Creation stories play a very important role in Native
These stories, like Native American society, often
blend the natural and the supernatural and feature
animals and creatures in central roles.
is sitting in her room
and whatever she thinks about
Thought-Woman, the spider,
Named things and
As she named them
She is sitting in her room
Thinking of a story now
I’m telling you the story
She is thinking.
Native American tribes do not possess the Western
concept of the hero.
There are leaders, to be sure, but the tribal mentality
emphasizes the worth of all individuals (and
creatures) as everybody has an important role to play.
Consequently, leaders often do not start as, typical
Western heroes, seemingly extraordinary in many
ways but rather simply, and often quietly, play the role
they are meant to play when the time comes.
The Emergence of Fools Crow
“And it occurred to him that the others had quit
teasing him so unmercifully. He was no longer the
victim of jokes, at least not more so than any of the
others. No one had called him dog-lover since the raid
on the Crows. He hadn’t really noticed it until now,
but the people seemed to respect him” (Welch 51-52).
In the movie, the supremely evil Tartutic are necessary.
They are the force of justice. Without this evil force,
peace could not be kept in the Blue World.
This instance represents the ideal that balance is
supremely important in Native American tribal life.
Whereas Western society emphasizes the triumph of
good over evil, Native American tribes seek to keep the
two forces in balance as each has their role to play.
quot;traditional American Indian literatures possess a unity
and harmony of symbol, structure, and articulation that is
peculiar to the American Indian world. This harmony is
based on the perceived harmony of the universe and on
thousands of years of refinement. This essential sense of
unity among all things flows like a clear stream through
the songs and stories of the peoples of the western
hemispherequot; (Allen 75).
“But don’t be so quick to call something good or bad.
There are balances and harmonies always shifting, always
necessary to maintain” (Silko 130).
Owing to its reliance on oral tradition, Native
American culture values stories and storytellers.
Stories are told and retold (in a variety of ways) in
order to equip the next generation with the tools they
As such, stories are seen, not simply as frivolity, but
rather as reality.
I will tell you something about stories
They aren’t just entertainment.
Don’t be fooled.
They are all we have, you see,
All we have to fight off
Illness and death.
You don’t have anything
If you don’t have the stories.
Their evil is mighty
But it can’t stand up to our stories.
So they try to destroy the stories
Let the stories be confused or forgotten.
They would like that
They would be happy
Because we would be defenseless then.
‘This isn’t my guitar… But I’m gonna change the world
with it’ (Alexie 13).
“Thomas Builds-the-Fire’s stories climbed into your
clothes like sand, have you itches that could not be
scratched. If you repeated even a sentence from one of
the stories, your throat was never the same again.
Those stories hung in your clothes and hair like smoke,
and no amount of laundry soap or shampoo washed
them out” (Alexie 15).
‘so… who’s the lead singer?’ (Alexie 52).
Just as in the movie, the interpretation of signs is vital
in Native American culture and literature.
First of all, this is essential from a survival standpoint
in that a failure to read signs, makes one susceptible to
Additionally, in Native American literature, characters
who listen to and are able to interpret signs are often
saved, protected, or redeemed, while those who ignore
or fail to recognize signs often find themselves in
“Junior always expected his visions to come true.
Indians were supposed to have visions and receive
messages from their dreams. All the Indians on
television had visions that told them exactly what to
do” (Alexie 18).
Junior eventually commits suicide.
Ceremonies in Native American tribes serve as a healing
force not only in the lives of the afflicted individual but
rather for the tribe as a whole.
quot;The purpose of the ceremony is to integrate: to fuse the
individual with his or her fellows…. The person shed the
isolated, individual personality and is restored to
conscious harmony with the universequot; (Allen 62).
quot;an isolated or alienated individual is a sick one, so the
healing practice centers on reintegrating the isolated
individual into the matrix of the universequot; (88).
quot;And whether the ritual traditions are in ceremony, myth,
or novel, the nourish the people. They give meaning. They
give lifequot; (101).
The movie ends in a ceremony.
Isolation = sickness
Heep – isolates himself
Leeds represents an older version of the path Heep is on
Story goes home – reenters her world
Heep is healed both physically (stutter) and emotionally
Leeds is given a purpose in the group
The residents all come out of their own worlds and come
together for the ceremony
Meaning and Life
Leeds and Heep finally given meaning and purpose
What She Said:
The Only Cure
Is a good ceremony,
That’s what she said.