Feminist author and scholar Paula Gunn Allen died on May 29, 2008. Here is a portion of her obituary from the LA Times:
In the 1960s, when some in academia still denied the existence of Native American literature, Paula Gunn Allen embarked on a career that proved them wrong — and altered the required reading lists of literature classes on U.S. college campuses.
The former UCLA professor helped define the canon of Native American literature, encouraged its development by anthologizing new American Indian writers and nurtured a broader audience for the work.
“This is great literature — American literature,” Allen said in a 1990 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “What I want from readers is a fundamental recognition that American Indian culture is alive and thriving.”
Allen, a leading scholar and feminist who advocated for the inclusion of Native American voices in the mainstream of American literature, died of lung cancer May 29 at her home in Fort Bragg, Calif. She was 68.
I first read Allen’s book The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions in college. I am so glad I did; it enriched my understanding of American literature.