Tracing the Fractures: A Conversation with Kristen Millares Young

I don’t remember when or how Kristen Millares Young and I became friends, but I know it happened in Coast Salish territory, specifically Seattle, where she lives and I left. Subductionher debut novel just released by Red Hen Press yesterday, is a book I have known well for a long time. Set on the Makah Indian Reservation at the northwesternmost point of the so-called United States, the book follows Claudia, a non-Makah Latina anthropologist who has shown up for the purpose of academic extraction; Maggie, a Makah elder whose hoarding-packed home holds stories and secrets; and Peter, Maggie’s son who has returned after years off-rez. Claudia’s presence is situated within a long, terrible tradition of anthropological imposition and exploitation in the real-life Makah community, and rendered here in fiction, readers are asked to look closely at the ongoing work of colonization: it happens in the asking of a question and the recording of an answer, in the exchange of US dollars and whiskey in a bar built on somebody’s homeland, in aided or forced forgetting, in tenure dossiers.

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