.. udience now views him beyond the obvious Indian image. I figured out I’m an Indian from these two parts of my Treaty card. See. My face is on one half and my number is on the other half. That picture is what people see.
The number is what the government sees. And the card’s like me. In two parts. Part White. Part Indian. And you put them together.
And you get an Indian. Me. But not cuz’ the government says so. I had to get mad to find that out. That’s good eh? (pg.54).
This quotation reveals to the audience that Melvin has gained pride and acceptance of the given position in life he was granted. In the eyes of many people he appears as a white person, but finally understands that the way the world sees you is directly influenced by how you see, treat, and act towards yourself. Melvins new-founded self respect is the key to change and invokes an understanding for the other Native people who can’t get out of their own self-imprisonment. Teddy Sinclair is an interesting character as well, and if analyzed could create a myriad of levels of discussions. However, in relation to the purpose of this paper needs to be examined for his ability to convey an important message about the need for self-reliance within the paradigm of self-government. When the reserve fails to supply an adequate means of support via welfare checks, Teddy takes it upon himself to establish a new system.
As elected for thief. I mean chief (pg.50) by Nigger, Teddy desperately attempts to form an alliance against the whiteman’s bull*censored* (pg.62). What Ian Ross is attempting to teach the audience through Teddy is that, even though there are many ideas towards corrective measures in regards to Native politics, it is not necessarily appropriate to use these measures hastily. Teddy’s many good intentions are similar to all the intentions of all the white historians who fail to accept the native reality. By establishing this new support system, Teddy denies the others the ability to create their own self-dependency.
Strengthening the thought that Native programs, which are created in haste, are far to often gratifying for the establishers and not the participants, which is apparent in the Freudian slip made by Nigger. Characterizing Robert Traverse as levelheaded, educated and wealthy in reserve standards, makes him the single most important symbol of hope for the Partridge Crop Reserve. Nigger recognizes these things as important for a chief to have, You got money. You dress nice. You’ve got a satellite. You’re the only one around here with a job. We need a guy like you in the band office.
(Pg. 24) Robert however, feels that the position of chief is more complex than simply owning material possessions. It’s been in receivership. That’s like being bankrupt. (Pg.
24) and that the reserve needs more than sensitivity to traditions to overcome its obstacles. It is obvious that Robert is tired of having his things stolen, laziness and the dependency the others have on welfare checks, What’s with you *censored*in’ Indians huhn? Get a job. Get off of Welfare. Stop taking my things. (Pg. 83) Although these things that Robert is upset about are made to be important to the story only, the audience doesn’t have to fully analyze or even understand Native culture to realize what Ross was intending to show through Robert. Everyone has a sense of obligation to the things that made us who we are, some of us however, feel more obligated to these things, and thereby creating situations that a person normally would not normally feel pressured into experiencing or even accepting.
If Robert were to give up and walk away from all the madness then there would be no balance between the binary forces of right and wrong. It is also through Robert that the reader is brought into the realities of all politics, not just in Partridge Crop Reserve politics exclusively. On the one hand we have the character Teddy who navely underestimates the responsibilities of elections and the position of chief. And on the other hand we have the character Robert who is responsible and understands that being chief is more than just a name. However, the reality amongst these characters that the reader can easily identify with is the lack of organization and agreement between the two leaders.
After Nigger has been presumed killed Robert says accusingly, If you hadn’t played your stupid politics none of this would have happened. Self-government. You’ve gotten someone killed now. This is why Self-government will never work. Because there’ll always be people like you. (Pg. 85) Teddy feeling insecure and defenseless states, And people like you Robert. Telling us to stay the same. (Pg.85), this is typical in any form of argument beyond the scope of politics, it can occur over insignificant details, or it can occur over matters of huge importance.
Usually it involves name-calling and Teddy and Robert are not excluded from this area, words like irresponsible, chickens-*censored*, selfish, Heathen and finally Christian (Pg. 85), were relayed between these two characters within the same paragraph. Even after all the lost hope and despair that Robert feel he knows that he is greatly indebted to his culture and must use his skills and gifts to help the other people on the reserve attain a way of life without dependency.fenced in and forced to give up everything that had meaning to our lifeBut under the long snows of despair the little spark of our ancient beliefs and pride kept glowing, just barely sometimes, waiting for a warm wind to blow that spark into a flame again. (Acoose, Pg. 55) For centuries Aboriginal peoples have been perpetually imprisoned within physical and stereotypical surroundings by years of historical injustices.
With little hope and much despair they have fought desperately to regain their faith and strength in the traditions of the past. This little spark of ancient beliefs and pride wavers between conformity and traditions until it no longer is apparent what the struggle is for. In order to foster strength and pride in the Native culture it must be accepted for all its facets unconditionally. Ross grew up on a reserve and it is with this knowledge that he can accurately illustrate the reality of reserve life. It is authors like Ross, who by his failing to conform to the Euro-Canadian perception of the Native Experience fosters pride and strength to the native communities at large.
Ross makes a positive contribution to the literary world by writing and articulating the Native reality. Ross and all respectful writers, who acknowledge it as such, are the warm wind by which sparks ignite. Every community of all backgrounds needs to educate and strengthen the next generation about and for the continuance of cultural identities. Sadly, it is too often unfairly thought that the suffering of Natives of their physical, spiritual, sexual, and physiological abuses, are not parts of the Native cultural identity and experience. Bibliography 1. Iskewak Kah’Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak, Janice Acoose, 1995, Womens Press, 2.
fareWel, Ian Ross, 1996, first published 1997 by Scirocco Drama, An imprint of J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing. Inc.