Native Americans make up less than .9% of the United States population. With this trivial number, it is difficult to keep its culture and traditions alive as generations progress. In the short story “War Dances,” author Sherman Alexie morns the loss of Native American identity through a deprecating tone which illustrate a divide between generations.
Traditions and old teachings are essential to Native American culture; however growing up in the modern west creates a distance and ignorance about one’s identity. In the beginning, the narrator is in the hospital while as his father lies on his death bed, when he than encounters fellow Native Americans. One of these men talks about an elderly Indian Scholar who paradoxically discussed identity, “She had taken nostalgia as her false idol-her thin blanket-and it was murdering her” (6). The nostalgia represents the old Native American ways. The woman can’t seem to let go of the past, which in turn creates confusion for the man to why she can’t let it go because she was lecturing “…separate indigenous literary identity which was ironic considering that she was speaking English in a room full of white professors”(6). The man’s ignorance with the elderly woman’s message creates a further cultural identity struggle. Once more in the hospital, the narrator talks to another Native American man who similarly feels a divide with his culture. “The Indian world is filled with charlatan, men and women who pretend…” (5). The language used indicates a distance. Rather than using the word, “our”, to describe his heritage, the man says the,” Indian world”, which disassociates himself from the older generation of Native Americans. When the speaker does finally get the blanket he has been searching for, the elderly Native American man who gave him the blanket and says “let me bless it (blanket).” “I flinched…That was dangerous”(7). The syntax used creates a tense mood and is present only because the...
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