John Fire Lame Deer is a Native American who has been raised in two completely different worlds. One being a world of animistic beliefs tightly binding Native American communities and the other being the capitalistic world of the European-American. John Fire Lame Deer participated in a popular rite of passage among Native American tribes known as the vision quest allowing him his first glimpse of the spirit world. By looking at John Fire Lame Deer's experiences as a Native American growing up in a culture that is slowly being eradicated by a larger more dominant culture we can see how his experiences and actions have created his unique views of American culture today.
The vision quest is one of the defining moments for an adolescent in any Native American tribe for it allows them to discover their personal spirit guides and enlightens them about their life work. The vision quest is by no means an easy task for the youth. It requires going into nature alone attempting to survive while not eating, drinking, or having comfortable surroundings about. This belief in animism directly connects to the vision quest as a rite of passage. The belief that all things in nature are connected and are alive with spirits shows us that Native Americans consider themselves a part of nature, not above it.
In John Fire Lame Deer's vision quest we can see expressions of animistic belief through the visions that he receives. John Fire Lame Deer has an intense desire to become a medicine man, yet he needs the support of the spirit world. It is believed in Native American culture that healing comes from the ability to recognize and "suck out" disease, and one needs spiritual guidance before being able to practice the art of healing. John Fire Lame Deer receives the vision of a large bird circling indicating his spirit guide is to be that of an eagle. He also receives a vision of his grandfather indicating that he would like John Fire Lame Deer to take his name. By obeying the...
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