Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.


My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Will the real Pocahontas please stand up?

Please investigate the story of Pocahontas and John Smith by searching each person at www.wikipedia.org. Jot down notes on points you find important, confusing, and/or intriguing.

Next, read Sherman Alexie's "A Drug Called Tradition." Find one passage in the story that interests you and blog about it (make a comment about it, ask a question, or both). Please include the passage itself in the comment that you post.


Blogger corey c said...

"See, it is always now. That's what Indian time is. The past; the future, all of it is wrapped up in the now. That's how it is. We are trapped in the now." This was an interesting statement, the boys cannot take back what they've done, like when it mentions them throwing their alchohol away or letting it wash down the drain. My question is on another passage though, "...he told us not to slow dance with our skeletons." Are the skeletons mentioned by thomas supposed to be the past and future skeletons written about by victor?

2:45 PM  
Blogger Alexandra H said...

"So they decided to build a fire and breathe in the sweet smoke. They have not eaten for days so they know their visions should arrive soon." Are the visions they are talking about in this passage the 'visons' that they can see when they take the drug? Also, along with Corey's quote, "That's what Indian time is. The past; the future, all of it is wrapped up in the now.", how come the boy says that is "Indian time?" Isn't everyone wrapped up in the now?

4:30 PM  
Blogger katie_r said...

"The boys sit by the fire and breathe, their visions arrive. They are all carried away to the past, to the moment before any of them took their first drink of alcohal."

-What are their visions and where do they disappear to? Are their visions the next passage? Where they throw away the alcohal and then sing and dance and drum and steal horses?

5:19 PM  
Blogger Pieter O said...

"They had not eaten for days so they know their visions should arrive soon." Maybe this is what they are doing when they "have the mushroom" or whatever kind of drugs they are doing. They all see visions of each other, and maybe thats what they think each other really is. Along with Corey's quote, "...he told us not to slow dance with our skeletons," is it part of Native American culture or myth about the skeletons, because then Victor would have to be writing about them. It says, "There are things you should learn." Doesn't this mean that it is part of their spiritual beliefs that the boys don't know?

5:19 PM  
Blogger ryanp said...

"What you have to do is keep moving, keep walking, in step with your skeletons. They ain't ever going to leave you, so you don't have to worry about that."

"Sometimes though your skeletons will talk to you, tell you to sit down and take a rest, breathe a little. Maybe they'll make you promises, tell you all the things you want to hear."

I think that these passages are trying to say that no matter what anybody tells you to do you should always stay on the correct path and make good choices. This kind of goes allong with the peer pressure idea and how you should not give in to things that people want you to do.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

The quote that stood out particularly to me was also the same as Corey’s, "Your past ain't going to fall behind, and your future won't get too far ahead...See, it is always now. That's what Indian time is. The past; the future, all of it is wrapped up in the now. That's how it is. We are trapped in the now.” My personal favorite non-fiction writer in history once stated, “There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.” –Martin Luther King Jr. I found that this quote tied in quite accurately as the Indians seemed to refrain from being trapped by the length of eternity but lived in the moment and seemed grateful simply for that opportunity. Sometimes I find the reasoning of alternative subcultures and religions so interesting as they provide such unique perspectives.

6:07 PM  
Blogger matt l said...

"Now, I'll tell you that I haven't used the thing. In fact, Big Mom died a couple years back and I'm not sure she'd come even if the thing did work. But I keep it really close to me, like Big Mom said, just in case."

I thought this passage was interesting because it conveys the feeling that there is always hope. big Mom was obviously gone and wasn't coming back. The narrator knew this, but kept an optimistic attitude, nonetheless.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Christine D said...

To respond to Katie R.'s question, i think that their vision is the next passage, and that it is a vision to the past before the time before the whiskey, but also it can be a vision to the future and how they could be.

Also I too am interested by the time quote that has been mentioned.I think it is a interesting way to look at time, but i want to know, why do Indians live in the now? And how does that effect their lifestyle, or how has it in the past?

7:04 PM  
Blogger brianc said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:25 PM  
Blogger brianc said...

"What you have to do is keep moving, keep walking, in step with your skeletons. They ain't ever going to leave you, so you don't have to worry about that."

I have the same quote as RyanP. I felt that this quote best showed how you have to live in the now and not worry about the past because there is no way to change it or the future, because no one knows what it will be like. Live life for the present and enjoy and make the best of today

7:28 PM  
Blogger allison n said...

"It is now. Three Indian boys are drinking Diet Pepsi and talking out by Benjamin Lake. They are wearing only loin cloths and braids. Although it is the twentieth century and planes are passing overhead, the Indian boys have decided to be real Indians tonight."

How does this passage show that the Indian tradtition is lost? Why are they boy's glimpses of what they never could have been significant?

7:31 PM  
Blogger Tori S said...

"That is the problem with Indians these days. They have the same names all their lives. Indians wear their manes like a pair of bad shoes."

What does the author mean by a bad pair of shoes. Does it mean that their names are "bad" in a painful sense or "bad" in an awkward sense that they don't fit their names and must keep feeling out of place.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Aubry P. said...

In response to Tori's question- I think that the bad pair of shoes means that now they have the same old name their whole lives when traditionaly they have more than one.
"When Indians make lots of money from corporations that way, we can all hear our ancestors laughing in the trees. But we can never tell whether they're laughing at the Indians or the whites. I think they're laughing at pretty much everybody."
I think this is sad. Why are the ancestors laughing at the Indians? Is it because they have to sell the land and they no longer have control over it? Is it because their lives are missing part of what their ancestors had?

8:28 PM  
Blogger KristinC said...

"You past is a skeleton walking one step beind you , and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you."
Skeletons are something that was once, is or will be inhabitted. Every was has a past and the skeleton of the past is there to remind people of their mistakes so that they don't happen again. If history repeats itself then the past skeleton is our defense. The past skelton represents the boys ancestors and the history linked to their culture. The Skeleton of the future represents what we want to become and what we will become. The boys in the story can decide what their future skeleton looks like and how their culture's skelton looks. We can always look back at the past and always look ahead to the future.

8:38 PM  
Blogger LindsayS said...

"Then the boys sing. They sing and dance and drum. They steal horses. I can see them. They steal horses."

From who’s prospective if this from? Why is stealing horses so significant? Does it have anything to do with the drugs or alcohol?

Responding to Allison’s question, I think it shows hoe tradition is lost because even though they boys are dressing the part they aren’t really real, sitting on top a Camaro with society progressing all around them.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Alexaaaaa said...

I found it interesting that in the passage of Vincent's vision, "Even the President of the United States, Mr, Edgar Crazy Horse himself, came to hear me once. I played a song I wrote for his great-grandfather, the famous Lakota warrior who helped us win the war against the whites:...but the Indians finally won. Ya-hey, the Indians finally won" Junior made it sound as though the native americans had driven back the industrial american forces after all. President is capitalized in the passage, and this is only done for the president of the united states, meaning that in this character's mind history might actually have changed a bit. On the other hand, this passage mentions that Junior could "...take a single hair from the braids of an indian woman and make it sound like a promise come true," he might have decided that the Indian spirit really wasn't beaten yet as long as there were some around, and thus the Indians had won.

In response to tori s, I believe the phrase "indians wear their names like a bad pair of shoes" could be applied to the continued use of the term "indian" even though most people now know that native americans do NOT live in India. Because all the different tribal names aren't easily remembered or accepted by society, they are ignored, and real indians follow suit because they are also a part of society, which doesn’t really seem right given their heritage, but you don’t throw away a bad pair of shoes if you can’t afford a good one.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Amy O. said...

"When Indians make lots of money from corporations that way, we can hear our ancestors laughing in the trees. But we never can tell whether they're laughing at the Indians or the whites."

What emotions would the ancestors be portraying, underneath the laughter?
Also, how does this show the shift of values in the present Indian culture?

9:08 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

"There are things you should learn. Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. . . Now, these skeletons are made of memories, dreams, and voices."

In this passage, the narrator paints a picture of your past and your future. True enough, the skeletons of your past and future are filled with the memories and dreams yet cannot be changed, but only you can change your present, the now. The narrator uses a picture to describe not just this but visually. The skeleton of the past steps into your leaving foot of the present as the foot striding forward steps into the leaving foot of the future.

Is there a difference from saying "you can't change your past but you can change your future" from this passage?

9:10 PM  
Blogger A_Nielsen said...

"There are things you should learn. Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you."

I just thought this was a very interesting passage and I connected it with how we look back to our past selves and what mistakes or accomplishments we made. Then we look into our future and can make better choices because we can look back at our past skeletons and learn from the mistakes we made.

I also connected this passage with Indian culture because I think the skeleton, in Indian culture represents our past selves and our future selves and how indian skeletons are always there to remind you about your mistakes and how you should aopproach situations in the future.

9:10 PM  
Blogger nicci c said...

"Before he left for good, though, he turned back to Junior and me and yelled at us. I couldn't really understand what he was saying, but Junior swore he told us not to slow dance with our skeletons."

When Thomas says this, does he mean not to meddle with what is "set" in the past or future?
What does he mean by "slow dance"? Could this refer to taking time with things and the pace at which you live your life?

The way that Thomas talks about stories and how he says things like "not to slow dance with our skeletons", he seems like he knows so much and could be an ancient Indian.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Andie R said...

"I've been singing at the Plantation since I was ten years old and have always drawn big crowds. All the white folks come to hear my songs, my little pieces of Indian wisdom, although they have to sit in the back of the theater because all the Indians get the best tickets for my shows. It's not racism. The Indians just camp out all night to buy tickets."

This seems to be a version of what could have happened had the Native Americans won their fight against the invading English. Is the Plantation owned by Native Americans, with the majority of people living in America being Native American? I can't see any other reason it would be capitalized other than to show ownership. Is this a fantasy in which Native American culture is regarded highly and so white people come to hear little bits of it? Would racism exist in a country in which Native Americans were the dominant people?

9:20 PM  
Blogger Logan J said...

"'Hey,' I said, 'Jump in with us. WE're going out to Benjamin Lake to dothis new drug I got. It'll be very Indian. Spiritual, you know?'"

Through the entire story I can't tell if the guys are respecting and honoring their Indian culture or not. It seems that if they had full respect for it, they wouldn't be abusing drugs in the name of their heritage. On the other hand, their visions relate strongly to Indian history, and tradition, which displays a certain consideration for their history.

9:37 PM  
Blogger anam said...

The passage that really struck me in the short story "A Drug Called Tradition" was, "There all gone, my tribe is gone. Those blankets they gave us, infected with smallpox have killed us. I'm the last, the very last, and I'm sick too"(Drug 17). This passage explains how the whites really treated the Native Americans, it's a raw version of the struggles and catastrophies they endured, not some Disney movie where all is well between the two cultures. This version shows how the actions of our ancestors are affecting today's youth, in that we have not only dwindled down the Native Americans' culture, but their population as well and it continues to be affected daily. Right now, I think that the Native Americans' culture is becoming the endangered culture due to the forced assimilation they have faced in the past and still today.

9:52 PM  
Blogger christineT said...

"Sometimes your skeletons will dress up as beautiful Indianwomen and ask you to slow dance. Sometimes your skeletons will dress up as your best friend and offer you a drink, one more for the road. Sometimes your skeletons will look exactly like your partents and offer you gifts."
This passage explains how the Indians didnt believe that they controlled their own lives. They believed that a higher power controlled their past, present, and future. Someone else controlled the good things like romance, happy times, holidays, but also bad things that happen to you.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Thomas_N said...

"We're going out to Benjamin Lake to do this new drug I got. It'll be very Indian. Spiritual, you know?

I think that this quote is interesting because they are trying to justify there use of the drug by saying it is very Indian and spiritual. Although there is some relevance to their justification that is not really why they are using it.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Hannah S said...

The passage I chose was, "Maybe a couple Indian princesses, too. But only if they were full-blood." I found it interesting that they say this because they too are Indians. They treat other Indians as if they are not as important if they are not full-blooded.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Hannah S said...

p.s. my computer says that it's 9:59 so my writing is technically not late!

10:05 PM  
Blogger Michelle S said...

"Indians never need to wear a watch because because your skeletons will always remind you about the time. See, it is always now. That's what Indian time is. The past, the future, all of it is wrapped up in the now" (22).

What an interesting way to view time! In a way, this relates to "A Sound of Thunder", which says that every action is connected to another--in this passage it's saying that the "now"is always trapped between, and connected to, the skeletons in the past and future.

10:06 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

"They all want to have visions, to recieve their true names, their adult names."

I felt like this passage summed up the personalities of the native americans pretty well. They all acted childish and immature, using drugs annd alcohol to have fun instead of their minds. Native Americans have an addictive culture, so they must of known too that they might become addicted. Basically, they were waiting to trully become adults.


Thats a site on Native Americans and why they are more to prone to alcoholism and drug addiction in comparison to Caucasian Americans or African Americans

8:21 AM  
Blogger brian k said...

"Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don't wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is. Now, these skeletons are made of memories, dreams and voices."

This was an interesing passage to me because it is a different perspective on life. In a way it seems to say that you're always in control of your life. But it also seems to say that if you're not in control, someone has your back.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Ms. Kakos said...


You have certainly put one of the major stereotypes surrounding Native Americans right out there.

A few questions (for anyone reading the blog):
1. What is this story really about? Should we treat the drug as an actual stimulant, or do we take it as a metaphor?
2. If Native American culture is "addictive," how does our culture compare? What is "our culture"?
3. Alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling do seem to be major problems on reservations. Why is this? Do we look to science? Or sociology? Is there any helpful way of looking at this problem?

7:40 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home