`` What You Pawn I Will Redeem `` By Sherman Alexie Essay

1161 Words Mar 5th, 2016 5 Pages
In “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” Sherman Alexie gives the reader insight into the struggles of identity endured by contemporary Native Americans. Alexie was born in 1966 and spent his childhood years on the Spokane Indian Reservation in northeast Washington. Before the forced resettlement and assimilation of the Native Americans, the Spokane Tribe was a proud nation that roamed the Pacific Northwest fishing, hunting, and camping. In 1881, President Hayes relocated the tribe to a small reservation that was soon overrun by poverty and corruption (U-s-history.com). Jackson Jackson, the narrator and protagonist, is a homeless Spokane Native American that happens upon his grandmother’s regalia in a pawn shop. Through his quest to possess the regalia, Jackson is trying to capture a glimpse of the nobility and pride of his heritage. Alexie’s short story gives us a glimpse into how Native Americans face internal and external conflicts related to self-identity due to the historical assimilation, prejudice, and extermination of the Native American culture. Jackson begins his tale by establishing that his ancestors claimed the Spokane area long before the days of the white settlers. He states, “my people have lived within a hundred-mile radius of Spokane, Washington, for at least ten thousand years.” (Alexie). Even so, Jackson is an interloper in the white man’s world which values money and possessions, both of which Jackson lacks. He is candid in his assessment of how the tragedy…

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