Eric Gansworth, an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, was born
and raised at the Tuscarora Indian Nation in Western New York. He
received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in English fr...
Click here for more information.
An Excerpt from Smoke Dancing:
"A bird hits the living room window head on, telling me, as they do
in suicide, that someone close to me has just passed on. Not a minute
earlier, I slurped down my last cup of morning coffee, and stuffed
the vacuum cleaner back into its closet. The dull sound of death,
glass moaning just a little, travels toward me across the carpet,
freshly blank and free of prints, a blackboard in the summer. The
room freezes around me for a moment in the greasy feather-oil stain -
the bird's last second on earth, slapped in mid-flight across the
window. I cut a path of small, quick footprints across the living
room and fly out the door...."
struggle between traditionalists and progressives on a modern-day
reservation is at the center of Eric Gansworth’s latest work of
fiction. Through the characters and their unique “voices,” he deftly
develops the multiple viewpoints and arguments that currently exist
on many reservations. These voices include a traditional chief and a
modern-day group of young adults who, as neglected children, banded
together in a traditional dance group. The narrative thread that
connects these characters uses the metaphor of traditional dance and
its relationship to the integrity of Iroquois culture.
A number of the dance group have come to work in the growing empire
formed by one of their members—selling tax-free cigarettes and
gasoline on reservation land. This new economic base alters the
balance of power on the reservation. At the center of the conflict is
Fiction Tunny, a dancer and developing love interest of a man in the
smoke business. She is also the illegitimate daughter of the chief,
who refuses to acknowledge her; to admit she exists would be to admit
he is not fit for his role of chief. Fiction’s resentment of her
father and the sometimes archaic nature of his life and government
are juxtaposed with the predatory nature of the entrepreneur who
begins pursuing her sexually at all costs. Fiction seeks a balance, a
path that will ground her identity in tradition while following her
ever-changing culture into the future.
PRAISE FOR SMOKE DANCING:
"Onondaga author and artist Eric Gansworth has done it again. He has
written a magical story, a good read filled with realism, humor, and
insight. Smoke Dancing invites you into an Indian world complete with
colorful characters and fascinating stories—stories within stories.
From the first page, you will be hooked...." —Clifford E. Trafzer,
author of Exterminate Them!
"Smoke Dancing is one of those books that you’d like to take time
with,... Like many of the best novels by the new generation of Indian
authors, it uses multiple perspectives...I cannot think of another
novel I’ve read in the last few years that has been more true to
contemporary Indian life, richer and more satisfying. If you don't
read this book, you are really missing something special." —Joseph
Bruchac, author of i>Children of the Longhouse
"Each story shifts with each telling and each telling shifts the one
telling it. This book is a rising smoke dance, turning, braking, and
turning again." —Diane Glancy, author
288 pp., 6.00" x 9.00", 2004