Dancing a Rebellion
Since the first time that white men came across Native Cultures they have tried imprint their own values and view points on that culture. In Susan Power’s The Grass Dancer, dance is an important symbol of the Native American culture. Powwows, and the dances held at them, play a key part in the book and many of the major events in the book are somehow related to a ceremonial dance. Many times, though, the dances do not take place at powwows or ceremonies, they just occur as a representation of the meaning of the dance. Harley Wind Soldier, Charlene Thunder, and Pumpkin all help preserve their culture by “dancing a rebellion” against forces trying to change their ways.
Harley Wind Soldier participates in his local powwows and is in fact the poster child for them. He has become such a symbol in his Native American community that he has a cult following of women that have matching tattoos to show their connection. The mentality of many people living on the modern Indian reservations is shared by Harley’s friend, Frank, who feels that “Dancing meant the responsibility of a costume, and Frank wanted to be free…” (Power 23). If one of the few characters in this book feels that dancing is too much of a responsibility, then many more must feel the same way. This idea represents the view point of many modern Native Americans, that it is much easier to just embrace the new ways and to let their old ways die. Luckily there are people like Harley to keep the tradition alive.
Another example of a character dancing a rebellion is found in Charlene Thunder, one of the many women who have fallen in love with Harley, and the granddaughter of Mercury Thunder, a powerful and evil witch. Because she is so close to her grandmother many people see her as unapproachable and dangerous. Her position has led her to become a secluded and strange person in her community, the time that she should have been socializing, she was dancing. Charlene is so dedicated to...
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