Omfg. Look at my new book! So excited to start reading this.
When Did Indians Become Straight? is a theoretically rich text with complex renderings of what is at stake in the way kinship, sexuality, tradition, and sovereignty are thought of. It is an expansive study that works through the early years of the United States as a republic, tracing historical representations of Native peoples to present-day configurations. Stylistically, Rifkin challenges readers with nuanced critiques and deep readings of literature. He weaves together queer theory and Native studies to critique the heteronormativity of settler colonialism using literary and cultural analysis. Unlike previous studies that focused on “two-spirit,” “Joyas,” “Nadle,” or other “third-gender” Native people, Rifkin’s book focuses on intellectual and political formations that rendered Indians as either aberrations or celebratory exceptions. By being either aberrations or exceptions, indigenous social practices continue to be judged against a European American heteroreferent. Privileging that referent as the naturalized elemental of sociality was the excuse by which indigenous populations were and continue to be denied sovereignty. In other words, heteronormativity and settler colonialism were responsible for the imperial conclusion that Native social structures were inadequate foundations on which to forge a structure of governance. Here Rifkin shifts the focus of queer Native critique away from those subjects easily identified as queer or nonheteronormative, focusing instead on the wider field of technologies of normalization that settler colonialism relies on.