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Tuesdays With Morrie Reflection Paper Free Essays
Whether it's at a large festival or barn square dance, a rock venue or a busy street corner, The Wayfarers continue to carry this music forward with creativity and authenticity, making it contemporary and fun.
The Wayfarers have been featured on the national PBS television series "Song of the Mountains", toured much of the Midwest and Southern Appalachians, released 4 studio albums, and have shared the stage with some of the biggest names in bluegrass & country music; including Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Dailey & Vincent, Lonesome River Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Rhonda Vincent, Marty Raybon, Jerry Douglas, and many many more.
This moment of identification refigures the conventional history of Native American tragic defeat by emphasizing the continuity between past and present. At this pivotal juncture Hale briefly finds the historical connection for which she yearns, forging a link between her family's journey over the past hundred years and her present circumstances in "that hard Montana country, [when] on a cold day in May 1986, I would, at last, return to the Bear Paw" (160). Hale imagines that her family's return to this significant place will end the patterns to which they have been captive, enabling them to move beyond "conflict and devastation . . . [and toward] transformation and continuance" (Allen, "'Whose Dream Is This, Anyway?'" 121).
However, Hale's connections to the past fail to serve an entirely liberating function. While Hale reconnects with her grandmother's memory, this moment does not enable her to imagine a possibility beyond her (and, by extension, her people's) present captivity. Rather, this moment stands as a powerful experience of historical remembrance that ultimately remains temporal and transitory. As Hale notes, "At length the spell broke. I could take the cold no longer" (158). The freezing temperature jerks Hale back to the present reality that she cannot fully escape.10
Significantly, Hale remains estranged from her homeland in the last essay,"Dust to Dust,"where she finally accepts that she can never again live on the Coeur d'Alene reservation, the site of so many years of pain and exclusion. When Hale returns with her daughter to the reservation, she experiences a sense of extreme dislocation, noticing, "Now the streets are paved. There've been a lot of changes. . . . the house is gone. I can't even tell exactly where our house used to be" (175-76). She is also unable to locate her family's plot in the community cemetery (181). These experiences affirm Hale's conception of herself as one of the "broken-off pieces" of a once-powerful tribe and family (xxxiii). Thus, the persistent problem of Hale's personal alienation can only be partially remedied by acts of remembering and writing.
This sense of uprootedness exists in tension with Hale's acknowledgment that "Home is the place where your people began, and maybe where your family began and your family still is" (171). Although Hale's sisters have returned to the reservation with their families, Hale realizes that this ancestral land "is their home; it can never be mine. I will remain, as I long have been, estranged from the land I belong to" (185). A sense of acceptance tempers this loss, however: "It should be different. But it isn't. . . . It's all right. I'm glad I got away from them and out of all that too" (185). The only way to break free of the dysfunction, Hale realizes, is to physically live elsewhere, although she still retains "the stories, the history, who we came from" to pass on to her daughter (185). Personal and cultural identity is preserved and transmitted primarily through memory and writing rather than lived experience within a tribal community.11
These stories reframe the past within a narrative of continuity and hope. In the very act of passing family stories on to posterity through writing, Hale envisions the need for cultural survival and continuance in the face of "the white society that had super-imposed itself onto North America" (103). The desire to escape the captivity imposed by this history of colonization establishes, for Hale, the foundation for "a reimagined Indian-ness" (Powell 418) based upon "the possibility of my own bloodline continuing down through the ages" (Bloodlines 103).
Tuesdays With Morrie Reflection Paper
: The artists and writers we selected for our discussion work in diverse, even contradictory styles. But they share an important connection in their choice of subjects. This connection is often lost when categories such as "traditional versus nontraditional" and "modern versus postmodern" are imposed upon their work. When we turn the spotlight on , the limitations to these categories become immediately apparent. But even more, the importance of as a vital center of American Indian art and literature has been revealed to us in this process of exploration.
: And don't you think, Cynthia, that one aspect of the vitality we are exploring has everything to do with a complex relationship of artist to place? For example, in a Western American Literature issue devoted to 's legacy as "," Joy Harjo makes a case for the power of language to forge sustaining bonds with people, with the land, and with the past. She begins her short essay with a definition: " -- the red earth -- gives meaning to a name. is derived from a Choctaw word which means 'red people'" ("" 125). Moreover, in addition to giving birth to meaning, signals energy for Harjo because it reverberates with diverse languages and cultural practices of the sixty-six American Indian nations residing today in that state. Also, Cynthia, when you mention the idea that works by American Indian artists tend to blur academic distinctions such as "modern versus postmodern," I think of Carter Revard. In a short piece from An Eagle Nation titled "In Oklahoma," that sage Osage ironically exposes binaries as fairly irrelevant to his perspective of . Playfully tweaking the famous remark about made by Gertrude Stein -- "There's no there, there" -- Revard comments: "Shall I tell you a secret, Gert? You have to be there before it's there. . . . See friends, it's not a flyover here. Come down from your planes and you'll understand. Here" (124). Revard's "here" is a storied geography, redolent with meanings for the artists and writers we discuss.
Ruthe, your work will add Delaware/Shawnee sounds and images to the landscape and, along with the works that Cynthia has chosen, show us something about the dynamism among you, , and the power, fragility, intelligence, emotion, and humor invoked in your art.
: Yes, all of that. In addition, I have said that Oklahoma Indian art is a synthesis of all that has gone before, from the artistic production before contact with Europeans to the Indian schools of painting initially developed under the direction of Euroamericans. has also been called a "melting pot," and although we don't use that term anymore, we were referring to the various groups of people who settled or were forced to settle there. So we have the voice of the traveler or one who lives away from the place and returns with a certain objectivity, while the native or one who stays home (behind) perhaps is more concerned with the ongoing, traditional aspects of life. Some artists have stated that they are unable to work "there" and must consciously remove themselves; others stay home because they somehow feel that being with or near their subject is vital to them and to their work. And of course there is the state department of tourism that says " is a state of mind."
At the , we teach the Bacone style, which is a recognized style of traditional Indian painting by artists who studied there from 1935 to 1980. Historically our school has always been connected in theory with the Kiowa or Oklahoma Plains style of painting via the . You can recognize this style by characteristics like the flat application of water-based paint on paper, no wash shading, and the outlining of subjects to suggest form. Subject mat-ter is frequently human, bird, or animal with an important emphasis on legend and Indian culture and history. Usually there is an absence of background. This is the method employed in the 1920s by the Oklahoma Kiowa artists as well as the artists of the , an Indian boarding school that also became an important art center for traditional painting. However, there are subtle differences between the two schools. The Kiowa artists used more bold color and action scenes compared to the more subdued subject matter and almost pastel palette of the artists. These subtle differences between the two schools can still be seen today. The developed to employ more detailed rendering of garments, feathers, hair, and facial features, as well as anatomy in both animals and humans. There is also more complex use of color, more multifaceted compositions, and greater depiction of action than either the Kiowa or the schools.
In 1935 Acee Blue Eagle (Creek/Pawnee) was the founding art director of Bacone. He was a contemporary of the original Kiowa artists and was in the group that immediately followed them. I call that group "second-generation Jacobson artists," after Oscar Brousse Jacobson, who was the head of the of at the . Jacobson gave artistic direction to the famous Kiowa Five, a group of Southern Plains artists working in the traditional style who, through Jacobson's advocacy, gained widespread recognition in both the and . Acee Blue Eagle studied under Jacobson before he came to Bacone. Following Blue Eagle at Bacone were Woodrow Wilson ("Woody") Crumbo (Potawatomi), Dick West (), and Chief Terry Saul (Choctaw/Chickasaw), all of whom were second-generation Jacobson students. I am not in that group, but as a student of West and through my identification with the Kiowa style, I consider myself a practitioner of their legacy.
: Ruthe, you describe the traditional style and its practitioners in great depth in your article "Like Being Home: Oklahoma Indian Art," so I would like to refer those interested in more detail about this style to your article. In it you include Dick West's painting Dream Shield (ca. 1965) (fig. 1). Stylistically it is characterized by its flat two-dimensionality and its focus on an individual figure. There is
Throughout the stories of Tuesday's with Morrie and A child called it, we are given a thematic concept that true happiness is only attained through the love and caring of others, as well as that of yourself.
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE SUMMARY ..
Gardens opens with Sand Lizard survivors Sister Salt and Indigo laughing and tumbling naked over the dunes, delighting in the delicious gift of rainfall. The girls' names signify their elemental relationship with their ancestral home. Salt, a mineral essential to life, betokens the dry earth of the Sand Lizards' native desert habitat. Indigo, the name of a desert plant, alludes to the younger girl's spiritual rootedness in her native ground. Indigo's name also suggests her relationship to the sacred. Later in the novel, when Indigo is invited to Susan James's annual gala,"The Masque of the Blue Garden,"Silko notes, "Indigo understood immediately: blue was the color of the rain clouds" (177).As in Ceremony, rain clouds in Gardens are sacred; Indigo understands that they carry the spirits of departed loved ones as well as the power to nourish the people and their crops. Clouds, in a whirlwind of snowflakes, also bring the Messiah, whom Indigo will seek throughout her travels. Even in the midst of Susan's party, Indigo is thinking of the Messiah. The moonlight and white blossoms remind her "of the Messiah and his family and all the [ghost] dancers in their white blankets all shimmering in the light reflected off the snow" (196). Indigo is never spoiled by material comforts or distracted from her goals: to return home to her sister, seeds in hand, and to find her mother and the Messiah along the way.
Much later in the novel, Silko demonstrates Indigo's relationship to the sacred when the girl glimpses the Messiah and his Mother in a vision on a schoolhouse wall in . "She could make out the forms of the dancers wrapped in their white shawls and the Messiah and his Mother standing in the center of the circle -- all were in a beautiful white light reflecting all the colors of the rainbow" (319). The term "rainbow," used here to indicate the Messiah and his family, recalls Indigo's beloved parrot, Rainbow, which the girl carries like an angel on her shoulder.
"The notion that nature is somewhere over there while humanity is over here or that a great hierarchical ladder of being exists . . . is antithetical to tribal thought," asserts Paula Gunn Allen. "The American Indian sees all creatures as relatives (and in tribal systems relationship is central), as offspring of the Great Mystery, as cocreators, as children of our mother, and as necessary parts of an ordered, balanced,and living whole" (59). Edward perceives Indigo as far beneath him; he refers to her as Hattie's maid. Hattie, however, sees Indigo as a younger equal in need of help, and Indigo considers herself equal to Hattie, Rainbow, and Hattie and Edward's monkey, Linnaeus. By casting a rainbow on a Corsican wall, Silko emphasizes Hattie and Indigo's receptivity to the sacred, demonstrates a rich hybridity of spiritual traditions (Christian and non-Christian), and illustrates the interrelatedness of human and nonhuman creatures.
While Hattie and Indigo stand transfixed before their colorful vision of the Messiah, Edward is busy pretending to photograph citrus groves while stealing cuttings of Citrus medica to smuggle back to the . The origins of Citrus medica -- also known as citron -- are uncertain, "but seeds were found in Mesopotamian excavations dating back to 4,000 B.C.," observes botanist Julia Morton. "The armies of Alexander the Great are thought to have carried the citron to the Mediterranean region about 300 B.C." (Morton par. 3). As its name implies, Citrus medica has several medicinal properties; it has been used to treat intestinal troubles as an antibiotic and, in , to "drive off evil spirits" (Morton par. 35). Citrus medica historically has had sacred connotations as well. "The Jews adopted the citron to serve in the religious ceremony of the feast of the tabernacle," note authors Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf (173). Yet by the 1890s, Americans and Europeans coveted Citrus medica for its rind, which was candied and blended into cakes and other sweet treats; Edward plans to cultivate his cuttings for this purpose. Edward arrives in Corsica via , presumed birthplace of Christopher Columbus. A French territory, is also the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the region's recorded history is primarily one of conquest by larger powers. By incorporating this plant and these locations into her narrative, Silko offers a microcosmic history of ancient conquest, European imperialism, and modern botanical piracy, while demonstrating commercial trivialization of the sacred.
At first, many may find these lyrics incongruous with the prevailing narratives of what happened at -- love, prayers, and life connected with such devastation? But for myself and many others, this song is an affirmation of life and living -- why should we dwell on the darkness of that day? This is not to say we should ever forget what happened there, but we need to dismantle the dominant narrative of Wounded Knee as the "end" or "last days" of "authentic-traditional" Indian life, as many non-Native historians would have us believe. In Red on Red, Womack points out that "[t]he process of decolonizing one's mind, a first step before one can achieve a political consciousness and engage in activism, has to begin with imagining an alternative" (230). This song imagines and promotes that alternative. It speaks of love and prayers as spiritual forces -- active resistance to hate and despair.
The song also points out significant historical facts -- that the Ghost Dance was done in order that the participants might survive the intense starvation (both physical and spiritual) that they were facing and that the dance had indeed been outlawed (as had all "Native" ritual and practice; participants were routinely arrested and jailed). Nicholas Black Elk relates in Raymond DeMallie's The Sixth Grandfather that Ghost Dancers did in fact use red paint, a signifier for healing and happiness in Lakota culture. And even though Crazy Horse did not directly participate in the Ghost Dance (he had been murdered in 1877 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska), he was known to have gone often to "lament" or cry for visions in order to help his people.6 Sitting Bull, on the other hand, was a physical participant in the Ghost Dance early on, and even though in time his enthusiasm for the dance began to wane, he knew that the dancing helped sustain the People's hope. It was in response to Sitting Bull's assassination that Big Foot's band of Mniconjous were fleeing for sanctuary in Red Cloud's camp at Pine Ridge in December 1890 and were "apprehended" at . By including pertinent facts such as these, Robertson reminds us that what happened at was not an event that happened in isolation -- it is a reality linked to the past events as well as future ones; it is something we must remember.
Near the end of the song, there is a sort of "pantribal" call for unity and cultural renewal among Native nations -- many of whom had their own variations of the Ghost Dance in their communities and perhaps still do. I like to think about the possibility of songs and dances to pray for resurgence, renewal, and a new Native world to come.7 At the end of the song, there is a spoken segment: "we don't sing them kind of songs no more." This may seem to be the "last word" on such a possibility -- but isn't Robertson's own Ghost Dance song here evidence to the contrary?
Native American music has been studied in some capacity since contact; however, most people wanted to analyze it for its exoticness or "primitive beauty" rather than to listen for the stories or lessons it might teach. Numerous books on Native music exist, but most researchers (many of whom are non-Native) tend to concentrate on the older songs, the more "traditional" music.8 Most believe that "authentic Native music" is only the old war songs and honor songs that are sung in tribal languages. And certainly, study in that venue is valuable. In fact, calls for inclusion of Native American music in college curricula have been made before, but almost invariably the call was for study of "authentic" or "traditional" music or chants.9 My contention is that many Native studies scholars are overlooking or ignoring the most accessible music -- that of current contemporary Native musicians. They are a resource that we need to pay attention to and respect. I see them as "alter/native discourses" that are not only vital to our study of Native literatures but also important texts in thinking about decolonizination. As Native scholar Malea Powell points out in her essay "Listening to Ghosts," writing alternative discourses and listening to them are acts of survivance (21).
Trudell, Secola, and Robertson are just three of the many Native musicians who are currently releasing new work that we can use in our classrooms. These singers are sending their voices into the vibratory universe, as Native singers have done for millennia. They are addressing important issues that concern Native people today, issues that should concern every American citizen. But beyond that, these works function as texts of Native literature and should be given serious consideration as such both in academic conferences and, perhaps more importantly, in the college classroom. These texts will work well on several levels in any Native American studies classroom -- especially in any Native American literature (indeed, any American literature) classroom for a variety of reasons.
First, and perhaps most important, these songs teach students to really listen to what is being said. Listening is quickly becoming a lost art. We do not want to take the time to listen and think -- we are rushing our lives away, hearing only about half of what is being said and rarely taking time to think about what it is we are hearing. We often encourage our students to speak in class -- to participate in discussions, add their voice -- and this holds a fundamental place in our pedagogies. It is tremendously important that we also teach them about listening to words as well; we need to show them that listening and contemplating the words they hear is worth the time it takes to consider what is being said. We need to slow down a bit and think about the words and language we are hearing.
Second, I find that students relate well to this kind of "poetry" because it is more accessible to them, blended as it is with music. As we know, music is a major concern for many of our students -- they pay attention to it. We witness this every day, students all around campus with iPods or walkman earphones practically cemented in their ears. And, it seems to me, we can implement their love for music to remind them that music and poetry are actually relatives in the creative realm. Listening to these works can also encourage them to listen to their own favorite kinds of music in new ways as well. These kinds of texts can aid students in learning about evolving oral traditions and the rhetorical strategies that are inherent in such endeavors.
Additionally, many students seem to find these kinds of texts less intimidating than some other forms of poetry or literature simply because music is a part of their daily lives. I find that if I incorporate contemporary Native musical forms such as the songs of Trudell, Secola, or Robertson into my teachings, our transition into other Native writers is accomplished more smoothly; many students will spend more time with the texts and will engage with them on a new level. The students are more receptive and begin to read poetry and literature differently, relating to it with more immediacy; they become aware that they are "listening" to the words printed on the page rather than just reading them. Equally important, however, is the fact that these texts acquaint students with crucial Native issues, -- such as cultural survival, decolonization, and resistance. Studying song texts like these encourages critical thinking about those issues. As many Native scholars already know, songs are alive and powerful, and we can be listening to, thinking about, and learning from these texts.
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