February 17, 2015
Blue Winds Dancing
What is race and how does it make who and how we are in society? Do we classify what we by our complexion, ethnicity, gender or all the above? Race, according to freedictioanry, is ”a group of people as distinct from others because of supposed physical or genetic traits shared by the group.” In the short narrative "Blue Winds Dancing," by Thomas Whitecloud II, race is a major part of the story. Whitecloud asked himself "am I Indian or am I white?" This story relates well to me, as well as many others, battling the mental war that mixed ethnicity individuals face. This story tells of an adolescent's struggle with growing up in America, being half white and half Native American. The internal struggle that this young man must deal with exists because of his thoughts of modern America and ancient Native American colliding. "There is a moon out tonight. Moon and stars and clouds tipped with moonlight. And there is a fall wind blowing in my heart. Ever since this evening, when against a fading sky I saw geese wedge southward. They were going home.” Native American cultures believe in seeing symbols from nature and these geese are telling him that he should go home to see his family. The geese headed southward to find warmth, so he needed to go home to the warmth of his family. It is here where he decides that he will venture home. Everyone has something, or things, that remind them of home. To the narrator, these geese remind him of the natural beauty that the Native American people valued so much. “In the woods one can see tracks following. In the woods there are tracks of deer and snowshoe rabbits, and long streaks where partridges slide to alight. Chipmunks make tiny footprints on the limbs; and one can hear squirrels busy in the hollow trees, snorting acorns. Soft lake waves wash the shores, and sunsets bursts each evening over the lakes, and make them look as if they were afire. That land in which is my home!" The geese, rabbits, deer and chipmunks gave the narrator a feel of home and continued this feeling of wanting to go home. The goose is an important symbolic animal to the Native American cultures because "geese set goals for accomplishment, and always obtain them. The goose is determined to succeed at all costs – not for the approval of others." Certain people with this Native American symbol compete with his/her internal foe. The character has to deal with his own internal foe as well. His foe being the mental war of being bi-racial, thinking “am I Indian or am I white?” The character has to deal adversity from a young age due to his own race and not knowing what to call himself. The geese are a strong reminder that they are much like the narrator; as he is a very willed, accomplished and determined man. He goes to college and becomes a doctor and starts up his own practice that, to this day, is still living on in his honor. “… Where there is no hurry to get anywhere, no driving to keep up in a race that knows no ending and no goal. No classes where men talk and talk, and then stop now and then to hear their own words come back to them from students… no anxiety about one’s place in the thing they call society.” This piece of the story truly shows just how much he does not like the white society. In this society, everyone is conceived upon themselves and they all live lives where one is made to be just like the rest of the population. According to white society, everyone should be alike, and the narrator strongly disagrees with this. This culture that the narrator is living in is one he differs from greatly. In his culture his family, and their values, are completely different from the one of the white civilization. They are their own people and know that, but they also are very focused on family and loving and caring for one another. The narrator has not felt this love and compassion, only force to be like everyone else; another reason why he needs the warmth, love and compassion of being home with family. "I am weary of trying to keep up this bluff of being civilized. Being civilized means trying to do everything you don't want to, never doing everything you want to. It means dancing to the strings of custom and tradition; it means living in houses and never knowing or caring who is next door." The narrator does not see any values, or benefits, in the way that white people live. He does not see any type of wisdom in their ways of living. Feeding his desire to become civilized, he thinks about his ancestor's wisdom. Understanding the ways of nature and appreciating what they can sense was a main part of it. Learning from the environment, the animals and the plants around them increased their wisdom as well. Recognizing the changing of the seasons, as well as celebrating the different activities during different seasons, with the phases of the yearly cycle was another part of this wisdom. By the end of the story, the narrator finds his own wisdom. This wisdom exists in the reservation. The reservation is one place that he failed to look earlier. Once there, he questions if he is Indian or white, once again. He is also wondering if the people he recognizes, as family, will recognize him still. As he enters into the lodge, the narrator doesn't stand out one bit. He is surrounded by his people. Not one person believes that he could possibly be out of place. After all the music and all the dancing stops, the narrator notices that no one is speaking. Although they aren't talking, they are still communicating. The narrator finds it quite peculiar that this many of his people can be together, without speaking, and still be as happy as they are. For him, this wisdom lies within the beauty of togetherness.