The Story Of A Chipewyan Tribe Essay

The Story Of A Chipewyan Tribe Essay

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In her novel Tracks, Louise Erdrich voices the story of a Chipewyan tribe in the early twentieth century in their struggle to preserve their identity and survive. The Europeans quest to drain people of their land, culture, language and spiritual practices provides the basis to the question of identity seen among characters presented throughout the novel. However, it is primarily through Nanapush’s attempt to maintain the Chipewyan identity through his role as both an elder and trickster, his interplay with Christianity and the Europeans, as well as his art of storytelling that he, his family and their traditions are able to survive the vile hardships put forth by the European settlers in order to transmit their culture forward.
Within Chipewyan traditions, Nanapush, who is noted for being the tribe’s elder is also depicted as being the tribe’s trickster. When his father gives Nanapush his name, he tells him: “Nanapush. That’s what you’ll be called. Because it’s got to do with trickery and living in the bush, because it’s got to do with something a girl can’t resist. The first Nanapush stole fire. You will steal hearts” (Erdrich, 33). By naming him as he does, Nanapush’s father predestines some of the circumstances of his son’s life. It is in fact through Nanapush’s air of being a trickster that he is able to refuse the imposed ways of the European settlers and preserve the notions of his tribe’s identity. This is depicted through the humor and mockery that he imposes upon Pauline, as well as his disbelief and mocking of the church. Through his role as a trickster, Nanapush attempts to reconcile Pauline with herself in order to guide her back to her place within the tribe and end her persistent practice of self-destruction. Further...

... middle of paper ...

...nd Lulu are reunited.
Within Tracks, Louise Erdrich explores the complexities of tribal identity as well as a tribe’s struggle for survival. Through such, the novel focuses on the conflict between Nanapush’s tribe and the European settlers as they begin to impose various treaties and policies which ultimately leads to seize the tribe of their land and identity. Thus, the novel Tracks is primarily concerned with not only the search for, but also the maintenance of identity through European means to systematically destroy the Chipewyans culturally and spiritually. In spite of this, Erdrich describes the Chipewyan prevalence through Nanapush’s interplay of Christianity and the Europeans, as well as his use of traditional Chipewyan elements such as trickery and storytelling which ultimately leads to the route to survival and allows the Chipewyan legacy to be transmitted.

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