This book explores Native American literary responses to biomedical discourses and biomedicalization processes as they circulate in social and cultural contexts.

Native American communities resist reductivism of biomedicine that excludes Indigenous (and non-Western) epistemologies and instead draw attention to how illness, healing, treatment, and genetic research are socially constructed and dependent on inherently racialist thinking. This volume highlights how interventions into the hegemony of biomedicine are vigorously addressed in Native American literature. The book covers tuberculosis and diabetes epidemics, the emergence of Native American DNA, discoveries in biotechnology, and the problematics of a biomedical model of psychiatry. The book analyzes work by Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, LeAnne Howe, Linda Hogan, Heid E. Erdrich, Elissa Washuta and Frances Washburn.

The book will appeal to scholars of Native American and Indigenous Studies, as well as to others with an interest in literature and medicine.

Introduction – Indigenizing biomedicalization: community, relationality, and embodied resistance in Native American literature


Chapter 1: Virgin soil theory, boarding schools, and medical experimentation: a history of tuberculosis among Native Americans

Chapter 2: Tuberculosis, biopower, and embodied resistance in Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman’s Story, as told through Mark S. Pierre and Louise Erdrich’s LaRose


Chapter 3: Developing Indigenous models of diabetes: from genetic fatalism to community-based approaches

Chapter 4: Beyond the biomedical model of diabetes: settler colonialism, traditional foodways, and historical trauma in Sherman Alexie’s selected works and LeAnne Howe’s Miko Kings: An Indian Baseball Story


Chapter 5: From blood memory to genetic memory, and the emergence of Native American DNA: a story of biocolonialism at the turn of the millennium

Chapter 6: "We remember our ancestors and their lives deep in our bodily cells": mapping history in space and genes in Linda Hogan’s autobiographical writing


Chapter 7: The traffic of cells and ideas: Heid E. Erdrich’s biotechnological poetry

Chapter 8: Biomedical psychiatry, Native American identity, and the politics of visibility in Elissa Washuta’s My Body Is a Book of Rules