Now It Is My Turn To Stand: Defining Yourself Through Land, Oral Tradition and Language

Now It Is My Turn To Stand: Defining Yourself Through Land, Oral Tradition and Language

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How does one define oneself? Is it through land, oral tradition, or language? If we were to ask Simon Ortiz, one of the leading Native American writers, he would answer, to an extent, all of the above. In agreement to Ortiz, Kieu also identify herself through these three factors. “They are all connected in one way or another,” she says. Although these two authors have a completely different background, one being a Native American while the other is a Chinese-Vietnamese-American, they share the same feeling about their identity—that is, they identify themselves through their relation to land, oral tradition, and language.
Ortiz states that the indigenous people and their land have a very close and strong relationship. If the people protect and respect their land, it will return them with favors, such as providing them with nutrient-rich soil that allow them to grow fruits and vegetable on. In fact, he further explains that land and people are one that cannot be separated; they are the essential matter of Existence, and that “without land, there is no life” (Speaking for the Generation, xii). Land, as he stated, is our identity and home place (Ortiz 1988). However, when the earlier settlements came, they conquer the land and the indigenous people, which allow them to treat the Native Americans in any way they wanted. The colonizers had never treated their land in the same way as the Native Americans did. They also prevent the Native Americans to do traditional rituals to affirm their relationship with all things in Creation (Speaking for the Generation xv); therefore, the colonization process foreshadows the breaking of this bond between the Native people and their land.
In “Now It Is My Turn To Stand,” Ortiz mentioned that his Ac...


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...f they ever produce anything at all. My aunt, who is “Americanized,” said that it was just because of the quality of the soil. It is not! When my uncle grows vegetables in his house, everything turns out quite big and delicious. I believed that it was because he worships our ancestor in his house, and the ancestors had blessed the soil at his house only. When these plants were transfer to our rented house together with the soil, the plants withered. The only explanation is that we do not worship our ancestors in our rented house, that’s why our land was not blessed by them. While it might not be the most plausible explanation to some people, it is the only explanation that makes sense to me. After all, it is our tradition to believe this, and believing in this makes up a part of my identity.
Oral tradition is only possible when one tells it in their native language

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