Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie (1935) is a cannibal text. Zitkala-Ša's (Yankton-Nakota) essays “Impressions of an Indian Childhood” and “The School Days of an Indian Girl” (1900) can be found in the guts of the settler-colonial children's novel. Practices of unacknowledged citation that we might usually see in literary works as intertextual jouissance, or in extreme cases as plagiarism, are best understood here as cannibal practice—the digestive making of two into one—by Wilder and her collaborator and daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. Zitkala-Ša's autobiographical essays, which she wrote as an excoriating critique of assimilationist Indian boarding schools, are consumed by the settler writer and made to nourish Wilder's famously blank and generic Midwest. Zitkala-Ša's time and place—the bloodily contested land of South Dakota of the 1880s—can be found incorporated into the fantastically pure and bloodless 1870 Kansas of Wilder's fantasy.
1 January 2015