Chronicles Of Cherokee Resilience Earn U Of Oregon Professor Literary Award

Dec 16, 2020

A University of Oregon professor has been recognized by a global organization, for his book on the “dark age” of Cherokee history. 

Kirby Brown and his work, 'Stoking the Fire: Nationhood in Cherokee Writing.'
Credit Photo provided by Kirby Brown / University of Oregon

The Modern Language Association announced its latest MLA Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.  An honorable mention went to Kirby Brown, an associate professor of Native American Literature at the U of O, and citizen of the Cherokee Nation. 

Brown’s work, titled “Stoking the Fire: Nationhood in Cherokee Writing” presents written works following the establishment of Oklahoma as a state in 1907…whereupon many aspects of the Cherokee Nation were dissolved, including its government.

In this undated photo, Kirby Brown 'challenges the broader narrative' with the since-toppled statue, The Pioneer, on the U of O campus.
Credit Photo provided by Kirby Brown / University of Oregon

“Most scholars view it as this empty period where there wasn’t a whole lot happening and there wasn’t a solid sense of Cherokee nationhood," Brown told KLCC. 

"And when I got into the actual literature for this period that Cherokees were producing, I saw how radically wrong that was, that nationhood was all over the place.”

In 1970, legislation helped tribes reclaim their government, including the Cherokee.  Brown added that chronicling the documents, testimony, and accounts of his tribe helped him feel connected to his grandfather, who lived through those times.

Brown congratulated MLA winner Christopher Pexa, a University of Minnesota professor for his book, “Translated Nation: Rewriting the Dakhota Oyate.”

Copyright 2020, KLCC.