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Exploring identity, assimilation, and the effect of a dominant white society on present day Native Americans.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring identity, assimilation, and the effect of a dominant white society on present day Native Americans."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring identity, assimilation, and the effect of a dominant white society on present day Native Americans

2 Chris Eyre Filmmaker Joanne Shenandoah Musician Louise Erdrich Author

3 Louise Erdrich Born July 6, 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota She and her family moved to North Dakota and lived nearby the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation where her mother grew up. Most of her novels take place on the reservation. Her parents were teachers at the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school. Her heritage is a mixture of Ojibwe (Chippewa), French, and German. Erdrich’s greatest role model was her grandfather who served as a tribal chairman on the reservation. She attended Dartmouth College where she pursued studies in Native American culture and writing. She got her masters at John Hopkins and then went to work at Dartmouth as a writer in residence. Erdrich married her professor Michael Dorris, the chair of the Native American Studies Department at Dartmouth. He was well known as a writer and as an advocate for understanding fetal alcohol syndrome. They had a great literary relationship until their estrangement and Michael's death. She now lives in Minnesota with her daughters where she owns a small bookstore.

4 Works by Louise Erdrich Novels Poetry Love Medicine Jacklight The Beet Queen Baptism of Desire Tracks Original Fire The Bingo Palace Tales of Burning Love The Antelope Wife The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse The Master Butcher’s Singing Club Four Souls The Painted Drum The Crown of Columbus (co written with Michael Dorris) She has also written numerous children books and a memoir on childbirth

5 “There were lots of people with mixed blood, lots of people with their own confusions. I realized that this was part of my life- it wasn’t something that I was making up- and that it was something that I wanted to write about.” Louise Erdrich

6 Chris Eyre   Born in 1968 and grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon   Member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe of Oklahoma   Received his Associate’s Degree in Television Production from Mt. Hood Community College   He then attended the University of Arizona and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Arts.   He was accepted to attend the Graduate Film Program at New York University. His short film Tenacity won first place in the Graduate Film Department and was invited to screen at the 1995 Sundance Festival.   He was invited to attend the Sundance Institute’s Directing Workshop and was mentored by Robert Redford and other Hollywood greats.   His first feature film, Smoke Signals, won the Audience Award and Filmmaker's Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and was bought by Miramax Films.   He is known as the first Native American to direct a feature film that received a national theatrical release.

7 “I love making movies and telling people's stories. So far, the ones that have interested me the most are the ones I'm making. The cultural aspects of the film mean nothing if you're not personally and emotionally engaged in the characters you are watching. I am interested in the people I'm portraying." Chris Eyre

8 Joanne Shenandoah Joanne Shenandoah is a Wolf Clan member of the Oneida Nation (Iroquois) Her father was the an Onondaga Tribal Chief and both of her parents encouraged her musically from a young age. She spent 14 years as a computer programmer until her “reawakening.” She has been recording since the 1980’s. She has been nominated for a Grammy twice and she has won the Native American Music Award numerous times. She has also been recognized as “A Native American Woman of Hope” She was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Music at Syracuse University in Her music blends traditional music with contemporary instruments.

9 "As musicians we represent not just ourselves, but our families and community. When I stand on the stage I am with those Oneidas who struggled, past and present, to protect our identity, culture and spiritual beliefs." Joanne Shenandoah

10 Common Threads throughout the Arts Erdrich, Eyre, and Shenandoah are all present day Native Americans who are proud of their culture. Through their chosen art forms, they seek to instill pride in their fellow Native Americans. Subjects include the negative aspects of modern day Native American way of life yet have an underlying hopeful tone. Show a balance between traditional ways and modern ways as a alternative to assimilating completely into white society. They strive to protect their identity and culture.

11 Love Medicine Plot: Love Medicine tells the story of thirteen Native Americans living on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. The characters, including Marie and Nector Kashpaw, Lulu Nanapush, Lyman and Henry Lamartine, and Lipsha Morrisey struggle to affirm their identity and maintain their culture in the face of alcholism, depression, poverty, self-doubt and their own haunting pasts. Style: Louise Erdrich utilizes multiperspectivity with chapters shifting from first person to third person and from past to present throughout the novel and with each chapter being told from the perspective of a different character. The novel emulates a traditional Chippewa story cycle, in which Native Americans tell stories through oral tradition. Erdirch also has a uniquely poetic writing style. The shifting voices and fluid writing style reinforces the water imagery in the novel. Tone: depressing and dark yet hopeful, humorous, and benevolent “Even while the characters suffer, the joy and beauty they experience emerges with a poetic sense.” Donna Woodford

12 Love Medicine Themes: Through love, understanding, and forgiveness Native Americans can discover and come to terms with their identities and assert themselves proudly in a contemporary society. “Forgiving somebody else made the whole thing easier to bear” Love Medicine, 254 Voicing the pain within can absolve the wounds of the past and become an act of healing. “Throughout the many stories that make up the novel, characters search for a ‘love medicine,’ a trick or potion that will bring them the love they so desperately need. In the end however it is the stories themselves that prove to be the love medicine.” Woodford Erdrich also emphasizes throughout the novel the importance of family bonds which is an integral part of Native American culture. Imagery: water, cars, rocks, nature, animals, love medicine, fire, space, apples

13 Water Imagery Water imagery highlights the character’s overall insecurity with their identity as Native Americans. Also, water separates the characters from one another, loosening their strength as a family unit. “I’d hold my breath when I hit and let the current pull me toward the surface, around jagged rocks. I wouldn’t fight it, and in that way I’d get to shore,” Love Medicine 124 “Time was rushing around me like water around at big wet rock. The only difference is, I was not so durable as stones.” LM 127 “I think of small stones… I see no kindness in how the waves are grinding them smaller and smaller until they finally disappear.” LM 96 “I’d heard that this river was the last of an ancient ocean, miles deep, that had once covered the Dakotas and solved all our problems. It was still easy to imagine us beneath them vast unreasonable waves, but the truth is we live on dry land. I got inside. The morning was clear. A good road led on. So there was nothing to do but cross the water, and bring her home.” LM 366

14 To Those Who Dream For so long I dreamed a dream where the sweet grass still grows and where the wise ones still know how to dream For so long I dreamed a dream where the people spoke their tongue and where the elders still teach the young I dreamed a dream To those that dream I sing this song, above and beyond, beyond the sky, beyond the sky they dream To those that dream above the stars, wherever they are, beyond the sky, beyond the sky they dream

15 The Bingo Palace Plot: The main character Lipsha Morrisey returns to the reservation after trying to find a place where he belongs in white America. Still lacking a sense of belonging when he returns, he falls in love with Shawnee Ray, who is also considering a marriage proposal from his uncle Lyman Lamartine. At the same time, a “Bingo Palace” is slated to be built on sacred ground. Style: Erdrich utilizes multiperspectivity and switches from first person to third person throughout the novel. The writing style is poetic and interwoven with extensive imagery. Tone: Naïve and insecure (Lipsha) passionate, tender, and hopeful (Shawnee Ray) despondent, proud, and insecure (Lyman) - serene at the end Imagery: chance, luck, bingo, nature, space, stars, dancing Themes: Although life is often misdirected by forces beyond one’s control, an understanding of the meaning of love, the power of selflessness, and the needs of others will mend the holes in a broken spirit. You cannot love someone if you do not fully appreciate who they are as a person.

16 The Bingo Palace “I have reconsidered. If my love is worth anything, it will be larger than myself.” BP 229 “He knew from sitting in the still eye of chance that fate was not random. Chance was full of runs and soft noise, pardons and betrayals and double- backs. Chance was patterns of a stranger complexity than we could name, but predictable.” The Bingo Palace 226 “…love is the essential medicine, the power that binds humanity together…[Lipsha] realizes fully that that the human response is to hold onto others, to comfort and protect and receive comfort and protection.” Terry Heller “luck don’t stick when you sell it,” BP 220 “It seemed, on thinking back, that there, in the little border station, in the hands of the first non-Indian who ever attached that pipe together, sky would crash to earth.” BP 35

17 Her Dance Shawnee Ray does Traditional Jingle Dress Dancing in The Bingo Palace as a means of earning money to pay for a better future. The tone of Joanne Shenandoah’s piece is hopeful and almost calming.

18 Tracks Plot: The novel begins in the wake of two epidemics that have devastated the Chippewa tribe. Tracks is a saddening look at the Turtle Mt. Reservation’s battle with starvation, disease, infidelity, betrayal, assimilation, and death. The main characters, Pauline Puyat, Fleur Pillager, and Nanapush, represent the successful and unsuccessful “tracks” that Native Americans might follow to avert disaster, while attempting to retain humor and personal dignity. Style: Narrative first person from perspective of Nanapush and Pauline. Same fluid and poetic writing style as Erdrich’s other books. Tone: Dark, somber, morose, self-loathing, reverent, mythic, proud, bleak at times, at other times hopeful Imagery: traditional Tribal customs, nature, Christ, cards, gambling, hunting, death, life Theme: With a balance of acceptance for the new ways and respect and appreciation for the old, Native Americans will survive the dangers of a pervading white society.

19 Tracks “Our tribe unraveled like a coarse rope, frayed at either end as the old and new among us were taken…In the years I’d passed, I saw more change than in a hundred upon hundred before.” Tracks 2 “I was an orphan and my parents had died in grace, and also, despite my deceptive features, I was not one speck of Indian but wholly white.” T 137 “Although Fleur is finally beaten down, she becomes so only after having a powerful influence on all those around her. She demonstrates that there are different ways to live than liquor and the dollar bill and that there is dignity and even power in the way she has chosen.” Sidner Larson “To become a bureaucrat myself was the only was that I could wade through the letters, the reports, the only place I could find a ledge to kneel on, to reach through the loophole and draw you home.” T 225 “Nanapush represents a positive kind of an ability to live between cultural extremes without being torn apart by contradiction” David Carlson

20 The Peacemaker is Born This song tells the story of the Iroquois legend of the Peacemaker. The song is traditional, and yet Shenandoah mixes in contemporary instruments as well The tone is reverential and peaceful.

21 Common Threads: Identity Throughout all three of Erdrich’s novels, the characters question their identities and their places in society as present day Native Americans. “I felt I had no inside voice…no Marie.” Love Medicine 54 “Remember Custer’s saying? The only good Indian is a dead Indian? Well from my dealing with whites I would add to that quote: ‘The only interesting Indian is dead, or dying by falling backwards off a horse.’” LM 124 “Belonging was a matter of deciding to. Through many trials I had seen this to be true. I decided I belonged.” LM 348 “I have this sudden knowledge that no matter what I do with my life, no matter how far away I go, or change, or grow and gain, I will never get away from here.” The Bingo Palace 21 “Pauline represents all the pain, rage, and frustration of a person forced to live in two different cultures while being rejected to a large degree by both.” Sidner Larson

22 Common Threads: Healing As the characters in Love Medicine narrate their stories, the stories themselves become an act of healing- “Lispha’s voice was a steady bridge over a deep space of sickness I was crossing. If I just kept listening I knew I’d get past it all right.” Love Medicine 38 In The Bingo Palace, Lyman and Shawnee Ray dance as a way to mend their spirits- “… when Lyman danced in those clothes, it was to keep Henry alive, to give him heart, for his drowned ghost was restless and low in spirit…Then Lyman danced his own rough struggle from the freezing muscle of water where he had jumped in to grab Henry back, and failed…carefully, gracefully, with completeness, hour after hour, until finally, from the drum and with the singers just past the clearing, he heard Henry’s voice ride the sky. In Tracks Nanapush uses the power of words to heal- “I got well by talking. Death could not get a word in edgewise, grew discouraged, and traveled on.” Tracks 46 It is so calm, so calm In that place where I am My little brother” BP 205

23 First movie to be co-directed, written, and produced by a Native American. Plot: Victor embarks on a journey to Phoenix with a nerd named Thomas to retrieve his abusive father’s ashes. Along the way he comes to terms with his father’s abandonment and his identity. Subjects: alcoholism, abuse, Reservation life, white society’s view towards Native Americans, identity searching, the value of friendship and family

24 Works Cited ndance2.jpg


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