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A Look at The Structural Poverty as Depicted in Silko's Ceremony

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As Silko’s Ceremony moves along, the problem of poverty among the Native Indian becomes evident. The white people subject the Native Indians by stealing their land and cattle. Tayo focuses on economic-self-reliance as part of his healing when he focus of seeking and returning his family’s cattle that the white rancher has snatched from them. He faces lots of challenges in the bid to recover the cattle because he meets white patrolmen men that are only interest in shooting the coyotes and catching the Mexicans. Tayo faces a lot of trouble because he is abacuses the white people’s land and stealing the white people’s cattle. The Native Indians lack economic self-reliance because of the historical and modern racial prejudice against them.

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In Ceremony, Tayo, the protagonist, grew up in difficult conditions in Gallup, and the conditions there are similar to the conditions in the most destitute actual Native American communities. He remembers how he lived in a tin shelter that was in Gallup and his memories in that shelter are a nightmare. He endured violence, neglect, promiscuity and alcoholism when he was a toddler. His mother left him in the bars in Gallup and Silko writes that “He could not remember when he first knew cigarettes would make him vomits if he ate them. He played for hours under the tables quiet, watching for someone to drop a potato chip bag for a wad of gum “(108). This means that Tayo grew up in poverty and finding a decent meal was not easy for them .he depended on well-wishers because his mother did not have the capacity to provide for him. Even though the white women had kids with the white men with the hope that the white men could take them of poverty, the white men left them hence they struggled with life. Even though the Indian reservations have been experiencing a phenomenal growth in the recent past, still there exits discrepancies when compared to other areas in America. The discrepancies in economic development account for the cycles of poverty in the native Indian counties (Akee, Katherine and Jonathan 39). Therefore, the living standards in most Indian reservations are very low.

The issue of land is repeated throughout the narrative because it show how the whites pushed the natives into poverty. The white people used all the means necessary to kick the natives out of their land. Land alienation is the main indicator on racism in the novel and it causes poverty. Silko explains that: He [Tayo] rode miles across dry lake flats and over rocky cerros until he came to a high fence of heavy-gauge steel mesh with three strands of barbed wire across the top. It was a fence that could hold the spotted cattle. The white man, Floyd Lee, called it a wolf-proof fence; but he had poisoned and shot all the wolves in the hills, and the people knew what the fence was for: a thousand dollars a mile to keep Indians and Mexicans out; a thousand dollars a mile to lock the mountain in steel wire, to make the land his (187). The fence in this excerpt refers to the obstacles that the white people put in the lives of the natives Indians. Poisoning the fence is inhumane because the land belongs to the natives. The fences is symbolic of the obstacles makes it difficult for the Indians to move out of poverty The white people impose obstacles on the natives because they want to take ways all the things such as land that belong to the natives. The white people in fridge the native’s rights to their land because they think that they are more entitled to own the land than r the natives are. Furthermore, the fencing implies that natives are criminals who mat come to the land with the intention of stealing.

The levels of relative and absolute poverty are higher in the Native Indians than the non-Hispanic whites. Huyser, Isao and Arthur emphasize that “The problematic character of poverty among American Indian racial groups is underscored by their substantially higher odds of being poor (relative to non-Hispanic whites), even after statistically taking into account age, gender, education, metropolitan status, and region of residence” (120). The implication of their findings is that is that the Native Indian have the highest levels of poverty in their families regardless of their area of residence, age, gender, metropolitan status, and education among other variables. Therefore, the poverty passes from one generation to another because it is deeply entrenched in the community.

The natives have colonized their minds hence they do not have the capacity of confronting the experiences of hegemony are suppressed in their hearts. Consequently, they hold the view that killing in poverty is their fate and they cannot change it. The suppression of the feelings is attributed to racism that makes the natives to feel inferior and to consider the white people as superior. To demonstrated the extent to which the natives have repressed their feelings towards the willingness to get out of poverty, Silko writes that “he knew that he had learned the lie by the heart-the lie which they had wanted him to loran only brown skinned-people were thieves; white people didn’t steal because they always had money to buy whatever they wanted” (191). Here, Tayo realizes that all along the white people have brainwashed the natives this makes it difficult for a native to believe that the white person that can be involved in stealing. He realizes that the whites use lies to treat the native people as thieves whereas they are the thieves that steal the native’s land and cattle. The whites feel the natives’ heads with lies that is why it is difficult for them to realize that the whites are stealing their properties. The lies encourage discrimination and racial profiling of the native people. Furthermore, they encourage the stereotyping of native Indians as thieves. Therefore, the cycles of poverty among native Indians are attributed to historical injustices.

It is clear that poverty is concentrated in the Indian reservations today due to the lack of economic development initiatives; Native Americans, as depicted here, lack the resources that are crucial in establishing and running various business enterprise in the Indian reservations. The low volume of business enterprise in the Indian reservations means that there are limited employment opportunities. Further, the Indians face a lot of discrimination when they try to find jobs outside the reservations. It is so difficult for theIndians to access credit and this means that they lack capital that can help them to start off their business ventures. The community values and the tribal institutions in the Indian reservations prevent the economic development of the Indians reservations s well. Some natives feel that looking for an alternative source in come such as business is a violation of the community’s social norms (Mauer 71).Therefore, the weak economy has a detrimental effect on the entire community.

Works Cited

Akee, Randall KQ, Katherine A. Spilde, and Jonathan B. Taylor. “Social and Economic Changes on American Indian Reservations in California: an Examination of Twenty Years of Tribal Government Gaming1.” UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, vol. 18, no.2, 2014, pp. 39.

Akee, Randall KQ, and Jonathan B. Taylor. “Social and economic change on American Indian reservations: A databook of the US Censuses and American Community Survey, 1990–2010.” Sarasota, FL: Taylor Policy Group, vol.1, no.3, pp.36.

Huyser, Kimberly R., Isao Takei, and Arthur Sakamoto. “Demographic factors associated with poverty among American Indians and Alaska Natives.” Race and Social Problems, vol.6, no.2, 2014, pp. 120-134.

Mauer, Kathryn Whitney. Landscapes of disadvantage: The structure of American Indian poverty from the reservation to the metropolis in the early 21st century. Cornell University, 2014.

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Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. 1977. Penguin, 2006.

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