Identity Through Interconnection in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony

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Native American healing is based on the belief that everyone and everything on earth is interconnected. Not just interconnectivity within races, but interconnectivity amongst humans, the land, and the nonhuman. In Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, the main character Tayo is both of Pueblo and Western ancestry: two racial identities that clash in their belief systems. Growing up with his Native American traditions was embedded in his way of being, however Western standards did not accept these traditions. Specifically, these differences in Western and Native American cultural identity are shown through the story of the land in respect to nature and the story of the animal. Tayo’s journey to understanding and accepting both Western and Pueblo traditions allowed him to develop a key to consciousness of his own personal identity and acceptance of his mixed-race.

Native American beliefs of the land and nature originate from stories that have been passed on from generation to generation. Their mythology is a tradition of fate and religion. Tayo’s upbringing with these stories has made an impact on the way he views the natural world around him. At one point, Tayo had prayed for the rain to stop and the repetitiveness of his prayer had summoned a curse on the land, which he believed in turn caused a major drought. His prayer for the rain to stop was coupled with a native story of neglecting Nau’ts’ity’I – the mother of all life- and “so she took the plants and grass from them. No baby animals were born. She took the rainclouds with her” (45). This story of neglecting Mother Nature represented Tayo’s gradual distance from his Native American identity and in turn caused a drought. This drought is also a metaphor for Tayo’s need for healing. Water is a source of replenishing not only the land and nature, but also replenishing Tayo’s spirit and need for personal identity. The Native American story on the cause of drought is more than just mythical tale; it is an answer to...
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