Heritage of Blue Highways Essay

Heritage of Blue Highways Essay

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Heritage of Blue Highways

In the country travelers' Bible, Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon takes a journey into his Native American heritage as well as into the heart of American culture. As a person of mixed ancestry, Least Heat Moon wishes to seek the history and experiences of his past in his travels. He is especially interested in the Native American element of his heritage because he had no knowledge of his ancestry as he was growing up. At the point at which he begins his journey, after being a student and scholar of Renaissance literature, Least Heat Moon is able to identify more freely with his past ("Whispers..." 58-60). After completing his exploration, Least Heat Moon rewrote the manuscript of his book six times and struggled to find literary agents and publishers. Eventually Least Heat Moon changed the title of the book to Blue Highways, and his luck began to change.

Throughout several stops within the book, Least Heat Moon relates episodes in the history of his Native American ancestors' lives and experiences. He even changed his name from William Trogdon to his Native American title: William Least Heat Moon. The author explains, "My father calls himself Heat-Moon, my elder brother Little Heat-Moon. I, coming last, am therefore Least" (4). He took the name in order to identify with his ancestry and to honor his Native American kinsmen.

However, one critic thought the changing of his name to be less than genuine saying, "It does not come from Osage country but from Boy Scout make-believe" ("Whispers..." 58-59). Even though William Least Heat Moon knew very little about his Native American past, he was able to recall a long-forgotten family story about one o...


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...er the Nez Perce were forced out of here in the eighteen seventies and the Army sold off their horses" (250). Least Heat Moon often tells how the Native American way of living was not harmful to the land and how their ways were quickly overtaken by the dominating white ways of today.

Throughout Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon identifies many Native American traditions as well as his own Native American ancestry. Even though Least Heat Moon changed his name to clearly identify with his Native American ancestry, he didn't choose it in order to forget about his other lineage. He explains, "I will choose for heart, for spirit, but never will I choose for blood" (5). The main goal of his trip was to head for undiscovered parts of America, but it also provided the chance for Least Heat Moon to connect with his Native American past.

 

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