Resources for Writing and Research
and Style Guide
"What is Good
Principles of good writing"
How to Write
A Literary Analysis
MLA Style Guide
Resources for Research
Area Tribes' Oral History and Culture:
Native Authors/Cultures/News on the Internet:
Indigenous/Two Spirit Authors and Literature
Indian Literature of
Luci Tapahanso reading
Index of Native American
Resources on the Internet
Resources of Indigenous Cultures around
Internet Public Library, Native
Native American Storytellers
National Museum of the American Indian
Country Today newspaper
Native Literature and Culture Journals:
these are the best:
Studies in American
Wicazo Sa Journal of American
Library Search Terms:
American literature Indian authors history and criticism
(this whole phrase)
Also, look at PS153I52 in the stacks
Local Tribes' Websites:
Nez Perce Tribe
Coeur d'Alene Tribe
Schools/Wellness and Healing
About Indian Boarding Schools
Videos (documentaries) on boarding schools:
Taken From My Home
In the White Man's Image (PBS)
A Century of Genocide in the Americas (Canadian system)
Learning about Race and Ethnicty
What is race?
What is ethnicity?
What is "white
"Unpacking the Knapsack of White Privilege"
Silko: "Yellow Woman" 367
and a Beauty of the Spirit," (read pages 10-15), Leslie Marmon Silko (article on Pueblo
Yellow Woman Stories
Told by the Pueblo
peoples of the Southwest, Yellow Woman stories dramatize how humans interact
with spirits in the world once it has been created. Although there is always
variation, Yellow Woman stories often involve a young married woman who wanders
beyond her village and has a sexual encounter with a spirit-man; sometimes she
is killed, but usually she returns to her family and tribe having grown
spiritually, and therefore has an empowering influence on the people in general.
In her influential essay "Kochinnenako in Academe," Paula Gunn Allen points out
that Yellow Woman stories are "female-centered, always told from the Yellow
Woman's point of view," and that they generally highlight "her alienation from
the people," but that her apparently transgressive acts "often have happy
outcomes for Kochinnenako [Yellow Woman] and her people." This suggests, Allen
argues, "that the behavior of women, at least at certain times or under certain
circumstances, must be improper or nonconformist for the greater good of the
whole." Like many Native American stories, these narratives have the communal
function of both drawing socially important boundary lines and observing where
they sometimes need to be transgressed. In particular, according to Allen, they
emphasize "the central role that woman plays in the orderly life of the people."
Leslie Marmon Silko frequently draws from the Yellow Woman tradition when she
writes of empowered (especially sexually empowered) and empowering women like
the spirit-being Ts'eh.
Teaching Silko's Ceremony:
Brief History of the Pueblo
Sacred Stories in Ceremony
Brief Excerpt on Uranium mining in SW
stories in Ceremony
Possible timeline for Ceremony
Women in Ceremony
Colors and directions
"Hummingbird and Fly" story: Silko's
Hummingbird story reveals how, after the shamans inappropriately begin
practicing magic, Nau'ts'ity'i shows her disfavor by taking the land and grass
away (in Silko's version the people trigger Nau'ts'ity'is's disfavor by
neglecting the corn, though in her Story of Ck'o'you magic, the shamans are at
fault). The people turn to Hummingbird and Fly to intercede with Nau'ts'ity'i.
They go to her to ask for forgiveness, and she asks that they perform a healing
ceremony that requires much travel. As the narrator of Ceremony puts it,
"It is not easy." Rocky and Tayo appear to connect with the actions of
Hummingbird and Fly, and thus you'll see that reenactment of old stories are a
central element of Silko's novel.
The story makes clear that Nau'ts'ity'i,
while loving , has clear expectations for behavior and responsibility and that
there will be consequences for misbehavior. Indeed, when a few people misbehave,
the whole community pays a price. This direct connection between actions
and consequences pervades Ceremony, with Tayo convinced that his actions
during the war are the cause of the drought.
Significantly, the healing ceremony requires a communal and cooperative
response. The people must work together to determine what is wrong, to enact the
ceremony, and to seek assistance from Fly and Hummingbird. In this
way, the process of ceremony helps rebuild the broken community.
Video: Hopi: Songs of the Fourth
Questions for video:
1. According to the video, what is the relationship between the cardinal
directions (North-West-South-East), color, and the natural world?
2. How do the Hopi define gender roles and child rearing?
3. What is the relationship between traditional Hopi beliefs and the beliefs of
U.S. society at large?
4. Who are the katchinas?
CEREMONY pp 1-167
1. Why is Tayo sick? What is done to heal him?
2. What is Auntie's attitude toward Tayo? Toward Rocky?
3. The novel could be a demonstration of Josiah's lesson to Tayo: "Nothing
was all good or all bad either: it all depended" (10). Look for events,
characters, and themes in the novel to which this can be applied. Look for
people who seem to not have learned this lesson.
4. In the jungle, after Rocky dies, Tayo "damned the rain until the words were a
chant" (11). From what we know of Pueblo cultures, what makes this a significant
event? How does this set other events in motion?
5. One of Tayo's Army friends says "Here's the Indian's mother earth! Old
dried-up thing!" (23). What does this tell us about his friend's character and
his friend's relationship to his tribal culture?
6. Tayo's dilemma is one of "There was no place left for him" (32). How does he
look for his place, and what answers does he find?:
7. When/where do you become confused about the chronology of events?
8. "Emo grew from each killing" (56) What does this tell us about Emo, and what
conflict does this create for Tayo?
9. Tayo thinks at one point: "Jesus Christ was not like the Mother" (63).
What changes might Christianity have brought to the Pueblo community? How might
these changes not be welcomed by all?
10. At one point Auntie tells Tayo a story about his mother's misbehavior.
She says, ". . . she was your mother, and you have to understand" (65).
What does Auntie feel Tayo must understand about his mother? What effect might
such a story have on him?
11. Look for signs of competing cultures in Tayo's mind or life. For
instance, what do we see going on with Tayo's science teacher on page 94?
12. Why are Josiah's cattle so important?
13. Why is Tayo sent to Betonie? Why don't people completely trust
Betonie? Why does Tayo think to himself "this would be the end of him" (112)?
14. Why does Auntie dislike Josiah's visit to the Night Swan?
15. Keep in mind that Tayo visits Night Swan before he goes off to the war
and returns sick. But Night Swan seems to know or sense something about him. How
she might be important in his education in general and in his future healing
process? What do you think Josiah's note told her? Night Swan tells Tayo, "You
are a part of it now (92)". What is he a part of?
16. Betonie says, "you see, in many ways, the ceremonies have always been
changing" (116). How does this prove to be a recurring theme in the novel and
how is it important for Tayo's healing?
compare/contrast women in Ceremony (print
out handout above)
compare sacred stories/characters (print out handout above)
How do the poems parallel the
novel's events? Pay close attention to the story of the witch people (122-128).
18. What do Tayo, Night Swan, Betonie, and Josiah's cattle have in common
with Betonie's grandparents (134-141)?
19. How do "poems" continue to parallel Tayo's story? Look for moments at
which the poems appear in the text. Are these important juxtapositions?
20. A minor character (Helen Jean) thinks of the Indian veterans she meets: "But these
Indians got fooled when they thought it would last" (153). What won't last? Why
not? What does Helen Jean contribute to the novel?
21. What evidence do you find that Tayo is getting better? Look at his
actions and his thoughts. Look for images that are associated with him as the
novel progresses. Where does he express confidence and happiness? Where does he
relapse into fear, sickness, and self=loathing?
22. On page 177, Tayo tells himself that "he had learned the lie by
heart." What lie is this? Similarly, he says the whites had believed a lie.
What is the lie that they have learned by heart?
23. Why does Tayo decide NOT to kill Emo (235)?
24. Where does Tayo end the novel?
Choose a passage that you feel best articulates a major theme of the novel.
GUEST SPEAKER/WRITER: Jeanette Weaskus
from her Memoir Never Dirty, Mostly Clean
her novel in progress
Jeanette received an MFA in Creative Writing at UI, and is now working on a
PhD in English at WSU --be sure to be on time and please ask her questions