What Is The Theme Of Ice By Joseph Brruchac Essay

1315 Words 6 Pages
Neither Gone nor Forgotten The teenage years are one of the most essential times in the development of a human being, filled with both freedom and restrictions. I am constantly faced with the balance of staying true to my family and our values while simultaneously developing my own identity and ideals. My parents have never been lax in their encouragement of my activities and personal growth, but they also have a reasonable expectation that I also respect their rules and decisions. While some find it easier to push away from their roots and venture into the world on their own, it is only right for me to give my parents the same love and respect they have given me. Similarly, Native Americans have also had to show resolve and determination …show more content…
The protagonist’s “Uncle” Tommy is a Swenoga Indian who adorns himself in a commercial Indian costume, a completely fabricated one that was never worn by his ancestors in ceremony. He wears this ostentatious outfit for the benefit of spectators while he and his nephews make an effort to bring ice to the unfrozen lake through various rituals on a birch bark canoe. “[Uncle Tommy] calls out loud words in a language that none of the town fathers on the shore can understand, but it makes them nod their head in approval” (Bruchac 87). Although he is putting on a show for tourists, Uncle Tommy is still attempting to honor the tradition of his culture in the only way he can. In his elaborate performance, while appearing to simply be for entertainment, he has a spiritual experience that only he and his nephews can understand. Uncle Tommy is not exploited, for he embarks willingly and purposefully on this endeavor. This situation demonstrates the increasing scarcity of Indian culture due to colonization. When Uncle Tommy’s ancestors were forced from their homes by settlers, their way of life was malevolently impacted and decimated. Now, current Native Americans are having difficulty in finding ways to follow in the customs of their mothers and fathers, forcing them to practice in any way they can in order to avoid full assimilation and a loss of a culture. Uncle …show more content…
This is shown when the Indians are expected to follow through with Christian custom, yet still practice their traditional beliefs. The protagonist, Leon, goes to the priest to ask for holy water to use at his grandfather’s burial. When asked, the priest says, “I could have brought the Last Rites… For a Christian burial it was necessary” (Silko 52). For centuries Christianity has been pushed upon Native Americans by missionaries and settlers, as a way to convert them into “modern” civilization. This quote exemplifies how the priest, a symbol of western culture, is frustrated the natives are choosing to do a burial in their own way, preserving their culture. Not discouraged, Leon asks again for Holy Water, but Father Paul goes even further when he answers, “You know I can’t do that, Leon. There should have been the Last Rites and a funeral Mass at the very least” (52). While the priest eventually relents and provides his services, this situation shows how separate the two cultures are. Father Paul feels so alienated when he is asked to do the ceremony that he becomes quite rude to Leon. Not only does this quote demonstrate the Indian survivalist culture, but also the effect of cultural expectations and how they can create barriers between groups of people. To not practice a certain cultural

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