Decolonizing the Choctaws: Teaching LeAnne Howe’s Shell Shaker with a Tribalography Approach

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Shell Shaker (2001) by LeAnne Howe (Choctaw) is a novel that gives students an opportunity to learn that the history and culture of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma are alive today. Winner of the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award in 2002, the novel deals with two parallel stories that converge in the present, one about the eighteenth century murder of Choctaw warrior Red Shoes, and the other about the 1991 murder of corrupt Chief Redford McAlester. The novel illustrates how history continues to impact the present-day Choctaw characters and how those characters exemplify the process of decolonization. This article deals with how I teach Shell Shaker in the context of a course on American Indian literatures, but the strategies are useful for the novel in any course.


American literature--Indian authors; Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; Indians of North America


Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Indigenous Studies | Literature in English, North America | Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


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