Analysis Of The Poem ' Black River ' By Maurice Kenny Essay

Analysis Of The Poem ' Black River ' By Maurice Kenny Essay

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Much of the literature studied on Indigenous culture concerns the effects of Assimilation. Assimilation is a strategy used by colonial groups mostly in the Western world to try and “Make Indigenous culture disappear” (Episkenew, 8). This paper will show how the Poem, “Black River” by Maurice Kenny illustrates the effects of assimilation of Indigenous peoples and the role lose of identity has on their social determinants of health. While the literary work is short, it effectively demonstrates invisible losses stemming from a market driven environment. The poem illustrates the poor influences on social determinants of health with three main themes: loss of environment, interruption of family dynamic, and forcing the adoption of Western lifestyle.
“Black River”, while a short poem, is what readers can see as empirical evidence of assimilation and colonialism. The poem shows some explicit phrases of loss, but through deeper analysis in this paper, we will see that the author is alluding to invisible losses which lead to social determinants of health. In conjunction with Rob Nixon’s “Slow Violence” and Jo-Ann Episkenew’s “Myth, Policy, Health”, I will demonstrate the poetry as factual evidence of how assimilation influences Indigenous groups health.
Invisible losses are similar to what Rob Nixon describes as “slow violence”. Slow violence is, “violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all” (Nixon, 2). Invisible losses have the same sort of meaning in that they are losses where one is deprived of cultural, spiritual, and or religious beliefs and those set of losses have a certain level of...


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...e and embarrassment (Episkenew, 16). “Tribal relations” are also a vital part of their healing and cultural identity that is able to be re-kindled through Indigenous storytelling even theatrical productions. The priority being to heal their mental and emotional health and with the support of each other, this cohesive community stands a better chance at surviving.
The irony in this analysis is that the healing mechanisms involve plays or poetry and “Black River” can be seen as an awareness piece towards moving forward. Episkenew cites that “In order to live the life that Canadians want, we have to treat Indians as polish and lower ranking “a genesis of White privilege (Episkenew, 6). However, Kenny does a good job of showing the “Black River” as empirical evidence of the influence assimilation and identity loss has on Indigenous groups social determinants of help.

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