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Kiss Of The Fur Queen Essay

1156 words - 5 pages

In Kiss of the Fur Queen, the story begins with forty-three year old Cree hunter Abraham Okimasis winning the "1951 Millington Cup World Championship Dog Derby." (6) The victory is seen to have a significant effect on the Cree hunter's Native identity, as he becomes the first-ever Indian to succeed in the Derby. As time goes by, Abraham becomes the father of two sons, Jeremiah and Gabriel. When the Cree brothers leave their small northern Manitoba village and enter the hostile environment of a residential school, their lives take a turn for the worse. Estranged from their Native culture, Jeremiah and Gabriel are forced to assimilate into the predominately white Canadian society. During their stay at the residential school, the brothers fall victim to sexual abuse at the hands of the all-powering Catholic priest. The abuse brought upon the brothers continue throughout their adolescent and adult years. Emotionally traumatized, the Okimasis brothers come to a point where they are unable to withstand the pain. And as a result of the abuse and social pressure for them to change, the brothers lose their identity as Native Canadians.
Born into the Okimasis clan of the Cree First Nations tribe, Jeremiah and Gabriel share a host of similarities and differences. One thing the two brothers have in common is the magnitude of sexual abuse they receive while attending residential school. Jeremiah is noticeably traumatized by the events that occur, as he locks his memories in a "chamber deep inside his mind." (80) In contrast, Gabriel seems to accept the abuse he receives, as he imagines himself falling "down on his knees," clinging to his vision of seeing "God the Father, sitting large and naked in his black leather armchair." (83) Another similarity the Okimasis brothers share is their artistic ability. With the Cree hunter's talents in playing the accordion, the brothers end up inheriting their father's artistic genes. Jeremiah an avid musician, learns to sing to the caribou at a young age, while playing the accordion at the same time. At the residential school, Jeremiah develops a passion for playing the piano, as he successfully captures the "astonished" priest "squarely in the palm of his hand." (67) Gabriel, on the other hand, prefers the mesmerizing movements of dance. Early in the novel, Gabriel is be seen moving like a young caribou, sticking his "little arms above his head," while lifting his "left leg so high for the first step." (41) After watching an inspiring, "beat by beat" (144) ballet performance at the New Year's Eve Gala, Gabriel realizes his teenage dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. He ends up being very successful, and travels around the world to demonstrate his abilities. As the brothers pursue their western artistic talents, they turn back on their Native Cree identity.
Gabriel, the younger of two Okimasis brothers, discovers that life in residential school is very different from the magical life back home. It does...

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