Sherman Alexie’s “The Powwow at the End of the World”
Sherman Alexie isan American Native poet, writer, filmmaker, novelist and a performer.He was brought up on the Spokane, an Indian Reservation. He is alsothe tribe’s registered member, who writes extensively about hisculture and heritage (Lewis 12)
The Grand CouleeDam project refers to one of the largest concrete structure to haveever built. It was built near the Spokane Indian reservation (GALE29). The Tribe had just released a statement that describes how thedam destroyed their land’s natural habitat and elimination of mostof the natural resources.
The Grand CouleeDam was beneficial to the United States majorly for two things: Powerduring the World War II and Irrigation. The powerhouse began itsproduction just at the onset of the World War II. The electricityproduced was important to the efforts put during the war. Theelectricity produced was also used in the production of plutonium,which was the Manhattan Project top secret. The dam made the war asuccess to the United States. The dam also provided enough water usedfor irrigation (Ripper 71). Over 50 different food and cash cropswere produced within the project, and were distributed around theUnited States.
The Spokane IndianTribe refer to a group of Indians known to stay at the Spokane IndianReservation, which was the land highly populated by Indians. The damproject affected them in that it destroyed their land’s naturalhabitat, and most of their natural resources were eliminated for theconstruction of the dam project (Constantakis 57).
In his poem, Alexietreats the issue of Spokane Indian with great concern. He illuminatesthe despair, alcoholism, and poverty, which was a characteristic ofthe Spokane Indian Tribe living in the reservation, and the manner inwhich the dam project displaced them out of their habitat. In hisPoem, Alexie describes it has “… the fire that lead all of theIndians losing their homes.” (Hoffman 48) He described the IndianTribe as happy until the onset of the project.
The United Statesgovernment should be held accountable today. This is because of thepain and discomfort the Native Americans inflicted on the SpokaneIndian Tribe (Ripper 101). Again, it is because of the displacementand non-resettlement of these Indians.
A symbolism inAlexie’s poem is the dancing of the tribe, which symbolizes theirhappiness (Hoffman 49). The dancing is a perfect fit to the Spokanepeople, which again symbolizes a momentous day of vengeance.
The symbolism aboveprovides an image that is the end of the world. Here, the speakerforgives individuals who encroached on the land of its people due tothe avoidance of vengeance in the judgement day (Nilsen & Don98). The imagery is also presented by the whites answering to thehigher order after the end of the world.
In the recurringline, Alexie is speaking to the reader directly of his need toforgive after being asked to do so. In the line, it is the only partand a first time that the poet does not sound sarcastic and isassuring its reader of the readiness to forgive the society for whatthey did to his people after the atrocities inflicted to its people(Kneis 34).
In the recurringline, Alexie is addressing the demands by the audience of the need toforgive the European settlers (Kennedy & Dana 87). The audienceis demanding the speaker should forget over four centuries of thepain and atrocities committed towards Alexie’s fellow Indians.
Alexie did not havea legitimate argument because his argument is seen as just a wishfulthinking and a way to handle the Native American psychology sinceforgiveness conditions will hardly be met (GALE 23).
Powwow is anAmerican-Indian gathering, which is often held with deep personal andspiritual connection by the community involved. The term also refersto any form of gathering by the Native Americans preferably thoseoccupying the northern America (Constantakis 58). Powwow is meant toharness connection among the people of the same tribe and to fightfor each other.
Constantakis, Sara. Poetry for Students: Presenting Analysis,Context and Criticism on Commonly Studied Poetry. Detroit, Mich:Gale, 2012. Print.
GALE, Poetry forStudents. s.l.: Cengage gale, 2012. Print.
Hoffman, Elizabeth D. L. American Indians and Popular Culture.Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger, 2012. Internet resource.
Kennedy, X J, & Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction toFiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Boston: Pearson, 2013.Print.
Kneis, Philipp. Saged by Culture: Representations of Old Age inAmerican Indian Literature and Culture. , 2013. Print.
Lewis, Leon. ShermanAlexie. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2012. Print.
Nilsen, Alleen P, & Don L. F. Nilsen. Names and Naming inYoung Adult Literature. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2013. Internetresource.
Ripper, Jason. American Stories: Living American History: V.2: from 1865. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2015. Internet resource.