The Unity of Culture: The Separation of Oneself

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, United States, Cultural assimilation Pages: 5 (1710 words) Published: May 9, 2006
"It was called the Earthboy place, although no one by that name (or any other) had lived in it for twenty years."(166)James Welch in his fictitious allegory, "The Earthboy Place," presents the idea of how assimilation has caused many Indians to stop continuing with their lives as a native. Consequently, they leave their homelands to earn a living in another "world" which shows adaptation to the Westerners' culture; likewise to the writing of McNickle's.

"He wore a blue suit and a white shirt and his tan shoes were new and polished."(113) In "A Different World" as depicted by D'Arcy McNickle, Archilde loses his freedom of native life and has now followed the rules of a White man's way of life to survive. These authors have portrayed in their fictions how assimilations have changed the way of a native's life into a White's. Assimilations have separated today's Native Americans from their tribal cultures and traditions, learning a lifestyle that has stolen them off their freedom, customs, backgrounds and leaving them an outcast of their society. Back to the American history, "assimilation" policy was introduced to the Native Americans during the earliest colonial times. During that time, all American Indians must either adopt the White's lifestyles or perish. With the declaration of the Dawes Act, a goal of destroying all tribal structure and their communal life were summoned. Tribal lands were divided among natives and the Westerners, leaving the natives, a land surrounded by the foreigners. With such acts, the American Indians were slowly assimilated into the White's culture and without their own people around them, they will have to communicate with the Westerners with their language instead of their indigenous languages; they will have to learn the Westerners' cultures and traditions. Consequently, they will have to discontinue their tribal backgrounds. Young Indians were also sent to school to cultivate the Westerner's way of life and to diminish their own cultural backgrounds. These initiate the published narrations of Welch's and McNickle's. "The Earthboy Place," as written by Welch, describes how the narrator finds he has become indifference towards his family and community. Having to live in a place so far away from home, he could no longer feel anything for home, "no hatred, no love, no conscience, nothing but a distance that had grown through the years" (166). Welch, being a mixedblood understood how assimilation has progressed into the Indians' minds. He named the title, "The Earthboy Place" to correspond to the home of the Native Americans. The characters he had chosen to write about in the story are Indians who have long been living in a White man's lifestyle and the main character show no concern to his family due to the distance that he has spent over time. Relating it back to the history of America when the assimilation policy was declared, the first person in the story talks about himself being "as distant from [himself] as a hawk from the moon" (166). Welch illustrates the hawk as an Indian and the moon symbolizes the tribe. No matter how high the hawk flies, it can never reach the moon; no matter how hard an assimilated Indian tries to return to his cultures and traditions, he can never be the same Indian he once had been.

Welch, in his allegory, writes about how the rich man places a bet with the narrator of the story that they will be able to fish in the river of Malta. If the rich man loses to the narrator, he would buy him the "biggest steak" (171) and two fishing outfits as the rewards. Welch has written these to represent how the Westerners have entered America and then, proceeded with policies to change Indians' lifestyle; in this story, it's recognized as the thinking of the narrator. The narrator insists that "there are no fish in the river," (171) but the rich man perseveres with his statement that there are fishes. Welch uses the different characters as metaphors to the individuals who are...

Cited: McNickle, D 'Arcy. "A Different World." Native American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology. Ed. Vizenor, Gerald. United States of America: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, 1995, 111-119.
Welch, James. "The Earthboy Place." Native American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology. Ed. Vizenor, Gerald. United States of America: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, 1995, 165-174.
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