Native American Literature

Published: 2021-08-12 15:10:06
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Category: American Literature

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Native American literature is based on the everyday lives and experiences of the people native to North America. There are four main themes in Native Americas literature: displacement, “thou vs. it”, definition of evil, and assimilation. The most prominent is displacement which is expressed through the removal from one’s home, the removal of one’s language, and the removal of one’s identity. The first example of displacement was the removal of Native Americans from their homes and homelands.
This excerpt from On Indian Removal shows the Natives being moved away from their homes by the English settlers “It will separate them from immediate contact with settlements of whites…” (Jackson 3. ). The natives were moved without any option to areas with terrible living conditions. Natives were also violently chased from their homes. “The American armies always drove them out at harvest time, making them face winter without food or shelter…” (Thom 1. ). This quote shows English armies driving them out very forcefully right at harvest time; this left the Natives on the run, cold, and starving.
From panther in the sky, this quote is another example of displacement “It was now just as it had been most of her life, the people fleeing, the war chiefs protecting them—except that now they were not in their homeland anymore. ” (Thom 3. ).. It shows how the natives of that time had been running for most of their lives. The second form of displacement is the loss of the Native’s languages due to the Englishman’s pressure. After assimilation many Native Americans lost their language. “…and I never understood her prayer…” (Edrich 1184. ) this quote from “The Way to Rainy Mountain. shows that over the years many Natives lost their languages. Children were taken and placed into boarding schools due to displacement. “The experience in boarding schools which existed from 1875 to 1928 was difficult for Indian children who were forbidden to speak their Native language…” (Native 1. ). In these boarding schools the Native children were punished if caught speaking in their Native tongue and this led to the loss of their language. New laws passed by English affected Native language as well. “…the outlawing of native languages…” (Native 1. This quote comes from “Native Americans”. Once the English began legally punishing Native who spoke their language, the languages then became less known by generations to come. The third form of displacement was the complete loss of Natives’ identity. In the following quote from “Native Americans” there are examples of Natives losing their identities: “Military defeat, cultural pressure, confinement to reservation, forced cultural assimilation…”. The natives are forced to assimilate into English culture causing displacement of overall identity.

In the next quote from On Indian Removal Natives begin to give up on old customs “Two important tribes have excepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages…” (Jackson 1. ). In this Native American begin to give into English pressure leaving behind their heritage and identity. This next quote from “The Names of Women. ” shows total loss of Native names “renaming became an ecclesiastical exercise, and, as a result, most women in the next two generations bear the names of saints…” (Edrich 1182. . The natives were given new names, by the Englishman, to replace their original names. This practice led to the demise of many native identities. As a result of Displacement Native American lives were changed forever. By loss of their home they suffered, whether it have been English settlers peacefully removing and relocating them or the English violently pushing them from their homes as seen in Panther in The Sky. Natives also lost their languages through displacement. Lastly, the Native Americans lost their identities by the hands of those foreign to their country that came to America and took utter control.
Works Cited

Edrich, Louis. “The Names of Women. ” Glencoe American Literature. Eds. Beverly Ann Chinn, et. Al. Columbus, Ott: Glencoe, 2002. pp. 1181-1185.
 Jackson, A. “President Andrew Jackson” On Indian Removal. Print. Momaday, N. Scott. from “The Way to Rainy Mountain. ”Glencoe American Literature. Eds. Beverly Ann Chinn, et. Al. Columbus, Ott: Glencoe, 2002. Pp. 1054-59
Native Americans. home. comcast. com. n. p. n. d. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.
Thom, James Alexander. Prologue. from Panther in The Sky. N. Y. : Ballatine 1989

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