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There There

by Tommy Orange

A totally different view of Native America as we know it. A punch in the gut, but at the same time it has poetry. The characters of Jacqui Red Feather, Edwin Black and Opal Bear Shield stay with me to this day. They are flesh and blood. Ordinary city folk, struggling with their heritage, culture and daily sorrows. And it really revolves around Powwow, Pride and Prejudice. The story certainly does away with a lot of my own prejudices.

Extract

'This comes from a long way back,' Six said, and poured some powder into his hand. Then he gestured for me to move my head closer, as if to see it better. Then he took a big breath in and blew it all in my face. It was thick as sand and some got in my mouth, up my nose. I choked and kept blowing out my nose like a dog.
'We got bad blood in us,' Sixto said. 'Some of these wounds get passed down. Same with what we owe. We should be brown. All that white you see that you got on your skin. We gotta pay for what we done to our own people.' Sixto's eyes were closed, his head bent down a little.
'Fuck this shit, Six,' I said through a cough, then stood up.
'Sit down,' Six said, with a tone he'd never used with me before. 'It's not all bad. It's power too.'
I sat down, but then stood right back up. 'I'm fucking going.'
'I said sit down!' Six blew on that plant again. The smoke rose thick. I felt sick right away. Weak. I made it out to the front of the house, got on my bike, and rode to Fina's.

Parallels

Winter in the Blood by James Welch
  • Mekko – the film by Sterlin Harjo
  • LaRose by Louise Erdrich
     

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