The Woman Who Fell From The Sky Analysis

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Every Native has their unique experiences and memories that shape their identity. There is a collective Native history that affects the individual. All Natives share a history, but the individual memory of that history breeds a unique culture that can’t be generalized. With each generation, history stays the same but memory morphs. With each generation, memories need to be communicated and shared. The importance of understanding the struggle that defines Native history is one that can be addressed by the creation and communication of meaning through written and oral tradition. Joy Harjo, a Native American poet and musician, combines prose and poetry in The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, and contributes to bridging the gap of understanding between …show more content…
In “The Naming,” a poem inspired by interactions with Harjo’s grandmother, touches on the power of understanding Native history. The histories that Natives know as “[t]ruth can appear as disaster in a land of things unspoken [and] can be reached with white arrows, each outlining the meaning of delicate struggle” (11). When the struggle is not discussed (unspoken) and an attempt at understanding is not made, disaster ensues. To understand the Native history so defined by struggle, attempts must be made to communicate meaning within the struggle. The individual communicates this meaning through art. And so art exists as not just something aesthetic, but something that carries with it meaning. Art is a peaceful negotiation, as a white arrow is intended to project truce and compromise, and its existence parallels Native existence, despite the imposition of colonialism. To further the metaphor with history, “[t]he bag of white arrows is heavy with rain” (12). Native art is abundant, and full of meaning, eager to be unpacked and understood. Every Native individual holds their unique memory and identity shaped by their history. The metaphorical bag of history explained with art is full of meaning, unique to the interpreter and unique to the creator.
Harjo follows The Naming with an explanation of her relationship with her maternal grandmother. She recalls a previous dislike for her relative,
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In writing down oral tradition, creating poetry, and distributing the histories of Natives, the significance of their struggle cannot be silenced. With time, memory is harder to keep robust. Contrarily, however, with time, memory becomes more important than ever. As history grows farther and farther from the present, memory is all the more responsible for maintaining its meaning and relevance. Every Native, and every Native culture, has experiences and memories that are unique. Against odds, Native history and memory have survived, thanks to strength and the documentation of Native struggle through art. Native artists are instrumental in this preservation of Native life, as is the case in many cultures. The Woman Who Fell from the Sky is a tiny cog in an enormous network of Native American cultural works, but it provides a sophisticated view of the relationship between the collective history and the individual memory of

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