Communication as a Means of Stability
As demonstrated throughout various Native American texts, communication tends to be the Native’s greatest challenge in that they are unable to develop successful relationships with the outside world. Ultimately, broken treaties have become the unfortunate model for miscommunication between the European Americans and the Natives. Granted the white culture and the Natives share very few of the same beliefs or traditions, neither culture has yet to successfully compromise and broken through the barrier that so obviously separates them. Therefore it remains crucial that these very different cultures develop a good enough rapport with one another that would allow either culture the freedom to practice and express their beliefs non offensively, and prevent future communication from being null. From these Native novels, in particular Louis Owen’s Bone Game and Henry Gordon’s The Light People, we learn that communication and compromise are key to the success between these cultures, and lack of it will result in feud and confusion.
The plot unfolds in Bone Game as a Native American professor Alex Yazzie unleashes a large cultural discrepancy between Natives and the white people as he skins a deer at his Santa Cruz residence for faculty housing. Since this act is atypical and shunned by the white community by which Alex is surrounded, tensions rise as his actions are perceived as barbaric. It is Cole, the story’s protagonist and a fellow Native, whom the university calls upon to mediate and resolve this disturbing “Indian Emergency” (Owens 23). Contrary to the school’s understanding and the laws that govern the county, this native is simply partaking in traditional Indian practices and utilizing nature as has been a practice of his ancestors. Alex had intended to make use of all parts of the deer, including its legs which he planned to use for ceremonial purposes. Yet this honorable intention did not go over well with the surrounding community. Rather then accepting their cultural differences, the white community’s initial reaction was to immediately seek authorities to arrest him; their anticipation had police already stationed at the scene. The Santa Cruz white community had already developed a law against hunting. But when Cole condemns Alex and adheres to the laws of the land, Alex is baffled by what laws he is to adhere to: “Against the law is my middle name. Besides, whose law are we talking about” (Owens 26)? Are the Indians obligated to oblige by white laws that conflict with their traditions? This confrontation results in an indication of the obvious cultural barriers that still are in existence, and how the white culture inability for acceptance results in feud and further separation between the already parted communities.
Alex Yazzie’s “proposed” puritan dig provides a historical mockery of past willful ignorance that often resulted in miscommunication. From the mouth of a...