Keepern Me Essay

1067 words - 4 pages

Everyone receives guidance from the many people they encounter throughout life. Probably most people have also been a guide for someone else somewhere along the way. The concept of the guide in Richard Wagamese's Keeper'n Me is more than just someone who gives guidance, its someone who also uses storytelling and the teaching of traditions to help guide.Passing on traditions or a certain way of life is a very important aspect of guiding someone of the Ojibway culture in this novel. The Ojibway people have such strong beliefs and because of that they take their culture very seriously. At the same time they are very protective of their culture because they see it slowly shifting over into the culture of "white" society making new generations of Indians less interested in learning and living in the traditional Ojibway lifestyle. These younger generations of Indians need to be guided by their elders in order to keep that traditional culture alive. This creates a connection with their family and their ancestors and inspires them to become guides as well.Dreams are, in a sense, also a guide in Ojibway culture. They believe that through their dreams they receive visions that are "sent to them by the spirit world. That vision could be just about anything and was meant to be a sacred and private thing for the seeker. Gave a direction for their life." (175). They believe that you should try to figure out your dreams as best as you can because they are important messages that give you "direction and strength" (175).The Ojibway look to prayer to guide them and help them to be a better people. When they pray they wave smoke from burnt cedar and moss over their body. This is called smudging. In the novel, Keeper shows Garnet how to smudge to teach him that "when we smudge (everyday) we're purifying ourselves… our mind, body, spirit, and emotion. Get centered… and positive… so we can all live good" (176).They also pray with tobacco offerings. These offerings are "the way we prepare (Ojibways) for learnin' more… you go out there an' pray your own prayers for your own lessons in life" (180). This teaches them to have respect and to be grateful, guiding them to be better people.Besides daily praying, Ojibways have to practice "being Indian" everyday to be a good guide. According to Keeper you "gotta know why you dance 'steada just how. Sing and dance forever but if you're not practicin' tradition day by day you're not really bein' Indyun" (38). Indians cannot just go to ceremonies and do other cultural things and say that because they do this they are true Indians. Anyone can do that. To be a true Indian, they first have to be taught about their culture before they can participate in it. That is what a good guide tries to teach. They need to learn "the why of this life instead of just the how" (213). Even guides still learn how to be a better one each day from others or even from someone their guiding in the case of Keeper and...

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