Resurgence: Irony and Urban Indian Knowing in Tommy Orange’s There There

Juniper Ellis


Tommy Orange’s novel _There There_ (2018) uses irony to immerse readers in a life-and-death confrontation of newly reciprocal time and space. Urban Indian ways of knowing unsettle national U.S. myths to reveal that Native epistemologies have been present all along, and are still here; the past is active in a circle of time that enfolds and confronts everyone who walks this land, and cities arise from and remain connected with the earth. As part of such knowing, irony is not just key to the mass shooting incident he depicts, it is also structural and national. Orange is an enrolled citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes; his novel reveals that history is still in progress. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are targets of the epistemologies that urge respect, responsiveness, relationship. In such resurgence, tribal and non-tribal nations open to decolonial metamorphosis even in the face of ongoing violence.


Native American Literature, Cheyenne literature, humor studies, indigeneity, irony, decolonial

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