Native American History in the Twentieth Century Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Native American History In the Twentieth Century focuses on the famous novel written by Erdrich Louise called Tracks. This paper focuses on the theme of the novels and links them to the following novels namely, Talking Back to Civilization by Frederick Hoxie, Boarding School Seasons by Brenda Child and Major Problems in American Indian History by Hurtado and Iverson. This paper also highlights the problems, which the Native Indians had to face after the coming of the Europeans.

Native American History In The Twentieth Century

After the Europeans first encounter with Native people living in the New World to the recent years that have followed, the United States Government is trying to serve the Native American population with the best of all needs. Tribal lands, money for better health services, education, good medical facilities, funding programs to fight poverty are all being provided to the Native Americans by the government. Besides paying tribes millions of dollars as collateral for their lands, the government is also allowing them to run casinos on their own lands. As a result of this the economic conditions of many tribes have greatly improved.

To fully comprehend the Native American culture and its survival, Louise Erdrich's Tracks becomes quite resourceful. Tracks points out the conventional significance of spoken culture. The novel intends to provide strong medicine to its audience as the Chippewa tribe struggles for their spiritual, physical, and cultural survival during the beginning of the 20th century. The novel considers various styles of Nanapush's and Pauline's narratives. Nanapush narrates a story to Lulu, Fleur's daughter. Lulu according to a birth certificate is Nanapush's daughter but in reality has to relation with him. Within the conventions of the novel, this is an oral narrative, in which tribal memories are passed on, and Lulu's past is explained to her (Tracks, (

While narrating to Lulu, Nanapush attempts to explain the intricacies, which occurred during the past. During his task he tries to add soul to the memories of how the Native Americans endured all hardships and still managed to triumph all changeover of their people from a tribal to a destabilized society, with its uneasy mix of Native and European-American philosophies, ideologies and political realities (Tracks, ( received his earlier and formal education from white schools. His education helped him in combating the consequence of the various land treaties and allotment acts. He accomplished these tasks by apprehending the written laws and involving himself with government bureaucracy. One of the themes of the novels that is highlighted by Erdrich Louise, which is also conveyed by Frederick Hoxie in his novel, Talking Back to Civilization focuses on the struggles of the Native Americans during their most difficult times set the foundations of the modern Native American culture. According to Frederick,

Of all the myths that distort our understanding of the Native American experience, none is more powerful than the belief that the rise of the modern United States caused the destruction of the Indians' culture" (Scholar says Indian reformers' outspokenness saved native cultures, (

In his novel, Frederick Hoxie basically states that even though the United States did everything to wipe out the Native American's traditions it however failed to completely eliminate their culture. He further states that even though the 19th century proved to be the worst era for the Native Indians it marks an important place in their history. As a result of Native people voicing their demands early in the 20th century, the Native culture was saved. Hoxie said, "inspired the cultural survival that has become the central theme of their modern history" (Scholar says Indian reformers' outspokenness saved native cultures, (

In Tracks, Nanapush relates that he has learned the white people's ways but is resistant to them where he feels they are wrong. He fully understands that no matter how great the Native people's efforts are they cannot bring back what actually used to be the Native's culture, but they can certainly stop any further damage from occurring. Frederick Hoxie points out the same analyses in his novel. He said, the earliest infrastructure for the modern Native American community. By making their ideas known, finding places where they could be heard, and encouraging the emergence of new political leaders, they made it possible for Indians to communicate with outsiders and with each other in new ways" (Scholar says Indian reformers' outspokenness saved native cultures, (

Later in the novel, Nanapush's narration includes stories regarding the power of words that is while substantiating the strength of the Native American humor in his own life, Nanapush dare the gods and outplays death by playing a trick on them. Nanapush is represented to the audience as a person with a great sense of humor. By being a signatory to what happened with his family and people, Nanapush, a sole survivor and tribe elder fights death. Nanapush says, "During the year of the sickness, when I was the last one left, I saved myself by starting a story. I got well by talking. Death could not get a word in edgewise, grew discouraged, and traveled on" (Native American Humor; Powerful Medicine in Louise Erdrich's Tracks, ( novel shows that during the course of ten years while tribal land and faith between people erode and even though men and women are pushed to their heights of their perseverance their pride and humor forbids them from abdication.

During the novel, the audience learns of other Nanapush's goals. He tries to save Fleur's land from the claim, which the United States government has made. He strives to save the people of the tribe from being killed by the Whites in the brutal battles over the land tenures. During the course of these events Nanapush and Fleur are threatened by the caustic forces, which have originated within the tribe. Pauline who is the other narrator of the novel is the delegate of the self-division that disintegrates the Chippewa community from within. It is Pauline, who as a result of her ego, wounded narcissism and envy causes Fleur's unfortunate lover, Eli Kashpaw to betray her for the youthful Sophie Morrisey, which incites the act of vengeance and betrayal.

Tracks focuses on the reservation era in the United States history in relations to the Native Americans. During this time the government intended to restrict the Native Americans to a strictly confined area. The Dawes Allotment Act of 1887 was intended, in part, to assimilate Native Americans to the white culture by making them private landowners and farmers. Since the American society was very much based on private property and farming, an effort was made to integrate Native Americans into United States society, the Dawes Act divided Indian reservations into individual sections of land (Transforming The Trail Of Tears: Native American Policy Over Time, ( though the idea behind the introduction of this act was to enhance the relationship between the Native Americans and the white settlers, it proved to be a disaster in the end. It was seen that most of the areas, which were allotted, included desert like areas where cultivation was impossible. As a result poverty arose and despair spread among the people of the reservations.

In Tracks, Nanapush relates his events with the education he acquired with the White people in the boarding school. This part of the novel show similarities to Brenda Child's novel, Boarding School Seasons. Brenda's novel reveals the experiences and viewpoints of the Native American children who attended federal boarding school. This book provides a glimpse into Ojibwe families thoughts, motivations, and hopes for the future, perspectives that have often been overlooked in historical research. According to Brenda, "Letters are at the heart of this story"; she refers to the hundreds of letters written by Ojibwe children and their parents (Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940, (

The second chapter of the novel, From Reservation to Boarding School relates to the events in Tracks when the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887 was introduced. In this chapter the writers writes about the impacts of the act passed which eventually resulted in degrading economic situations for the people living on the Indian reservations. Brenda shows how families resorted to the Federal Indian Boarding schools in order to protect their children from the pathetic conditions and seek medical and educational facilities. Brenda says, "Boarding school became a solution for many urban Indian women when they were not able to support a family" (Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940, ( points out the essential letters, which were exchanged between parents and children, school superintendents and BIA's agents concerning homesickness. This only portrays how hard it was at that time to acquire permission to meet children. The school personnel and BIA's officials rejected most of these permissions. Children were never granted permission to leave the premises of the school and this varied according to their age. Hence, both Tracks and Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940, show through their text the historical works and documents written…

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