Top-Rated Free Essay
Night Flying Woman
Night Flying Woman was such a great book. I felt as though the author, Ignatia Broker, really wanted all of her readers to know the ways of her people and how different they were from the American way of life. It is clear that the Ojibway way of life changed greatly after the Americans pushed them form their land. The Ojibway became modernized, or as I like to think, “English-ized”. The people of the Ojibway were always afraid that the younger generations would forget their ways, and as soon as the white people came in, that is what started to happen. The Ojibway were forced to go to school, read, write, and live the English way. Their culture was stripped from them by the American people. Throughout this book, I feel like Ignatia Broker wants her readers to realize that the people who originally inhabited this lad were not like the “pilgrims” as we imagine. She shows us that before computers, cars, steam engines, and planes there was a simple way of life. People once lived peacefully with each other and with Mother Earth. She shows how the Natives respected the Earth and how they believed they were one with the Earth. I wish times were more like that now. All around I see trash and people building up buildings or cutting down trees. When I see these things, they make me think of the Ojibway people and what they would have done. They meditated deep in the forest just to feel close to nature. Almost all of their names had an animal or some other earthly thing in it. Once the Americans started taking over the land of the Native people, the land was disrespected. People cut down entire forests to build homes. Americans abused the land and the animals living there. The Ojibway were just fine living as they had for centuries. They had no conflict, no money to argue about, no harsh violence and they had a love for one another that cannot be felt today. I found this book so interesting because I have never learned anything about the Native Americans and how they were pushed out of their homeland. I did not know that Native Americans had gifts like dreaming to tell the future. I also had no idea that when the Americans came in, they just forced their ways on the Indians. I loved how the Natives orally shared their stories from one to another. There is so much more to be learned from oral teachings. You get to see the emotions and feelings that go into the stories. I feel for Oona in the book, because her family is forced to stop the oral teachings. They are not allowed to show their new generations what the old ones in their tribes learned. I used to love when my grandparents would tell me stories from when they were younger. In fact, when I look back to the times when my grandparents would share stories, all I can remember is laughing and joy. I wish that every child, Native American or American had those memories. The way the Ojibway treated their elders is the complete opposite of how Americans today treat theirs. In the Ojibway tribes, the elders are treated like kings. They are the oldest, therefor the wisest. The elders hold all the stories to be shared, and know all the tricks of life. The elders led the way when the Ojibway people set out on a new journey, and whatever the elders in the tribe dais was taken very seriously. I feel like today’s culture is the opposite. We do not listen to what our elders say as much. When the younger generations in the tribe had a problem that they needed solved, they went to their elders. There was always a story or lesson to help get through the everyday trials of life. Now when an elder tries to help or give us life advice, we ignore because we do not want to believe that they know where we are coming from. We do not realize that they have gone through exactly what we are experiencing. Looking back, I sincerely wish that I would have listened to the stories of my grandparents more, because they are gone now and along with them went the stories I was too foolish not to listen to. Once our grandparents or great-grandparents get old, we put them in a nursing home so we do not have to take care of them. As a CAN, I have seen this many times. When I see a ninety year old lady who never has visitors, my heart breaks. I think about the Ojibway and how they would have never done this sort of thing. If their elders were sick and needed taken care of, the whole tribe would gather around and help the person. I wish today’s society followed the beliefs of the Ojibway because our elders deserve respect and love.
If a person dies today, there is a funeral and the person is buried. The deceased person’s loved ones mourn for a while, but regular life goes on. We remember the deceased and respect them, but after the funeral or memorial, not much more is done for them. In the Ojibway culture, the deceased are greatly respected. They are buried with the birch-bark that the Ojibway used for many things. Along with them they had their most prized possessions. This is much like what we do today. We place cards, jewelry, pictures, heirlooms, and other mementos. The Ojibway cut a locket of hair and keep it for a year during the mourning period. After a year has gone by, they hold a “memorial” for the loved one they lost. At the memorial stories of the deceased are told and they celebrate the life of the person they lost. They have a fire and they put the person’s hair into the fire and say the person’s name into the wind. I feel like Americans celebrate the person’s life on the anniversary of their death each year. However, Americans do not have a set mourning period and we do not “release the person’s spirit to the wind” as the Ojibway do.
Once the Americans came onto the Ojibway land, the Ojibway people began to worry. The Americans wanted to learn to grow food and live from the land. Meanwhile, the Natives just wanted pots for cooking and tools. After a while of communicating with the Americans, the Natives felt as though they could trust them. The Natives never knew that the Americans would take their homes from them and force them to move thousands of miles to a land they knew nothing of. Not every person in the Ojibway tribe was against the new ways of life that the whites were teaching. The mothers in the tribe knew that in order for their children to survive, they must adapt to some of the new ways. The Ojibway women began learning to sew, clean, speak English, and cook the American way. The men learned how to build houses from wood. These new houses were much stronger than the old ones made from reeds and dried animal skin. After a while, the Native American children were forced into schools to learn even more ways of American life. The Native American teachings stopped. The children were only allowed home for two months in the summer, and this simply was not enough time to learn everything of their native people.
In some ways, the Ojibway people were like Americans. We share stories, love our families, and try to do what is best in our lives. Yet, sometimes I feel as though the Ojibway may have been from a whole different world. I wonder what the Ojibway would be like today had the Americans not came in and forced the English ways on them. Since the Ojibway way of life was taken away and replaced by a modern English way of living, we will never know what could have been of the Ojibway people.