Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Carla L. Verderame, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn Sorisio, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cherise Pollard, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tim Dougherty, Ph.D.


Oglala Lakota poet Layli Long Soldier and her 2017 book of poetry, Whereas, make a stunning new—and still largely unexplored—contribution to paradigms of contemporary experimental poetry, Indigenous sovereignty, metaphysics, and decolonial futurisms. Emerging amidst a resurgence in the global visibility of Indigenous activism, Whereas engages entanglements of contemporary Indigenous politics, responding to issues such as the 2009 Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Americans and the 2016/2017 Standing Rock #NoDAPL movement. Furthermore, Long Soldier’s experimental and intertextual poetry in Whereas incorporates various pieces of Lakota language, history, and cultural survivance—a critical foundation which situates her efforts within a legacy of Indigenous literatures and theoretical scholarship working to destabilize hegemonic settler colonial conventions while preserving and prioritizing Indigenous perspectives. Through such work, Long Soldier’s text functions as a vehicle for Indigenous sovereignty and decoloniality. My work is engaged in exploring how Long Soldier’s poetic project in Whereas contributes to an Indigenous metaphysical sovereignty by unsettling principles of hegemonic Western settler colonial metaphysics and by asserting pieces of an Indigenous space-time. I argue that Long Soldier constellates poetic pluriversal pieces of metaphysical understanding in her poetry as a nuanced methodology with which to construct Indigenous decolonial futures, and I also emphasize that her work necessitates further scholarship on contemporary experimental literatures from culturally and metaphysically rooted perspectives.