Louise Erdrich's Tracks

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In Louise Erdrich’s enthralling novel Tracks, Pauline Puyat is a young woman of Chippewa and Canadian descent. Throughout the course of the story, it is abundantly clear that Pauline wishes nothing more than to shed her Native American culture. Instead of embracing her Chippewa roots, she wants be like her mother, “who showed her half-white”, and her grandfather, who was “pure Canadian” (Erdrich 14). While it is easy for the reader to assume that Pauline is willingly rejecting her Chippewa heritage so that she may assimilate into the white culture surrounding her, I do not find this to be the case. Instead, I find the members of Chippewa tribe to be guilty of rejecting of Pauline due to her mixed-blood heritage, resulting in her disconnection …show more content…
To better understand Pauline’s treatment, I turned to Sinder Larson’s article “The Fragmentation of a Tribal People in Louise Erdrich's Tracks", where he briefly explores the cultural treatment that individuals of opposing bloodlines received within indigenous tribes. Within this article, Larson claims that “mixed-bloods [were] considered racially alien... As a result, mixed-blood infants were sometimes killed, or, if they were permitted to survive, their fate was harsh: They were rejected by their maternal kin and shunned by the rest of the tribe” (4). Larson’s statement gives light to the cruel treatment that many Native Americans of mixed-blood may have received, Pauline being one of them. Through Nanapush’s description and Larson’s article, I am lead to believe that Pauline is not the one who is choosing to reject her Native American roots. Not only was Pauline referred to as “an unknown mixture of ingredients”, which highlights the tribes uncertainty about her character, but she was simply ignored by the Chippewa people (4). Based on these factors, it becomes undeniably evident that Pauline’s need to assimilate is fueled by her tribal rejection, and may not have occurred if she had not been ignored or shunned by her

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