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My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Will the real Pocahontas please stand up?

Please investigate the story of Pocahontas and John Smith by searching each person at www.wikipedia.org. Jot down notes on points you find important, confusing, and/or intriguing.

Next, read Sherman Alexie's "A Drug Called Tradition." Find one passage in the story that interests you and blog about it (make a comment about it, ask a question, or both). Please include the passage itself in the comment that you post.

35 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer W said...

I think that the reason everyone enjoys the movie Pocahontas is because it is a reverse roll. The usuall man saves woman is not the case. Since it is a woman saving a man, and more of a girl than a woman, it's more interesting because you never hear of that. It's also intriguing because Pocahontas is indian and John Smith is white. The "lesser" race is saving the superior race.

This passage in the story interested me the most: "That is the problem with Indians these days. They have the same names all their lives. Indians wear their names like a pair of bad shoes." WHat is the difference between that and our names? We keep ours all our lives, unless you decided to change it, but most keep theirs. Why is this brought up and why is it negative?

3:56 PM  
Blogger nathan a said...

One interesting passage is, "Indians never need to wear a watch because your skeletons will always remind you about the time. See, it is always now. That’s what Indian time is. The past, the future, all of it is wrapped up in the now. That’s how it is. We are trapped in the now." This can be interpreted to express how the character is torn between his heritage, and what is to come; the past and the future. This causes him to be trapped in the droning present. Where does the main character find happiness?

4:23 PM  
Blogger mackenzieL said...

Why is the title "A Drug Called Tradition"? Could it be because even though traditions may seem old and worthless, the boys discover that they still care for them even when the old traditions are non-existent? The three images they see, dancing, singing, and riding a horse are part of the non-existent Indian traditions that have been lost but not yet forgotten. Like a drug, these old traditions are almost craved for by the three boys and therefore carried out and remembered during their experience. Sort of what Nathan said: they are trapped between the images of old, current, and new traditions.

5:13 PM  
Blogger clay w said...

Thomas is an interesting character in the story. "Why's he like that?" Junior asked. Why's he always talking about strange ****? ****, he don't even need drugs."
Some people say he got dropped on his head when he was little. Some of the old people think he's magic."
Which was it? Was Thomas dropped on his head as an infant or did he possess some sort of magical ability? And what were his stories about? Could they give some insight as to his past and his story?

5:13 PM  
Blogger jessicam said...

“Your past ain't going to fall behind, and your future won't get too far ahead. Sometimes, though, your skeletons will talk to you, tell you to sit down and take a rest, breathe a little. Maybe they'll make you promises, tell you all the things you want to hear."
~Sherman Alexie "A Drug Called Tradition"

This passage is really amazing in terms of symbolism. The skeletons are people, just not filled in with life. The past was full of life, but then you moved to the present, and the life went away, but the memories are still there. They rest in the 'bones'. The future is similar; the only difference is that the life has not yet been filled in. There are no memories yet, but there are ideas and predictions and hopes. What the passage also says is that sometimes you get hints and pointers from your past, and even future. This could be when the skeletons ‘talk’ to you. The future could be dreams and memories, just like the visions in the stories. The skeletons could be ‘talking’ to these young men.

5:14 PM  
Blogger kaitlinb said...

One interesting passage:
"There are things you should learn. Your past is a skeleton walking one step in behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don't wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is. Now, these skeletons are made of memories, dreams, and voices."
How is the time that a skeleton has on his watch affect a persons life? How does a skeleton of ones past and present help and hurt a person's life? What memories, dreams and voices would pocahontas have?

5:21 PM  
Blogger Erin G said...

"I guess you could call it the only religion I have, one drum that can fit in my hand, but I think if I played it a little, it might fill up the whole world."

Does the drum remind Victor of what was, and what could have been? Does it remind him of his heritage and the changes his culture has endured and will endure? I think it tells him that things will be okay, as long as he remembers who he is. Also, what do you think he means by "...if i played it a little, it might fill up the whole world."?

5:33 PM  
Blogger Jessica K said...

One passage in the story that stood out to me is "I guess you could call it the only religion I have, one drum that can fit in my hand, but I think if I played it a little, it might fill up the whole world." The drum may symbolize Victor's connection to his Indian ancestory. It reminds him that the Spokane Tribe will always be there for him. They care for him more and treat him like family. The part about playing the drum and filling the world may symbolize that when he looks into and embraces his ancestory he can find so much more about himself effect his life. Does he want to play the drum or does he just keep it having the comfort that he can just in case?

5:38 PM  
Blogger Kelly O said...

An interesting passage in the story was, "When Indians make lots of money from corporations that way, we can all hear our ancestors laughing in the trees. But we never can tell whether they're laughing at the Indians or the whites. I think they're laughing at pretty much everybody." Who are the Indian ancestors really laughing at, the Indian desendents who are losing touch with their cultural roots or the white men who are still taking over Indian land? Or are the desendents laughing at both groups like the main character thinks?

5:42 PM  
Blogger Alyssag said...

I think that my favorite sentence in this story was, "Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you." I think that when Thomas warned junior and the main character not to "slow dance with your skeletons", he means don't dwindle on the past, and don't look to much forward to the future, because you will miss the now, and if you miss the now, it becomes the past. You should live in the present, and live the present to the full so when the present becomes the past, you won't have to linger upon what you could have done better.

6:21 PM  
Blogger christine b. said...

Three passages in the story "A Drug Called Tradition" interested me. "We dance in circles growing larger and larger until we are standing on the shore, watching all the ships returning to Europe." "I played a song I wrote for his great-grandfather, the famous Lakota warrior who helped us win the war against the whites:." The last one is, "It is now." These three passages are visions of all three of the boys. I find it interesting that they connect the past, present and future in these three visions and in doing this, connect their traditions of the past, present and future.

6:39 PM  
Blogger BessieS said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Anoel said...

The passage in the story that was most interesting to me was, "These skeletoms are made of memories, dreams, and voices. And they can trap you in the in-between, between touching and becoming. But they're not necessarily evil unless you let them be." This is a strong statement because it shows no regret for the past nor worry for the future. It shows only that the past and future are.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Monique R said...

The most important passage to me in the story was, "There are things you should learn. Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don't wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is."

This passage spoke to me because up until I read it, I didn't really understand what was happening in the story but when I read it, it reminded me of the movie "A Christmas Carol." The parts in this movie when Scrooge sees the ghosts of the different Christmas's is similar to the skeletons referred to in "A Drug Called Tradition." The ghosts teach Scrooge that he should learn from his past and be greatful for what he has in the present to be able to improve his future, as I think the skeletons (and visions) do for the three boys. The messages in both movies are the same: learn from the past, appreciate the present, and enjoy the future.

7:10 PM  
Blogger BessieS said...

The passage in the story that caught my eye was,"Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don't wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is. Now, these skeletons are made of memories, dreams, and voices."

Would a memory of the past that was bothering someone have any affect on the skeleton of the future? Do the skeletons grow and change mentally when a person does? How would a skeleton be harmful to a person if they tried looking too far into the future?

7:15 PM  
Blogger BessieS said...

The passage in the story that caught my eye was,"Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don't wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is. Now, these skeletons are made of memories, dreams, and voices."

Would a memory of the past that was bothering someone have any affect on the skeleton of the future? Do the skeletons grow and change mentally when a person does? How would a skeleton be harmful to a person if they tried looking too far into the future?

7:15 PM  
Blogger erinl said...

"A Drug Called Tradition" was a very confusing story. I had trouble identifying if what they were talking about actually happened, or if it was their imagination. An interesting quote was, "I can make my guitar sound like a drum." Could this be a foreshadowing of what Big Ma was to give Victor, or is it symbolism? Drums are usually brought back to the Native Americans because they played their entire lives. So, when he says, "make my guitar sound like a drum" that could have just meant it sounded very good because he was obviously very good at the drums. It could have been used to symbolize the Native Americans because it refers to their traditions/cultures. It could have been a foreshadowing because it showed that the drum was loud, and Big Ma could hear it wherever she was so she could come and help/guide Victor.

7:21 PM  
Blogger JordanL said...

I enjoyed the ending of the story when it talked about your skeletons as your past and your future. I really liked the quote, " What you have to do is just keep moving, keep walking, in step with your skeletons. They ain't never going to leave you, so you dont have to worry about that. Your past ain't going to fall behind, and your future won't get to far ahead". I really like this cause you can compare your past skeletons with old memories in the fact that they will never leave you and your future is just around the corner and will be here sooner than you think.

7:26 PM  
Blogger JordanL said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:26 PM  
Blogger shannon a said...

In the story the passage i found interesting is when its talking about the skeletons. "What you have to do is keep moving, keep walking, in step with your skeletons. They ain't ever going leave you, so you don't have to worry about that. Your past ain't going to fall behind, and your future won't get too far ahead." I think this passage is trying to say that no matter what happens you will always have your and your future will always be waiting for you. Do the skeletons represent anything?

7:45 PM  
Blogger Chris B said...

"With every step, an Indian rises. With every other step, a buffalo falls."

What exactly does that passage mean? Could it be saying that the Indians are the most superior of creatures, destorying other creatures like buffolo, or could it mean something entirely different?

7:52 PM  
Blogger Lauren F. said...

A "Drug Called Tradition" was a very interesting story, yet confusing in many parts. A very strong quote that stood out in my mind was, "All the white hands are waving good-bye and we continue to dance, dance until the ships fall off the horizon, dance until we are so tall and strong that the sun is nearly jealous. We dance that way." The Indians have many dances that are performed for numerous activities and events. Right before this passage the narrator talks about the buffalo coming down and joining the Indians and knocking all of the white people out of their beds and sending their valuables crashing to the floor. This makes me wonder if the narrator is against Caucasian people. Does the narrator like white people? Did Pocahontas like white people the whole time?

7:53 PM  
Blogger emilee p said...

“What you have to do is keep moving, keep walking, in step with your skeletons. They ain’t ever going to leave you, so you don’t have to worry about that. You past ain’t going to fall behind, and your future won’t get too far ahead.”

This passage shows that the boys are feeling lost and confused; not wanting to forsake their heritage, but unsure about their future. What is it like to be torn between your past and future? In a way, are we all torn between to two?

I also found the part where he says “I could get my guitar to sound like a drum” confusing, however I think the boy might be saying, I could used my present to represent my past.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Sarah P said...

my passage: It is now.Three Indian boys are drinking diet Pepsi and talking out at Benjamin Lake. They are wearing only loincloths and braids. Although it is the twentieth century and planes are passing overhead, the Indian boys have decided to be real Indians tonight."

Although many passaged interested me, including the seemingly well popular skeleton piece... i chose this passage because i think that it illustrats the efftort to keep alive the old traditions of the Indian culture despite the changing world.
Now, Indians are really into drugs and alcohol, but it wasn't always like that. So by using this passage i think the author is trying to illustrate that some Indians are trying to keep some of the goodness alive.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Sarah P said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:28 PM  
Blogger ryan f said...

One passage that seemed to be very intriguing but at the same time confusing was this: "We dance in circles growing larger and larger until we are standing on the shore, watching all the ships returning to Europe. All the white hands are waving good-bye and we continue to dance, dance until the ships fall off the horizon, dance until we are so tall and strong that the sun is nearly jealous. We dance that way."
The white people had obviously greatly disturbed the Native Americans. When the white people left, the Native Americans felt tall and strong. Why to white people always take the role of superiority, making others feel as though they should be submissive? What do whites have that others are lacking?

8:36 PM  
Blogger EmilyL said...

A particularly powerful passage, first mentioned by anoel:
“...these skeletons are made of memories, dreams, and voices. And they can trap you in the in-between, between touching and becoming. But they're not necessarily evil, unless you let them be."
To me, this quote serves as a reminder that although the past and future do impact your life, they should not take precedence over the present. Too many times people scrutinize and agonize over every detail of past conversations, actions, etc. They forget that the past cannot be changed, and it is the present that has the potential to be shaped however they wish. The quote also serves as a reminder not to look too far ahead into the future, or the beauties and possibilities of the present will be overlooked.
The quote also parallels certain themes in “A Sound of Thunder,” but I would exceed the sentence limit if I expounded on the similarities.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Spencer Z said...

In an effort to avoid a trite comment, I have chosen a different quote, however in my explanation, I will attempt to adress the other quotes as well.

I love at the end of Thomas' story when he says, "Then the boys sing. They sing and dance and drum. They steal horses. I can see them. They steal horses" (Alexie 21).

This one passage to me sums up the underlying themes of the story and explains the title. The whole story is, in my mind, a warning against living your life with complacency. That, in essence, is what the author is trying to illustrate with the skeletons: Never spend too much time dwelling on the past or the future, but instead live in the present. Yet, at the same time, do not disregard where you come from or who you will be, lest the life you lead in the present becomes superficial and empty.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Megan D said...

One interesting passage I found was "I guess you could call it the only religion I have, one drum that can fit in my hand, but I think if I played it a little, it might fill up the whole world." I think it is saying that as long as Victor remembers who he is and where he came from then everything will turn out okay. He always knows that there is something in his past that he has to look to, and to be comforted in, and knowing that, he can get through anything.

9:01 PM  
Blogger kyle n said...

One passage in the story that stands out to me is when Victor says, "When he stopped looking at me, I was hurt. How do you explain that?" This quote interests me because it seems as if Victor suddenly comes to the conclusion that he cares about what Thomas thinks about him, and now that he has suddenly distances himself from Victor, he is hurt. It's like the old saying goes, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got til it's gone".

9:06 PM  
Blogger Jordyn S said...

"When Indians make lots of money from corporations that way, we can all hear our ancestors laughing in the trees. But we never can tell wheter they're laughing at the Indians or the whites. I think they're laughing at pretty much everybody."

This passage to me represents the wisdom, composed and reserved nature of the ancestors. It is as though the generation currently living is left to make their own decisions and fend for themselves because they do not really have any concrete advice from the ancestors. This is because they simply laugh, and it is not clear who the laughter is directed at. It shows that ancestry and family is very important to the Indians and that they still feel the presence of their loved ones over time. The reader is left to wonder whether or not the ancestors are laughing at the white people for giving up so much money or material posessions to own land or rather if they are teasing their own people for being foolish enough to accept material things in exchange for their land. Either way the legacy of these elders comes through and you know that they are vicariously watching over the next generation.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Milt G said...

I believe that so many people are enthrolled so much by the legend and movie of Pocahontas is because throught all of our lives we hear about how the girl gets saved by the knight in shining armor and that's always a man and that's just how it should be. But in this story it is completely flipped. Pocahontas, a young girl, who is probably, in John Smith's opinion was an inferior race, saves a white man and that is completely backward from the way of thinking today.

I also think that the passage kelly chose is very interesing. "When Indians make lots of money from corporations that way, we can all hear our ancestors laughing in the trees. But we never can tell whether they're laughing at the Indians or the whites. I think they're laughing at pretty much everybody." It is like when the indians make all this money from the big corporations it is hard to tell who is making a bigger fool of themselves. Are the Indians making a fool themselves by making the money, or are the big corporations being bamboozled by the Indians into giving them the money?

9:14 PM  
Blogger OfAThousandSuns said...

One of the passages I found most interesting was the same one Chris used "with every step an indian rises, with every other step, a buffalo falls."

The question I am wondering is if this is a literal question with direct refernce to hunting (killing buffalo, a well known indian stereotype) or if it has some deeper meaning, probably connected to a life lesson or indian proverb?

o sorry this is late ms kakos we just got back from rodizio for my dads b-day.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Natalie M said...

THe disney movie pocahontas skews the reality of history, and blends it with fantasy and fairytale. When she was "friends" with John Smith the reccords show that she was 10 or 12 years old. this point of view is definately Not portrayed in the movie. the movie shows pocahontas as a beautiful indian princess and John Smith as a handsome soldier, when in reality they were abotu 20 years apart.

10:02 AM  
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6:35 AM  

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