Jace Weaver articulates community in a powerful way in That the People Might Live: Native American Literature and Native American Community(1997). Below I quote Weaver, who is discussing Robert Warrior’s work in Tribal Secrets, to highlight how American Indian scholars have used scholarship as a means to engage a commitment to community. What emerges out of the exemplary paragraph below, and to which I add my own voice, is an example of how native scholars draw upon the centrality of community as a means to affirm the past, present, and future of indigenous lifeways:As Warrior claims for Vine Deloria Jr. and John Joseph Mathews, “Both contend in their work that the success or failure of American Indian communal societies has always been predicated not upon a set of uniform, unchanging
328Hülili Vol.5 (2008)beliefs, but rather upon a commitment to the groups and the groups’ futures.” Not to be committed to Native American community, affirming the tribes, the people, the values, is tantamount to psychic suicide. (Weaver, 1997, p. 43)Being committed to and engaging in community thus fostering the bonds of family and community is an act that nourishes the collective well-being for Känaka Maoli. As indicated above, those who do not engage in community wander and wander, often times feeling unfulfilled at best and committing “psychic suicide” at worst.In her work, Brenda Child also conveys such commitment to community in several ways. At the beginning of Boarding School Seasons(1998), Child talks about quilting at the Carlisle Boarding School. She says that the star quilt for which Native American women have become renowned is symbolic of the close collective of pan-Indian identity that naturally evolved in the boarding situation. So strong is the need for community among Native peoples that tribe members learned bits and pieces of other tribe members’ languages and became a community of their own. Child speaks of the intense homesickness of the children and the sickness that the families felt with their children so far away from home and community. Children wrote of the separation from community when they returned and the intense grief they felt as a result. For these people, community was like a family member that they mourned when they did not fit back in upon returning from the boarding experience. Following Child’s discussion of quilting and community building in boarding schools, Weaver’s (1997) arguments in That the People Might Liverecenter community in relation to oration and how “most Amer-European analysis of Native texts have focused on those texts’ relation to orature” (p. 163). He then explains how he deliberately refocuses the discussion to content and commitment to community, a resistance to that movement: I have attempted to situate the literary moment in historical and political context in terms of the writer’s communitism.