In Memory: Paula Gunn Allen


Pioneering feminist voice Paula Gunn Allen died today. She was one of the first to publish criticism of the feminist wave theory for leaving out Native American women’s influence on feminism from the early declarations (“first wave”) forward. She wrote bravely and passionately about desire, activism, and feminism with in Native American communities and the larger feminist movement. Allen was also committed to the progress of marginalized students, especially women and poc, teaching at multiple colleges and making appearances at her alma mater regularly. She was a powerful voice and a prolific, award winning, author. She was an inspiration.

You can read more about her in my post on Indigenous Feminists here or at the memorial site (link provided by a comment maker below) here.

You can also SUPPORT FEMINIST PRESSES by buying her semi-autobiographical book from Aunt Lute or check out some of her online pieces:

Which way’s up, Doc? and Borrachitarme Voy


Hoop Dancer

Taking a Visitor to See the Ruins

You can also see what others are saying about her loss and read more of her online work by checking out and following the links on The Paula Gunn Allen Memorial Guest Book.

A documentary was also in the process of being made when she died entitled: Thought Woman – The Life and Ideas of Paula Gunn Allen (be patient it takes a minute to load). If benefits for this film come to your town please consider giving so that her story is more available to the generations who do not have access to her powerful voice.

(If you are a WS major, please make sure to ask that the Summer Newsletter or the Fall Newsletter of your Program or Department honors her passing. If you have never heard of her, take time to think about why not. Let this be a moment to learn for yourself and your cohorts.)

5 thoughts on “In Memory: Paula Gunn Allen

  1. ortho stice – welcome to the blog. And thanks for the link! I’ve put in the text of the post for other people to check out as well. 😀

  2. Paula Gunn Allen claimed during an MLA social gathering that she was the first person to earn a PhD in American Indian Literature. Her claim was contested by a Russian gentleman–also present in the room–who had earned his in the Soviet Union. But the point was made. Paula Gunn Allen was and always will be one of the founding scholars of the study of the writing of indigenous Americans. She will be missed.

    • as you say, either way point made. How many places have really strong Native Am studies programs in general even now?

      • Very few. Berkeley, perhaps. UCLA. Arizona. New Mexico. These have been strong in the recent past. Most universities may have one historian and 1/2 a literature professor, with an anthropologist or two thrown in, or maybe a political scientist. That seems the state at the few universities that even have programs. My own university–small, and I work part-time–has had as many as two adjuncts at one time to my knowledge, but generally has my one course per year. A few other faculty–full-time history and literature–include Native studies into courses with a broader focus, such as multicultural American lit. About 1/3 of my Pacific Northwest history course focuses on indigenous peoples.

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