Discussion Guide

After reading Luci Tapahonso’s work, chose a specific piece that speaks to you or has significant meaning for you.  With this work in mind, consider the questions below.  You can also participate in the Discussion Guide Exercise.  

  1. In what ways does the use of Navajo Language bring out the essence of the experiences described in her work?  What are the politics involved in these language choices?
     
  2. How do personal experiences, Navajo stories, oral history, oral traditions, songs and ceremonies assist readers in visualizing emotions expressed within these works?
     
  3. How does this author recreate or reinvent oral tradition?  What elements of oral tradition are fused with other traditions?  What other traditions are fused with oral tradition?  When are these fusions most effective for you as a reader?
     
  4. Luci Tapahonso has stressed the importance of what is not spoken in discussion of the work of other Native artists such as Dr. Ofelia Zepeda and Leslie Marmon Silko.  Where have you found the importance of what is left unspoken in this author's work?  How does what is not spoken shape your understanding in this piece?
     
  5. What is the role of the reader in this work?  How is the reader’s attention commanded and for what purpose?
     
  6. References to the concepts of home and journey are common throughout the author’s work.  In what ways and where do these themes work together, create tension as they are balanced against each other, and/or stand alone in this piece?
     
  7. Please discuss the feelings and images evoked by the theme of family here.  Why do you think this work is so evocative, even as the author avoids overly sentimental language?  How and why do you think she does that?
  8. What politics are found in Luci Tapahonso's work?  How are they expressed?  How do you respond to them?

May 11, 2011