Monday, February 28, 2011
The Native Americans in this photo are of the Spokane tribe. My mother is to the far left and was twelve-years-old in this photo. No, she didn't always dress like this. Her dad is standing just to the right of her. His wife is on the far right. This was taken in 1939. My grandfather was very involved with the historical society in Spokane. I'm sure this was some kind of gathering commemorating the settling of the Spokane valley.
The reason I post this photo here is because it was stuck in my mind the entire time I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007). This was the second banned book I chose to read, and I truly enjoyed it. It is the only book from this class so far that I've read in one day. It happened to be the snow day we had, and the Warden has been very supportive of my education, so he held down the fort while I, the chief inmate, had some reading time. It didn't take me long to get through. The main reason I can see for its banned status is the language that is interjected from time to time.
It is the story of Junior, a Native American boy, who is raised on the "rez" in northeastern Washington state. He is a Spokane Indian. He is encouraged by a teacher to go to the white high school outside the reservation and get a better education. He does so and has some very interesting experiences as he does so.
This book was very bittersweet. It contains many messages about racism, as you would expect, but Junior's greatest persecution comes from his own tribesmen. Junior also struggles with the effect alcohol has on people around him. This is a book that really makes you think.
As I look at the photo above, I see how the Native American girl on the top left is looking at, and I'm assuming, talking to my mom. I wonder what her life was like. I wonder what she thought as she spoke with my mom. I am grateful that my mom had experiences like this as a child. I'm grateful that my grandfather exposed her to people of different backgrounds. My mother was always a very loving, caring, tolerant person. She valued others for who they were.
Can you tell I miss her?
Posted by Julie Hess at 9:46 AM