Neither Canadian or American: The Status of Native Culture and Identity In Contemporary Society Depicted In Thomas King’s Borders

Topics: Indigenous peoples of the Americas, United States, North America Pages: 4 (1387 words) Published: March 23, 2014
Neither Canadian or American: The Status of Native Culture and Identity In Contemporary Society Depicted In Thomas King’s Borders

ENGL2P66
Wednesday February 12th 2014
Word Count:

Thomas King’s Borders, is a first person narrative designed to represent the continuing loss of identity experienced by the native population in contemporary North America. Borders tells the story of a native family living on a reservation located close to the Albertan-Montanan boarder in Western Canada. The protagonist of Borders is the unnamed mother of the family, who by refusing to properly state her nationality, is not allowed to cross the border with her young son. When asked to state her nationality by the border authorities, the mother answers “Blackfoot.” This confuses the border guards, who are expecting the general answer of “American” or “Canadian.” The mother refuses to generalize her ethnicity as distinctly American or Canadian, which results in the family’s inability to cross the border line. King draws on the use of satire in Borders to comically address the lack of identity attributed to natives in contemporary society. This essay will critically examine King’s work to showcase the function of figurative cultural borders in modern day society, as well as the concerning issue of native identity in the text. The mother’s proud refusal to equate her racial background with citizenship, Laetita’s attitude toward her cultural identity as a Blackfoot in the text, and the treatment of the narrator and his mother by the border authorities: all illustrate the cultural and political position of King’s text. King showcases the loss of native’s unique cultural identity to the pressures of assimilation, while also providing a political commentary on the treatment of native peoples and native culture in contemporary North America. As the protagonist of the text, the mother’s racial pride and stubbornness comes to the forefront in terms of thematic...
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