'Blond Indian' By Ernestine Hayes Summary

“Blond Indian” by Ernestine Hayes is a compelling recount of a biracial Alaskan Native girl and her academic and social standing within her community. She delves into the personal and educational facets of her life and writes of discrimination and prejudice shown toward her. Hayes beautifully crafts vivid imagery with her descriptive and alluring syntax, allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in her narrative. Hayes touches upon several controversial topics in her narrative, particularly how socioeconomic status is denied to minority groups who don’t have functional literacy.

Knoblauch dissected literacy into four components, as an ominous definition cannot be agreed upon. One component is functional literacy, the understanding
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She has a deep understanding of her heritage and values. For example, she speaks of the wind and bears in high regard, as she was taught that they are her family (grandfather and cousin respectively). On the other hand, Hayes also demonstrates cultural illiteracy. For example, when asked by her classmate to bring a birthday gift to her party, she didn’t know the customs of what to bring or how to present it. In another setting, Hayes had difficulty understanding “The Princess and the Pea” She was unable to comprehend why the princess’ fragility and complaints granted her with the title of royalty, while in her culture complaining was frowned upon. While she was understanding of her own culture, she was immersed in a foreign, predominately caucasian one. School was an environment she was largely unfamiliar with. She understood her surroundings but she didn’t always understand her position. For example she didn’t understand why she didn’t move up to the Wrens or Bluebirds reading groups but other girls who performed beneath her did. This may have been due to the fact “Schools reflect such conservatism to the extent that they view themselves as agencies for preserving established institutions and values, not to mention the hierarchical requirements of the American economy.” (Knoblauch, 1990, p5) Meaning, she is believed to only achieve a certain amount to obtain a lower position in society. Hayes would have difficulty flourishing in this westernized world, and she is only expected to reach for a lower bar or hold a lower socioeconomic

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