find that each narrative seeks autochthonous belonging for settler colonial protagonists, which is predicated upon the elimination of indigeneity from the land. I focus on the divergent rhetorical methods of indigenous erasure in each text, and the interaction between race and gender in settler colonial identity construction. Examining the relationship between race and gender highlights the underappreciated significance of the complicity of white women in the settler colonial process and demonstrates the crucial role that indigenous women play as gatekeepers to settler colonial belonging. Within the narratives, I find examples of the formation of private property under settler colonial thought, which paved the way for the dismissal of indigenous land claims. I also look at the way that each text employs the metaphorical language of ghostliness and the supernatural to weaken indigenous presence and bring indigeneity to the precipice of extinction. Both narratives ultimately avoid active dispossession in the settler colonial quest for land by creating and landscape in which indigeneity is already gone.

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