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Balancing discourse and silence : an approach to First Nations women’s writing Seaton, Dorothy 1993-12-31

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BALANCING DISCOURSE AND SILENCE:AN APPROACH TO FIRST NATIONS WOMEN'S WRITINGbyDOROTHY SEATONB.A., The University of Saskatchewan, 1984M.A., The University of Queensland, 1988A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of English)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAOctober 1993© Dorothy Seaton, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate^29sf ii-644 DE-6 (2/88)AbstractThis thesis considers the critical implications of a cross-cultural reading of First Nations women'swriting in this time of sensitivity to the issues of appropriation and power inequities between dominantand minority cultures. A genre-based study, it is written from a deliberately split perspective: readingas both a white academic implicated in the dominant culture's production of meaning and value, and asa lesbian alienated from these same processes, i both propose and perform several modes of response toFirst Nations texts. Interspersed with a conventional commentary is a secondary, personal commentarythat questions and qualifies the claims of the critical. Then, another level of response, in the form offiction and poetry based on my own experiences growing up with my Assiniboine sister, also proposesthe appropriateness, in this critical power dynamic, of a third response of simply answering story withstory.Chapter One examines the construction of individual identity and responsibility in MariaCampbell's Halfbreed, particularly as the text demands an emotionally-engaged response conventionallydiscouraged in critical discourse, and as a result redefines the genre of autobiography. Chapter Twoconsiders the possibility of a communal and spiritual, as well as an individual, emotional, response to FirstNations texts, examining the community of stories that comprise each of the novels Slash, In Search of AprilRaintree, and Honour the Sun. From this consideration of narrative as eliciting emotional and spiritualreading practices, Chapter Three discusses the nature of language itself as a vehicle of spiritualtransformation and subversion, specifically in the poetry of Annharte and Beth Cuthand. Chapter Four,on the mixed-genre The Book of Jessica, shifts focus from the discursive strategies of First Nations writing,to examining the way these practices redefine time and history as newly accessible to First Nationsspiritual construction. Finally, the Conclusion re-examines the reading strategies developed throughoutiithe thesis, noting the pitfalls they avoid, while discussing their limitations as cross-cultural tools. Theultimate effect is to propose the very beginning of the kinds of changes the academy must consider fora truly non-appropriative cross-cultural interaction.Table of ContentsAbstract ^  iiTable of Contents ^  ivAcknowledgements  vChapter One: "I Write This for All of You": Maria Campbell's Halfbreed ^  1Poems ^ 24Chapter Two: "'It Is Here All Around Us'": Slash, In Search of April Raintree, and Honour the Sun . . ^ 29Grandmother Story ^  60Chapter Three: "Running Down Up Escalator": Voices in the Waterfall and Being On the Moon ^ 72Sticks ^  103Chapter Four: "And As a Result We All Get Strong": The Book of Jessica ^  114Photos ^  148Conclusion  155Notes ^  167Works Consulted ^  192ivAcknowledgementsI wish to dedicate this thesis to Josephine Anne Whitebear Seaton Enka, with deep gratitude andlove. Thanks to you and the other First Nations women who have risked sharing their stories.I want also to thank my supervisors, W.H. New, Laurence Ricou, Valerie Raoul and ArunaSrivastava, for their careful reading and comments. Thanks, Aruna, for your example. I am grateful forthe financial support of the University of British Columbia and the Social Sciences and HumanitiesResearch Council of Canada.Special thanks to Jana, for your patience, support and love: thanks for hanging in there, sweetie!And thanks to the other dykes in my life: my inspiration and my community.vChapter One:"I Write This for All of You":Maria Campbell's HaljbreedAbdul JanMohamed and David Lloyd, in their introduction to the second of two special issuesof Cultural Critique on minority discourses, emphasize basic similarities among minority discourses whichare of paramount importance not only to the minorities involved, but to their shared project ofdismantling the oppressive mechanisms and effects of liberal humanism. Above all, these discourses sharea "privileged" position (my term) in their critique of traditional humanism, with its ironically exclusionaryassertion of the supposedly "universal," and its systematic refusal to confront "all issues concerned withthe relations of domination" ("Minority Discourse--What Is to Be Done?" 13). Opposing this traditionalhumanism with a (hypothetical) "viable humanism" that might be genuinely inclusive and non-dominating, they assert thatmost of those who hold power and those whose subject positions are protected by the prevailinghegemony will be more interested in the efficacious use of power than in examining its misuse.By contrast, those who are dominated will better understand the devastating effects of misusedpower; they are in a better position to document and analyze . . . how relations of domination candestroy the "human" potential of its victims. Their concerns must be at the center not only of aminority discourse but also of "humanism" as such, that is, of a utopian exploration of humanpotentiality (14).That all minority groups should share this perspective arises from the common source of theirmaterial and cultural oppression: "the modes of late capitalism," which rely on a material level upon the"systematic exploitation of the less privileged minority groups and the feminization of poverty, thedemonization of third world peoples and homophobic hysteria." These material oppressions also relyupon a cultural oppression--upon "the need to denigrate alternative modes of rationality as . . . the'ontological Other'" (12 [quoting Sylvia Wynterj)--in which the traditional humanist plays a crucial role12as the legitimator of "the sets of discriminations which [this] economic and social domination requires"(12). Sharing similar oppressions, then, which derive from the same oppressive system, individuals inminority cultures also share similar projects of transforminga negative, generic subject position . . . into a positive, collective one. And therein, precisely, liesthe basis of a broad minority coalition: in spite of the enormous differences between variousminority cultures, which must be preserved, all of them occupy the same oppressed and 'inferior'cultural, political, economic, and material subject position in relation to the Western hegemony.... The minority's attempt to negate prior hegemonic negation of itself is one of its mostfundamental forms of affirmation. (10)Thus i begin my thesis about First Nations women's writing with this argument for the "commonpolitical basis of minority struggle" (10, their emphasis), writing myself from the position of a white lesbianwho is herself intensely engaged in the effort to construct and support lesbian cultures. I propose myselfas an ally, bringing to the reading of the protesting, transformative writing of First Nations women bothmy own understanding of "the devastating effects of misused power" (14), and my own sense of whatkinds of things can be done, at least in my own community, to achieve the transformation of a "negative,generic subject position . . . into a positive, collective one" (10). I thus bring these two standpointstogether in a dialogue entailing both mutual support and difference, as i examine the ways in which myreadings of First Nations women's texts inform and transform my own strategies of self-construction andconstruction of my community, and the places where their strategies and meanings must diverge frommine—sometimes to the point that i can no longer understand or participate at all (Alarcon 86-87).However, if i begin by defining my reading self as separate from and oppressed by the dominantculture, just as i identify First Nations writers as separate and oppressed--as "minority" writers--i mustalso identify myself as a participant in the dominant culture, insofar as i see myself, as an academic, as alsoperpetuating the strategies and paradigms of dominance that oppress minorities. As a "European scholar,"i participate, in the words of Lee Maracle (Metis), in the "alienated notion which maintains that theory isseparate from story" (Oratory 3; also Interview 172), and in presenting "the human condition in a languageseparate from human experience" (11), when, as she argues, "no thought is understood outside ofhumanity's interaction" (13; also Anzaldlia, "Speaking" 166-70; Bannerji 32; Spivak 2). Thus i may propose3my reading self, as a lesbian, as an ally to First Nations writing; but as an academic, i see myself as insome ways an untrustworthy ally, still inculcated with many of the practices and unthinking assumptionsof the dominant culture against which Maracle and other First Nations authors either deliberately or byimplication write.'Like Maracle's argument that theory and story are ultimately inseparable, JanMohamed andLloyd's response to this dilemma is, in a stereotypical minority strategy, to dismantle the binaryopposition of the minority individual versus the intellectual: they emphasize repeatedly the importanceof including the theoretical critique of the submerged ideologies of traditional humanism as part of theeffort of minority cultures to transform the systems of dominance that humanism supports. Again likeMaracle, they insist that "the separation of culture as a discrete sphere" (14)--the humanist constructionof "literary forms . . . as autonomous products of a discrete aesthetic domain" (10)--is precisely one of themechanisms of dominance against which the minority intellectual, in particular, must struggle (see alsoOratory 11, 13; Christian 54; Rich 9). Minority critics must instead, virtually by definition, see literaryforms as political and power-ful, as part of the systems of power which result in oppression, and of aculture replete with ideological assumptions and implications, which minority critics must expose as partof the more general project of achieving "radical transformations of the material structures of exploitation"(15). Ultimately, JanMohamed and Lloyd insist, minority struggle must entail "a mutually complementarywork of theoretical critique and practical struggle" (12; also Gates, "Authority" 29-34). They continue,To cling solely to the role of an "intellectual" as to a singular and determinate identity would befatuous where the process of the rational division of labor has made of every modern subject afragmented or multiple identity, functioning now as a professor, now as one among women, nowas a tenant, now as a black employee, now as a lesbian feminist. The gain that can be located inthis situation by a critical minority discourse lies in the recognition that these multiple identitiesare neither reducible nor impermeable to one another, that there is no sphere of universal andobjective knowledge or of purely economic rationality, that what is worked out in one sphere canbe communicated in another, that institutional boundaries will always need to be transgressed inthe interests of political and cultural struggle. (15; also Dill 136-37; Fido 30; Krupat 33ff.; McKay167).Nevertheless, i continue to have trouble here with my project of speaking, whether as anintellectual or otherwise, from one minority position to the issues and writings of another: in both4JanMohamed and Lloyd's or Slemon and Tiffin's arguments, while the goal of this "broad minoritycoalition" (10)--in which "minority groups need constantly to form and to re-form ever more inclusivesolidarities" (14)--is laudable and strategically plausible, the basic issue of trust must still be confronted.For JanMohamed and Lloyd, theoretical criticism, and as i interpret it, all the high language and protocolsof rational argument and proper verification which theory implies, are considered essential to the largerproject of dismantling present systems of oppression; but as Maracle argues, this purely theoretical levelof discussion precisely excises the human story--entailing, among others, the issue of trust--from thediscussion (also Armstrong, "Writing" 55; Monture 138). 2I mean--and maybe I'd say this is my "minority," lesbian self speaking, as if i could really tell her apartfrom the academic--i hate this academic language sometimes, too, with its long words and all the rules of truth andevidence that speak about authority, and about only one way of speaking about what's true and important. I knowabout a lot of things that i can't talk about in that hard language of control--a lot of things aren't acceptable to talkabout, and a lot of the ways i have of thinking about them aren't the right way of thinking or writing in academiccircles.So they may call for oppressive systems to be dismantled, but i still find JanMohamed and Lloyd's wordsand their theorizing of "minority discourse" exclusively academic and dauntingly theoretical. More than anythingelse, what i want to know is where they are in all those words. They stand apart from their words, speak soimpersonally. They sound just like university professors, too--even when they say they're talking about breakingdown those kind of institutional boundaries. The thing is that, if they insist on being so impersonal and distant inthe way they talk about minority struggles--i mean, if this is the way they take part in their "minority coalition,"i don't much feel i can trust them in this coalition.And same for me, too: if i take on this kind of authority in my writing here--i'm afraid of risking writingany other way, and I'm not sure what that really is (my "lesbian" "language" has its own slang and stuff, but notparticularly a whole different way of talking like a creole or something, like Carolyn Cooper in her article about theSISTREN Collective)--can i be trusted, either? Who'd feel that they, or i, really are working from a certainty of ourdifference, but our equality? I'm not sure i can trust my pain and struggle to someone who won't share theirs withme too--and can they trust theirs to me?If minority struggle must entail work on several fronts simultaneously--if minority discourse must entailspeaking from several identities "that are neither reducible not impermeable to one another"—i takeJanMohamed and Lloyd's argument, and Maracle's argument, as instructions for a still "other," still more"different" writing and reading practice, and look for a different tenor of discourse than just theconventional academic or theoretical discourse, in order to speak with some trustworthiness from oneminority position to another: i look to the First Nations texts themselves, then, to teach me how to readand then how to (at least begin to) speak again, in a new way.5For example, i read Halfbreed, the autobiography of Maria Campbell (Metis), as offering an entirelydifferent construction of how minority discourse might effect change than through JanMohamed andLloyd's highly theoretical discourse: a construction that relies upon enabling both the personal and theemotional as valid ways of engaging with a text, and of potentially creating this inter-minority trust(Campbell, "A Conversation" 16; also Kroeber 32; Maracle, "Writing" n.p.; Tapping 86). She beginsHalfbreed with a very deliberate address of her audience, by which she both signals her sense of differencefrom her (assumed) non-Metis reader--from me--constructing herself as a hitherto unspoken minority, andyet also extends a very careful invitation to me to enter into her story, and perhaps even to participatein it to some degree. Immediately constructing her story as itself a mechanism for breaching this gap, sheoffers her own life story as a teaching text, instructing me how to read it as a non-Metis reader. Writingof her long-delayed return to her place of birth and to her people, she is rendering her own life, and theautobiographical telling of it, as both the completion of a circle, and yet a new (if difficult) beginning--asa healing:3Going home after so long a time, I thought that I might find again the happiness andbeauty I had known as a child. But as I walked down the rough dirt road, . . . I realized that Icould never find that here. Like me the land had changed, my people were gone, and if I wasto know peace I would have to search within myself. I am not very old, so perhaps some day,when I too am a grannie, I will write more. I write this for all of you, to tell you what it is liketo be a Halfbreed woman in our country. I want to tell you about the joys and sorrows, theoppressing poverty, the frustrations and the dreams. (2)Campbell's healing depends upon the reconstruction of her own, individual identity and healthas utterly interdependent with the health and identity of her Metis community, her search for inner peacenecessitating and necessitated by her return to her people. This interdependency and trust is describedabove all in discursive terms, the Metis community--the nature of its trust--based on its stories, first in thesense that, as an oral culture, Campbell's community brings itself into very being through its stories, andlearning and valuing is primarily passed on orally:Our parents spent a great deal of time with us, and not just our parents but the other parents inour settlement. They taught us to dance and to make music on the guitars and fiddles. Theyplayed cards with us, they would take us on long walks and teach us how to use the differentherbs, roots and barks. We were taught to weave baskets from the red willow, and while we didthese things together we were told the stories of our people--who they were, where they came6from, and what they had done. Many were legends handed down from father to son. Many ofthem had a lesson but mostly they were fun stories about funny people. (18; also Campbell,Interview 54-55; Monture 136)And then Campbell's own evocation, in Halfbreed, of her childhood in the community occurs almostexclusively through the medium of anecdotes--many of which were presumably the same ones toldaround the fire during their summer trips to pick seneca root and berries or at home when people visitedin the evening.The language Campbell chooses for telling the anecdotes--her informal, conversational style andher repeated reference to the present storytelling situation--also evokes an oral community (Grant,"Contemporary" 126). For example, she begins a series of anecdotes about local characters with anexclamation: "I grew up with some really funny, wonderful, fantastic people and they are as real to metoday as they were then. How I love and miss them!" (23). Her tone seems deliberately suggestive of theoral interaction of a friend reminiscing with a friend, so that the current intimacy and community betweenthe storyteller and her listener--the deliberate evocation of a situation of trust--is as much the topic of thetelling as the specific stories of the past are (Kroeber 32).4 These individual stories are couched in thelarger circular structure signalled in the work's opening--a structure which the Okanagan writer, JeannetteArmstrong, identifies as characteristic of much contemporary Native writing, and as ultimately expressiveof a Native spirituality--as Halfbreed begins with, and always circles back to, the community (Interview19-20).5The stories--like the autobiography itself--are thus the community's most important form of self-validation: they are the Metis' individual and communal life, so that the trust and self-trust upon whichtheir interaction is based are constructed as discursive concerns, discursive practice and emotional practicehere conjoined, in a way that is lacking in JanMohamed and Lloyd's or Slemon and Tiffin's discussions.Jeannette Armstrong emphasizes the central place of the notion of discursive responsibility and trust inher own Okanagan community:It is through words, it is through the ability to communicate to another person, to communicateto your children the thinking of your people in the past, their history, that you are a people. Thewords of my people are significant to me, to my understanding and to my dignity as a person,7to my ability to differentiate and look at the world and say: 'This is what I agree with and thisis what I can choose to care about and this is what I can choose to rage against.' ("Words" 25-26;her emphasis). . . I think about watching my mother and before her my grandmother as they speak, as theypresent themselves. Their words were very carefully chosen and very carefully constructed.When you speak, when you take language and put it out for someone to come up against, younot only have to assume responsibility for speaking those words, but you are responsible for theeffect of those words on the person you are addressing and the thousands of years of tribal impactof your words on the listener[,] and [you] understand the responsibility that goes with being aspeaker. ("Words" 27-28, her emphasis; also Cuthand, "Transmitting" 54; Maracle, "Just Get" 40)Campbell learns a similar understanding of story and language from her Cheechum, her greatgrandmother, who teaches that this creation of a healthy, trusting community is dependent above all uponthe health and self-responsibility of the individual participants, upon their knowledge of their people'sstories and their capacity to tell their own stories responsibly and self-trustingly. When Maria comeshome from school, shamed and angry at the white children's racist taunts--her self-trust and her trust inher people undermined--she turns these racist comments back on herself and her own people, calling hermother and family "no-good Halfbreeds" (50); but Cheechum intervenes. Here, and again later, after theirhopes for Metis rights under the CCF government of Saskatchewan are shattered (74ff), Cheechum refusesto allow Maria to give in to the self-hatred and despair that the discourses of white racism work to instillin Maria, and she insists that in the Metis tradition of the stories of Riel and Dumont, Maria continue tofight for herself and her people (51)--that she continue to speak of them in Metis, non-racist terms. Forthe sake of Maria's very survival, and for the sake of her responsible interaction with her community,Cheechum urges Maria to continue to trust herself and her community and their identity--their historyand stories.By extension, Halfbreed itself can be read as functioning within, and itself constructing, a similarinterconnection of the individual, the community and its discourses: like the Metis stories and communityit inscribes, it demands a participatory reading that considers the issues of trust and responsibility thatCheechum, like Armstrong, teaches. This participation is thus asked even from me, someone who beginsthis reading from an entirely different, academic, convention for understanding and reading stories--aconvention involving an "objective," emotionally and personally disengaged approach to texts, in which8even my own individual characteristics as a reader are not overtly recognized or discussed (as i try to dohere in my italicized "insertions"), let alone the unthinking assumptions and characteristics of the academiccommunity for whom i conduct the reading (as i try to do in my series of notes) . 8 In Halfbreed, the verynature of story itself is being rewritten as inherently communal--as reliant upon trust between membersof the interlocutory community--with critical results even for me, for a non-Metis participant in thecommunity of the text, whom Campbell has invited to read her text to see "what it is like to be aHalfbreed woman in our country." The nature of this community and healing is modelled on the oralMetis community where the telling of stories, the creation of community, relies upon the equalparticipation of teller and listener alike: sitting together, face to face, they mutually create their communityin their very acts of telling and listening. The activity of both is required (see also Maracle "Preface" 11;Wiget 89).If, having accepted Campbell's invitation into the community of the text, i read Halfbreed asinstructing me how to read in this "other," orally-based way, differently from my own European-conventional ways of reading, i must read the self-healing--the communalism--of Campbell's story as alsoa call for a healing on the part of her white oppressors. It is a call for their active participation in ahealing which enters into, and depends upon, a genuine desire for intercultural community--and thusresponsibility and trust--with the Metis text, stories and people. I must work with the text, allow it tomove me, emotionally, discursively, to a new place--allow it to change me and thereby heal me, heal mystories--rather than working against it and refusing, with racist effect, its moving power, refusing to hearanything but the echo of my own convoluted, self-absorbed thoughts and structures of thought (myobedience to academic forms, my "filiative footnoting").7 I must begin to develop the certainty that, asLee Maracle puts it, "one only feels threatened by outsiders if one doubts their [own] insides," and beginto heal the doubt about my own insides that dominant culture has taught me not only as a woman anda lesbian, but even (or especially) as a partial participant in the the dominant culture's self-privileging,Other-hating practices ("Ramparts" 162 and "Writing" n.p.; also Armstrong, The Native Creative Process 22).8Thus, as occurs within the oral Metis community described in the text, the further discursive acts,9for Campbell, of writing Halfbreed itself, and then, for me, of reading it, are made comparable to andsimultaneous with the emotional act of self-healing, through the very act of participating in the story,whether as the writer or her audience: the political, communal and discursive process of cross-culturalreading by definition calls for a concomitant internal, emotional and discursive act, with the effect thatif i begin my reading from a stance based loosely on identity politics--reading a "First Nations" "woman's"text "as an academic," or "as a lesbian"--the very nature of the "identity" element of the expression is beingredefined and made newly important to the act of reading. Where identity was conventionallyconstructed as the fixed, singular and unchanging position from which the relational, communal andhistorical process of the political was carried out--and by which it was defined--here in the discursivecontext of Halfbreed, identity is equally defined as the (self-) relational, communal and historically specificprocess of the individual's ongoing, life-long inter-discursive discussion with herself. Identity is definedas the individual's continual negotiation amongst her several irreducible and yet mutually permeableselves, or her irreducible, mutually permeable discourses of her self--her lesbian self-discourse, heracademic self-discourse, or as will be seen for Campbell, her Native, her Metis, and her woman's self-discourses--as the individual tells herself her stories of herself again and again, in repeatedly new historicaland political contexts. Identity is in essence defined as ongoing autobiography, whether the actual writingof (Campbell's) autobiography, or the equally autobiographical act, as i read it here, of writing my readingof (this) autobiography. Thus in order to read cross-culturally, i must carry out an emotional movementcomparable to that of Campbell herself in her writing of Halfbreed: i must become "other" to myself--as isee Campbell as doing over the course of Halfbreed. And then, redefining the very concept of identity, imust redefine myself to myself as well: tell myself here, in this very reading, this healing, a new story ofmy self (selves), too, as Campbell does of herself.'Yeah, i think in my lesbian community--my emotional community--of how deeply valuable our stories areto ourselves and each other. I think of how, like Barbara Herringer says, "to be heard in our community, ourcommunity of women, we tell our stories" (99). I think one of our most telling ways of showing trust and joy inour culture(s), lesbian to lesbian, is when we tell each other our "coming out stories": when and where and whywe decided to call ourselves lesbian. It's like our identities and our stories are part of the same thing, and the story10ends up talking about how you find a path between different ways of thinking about your selves and end up at a(another) new identity. It's like it's a story about learning to tell a different story, and then you get to look backat yourself and say, oh yeah, when that happened, i see that now as me being a lesbian: so you get to tell yourself,and maybe other dykes, a whole new set of stories about who you are and who you were, too.So i see lesbian communities and cultures as being in a period of history maybe comparable to this periodof Native history, where they're publishing more First Nations stories and stuff i feel like our histories and culturesare getting to be written down more. But even so, i still think a lot of our culture is still just spoken--it's a kindof oral culture, too--in safe gatherings of women facing women over a cheap restaurant meal, or over a kitchen tableplaying poker, laughing and gabbing and crying. And we tell these stories of finding ourselves: like, how we metour lovers or how we broke up, and how our families reacted to our coming out to them, or why we feel we can'tcome out to them . . . what different ways there are of managing to get your non-Canadian partner into the country,and so on.It's women's gossip intensified into the sheer life of our community of women and women and women.They're stories of our fight against being told we're wrong and dirty, and they work for us as one of our "mostfundamental forms of affirmation" (JanMohamed and Lloyd, 10). When we're arguing and laughing anddisagreeing, it's like we're talking ourselves into sheer being, who we are individually and together, and we're givingtrust and we're signalling responsibility, through our stories. For me, it's a lifeline.But Campbell's self-story makes clear that such oral self-responsibility, such participation in thehealing community of the text, is difficult to achieve, in a community--people or text--made sick bysystemic racism. Campbell conveys this difficulty most clearly, perhaps, in the segment celebrating thecommunity's annual migration to pick berries, families piled helter-skelter into wagons drawn by horsestrimmed with bells, the evenings turning into long story-telling sessions, the children protected and warmin their parents' and grandparents' care (34-36). But such trips also included jaunts into town to drink,and juxtaposed immediately with this celebratory passage is a description of how, upon entering town,the adults' vitality and pride are abruptly replaced with silent acquiescence to white hatred, and to itsdivisive effect on the community. The men walk ahead, separated from their families and each other,their heads down--and when the men return late at night to the Metis camp on the outskirts of town, theiranger at the white men who have followed, intending to rape the Metis women, is turned contradictorilyand perversely back on their own people. They beat their wives brutally and then fight each other, whilethe whites watch with amusement (36-38). The devastating effect of such self-hatred on the communityis apparent particularly in the fact that, as Campbell notes, eventually the women began to drink too, ascontact with whites and their racism increased through the 1940's and 1950's (38).The result is the dissolution of Campbell's Metis community, as her immediate family is separatedfrom the more general community, and the family, too, begins to disintegrate through death, alcoholism11and interference from Social Services. The beginning of this change is presaged in the incident of Maria's"selling" her father to the RCMP officer for the price of a mere chocolate bar. The incident speaks to thematerial basis of their oppression, the constant threat of extreme poverty to the life of the community, aswell as serving to epitomize the insidious oppression of racism. Bribed with the chocolate bar in the handof the white RCMP officer, Maria is persuaded to betray the secret of where her father hides the poachedmeat upon which the family relies for sheer survival--and the result is both the (temporary) loss of herfather and the near-loss of the immediate community of the family, as his six-month absence in jail almostresults in the family's starvation. In this incident, Maria is "guilty" of a betrayal of the trust of her peopleand thus of herself--significantly at the instigation of a white man--though of course, it is ridiculous toblame an impoverished child for yielding to such a bribe.The event foreshadows the eventual dissolution of the family through despair and poverty, andwhite racist interference, as well as raising the crucial issue of Maria's individual responsibility for thisdespair and dissolution. While technically she does "commit" this betrayal of her community's trust,clearly she is far more a victim of her people's economic and racist oppression--just as she is again when,in a later chapter, her father finally succumbs to despair and takes to drinking, and her mother dies inchildbirth, fulfilling Maria's premonitory dream of precisely this occurrence. And then, her mother is noteven allowed a Roman Catholic burial, in the church she had attended for years, because of the callousrigidity of the white priest. But rather than recognizing that here, as earlier, these events result fromconditions beyond her control or responsibility, the depth of Maria's internalized racism--her inability totrust her self and to know both the limits and the scope of her individual responsibility, within acommunity already breached by the intrusion of the whites' anti-communal action--is demonstrated in hersense that, somehow, she is responsible for the priest's cruelty, and by extension, for her family'soppression in general (78-79). Having been informed repeatedly by whites, overtly and covertly, of herworthlessness and untrustworthiness as a Metis, she has begun to believe it herself, and she is incapableof refusing the guilt thrust on her by racist experience.The few friendships Maria develops during this period offer the possibility of breaking into the12devastating isolation of self-mistrust and dislike, the trust offered by someone else providing a potentialroute to her discovering her own trustworthiness, but poverty and the divisive effects of institutionalizedracism never allow this healing process to get firmly under way. In the end, in her effort to keep thefamily together even at the expense of her own well-being, she makes a decision that she will repeat againand again in her struggle to survive as a profoundly devalued Metis woman living in a white-dominatedworld: she sells herself to a (white) man. This time marrying a white man, later serving (predominantly)white men as a prostitute, she gives her Metis body to these men in return for some form of the powerwhich their white male privilege automatically lends them in society, whether the power of "respectability"in order to keep the family out of the hands of Social Services, as here--or later, simple economic powerto buy her children's daily survival and her own escape into the limbo of drug and alcohol addiction.Giving her own self away, she is ironically abandoning her larger community in an effort to save the mostintimate community of her immediate family, an effort which Cheechum, the spirit and voice of Metis self-value in Maria's life, significantly refuses to sanction, knowing as she does that the loss of self is the lossof community: Cheechum will not attend the wedding of Maria to a white man (121).Campbell characterizes the white society into which she thus moves, so dangerously unprotectedfrom its violences, as utterly untrustworthy--as profoundly unhealthy and irresponsible. Every attemptMaria makes to gain some kind of power and self-love is bound to fail so long as she continues to seekthis empowerment by attaching herself to white male power, rather than by valuing herself, her ownidentity as a Metis and a woman. Every white man she encounters--and many of the white women--ultimately only have his or her own power in mind: Maria's white husband, Darrel, is an alcoholic whobeats her and who calls Social Services to take her siblings away (123); and his sister is also an alcoholicwhose dysfunction manifests itself in an equal violence, if less physical, as her brother's, as she cruellybullies Maria, as well as her own husband and daughter. From the violence and poverty of life withDarrel in Vancouver, Maria escapes by becoming a prostitute, selling herself as an exotic Spanish womanfor the pleasure of powerful white men. Lil, the madam, takes her cut, and Maria's money is only everenough to buy the clothes for her trade and the drugs that make the whole experience remotely bearable--13but never enough to allow her to escape from the cycle of self-hatred and of the loss of herself in theinsatiable vacuum of the structures of "whitemale" power (Baker 382). In the white, capitalist,individualist (non-) community, all relations seem to be defined only by individual competition for power(Dill 133).Although, eventually, an unnamed businessman/politician allows Maria a way out of the cycleof Lil's place by setting her up as his own private mistress, Maria also recognizes that this solution islikewise a trap, and that none of his considerable economic and political power will ever be invested ingenuinely changing the systems that have subjected her and Lil to these men's exploitation (137).Similarly, Ray may help her kick heroin, but his price is her help in smuggling drugs to sell to otheraddicts. Perhaps the ultimate sign of the sickness of white society is that even the supposed spiritualleaders of the community know no more about valuing Maria than anyone else: they participate activelyin the system's exploitation of minority people and cultures, in that one of Maria's clients is himself apriest, who helps her out of tight spots on occasion, but who still pays her for sex. And then, when Mariaturns to another priest for counsel and comfort in a moment of deepest despair, he is utterly incapableof even beginning to understand the hard reality of her situation and that of hundreds like her: he simplycannot offer spiritual or communal guidance to one so deeply de-valued in a society that only constructsvalue as hierarchically understood and constructed power (141). During this period, the few people whooffer Maria genuine, unconditional help--who invite her into their community--are themselvesdisenfranchised, disempowered people: the Sings, owners of a cafe in smalltown Alberta who have to putup with daily racist abuse from their own white customers (127), or Arlene's mother--to whom Maria goesfor an intended abortion—and who, having already been convicted of this crime of returning women'sbodies to their own control (my interpretation), will never escape the cycle of crime and jail terms to whichthe dominant culture's anti-feminist morality (again, my interpretation) has relegated her (152-53).Accompanying Maria's shift to the cruelty and depersonalization of the white world, is a stylisticshift: the narrative changes from the anecdotal, cyclical writing of the oral Metis community to a more(European-) conventional linear narrative, in which episodes are more clearly connected in a structuring14logic of cause and effect--here in a uni-directional structuring logic of self-destructive decline. Thus whenPenny Petrone, in her Native Literature in Canada, complains of the unclear chronology of Campbell'swriting of her early life (Petrone 120), apparently wanting a more clearly linear narration based upon asupposedly inherent logic of cause and effect, she is asking for an inappropriately European evocation ofCampbell's traditional Metis community. For that community, the episodic, cyclical character ofCampbell's telling functions precisely to gesture at the vital non-linear character of time and life in acommunal oral culture (Lutz, Introduction, 7), and i read the shift here, into the more (European-)conventional linear narrative, as in fact a signal of Campbell's movement into sickness, into the deadeningself-hatred of life in the racist, non-communal white world.Significantly, simultaneous with the narration of this decline is Campbell's retreat, at the time, intogreater and greater silence, as she cares neither to tell her own stories to the men she sells herself to, norto hear their stories. Campbell writes the white world of the city as a world without community or trust,without stories--certainly not for those disenfranchised from the dominant culture--and the result is astructure of irresponsibility, of a lack of trust between people who do not trust themselves, who doubt"their insides," as Maracle put it. Similarly, the result is also to signal the danger of a lack of trust, aswell, in the community of the text, in contrast with the earlier assumption of a responsible, trustingcommunity, based upon responsible, participatory storytelling and listening. Halfbreed itself, as a text, isthus written within the dangers and shifts of our current historical and social context, in which the abuseof racially-defined power is a constant threat and reality. Inscribed in the text itself is the constant dangerthat at any moment Campbell--and Halfbreed itself--will be silenced again, the Metis story will be forcedback into white-determined silence.For me as a white reader, the effect of this threat is to raise the possibility not only that a numberof intra- and inter-communal trusts have been violated within the social and historical context narratedin the work, but also that reader-writer trust is similarly in constant danger of violation. With thisrendering of the white world, Campbell is constructing and confronting the untrusting, racist responsewhich she risks in writing Halfbreed at all, in that, in her very writing of the text, she is risking the15response--depending largely on the white reader's intentions and actions—which does nothing to foreclosethe vast distance and power imbalance which exists between Campbell's autobiographical text and thewhite reader: she is risking, in my reading, the conventional academic reading i have been critiquingthroughout this (nevertheless) academic reading. Halfbreed is thus a text which both trusts and does nottrust me as an ally--as i both trust and do not trust myself, my discourses, as a white, academic, lesbianreader. In this segment, i am constructed as potentially profoundly untrustworthy, by definition of thewhite cultural incapacity to understand and participate in the kind of community of trust and care whichMetis society (at its healthiest)--and which Halfbreed itself--represent. The fact that Campbell actually tellsher story of this period, here, in the form of Halfbreed itself--that she entrusts even these painful, difficultelements of her story to me, a white reader--stands in strong contrast to the lack of trust that characterizesher experience of white society at that time. The effect is to juxtapose the two extremes of trust and utterlack of trust, each of which might potentially inform the reader's act of engaging with this story.'By writing into her work the possibility of such a response, Campbell not only signals herawareness of the dangerous intercultural context within which she sites her own story, but equallyinstructs the reader in how to negotiate, safely and healing-ly, such a dangerous process. Written intoHalfbreed's discourses are the dominant culture's discursive structures by which, in a (European-conventional) narrative, the reader is relegated to as silent and passive a role as Campbell's own at thetime, all the connections of action, logic and meaning rendered far more explicitly than in the anecdotalsection, and no action or trust called for on my part: the change or healing demanded of me in the veryfact of my engagement in this effort at cross-cultural reading--the redefinition of my self--is refused me,and even as the presumably privileged white reader, i am trapped in the convoluted self-distrust of thediscourses of racism, forced to "experience" Campbell's own frustration with these irresponsiblediscourses. In incorporating into her cyclical, anecdotal work the opposite, threatening discursive situationof the linear narrative--in which trust, and in fact, any responsible emotional engagement at all, are power-fully discouraged--she constructs her own form of discourse not only as the preferable, because(emotionally) sympathetic, element of the opposition, but then also subsumes the opposition itself by16proposing her narrative as in some ways prior to, encompassing, this irresponsible version of story.She subverts the conventional discourses of history, first reversing the usual narrative by whichthe non-linear and thus a-historical (and non-rational, emotional) stories of the "natives" are subsumedby the inevitable, uni-linear, progressive thrust of Western technology, culture and history, and insteadsiting this singular Western historical narrative within the larger historical narratives (plural) of the Metis.And then she goes on again to collapse the opposition by rehabilitating as valid and valuable the precisecharacteristics which have conventionally been used to dismiss non-Western thought, narrative andhistory: she rehabilitates as a valid basis for constructing history and then for reading it (reconstructingit again), precisely the emotional response which has conventionally been excised, as "Other," fromWestern discourses of history (Tompkins, "Me and My" 170).Enabling an emotional, personal engagement with history, then, she also enables her ownstorytelling, making a space for herself and her stories in history: and in enabling the emotional, she isunlearning her own internalized racism, allowing herself to feel again where once she had numbed herselfwith her own self-hatred. This is the same process by which white and non-white participants areapproached in unlearning racism workshops, in which they are guided through a change to a redefinitionof themselves--and it is thus the same emotional, healing process which Halfbreed demands of theparticipating reader as well: in unlearning racism workshops--workshops where whites learn instead howto begin to become allies, and perhaps non-whites can begin to explore the possibility of trusting whiteallies--all participants are encouraged first to examine their own experiences of oppression, to tell the storyof the discourses which have silenced their own internal discourses of their several selves. Through thisactivity, white participants can begin through analogy to understand and sympathize with the non-whiteperson's experiences of racist oppression--so that even as a white person, i can begin to tell new, self-affirming stories of myself, rather than stories that affirm me through the racist denigration of "Others"(Wynter, "On Disenchanting"). Similarly, the non-white participants finally get to tell the stories of theirracist injuries to whites who are genuinely involved in the effort to listen honestly and responsibly, ratherthan dismissively and self-denyingly. Halfbreed likewise demands such an emotional, personal interaction17with "story," Campbell's telling of her own story (-ies) allowing me to tell my own story (-ies) and leadingme with her to a new healing—a new story--rather than just the same academic-discursive story which tellsonly the same academic stories over and over again to itself, risking nothing.I also want allies, and more than anything else, that's what makes me write this thesis. I want to figureout how to be an ally in First Nations' struggles, in person and on paper, especially how to be an ally to FirstNations lesbians, of course--but i also wish for First Nations allies for my struggle too, and i read First Nationsbooks to help me find out how to be my self in this struggle. In fact, one of the formative moments in my processof deciding that i was a lesbian, was reading A Gathering of Spirit, a collection of Native women's writing,including an emphasis on Native lesbian writers, put together by Beth Brant (Mohawk): i can't say how thrilled iwas to find that book. So i've got as personal an interest in a minority coalition as other minority people (who'ssurprised?).Reading the passage of the Metis community's walk into the white town, my guts are tight: Campbell'sstory recalls a story of my own, about a frightening, abusive experience of my own. But the thing is, i get to tellmy story back to Campbell's courageous storytelling. I figure trust can be a kind of discursive event, where yougive story for story, back and forth, risking back and forth. So maybe the best response to a story can be anotherstory, especially where you're trying to cross cultures!' Giving story for story means you aren't getting into thatkind of control and power that i sometimes feel happens in an academic, critical response to a story.So i recall my story of this time when i'm walking alone down the street--i'm not even with a lover, thistime--and i walk past this apartment block. Suddenly there's this man's voice screaming shit at me, "ugly fuckingdyke — and an empty bottle crashes on the pavement under the window. I feel my body cringe in on itself, my gutclenches over the fear. Will he throw the next bottle right at me? Will he have goaded those two guys or thatwoman staring at me from the bus stop, to join in? They're sure not making any move to help me. I walk on, fast,alone, flinching even from myself. I feel like i don't even get to own my own body--it's suddenly just an object forhis shit: he's telling me to hate it, hate myself, hate my lesbianness. He's telling me not to tell this (lesbian) storyof my self.And it makes me grieve, too, over how so few of us in my community let ourselves touch each other withlove in public, we're so full of the fear and hatred of guys like that, and it separates us from each other. We'repulling away from each other because our own "internalized homophobia" makes us afraid of those stares and abuse,or worse, because we fear outright violence. That bit about the Metis men beating their wives--i know that we turnour hatred on each other, too, trying to get some kind of power over something, even each other: we learn to do itto each other, it's the only way we've been shown how to get power.Betsy Warland, writing in the Telling It book, puts it that, "as we encounter difference within the feministcommunities we are enraged when our disparate names are denied: we are terrified that we will be rendered invisibleyet again in the very place we had held out hope of finally being seen" (75). We are silenced, we silence ourselvesand each other, and we don't tell our stories to each other or straights. So the community is threatened from insideas well as out.Even here every word i write is careful: i want to be sure about what i'm giving away, how much power.Though i'm loosening up more and more, i feel like i still have to choose who to give which stories to, and i alwaysfeel like i'm daring the person listening to object to me and my stories, at the same time as i'm trying to figure howmuch risk is really very smart. But if any trust is ever going to happen, i guess the risk has to be taken, and youhave to invite your reader or listener at least partly into the community that your story's making--so they're beingasked to risk, too, and respond responsibly and trustworthily. So i'm saying the need for allies--for other (and"Other") people who let us tell our stories, too--is important, maybe even necessary to our existence.18Thus, though the community of the text itself potentially disappears in this "white" segment ofHalfbreed, it is absolutely imperative, for any kind of healing to occur, that community be regained, andthe cyclical character of the oral story be reestablished in the work. The remainder of the work doesnevertheless narrate that difficult recovery--that healing--in Campbell's own life, and thus it orchestratesit for me, as well. This process for Campbell takes the form of her simultaneous recognition of her ownself-worth and the worth of her Metis community as they are deeply interconnected through her own andher community's multiple stories. She is moved to kick heroin by her memories of the storytellingCheechum--the central figure in Campbell's lost communal life, in her lost sense of self-trust--and thusshe finally begins to slow, if not yet to reverse, her long flight from herself and her people. AcceptingCheechum's spiritual support while she goes through withdrawal (144), it is during the subsequent periodof recovery that she is finally able to envisage women as friends and allies, losing her fear of other women(149) and no longer defining herself solely in inferior relation to the dominant system of white malepower--a significant and necessary move in learning how to love herself not only as a woman, but alsoas a member of the highly woman-centred Metis community. But while Campbell is gradually learninghow to value Native cultures and politics during this time--while also maintaining a critical awarenessof what she does and does not care for in the urban, political Native community--she is still extremelyalienated from herself, drinking heavily in an effort to quell her fear of her own past as a victim ofviolence, a prostitute and a drug addict.She has not told the story of her past to David, who is the father of her third child, and withwhom she is trying to carry on a relationship--despite her desire for community with him, she is stillretreating into anti-communal silence--and eventually her fear that her past will catch up with her leadsto her nervous breakdown and committal to a mental hospital. But in her perception that the staff of thehospital are as sick as the patients (165), she finally begins to see what she must understand in order toregain her self-respect and self-trust: that the whites who have taught her to hate herself are potentiallyas hateful and self-hating as Natives have been constructed to be in dominant paradigms of power—or aslovable and loving as Natives. She can no longer operate from a relatively uncritical acceptance of the19systemic power imbalance that has allowed whites to construct Natives as the sole repository--and onlyas the repository--of everything hateful and self-hating.Through her friendship with Edith, the (First Nations) wife of Maria's sponsor at AlcoholicsAnonymous, Maria can finally say that she is getting over her "mental block about Indians" (166):beginning to recognize and heal her internalized racism, she can begin to incorporate this Native storyinto her many stories of her self (selves). And likewise, she is finally beginning to accept her own pastand to forgive herself for it, even when being honest about it results in David's leaving her: in a reversalof her earlier silence about herself in order to placate white power, being responsible for herself--tellingher own stories, acknowledging her own history--now becomes more important than attaching herself towhite, male power, than attaching herself to someone else's (supposedly more acceptable or important)stories. She can now finally return to her own community--responsibility precisely defined as arecognition of community, of a field of influence and vulnerability (Maracle, "Writing" n.p.), both of one'sindividual actions and words on others, and of others' actions and words on oneself: the same notion ofdiscursive responsibility and community that Armstrong outlined. Returning to her community, whatshe must do there—for her own sake, and the sake of her community--is to tell her stories, particularly toCheechum, the centre of communal identity and value. And by extension, in her desire also to changeMêtis-non Metis relations, and ultimately to call even for an interracial community and healing, Campbellmust also write Ha/fbreed—tell her stories even to me, to the whites who have systemically refused herstories. Thus she achieves the cyclical format of her Metis narrative, the story circling back to itsintroductory invitation even for me, a white woman, to engage in the community of this Metis text, andback to her introductory hope that "perhaps when I too am a grannie, I will write more" (2)--her hope thata community will exist for and through further Metis stories.And in her telling of her story to Cheechum, and to me, the story becomes a structure, finally, offorgiveness: a redress of the skewed, displaced responsibilities that characterize the daily action of racismand internalized racism, its daily erasure of community. It is in this act of forgiveness, first of her Metiscommunity, then of herself, and perhaps finally even of the white society which has injured her, that she20learns how to heal the gaps and divisions within herself that white culture has imposed upon her--thedivision of her self from herself, the gap of individual and communal self-hatred, and likewise, even thegap of hatred for whites, since any kind of hatred is self-alienating. Ultimately, in order to heal herfragmented self, she must learn how to hold two apparently opposing truths simultaneously--and safely,now--within herself. Forgiveness is such a structure of doubleness: it is the act of allowing the coexistencewithin herself of the simple acceptance, on the one hand, of the details of her past, and of the conditionsthat shaped it, and on the other hand, the awareness that to continue enacting that past in the present isnot desireable or acceptable. Thus Maria can accept the simple facts of the nature of her past relationswith herself, her community, and white society, and she can accept the "logic" of dysfunctional behaviourthat led to these relations, but she is also committed to a complete personal and political redefinition ofthese relations from now on.As a result, the story, too--though it initiates itself as an autobiography of one individual--is astructure of forgiveness: it is double or multiple as well. Not only does it incorporate two basic kinds ofnarration--one associated with white discursive conventions and associated ideology, the other with Metis--as both valid and necessary elements of her singular story, but the autobiography is constructed ascommunal, as well. The autobiography is ultimately mixed-genre, perhaps, functioning as both anautobiography of an individual and simultaneously, by definition, a history of a people. It thus alsobecomes double, forgiving, on a generic level. Conventionally, autobiography is understood to be the self-told story of an individual's life, usually of an extraordinary individual who in some way hasdistinguished "him"self from the comparatively undistinguished social or communal background of "his"life (Kaplan 189). An effect of self-individuation can be seen to occur over the course of conventionalautobiography, both as it tells the story of the individual's gradual self-distinguishment, and as it tells itin the individual's own distinctive voice, the "I" and the "eye" of the story thus powerfully one and thesame (Godard, "Politics" 221; also Bhabha, "DissemiNation" 312; Gates, "Editor's Introduction" 11).Halfbreed carries out a similar narration of such a process of the individual narrator's eventual coming-into-being--and in this action, it already effects the radically subversive inscription by which a conventionally21silenced minority woman is claiming the right to speak for herself, in her own powerful voice, proposingher own story as important and interesting against all the stereotypes and prejudices to the contrary. Intelling her own stories, Campbell is radically asserting herself, in Barbara Godard's terms, as the subjectof her own Metis discourse, rather than the object of someone else's alien, white discourse ("Politics" 220-21).12But Halfbreed not only troublingly and joyfully inserts the traditionally silenced Other into the roleof the speaking self, but as i have read it, also shifts the very terms of individual and community whichconventionally inform this process of self-actualization in act and word. Reversing the usual pattern inautobiography, of following the individual's process of distinguishing his or her self from his or hercommunity, here Campbell's self-actualization takes place instead through the very process of reclaimingher community, re-valuing her Metis self as part of the Metis community, and writing down Metis stories.The ultimate hero of this story is thus less Campbell herself, perhaps, than it is the Metis culture andcommunity, in its very character as an oral culture--as expressed even in the style and syntax of the work--coming into constant being through its stories and the values they convey, particularly as these areembodied in the wisdom and stories of Cheechum. And then, through this communal storytelling, itredefines the individual as also an occasion for communal storytelling.Thus i read the movements in Campbell's life as paralleling the more general history of the Metispeople: she and her community alike move from an isolated, relatively healthy communal life, throughthe gradual corruption and self-alienation of communal and individual integrity as a result of the actionof white racist power, to the loss of the community and the individual to the harshness of white hatred,and eventually to the (as yet tentative) reestablishment of Metis communal and individual self-value. Thestory itself is structured along the same lines, as it begins with the richness of the multiple stories of theMetis community, moves to a place where the story and the textual community are under constant threatof silence--whether Campbell's own retreat into self-hating wordlessness, or the reader's sudden self-denying withdrawal from participating trustingly in the community of the text--and eventually to thereturn to Metis community and story through the very act of writing Halfbreed itself. Through story, the22relationship between the individual and the community is recast in Metis terms—by which the individualidentity is constructed as resulting from immersion in and identification with her community and itsstories, rather than as resulting only from distinguishing herself from them--with the effect that Halfbreedredefines the genre of autobiography as also a communal, multiple, forgiving history."The effect for the reader is to engage with the multiple structure of forgiveness as well, asHalfbreed effects the redefinition of individual identity in the multiple, forgiving terms by which Campbellcomes to construct herself: the individual is constructed neither according to the liberal humanist cult ofthe unified, singular, fixed individual participant in history, nor according to the resulting stereotype ofthe "native," "Other" identity as fragmented, self-alienated, non-historical--as unknowing and unknowable.Instead, the individual is constructed as safely, self-knowingly multiple and communal (Kaplan 194), as theteller of her own multiple stories of her communal selves. 14 If healing thus comes from telling one's ownmultiple, even mutually-contradictory, stories to oneself and one's community, then Halfbreed--with severalapparently opposing kinds of story and history, and associated ideologies operating within its communalcircle of forgiveness--calls for me to be double or communal as well: i am asked to hold (at least) twotruths at once--two different constructions of history, time, story and autobiography--as equally valuable,as Campbell herself has learned. I must adopt a position, write a discourse, of "intersubjectivity," firstsafely within and among my several selves, and then in relation to Campbell's text, rather than a positionof (supposed) objectivity in relation to myself and the text (Godard "Politics" 196). I can begin to readbeyond the boundaries set by my individual and cultural meanings only by trusting at least the value ofthe Other's texts and meanings in this way--rather than demanding proof of this value (Maracle "Ramparts"167)--even when i do not know, and to some degree cannot know, the detailed content of them (Kaplan194-95). Accustomed to reading only one story over and over again, about only my own people,told only according to certain unquestioned ideologies--to reading in criticism only the academic story ofstory—here i am led to see at least the possibility and value of Other stories, and can thus forgive myselffor my fear of that doubleness which nevertheless (forgivingly) still remains. I can begin to forgivemyself, then, and my several communities, for being both victim and victimizer--myself for being female23and lesbian and white and an academic, and the academy for inscribing, in its very practices andstructures, the myriad individual and communal roles of both oppressor and oppressed. Unlike theEuropean-conventional linear structure of history or story, as it inscribes only the continual loss of thepresent into the past and thus allows only the static structures of nostalgia and guilt as ways ofstructuring our relation to the past, this cyclical, communal version of history and story inscribes thepossibility of active participation in a project of recovery, recuperation—healing: a project of (re-) tellingOther stories.'My reading is thus itself made communal, my individual critical voice having been troubled intodoubleness through Campbell's construction of the community and the individual as utterlyinterdependent. As a result, what Halfbreed communicates inter-culturally to me is less an understandingor a knowledge, than a process of self-education, self-healing, which might one day make me capable ofunderstanding at least a little. With the story's movement through to forgiveness, the circle--the story,community--is both completed and begun again (Sangari 169). This Metis version of history and storyproposes the possibility of a new return to healing ways--a return that is at once a return, a repetition, butnew as well. And so, reading Halfbreed from this tentative, just beginning, position within its communalcircle, i enter a critical place in which many stories can be told and heard, where i can tell my story, too.our owndoubt has been our guardiancrowds surrounding uswatchingtight-eyed crowswho hawk and spitexamine our laughtersample its sounddrylyflesh shrinks from sharp beaks of eyesso we circle inwardsinto ourselvesblack speckson the blank skyjust circlingour surrounding doubtguarding crowdsfrom tight-eyed crowswe hawk and spit drylysampling our flesh with our beaksso we circle inwardsonto ourselvesblack specks in a blankjust circling24grandmothersmaria campbell says^her grandmothers cree& gaelic^are her muses^and you cantwrite or at least she couldnt withoutknowing them i dont know i never knewmy grandmothers hardly how to findthem now they say thats whats wrongwith us white people i wish you knew yoursat least adoptive sister whitebear sisterand^mean^while^i kind of^at leasti wish^for kind-ness^take you^for mymuse^i guess its^not right^cannotabsolve myself^of the sin^of metaphora muse or abuse things not meaning whatthey mean^the cruelty of mean-ing^but iwrite^gauche (sinister -- unclean?)^withmy left^(abandoned, lost)^hand^to tryto remind myself^(what, i dont know)what i dont know25contact narrative: first sightwhat--^josie,what words^my sister,can i use i wish--for this angerthat is minethoughit is notmy owncan i dis-avow, dis-own, dis-pose, dis-cursethis angerthat is notmy ownmy adoptedje dis--thoughi wish far moreto disi thread painfor our sisterhoodacross the unbridgeablethe gap ofdifference,colour,cover,mantle,g/racei reachfor youadoptivesister--assiniboinesister--with awkward words thatmight not beyour ownsisterjet's screamof ragelow level flighttearing ofa worldmohawk childrenpushed by ourcamouflaged soldierswith gunswhen languagefailscontact narrative: first sighti rememberin squaresphotographs andfourswe were threea trinity of crossfrownsblue-eyed childrenuntilyou cameour tripod enclosuresprungthe four cornersof photographic spaceremembranceshiftingmy first sightof youwasat the adoption agencya photo showingcoloursbrown skin, black hair(do?) i rememberstillyou were beautiful.in penned rowsof black and whitemeasuredwith white marginscaught inwords andtangledin linesyou cameand wordsslippedinto new patternsstill encodingbutshiftingshape(do i remember?)we hadto choosewhich one fromseveralmail order shopping foran Indian child?27contact narrative: first sightoh for god's sake it just seems unbelievable you know i mean therein the middle^of all that stuff that stuff at that saskatchewanmuseum of natural history (like an oxymoron if i ever heard one^all these gleaming glass cases^full of stuffed animals and stonetomahawks hide scrapers beaded mocassins yellow buckskin leggingseagle-feather headdresses a bow and arrows you know as if theprops from some chief dan george movie were stuck inside thesedust-proof cases in one wall there was a big glass case next toanother big case with stuffed coyotes hunting rabbits and maleruffed grouses with those stupid green air bags on their chests toattract the females but this first case it had dummy indians wearingmore mocassins and buckskins standing beside a tipi their glassbead eyes would never meet mine and then in the middle of theroom on the shiny stone floors stuck up on this platform a big dinosaurskull one of those ones with the big horns shiny brown stone likethey always are lacquered into ancient leathery death with thesehuge empty eye-holes yeah there in the middle of all that stuffwas wherewefirstmetyou came walking around a glass case wearing a yellow dresswhite socks and gleaming patent leather shoes everythingshining against your brown skin you carried a toy radio whichif you wound it up it played baa baa black sheep you know who hadto give away its wool i guess cause it was black the social workerstalked along behind you in a lizard-green 1968- style dresssharp green shoes striking the floors hard i didnt like her i was 5you were 3 it was only a year after the centennial eh i cantremember what i was wearing this poem is aboutseeyouof course (will you talk with me one day?) sometimes i think thealphabet itself is a museum no yellow-dressed assiniboine girlswalking through its halls unless strictly controlled by lizard-greendinosaur skulls you know and the papers in my parents' handsthat said we could have you we could have you you didnt come homewith us that day this was like a trial run or something just to seeif you were what we wanted not a hard choice really one liveindian girl with the soft doe-eyes that indian girls always have inbooks compared to stone tomahawks in glass cases and that damneddinosaur with beady eyes28Chapter Two"'It Is Here All Around Us":Slash, In Search of April Raintree, and Honour the SunIf the academic reading of First Nations writing requires that the non-First Nations reader undergoa change by which an emotionally-engaged reading is newly validated, the reader thus redefining herselfas a changing, historically-situated, and ideologically-motivated being participating actively in an ongoingcross-cultural dynamic, this is still only the beginning of the changes i see First Nations texts asdemanding of me. As i only began to suggest in the previous chapter, it seems to me equally valuableand necessary to begin to develop a spiritually-engaged reading as well, in that if i really am going totrust or believe the value of First Nations stories and meanings, without having to know it appropriatively,controllingly and intrusively, i must draw on a kind of spiritual, holistic practice, rather than on just anarrowly intellectual practice (Asham-Fedoruk "Fencepost" 40).' If i am going to read Halfbreed, and otherFirst Nations texts, as structures of forgiveness--in which several apparently opposing stories, with theirassociated epistemological and ontological underpinnings, can coexist safely at once--again, a kind of faithis required of me, to carry me where my logical ability to reconcile such contradictions (as logic demands)cannot serve me. I read such First Nations novels as Slash, by Jeannette Armstrong (Okanagan), In Searchof April Raintree, by Beatrice Culleton (Metis) and Honour the Sun, by Ruby Slipperjack (Ojibway) as indifferent ways siting their significance as stories, as novels, within spiritually-based systems of knowledgeand story, drawn from the writers' traditional Okanagan, Metis or Ojibway spiritualities.At first, as i detail through extensive reference to Sylvia Wynter, the very notion of a "FirstNations woman's novel" might seem to be almost oxymoronic, given the history of the novel as deeplyimplicated in the history of the "native's" construction as the "Other" who could then be unabashedly2930colonized and oppressed. But i read these novels as precisely the locus of a conflict amongst stories,amongst versions of the novel, by which they can first explicitly address the issue of de-colonizing story--de-colonizing the novel--and then propose an alternate form of novel based on First Nations structuresof meaning and thought: based on a traditional First Nations spiritual, precisely non-secular sensibility.In other words, where in Chapter One i proposed "story" as a route to individual emotional healing, herei want to examine the nature of story itself as such a healing, forgiving structure, whereby, in constructingthe novel as the conflict amongst stories, i am constructing it as the external, discursive analogy to theinternal interdiscursive activity that i called individual identity. The novel thus functions as the locus ofa discussion and construction of First Nations communal healing, where the autobiography focussed onindividual healing; and the novel's ultimate effect of siting this conflict and healing of stories within atraditional spiritual system of balance and meaning functions as the communal correlative of theautobiography's validation of a system of individual emotional balance and meaning. In the novels, as inthe forgiving structure of Maria Campbell's Halfbreed, the ultimate effect is to validate at least partly allversions of story as they interact within a larger spiritual context--while not entirely abandoning abalancing assessment of the relative value of one story over another, of the spiritually and power-fullybalancing, de-colonizing story over the dispiriting and powerfully imbalanced, colonizing one (Fedorick"Fencepost" 37).In her article, "On Disenchanting Discourse: 'Minority' Literary Criticism and Beyond," SylviaWynter describes how, from its very inception as a literary form, the novel has been deeply implicatedin the construction of the field of racist, misogynist stereotypes and hierarchically arranged binaryoppositions against which First Nations women and other minorities struggle in their lives and writings.Wynter traces the development of the novel as it occurred simultaneously with--and indeed, performeda constitutive role in--the shift in European thought from an initiating description of humanity ontheological terms to one on ideological terms. She argues that the philosophical shift from an "explanatoryschema of supernatural causality" to an "explanatory hypothesis of natural causality" (211) produced aliterary and critical shift as well, in which "the world of historical actuality and the actions of men within31it were released from their earlier subordinant or 'deferent' role" (212), and were thus newly constructedas worthy of literary and critical attention. As a result, the novel form, with this new, secular encodingof the human, began its rise not only to its eventual position as Western culture's dominant literaryexpression, but also to its critical role as a perpetuator of "a new order of discourse based on varieties of anontologized 'natural law,' and its related secularizing variants/models of human being." These variants"were to realize their purely secular summa in the [nineteenth and twentieth] centuries with theemergence of the criterion of being encoded in the figure of man and its constitutive discourse of biologicalidealism," as opposed to the "philosphical idealism" characteristic of the earlier ethos (211, her emphasis).It was with the shift to this "ontologized 'natural law," emphasizing "a projected 'primal nature," that thefigure of the "native" began to emerge as the discourse's ultimate, and necessary, "negative signifier" (215,n.23), an "ideologic [which] was to be disseminated by the mode of the novel and by its foundingdiscourse of biological idealism" (214-15).Thus the novel as a secular genre was implicated from its inception in the codification of thenative as one of a number of "ontologized Others" which in dominant--Western, white, bourgeois, male--discourse are given an ironically "system-maintaining function" in the system's "stable autopoesis" (221, heremphasis), taking over the role once filled by theological explanation, in a sense. 2 With the new, secularencoding of the human came the loss of "supernaturally guaranteed descriptive statements or criterialconceptions of being" (211, her emphasis) and the need instead to findthe necessarily non-transcendental mechanism by which the first purely secular criterion of being. . . could now be absolutized. For only by means of such a mechanism of absolutization could themetonymic process, by which the new criterion of being about which our global order still auto-hierarchizes and auto-regulates itself, be stably attached to the euphoric reward system of 'feelinggood'. (219, her emphasis, my underlining)It is precisely through this euphoric reward system, Wynter argues, that the global order achieves its"autopoesis," as individual obedience to its hierarchies and regulations is rewarded with the literalstimulation of the brain's pleasure centres and "the functioning of the euphoria-inducing family ofsubstances [i.e. opiates]" (218). This system of reward relies on the system's negative signifiers--theOntological Others--in the place of transcendentally guaranteed statements, to maintain the new secular32order.If the category of the Poor functioned as the hypher-sign within the 'natural unit' of thenation[,] at the level of the family, the Ontological Other slot was filled by the category of gender,of the woman, appearing at this level as one bearer-category of the lack of bourgeois rationalityembodied normally in the male as the signifier of rationality. Here, the ontologically privilegedmale receives . . . the opiate reward . . . of the narcissistic advantage of a prescribed feeling ofinnate supremacy.However, at the global level of the new ordering of things, the central Ontological spotof the Poor at the level of the nation, and of the woman at the level of the family, was filled by thecategory of the native as the projection not only of the lack of bourgeois-occidental rationality butalso the lack of metaphysical Being. . . . Like the woman in the male/female relationship, thisenabled the experiencing of euphoric supremacy at the level of race and culture . . .. (221-22, heremphasis)Subversively collapsing the distinction in human behaviour between biological and cultural events,and thus herself undermining an ontology based on 'biological idealism," Wynter identifies the fictionalnarrative as the primary mechanism by which this system of neurologically-based conditioning—this"behavior-inducing order of discourse" (218)--is inculcated in individuals, and perpetuated systemically:Rene Girard's notion of the "dynamics of desire" in narratives, Wynter says,is none other than the . . . motivational system by means of which the desire for the signifier ofpotency specific to each culture or form of life, once enculturated in its systemic subjects as anopiate-inducing signifier in the context of the analogic of founding narrative schemas, functionsto induce the collective set of behaviors of human subjects, behaviors which in turn bring eachcriterion/model of being into autopoetic living existence. . . . It is precisely by means of rhetoricalconventions encoded in narrative orders of discourse that each system-specific signifier of potencyis constituted as an opiate-inducing signifier of desire. (230, her emphasis)If the effect of these "rhetorical motivational systems" is to encourage the desire for opiate reward in thosewhom the system most empowers to maintain itself, the effect for those who are made the OntologicalOthers of the system is precisely the opposite: the motivation of desire—"knowledge of which [Wynteremphasizes], is most lucidly provided by fictional narrative"--is replaced instead with the motivation ofaversion, of self-aversion in particular. Put simply, as Maria Campbell narrates in Halfbreed, racistconditioning as it is perpetuated through society's discourses encourages whites to validate themselvesthrough negative reference to people of colour, and encourages people of colour to hate themselves (atleast in the first instance) by introjection of these same white-empowering standards. Thus again, throughthe action of narrative discourses and "their regulatory functioning in the inculcation of learned self-33aversion," even the Ontological Others of the system are induced to participate in and support the systemwhich precisely Others them so damagingly (230).As a result, the novel form can be seen as deeply implicated in the mechanisms by whichminorities in general, and in my present discussion, First Nations women in particular, were and are soutterly enclosed within the discourses of racism and sexism—to the point where one must question thevery possibility of a "First Nations woman's novel," when given the history of the novel, such a phraseseems utterly self-contradictory, a logical impossibility.3 The only kind of effectively "First Nations novel"or minority novel that it seems possible to posit is precisely one which addresses and subverts not onlythe conventions of the novel, but its underlying ontologized ideology as well (also Kroeber 18). Forexample, Wynter reads Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as achieving a shift in the novel form's "underlyingarchia or descriptive statement of the model of the human as a 'natural organism"' (216), and inscribinginstead a model--much like her own discussion of rhetorical motivational systems--by which the humanis a rhetorical or discursive organism (to simplify somewhat). This shift then liberates the protagonist--andthe author, i suppose--to see through the discourses of the supposed "facts" of race and class which areused to validate white bourgeois male "supremacy," and thus to critique the system which benefits fromthe construction of these "facts" (216).4The minority novel, then, in order actually to express any Other meaning than the dominantorder's self-perpetuating meanings--in order to de-colonize its discourses and meanings--would seem toneed to be a deeply subversive medium, questioning not only the interactions of race and class andgender, but even the very mechanisms of secular, biological idealism by which these categories have beenmade significant in the first place. The danger in doing anything less, in "taking the ontological 'facts'of class and of race as if they were 'brute' facts, [is that] they remain trapped in the context and the codeof the hegemonic order of discourse and its system of motivation" (216). The result isthe temptation that confronts minority discourse at this juncture, the same temptation to whichthe differing isms that emerged in the Sixties and Seventies all succumbed: that is, of taking theontological 'facts' of ethnicity (non-White and White) as well as of gender, sexuality, and cultureas if these were things-in-themselves, rather than 'totemic' signifiers in an overall system ofresemblances and differences. Taken as such, these terms are only meaningful within their34reinforcing systemic function as the 'specifying' negative Ontological Others of the first purelysecular and therefore non-transcendentally guaranteed model of human being/identity. (216-17)Such a subversive project might be seen to function in the First Nations women's novels i amreading, their very existence as First Nations women's novels (among other strategies) effecting asubversion of the conventions of the novel and its ideological/ontological underpinnings. But it is alsocrucial to their project that they precisely be taken on the terms which Wynter mistrusts so deeply—asmimetic representations of a reality based upon a system of "brute facts," in which racism and sexism areprominent (also Radhakrishnan 203-04). To rephrase this difficulty in terms of my own critical practice,it seems vital to approach First Nations women's texts from the same forgiving stance i proposed at theend of Chapter One, from both of two apparently opposing stances. From one stance, Wynter's argumentrecognizes the need to read signifiers of race and gender not as reflections of ontological facts, but asdiscursive constructs subject to constant (and necessary) reconstructive shaping, within a discursive fieldin which all such constructs interact only relationally with each other. From this perspective, theseconstructs do not attain greater or lesser proximity to expressing some exterior, "biologically"-verifiable"truth," some actual claim to "Being." Since the individual reader's very notions of her self and herresulting reading practices are inevitably involved in, rather than objectively separated from, thisbehaviour-inducing order of discourse, these discursive constructs must be examined constantly for theirrole as conveyors of "rhetorical motivational systems": i must do the work of unlearning racism.And yet, this critical outlook would deny the insistence by many First Nations writers that theyare writing real, true stories (whether fictional or not), about First Nations colonized reality and its relationwith traditional communal values and truths: they are finally speaking the truths of white oppression, andclaiming their own Native right simply to Be. To begin at this juncture in critical history to deconstructthe possibility of Being and identity as such--just when First Nations and other minority groups andindividuals are finally decolonizing and de-conditioning themselves and their stories, finally devisingways to be heard and thus to define themselves newly to themselves and to more general society--is toinstigate yet another move of refusal and deferral by which minorities are once again prevented from35creating equal space for themselves in mainstream society, or from transforming that society so that"minority" and "mainstream" become nonsensical differentiations (Chester and Dudoward n.p.; Christian54; Hartsock 196; but see also Radhakrishnan). 5 In the end, of course, as in my reading of Halfbreed, myreading here aims at subverting the enclosure of such a binary opposition, and at finding the thirdpossibility, of the forgiving narrative structure which nevertheless allows this opposition simply to remain,both options equally irreducible and yet mutually permeable (JanMohamed and Lloyd, "MinorityDiscourse--What Is To Be Done" 15), within a larger narrative structure based, in this case, on traditionalFirst Nations narratives of spirituality.What i ask myself over and over, is how can i read spiritually? What's my own spirituality like, here inthe community of my text, or in my lesbian community? I'm not sure whether my stories can really connect myown emotional healing with a communal, spiritual kind of healing. I'm not sure how they join in a community ofstories. I mean, if I'm talking about how necessary and possible it is to allow a forgiving multiplicity of stories, isn'tit another kind of oppression to say there has to be this over-arching "spiritual story"? It starts to sound like whati hate most about Christian "spirituality" (though i guess the way i think of spirituality, it doesn't end up beingspiritual), that everyone has to fall in line, unforgivingly.But the connection i think i get is that, for me, healing and spirituality, especially here, where i think theyhave to be brought into reading across these cultures, really is about this idea of multiplicity. For me, to readspiritually is to get into the whole spread of forgiving, healing stories that are possible, instead of trying to say thisone is better than that one, and that one's even better, because it's closer to some other truth that isn't really in thestories themselves.I don't want to say that there shouldn't be some kind of way of saying, no, this isn't a good story, in thesense of good as not erasing other people's stories. I mean, i don't think every last story is unquestionably andinherently equal to every other story. If they're violent and degrading, they should be criticized. Which is to saythat, part of this multiplicity includes the possibility of conflict amongst stories, too: the idea of forgiveness dependson the assumption of conflict. So forgiveness works as the way all these stories can coexist, and can even enter intoconflict. But it also means that spiritual stories--or reading spiritually--they somehow have to contribute to ahealing balance between stories, even as they're also contradictive and conflictive. So it ends up being a kind ofconstructive conflict rather than just each story asserting only themselves as powerful and right: you have toincorporate into the very structure of the stories the possibility and necessity of other stories. The stories have torely on their own self-validation, and not on validation through oppressing Other stories--and then, their mutualpower has to be constantly thought about and re-balanced even within the context of each individual story, let alonebetween them.6So this balancing multiplicity is a source of healing, and it works for me as the most important way ofreading across cultures.' But i think it's equally important to be committed to accepting that there are going tobe gaps in understanding, and gaps in what you should be allowed to know about the other culture you're tryingto listen to. So reading cross-culturally is to read spiritually, in one sense, but it's also to accept uncertainty and"unknowability" as a premise of the effort. I think that's how you value difference--different stories, differentspiritualities--by realizing that each individual and community (me included) still has to own their own ways, telltheir own stories for themselves, while not claiming others' stories or spirits. They can't claim more than their ownbalanced power of utterance, understanding and being, and they have to keep trying out those balances within theirseparate contexts.36Elaine A. Jahner says about cross-cultural criticism and writing, that it's "a process of trying to performat the limits of language and culture, where it is less a matter of answering questions than it is one of performingthe questions themselves" (156). So I'm trying to say that to read spiritually is both to take on a deeply, carefullydiscursive task, but it's also to take on equally intense, careful negotiation of what is beyond (at least my) powerto talk about: it's a journey into riotous, exhuberant expression and concerted silence at once.Thus i read all three of the First Nations novels under examination here as inscribing a vital,structuring dynamic within their narrative structures of this conflict between differing reading and writingstances, between differing "rhetorical motivational systems," as the first person narrators, as character andstory-teller alike, struggle with the process of de-colonizing not only their individual psyche, but thecommunal story--the novel--as well (Armstrong Interview 16). In particular, all of the protagonist-narrators, experiencing a sense of disconnection from community--actual and textual--must then (narratetheir) search for a community, a novel. I read the narration of Honour the Sun, for example, as primarilyconcerned with recounting the daily familial details of a relatively traditional Ojibway life, but the storygradually tends towards the dissolution of that life--that community, source of identity--as Owl's oldersiblings move away and her mother, and the people in the community in general, devote more and moretime to drinking. Owl's writing of her own stories of her communal Ojibway life then serves as therecuperative action itself: the stories function as her search for and reclaiming of her identity in a newlywritten community. Similarly, i read April's search for herself, in In Search of April Rain tree, as utterlybound up in her search for some way to come to terms with her Metis identity, and in particular, to cometo terms with her immediate (communal) family history. She has, voluntarily and involuntarily, triedseveral other familial arrangements--with the (white) DeRosiers (sic), in her marriage to (white) Bob--butshe still has not found a way to integrate her Metis history with her own desire for a safe life in thiswhite-dominated world; and indeed, the story suggests to me that the search for one's self, one's identityin connection with a community, is simply not a safe process, particularly for a non-white individual incontemporary Canadian society.In Slash as well, the narrative's main structuring principle is the conflict between constructionsof community, as the conflict stages Slash's own difficult effort to negotiate a livable way through various37constructions of Native identity and meaning. Over the course of the narrative, Slash shifts repeatedlybetween an effort to define himself in the traditional terms he learned as a child--growing up in hisOkanagan community, speaking Okanagan and learning Okanagan ways from his father and otherrelatives--and an effort to define himself in terms of the larger political situation he finds himself in as aNative person living in a white-dominated society. As he moves back and forth between these twoopposing options--as he narrates his movement back and forth--the effect is also to construct two different,opposing kinds of story, and thus to produce the two different (above-mentioned) paradigms for myreading. The first option, the traditional way, offers the young Tommy (not yet re-named the militantNative activist, Slash) an entire material and spiritual culture--language, economy, land, history,spirituality, and so on--but the more contact he has with white racism and culture, the more his ownculture seems inadequate to him, "every single thing that meant something good to me . . . continuouslybeing battered from all sides" (212). The traditional Okanagan community does not seem to himsufficiently strong or resilient either to protect him from the power imbalances of white-First Nationsinteraction, or to offer him the strength to shrug off the consequences of this imbalance.Attending a white-dominated school, Tommy experiences the racist attack on his own communityin material terms--precisely the terms on which the extreme materialism of white capitalist society wouldassimilate and destroy First Nations cultures (Currie 141-42). His sense of inadequacy--his learned self-aversion, in Wynter's terms--is thus particularly connected with a sense that white culture offers so manymore material goods, material power, than his own. One of the first things he notices about the white kidsat school is their "shiny bikes and brand new clothes and shoes," which make him hate his own "looksand ... clothes"; and of course, one of the most prevalent stereotypes of Natives, which Tommy first hearsfrom the white kids at school, is that Natives are thieves: they threaten white materialist values, a beliefwhich of course says more about white obsessions than about Native behaviour (23-24). Internalizing thematerialist orientation of the dominant white culture, then, just as April does in In Search of April Raintree,Tommy comes to construct his own culture in material terms, as well--or precisely in terms of acomparative material lack--and he loses sight of the many other, non-material strengths and capacities his38own culture validates (Fee "Upsetting" 171).The effect of this racism for Tommy--and even more so for his friend Jimmy, who is defined, anddefines himself, almost solely in terms of his desire for the material accoutrements of white (material)power (Currie 142)--is ultimately his taking on a more general orientation towards the world at largewhich replicates the superficiality of the white materialist bias. This bias, by which what is, what is visibleand materially-verifiable, is reality--a bias, in my reading, based upon biological idealism, and its protocolsof proof and verification--becomes the basis of his construction of reality, as well, of his sense of himselfand his place in the world (Currie 142). It is this inscription of an insistence on material reality--on anunderstanding of race and class and gender as "things-in-themselves" (Wynter 217)--which comes tofunction as the basis of one of the two conflicting storylines i identify in Slash: the basis of one of Slash'sown stories of himself, and the basis of one of my strategies for reading. In this storyline, language, orstory, functions to reflect what is--to reflect colonized reality, and not yet to de-colonize it: reading as awhite reader, thinking in terms of European-originated forms of written literature, i identify this line ofnarration, and thus my reading strategy, with a generally realist convention of fiction, and with anessentialist definition of identity and meaning (Fuss xi-xii).This basic construction of the nature of language and story also seems to me to inform onedimension of Ruby Slipperjack's Honour the Sun which is occupied primarily with evoking the daily,physical details of a relatively traditional Ojibway life: Owl recounts incidents in her life with her motherand siblings, on a northern Ontario lake, from her tenth to her sixteenth year. But in this novel, this orderof narration provides a strength and effectiveness for First Nations storytelling, despite the simultaneousdifficulties of the discourse. The effect is similar to that of the anecdotal sections of Halfbreed, inscribingthese stories and details as valuable and important--particularly as they evoke an entire oral culture andhistory--in subversive contrast with the usual dominant discursive erasure of these concerns from historyand story (Tapping 93-94). As in Halfbreed, to call up the oral storytelling situation through the use of ananecdotal structure is to allow the construction of two potential communities: the reconstruction of theoral Ojibway community, and the construction of the community of the text--of the text as communal and39inclusive, rather than as exclusive of the "Ontological Others"--in which i am thus invited to participateresponsibly. That this understanding of story is what motivates the novel is perhaps most clearlyindicated in the way that, as in Halfbreed, the notion of the cessation of storytelling is used as a sign of thedissolution of community--actual or textual--through colonial action: as Owl's mother comes to drink moreand more, her sickness, and the resulting stress on the community of her immediate family, is indicatedparticularly in her ceasing to tell stories to her family. Like Campbell, Owl then comes to her own healingin part through the action of taking up that storytelling herself instead, in the form of the first-personnarration of Honour the Sun.The community of the oral storytelling situation is similarly evoked in Slash, where the daily,material details of Okanagan life are recounted--though to a far lesser extent over the whole of the novelthan in Honour the Sun. This evocation is enhanced by the general rhetorical style of Slash, the use ofcolloquial phrases and sayings, of repetitions and near-refrains, of non-standard grammar, and so on. JoyAsham Fedorick (Cree) also comments on First Nations writers' use of a "textured" kind of English:Our stories reflect life as it really is, and are not "formula" oriented. There is nobeginning, there is an always was, and with no end there is an always will be . . . The spiritualnature of the concept of the Continuum is addressed through style and with language that isrelationship-oriented rather than thing-oriented. English, with its noun predominance does notallow, within rigid hierarchical style criterion, for relationships to be explored, relationships thathelp us to understand our place and value in the Big Picture. Native writers, tend, as Nativepeople do, to use verbs and adjectives freely. This textured way with English provides conceptand depth and warmth and fuzzy wuzzies. Helps us feel good, and just plain feel. And out ofthe subliminal influence of this style the spiritual circle is strengthened. ("Fencepost" 33, heremphasis; also Harjo 62-63)In Slash this kind of textured effect may appear in such passages as the one in which he describes thevision he has while in jail:I looked up and faraway I could see the new snow on the tops of the mountain from thebarred windows above me. The sun had set in a blaze making the snow look orange-pink withdark-blue tinges. I could almost feel the soft cushioned brush of new snow against my shoes andfeel the sharp wet bite of the fir and pine smells in the crisp air. Tracking deer in the snow wouldbe easy. Tonight, I thought, I will go home to them mountains.I knew it was near to Winter Dance time at home. . . . I closed my eyes as the last lightdissolved and the early winter night drew her curtain over my window. In my mind I heard thesongs and smelled the fire smoke in the big room were the dances were held.I heard deer hoof rattles shaking louder and louder and there seemed to be a soft roaringin my ears almost as though lots of people danced around me with their feet stamping, their eyes40closed and their bodies sweating. The song vibrated through every fibre of my body like a lighttouch of wings, and the hard ball inside my chest seemed to melt and spread like warm mistacross my chest and moved outward through my body. (67-68)The description moves several times from the initial view out the jail window--from a strictlyobservational mode--to a more participatory description of the world as a place of material experience,of physical sensation and action. As the sight moves him to another, Native place, the language shifts toan emphasis on the interaction and relation of his body and senses with the surroundings. And then thesong--its words--move him to yet another level, where the words become almost a part of his body, easinghis pain and equally, in the paragraphs that follow the quoted passage, his body reiterates the song, ashe chants his pain and celebration out through the halls of the jail. Material reality, as viewed out thewindow, elides with interactive sensation that is both remembered and newly experienced at once, andthen slides as well into the words of a healing ceremony--with the effect that the latter two descriptionsof First Nations reality are equally valorized, as "real", with the observed, materially-verifiable "reality"of the view out his window. Thus the realist line of narration also works to establish the narrator as ahealer of his or her own community, a transformer (in my application of Wynter's theories) of once-aversive rhetorical motivational systems, into ones that reward the "Ontological Other" of the First Nationsnarrator and his or her storytelling community, for their self-constructions (visions), their discoursesconstructing and maintaining their order of thought and culture (ceremonies).In addition, the realist narrative in Slash evokes not only the material "reality" of all aspects of thetraditional Okanagan community, but also the daily, physical reality of the First Nations individual'sexperience away from his or her community, in the white world of the city. This aspect of the realist,materially-based line of narration allows the much-needed evocation of the devastating impact of racismon the daily lives of First Nations people, so that the "truth" of the effects of centuries of racism is finallybeing told. Such an effect is particularly achieved in the most graphic, affecting passages of the novels,where in Slash, for example, Slash describes his repeated loss of his sense of purpose and self to theimmediate panacea of drugs and alcohol, especially in the last, most depairing passage of such descriptionbefore he finally finds an entirely new way to be himself (195-98):41The end of [this last period of despair] stands out clear . . . . It was spring again and Iwas sick as a dog. I woke up down by the wharves. I had been lying there listening to the watercrashing and I felt the sun, warm on my face. I looked up when I heard a friend of mine fromback home say, "Here, have a drink." I sat up and reached for it. I looked around and nobodywas there, but I heard laughter echo and echo in my ears. There were some driftwood piles andbig boulders scattered around. I looked again and some guys were sitting there. They alldripped slime, oozing and grey. There was a stench all over everything that smelled like deadbodies. The waves were oily looking and seemed to do things water doesn't do. It formed intoshapes that dripped slime and oozed green and black sludge. (197)Though Slash is having a similar experience as in the passage describing his jail song--he is having avision, or in this case, more like a hallucination--here the language does not itself become a route to aholistic reconnection with the world. Unlike the previous passage, here more of the description is solelyof what Slash sees, his other sensations only leading him back into the horror of what he is seeing--hishallucination--rather than to a valorisation of several layers of First Nations "reality." Even as thehallucination is "false," clearly the result of the DT's, the effect is both to evoke graphically the reality ofthe absolute desolation and hopelessness of addiction and life on the street in a society that offers FirstNations people few other real choices, and thus to highlight the very real results of endemic racism in thelives of First Nations people. A similar effect is achieved in In Search of April Raintree, where Aprildescribes her treatment at the hands of her white foster family, the DeRosiers, or where she recounts,graphically and unrelentingly, being raped by a gang of white men (139-45). Similarly, such frightening,affecting passages also interrupt the otherwise more generally tranquil tone of Honour the Sun--suchpassages as those recounting the family's terror at the violent attacks of drunken men on their house (33-36; 81; 99), or those describing Owl's mother's drinking (171-74; 179-81); or the passage, too, where Owlonly barely escapes being molested by the white male teacher (125-26).These passages can be read as metaphors for the history of white abuse of First Nations people:for example--taking up a metaphor developed by the colonizers themselves--whites have set themselvesup as the responsible "parents" or "teachers" of this "lost race" of "children," but in these novels thecolonizers are proven to be hopelessly non-nurturing and abusive as parents and teachers. Or, in anothermetaphor, European colonization of the First Nations and their lands is shown to be comparable to actualrape, and April's process of recovery from her racist treatment and her resulting internalized racism is42analogous to her process of recovery from this extreme physical violation.' But these stories can also beread, and in some respects i think they need to be read, on the most literal level, as also speaking of real,daily experiences for First Nations people, since, as Lee Maracle notes, "Macism is for us, not an ideologyin the abstract, but a very real and practical part of our lives" (I Am Woman 2). To treat these stories anyless realistically results in the kind of injury that Patricia Monture (Nation unknown) recalls of her ownexperience of hearing a group of predominantly white people treat a racist incident as a purely theoreticalissue: for the white theorist or critic to forget that such incidents are real can be an extremely brutalizingexperience for a First Nations person for whom such incidents are a part of their lives (Monture 138).9As in Halfbreed, the effect of this realist narration and reading strategies for me, as a white reader,is that while i am being invited to some degree into the community of the text through the narrator'screation of an inclusive rhetorical community, i am also being forced into a (very negative, critical)encounter with my own self, my own white community, and thereby into an experience precisely ofdisidentification from my unexamined white self, an experience of a desire to refuse my community's historyand (critical) discourses of brutality. Reading from the emotionally-engaged stance enabled in ChapterOne, i must confront the fact that, for example, in "real life" too, the utterly demoralizing effect of theracist system in which (voluntarily or not) i live, "really does" result in a comparatively large number ofFirst Nations people who turn to drugs and alcohol in a continuance of the abuses they have alreadysuffered and internalized; or the fact that Native children, abducted from their own families by the whiteinstitution of Social Services, "really are" often abused, culturally, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually,in white foster homes (my stories show that in my own family [Scottish/Welsh/English], my sister Josie[Assiniboine] did not entirely escape such injuries); or that First Nations women "really do" suffer suchhorrifying manifestations of the racism and misogyny of dominant white culture as the rape of AprilRaintree, or Betty Osborne; and so on.But i wonder whether--and i can only wonder whether--it is not more to the point for the writersof these texts that the effect even of this realist reading of the three novels is also to create a textualcommunity for First Nations readers, in which the silence is ended: in which these experiences are finally43recounted, white abuses of the First Nations named--racism understood as "a material given in the livesof Native peoples . . . as a direct consequence of European colonialism" (Currie 139)--and First Nations(material) "reality" thus finally verified (Armstrong, Interview 15; Fee, "Upsetting" 172). Thus it is crucialthat these novels also be taken in such realistic terms--that, in Gayatri Spivak's terms, the writers and theirreaders adopt this strategic essentialism (11)—since, whatever my well-intentioned actions as a reader, toturn the novels only into critical or theoretical issues is an appropriation: as Patricia Monture makes clearof her experience, "I was not ready to have my pain appropriated. I am pretty possessive about my pain.It is my pain. I worked hard for it. Some days it is all I have. Some days it is the only thing I can feel.Do not try to take that away from me too" (138; also Campbell, Interview 57). The need for such Nativecommunal validation, replacing extra-communal (white) aversion or appropriation, is also inscribed inArmstrong's novel, for example, where Slash finds it frustrating that he is unable to communicate his"street-reality" even just to his parents back home, and is grateful to find an alternative community, inwhich these things are implicitly understood, with Mardi and other young people like her (also Cuthand,Interview 34-35).If to be spiritual is to take part in a carefully balanced, constantly balancing system of difference andsameness--balancing stories just like i do inside of myself in being my self or selves--then i see my participation inmy lesbian community as a way of being spiritual, and the stories we tell in my community are stories of thespiritual:My lover and i have precious tickets to the lesbian event of the year here in Vancouver, we're standing inline with our housemate and hundreds of other women, waiting to see the first Vancouver screening of "ForbiddenLove." It's a National Film Board Studio "D" documentary on real, old-time lesbians of butch femme days beforethe Second Wave of feminism and Stonewall and the Gay Rights movement. We're all excited: this is one of the fewtimes we get to see ourselves shown with dignity and love up there on the screen; this is our history for once beingtaken seriously. The doors open and we crowd in, find seats, greet friends. The energy's incredible, all this women'sexcitement about a truly self-affirming event.Finally, the lights dim and we settle into our seats. We try to be patient with the short film that's showingfirst: hell, we've waited years for a film like this, we can wait another fifteen minutes. But suddenly, something'swrong. On the screen is a close-up of a woman's torso, her chin just visible: she's being pushed at by a man's hand,her face jerked from side to side. His hand twists her body. It's a feminist film about violence against women (howmany of these have i seen?). In another setting, i might have endured it, jaw tight, waiting for the woman to freeherself from the man--she has to, right? Waiting for the filmmaker to tell about her own injury and then herhealing: she must be going to tell that story. But this time i can't take it: we're too wide open, we've let our guarddown, and we've had no chance to brace ourselves for this assault.After a long moment of deep, shocked silence, from all over the theatre we begin clapping and stamping,"Shut it off," "Turn it off." I can't believe that the film just rolls on, images of chains and hammers intercut with44that man's hand beating the woman. Across the theatre, a woman screams, runs sobbing up the aisle--she must beflashing back to abuse she's suffered, to the man's hand that beat her own body--and more and more women leave,the stamping and shouting rising. We haven't all suffered that actual violence ourselves, but this community is stilldeeply conversant with the effects of violence in our lives. We all know about the long, painful processes of healingour friends and lovers have to do to recover from it. The process for both individual women and for our communitytogether isn't steady and it slides back, steps forward--but still, we will not have that kind of violence in ourcommunity, and we try to protect the safety of those who are healing.As a result, in this realist reading of these First Nations novels, i see several discursive and actualcommunities being constructed which are more and less available to me, several de-colonizing "rhetoricalmotivational systems," in Wynter's phrasing, set into motion that were not at work before: in particular,these rhetorical motivational systems may perhaps be seen as reversing the usual order of reward andaversion as constructed by dominant discourses, so that now it is me as a white academic reader who isstung with self-aversive rhetoric, my sense of reality shifted and made strange to me; and it is the FirstNations reader who is finally validated, her sense of reality confirmed. And then, a new order ofdiscourse is proposed for me--and is presumably reinscribed for the First Nations reader--by which theentire system of setting up Ontological Others as the source of the "nontranscendental guarantee" forcurrent criteria of being is no longer necessary, and individuals and communities are able, in a sense, to"guarantee" themselves. Thus even in this realist reading, i see these novels as constructing new versionsof both First Nations and white communities: in the same fashion that Halfbreed did, these novelsconstitute places of communal healing for First Nations readers, and more incidentally, for non-FirstNations readers as well, though in different ways for each group.Already, however, it is clear that i am finding it impossible to construct this realist mode ofnarration as an actual, simple reflection of a materially-, biologically-constructed reality; i am already alsoconstructing it as a rhetorical convention, as i find that the First Nations identification of (oral) story with(oral) community collapses the distinction between a material reality and discourse, or reality and story.The "reality" of the community constitutes, and is constituted as, an (oral) discursive construction. Theresult is that, from my white-centred position, i read these novels as taking on the white-conventional45version of both story and reality as materially-verifiable, as reflective of the philosophy of Europeanbiological idealism. But in their very act (at least as i propose it) of addressing and appropriatingEuropean-originated conventions of story, the novels accomplish the ontological shift Wynter read InvisibleMan as performing: they re-identify--perhaps only incidentally to their presumed primary concern withFirst Nations stories--both the white ontology of biological idealism and its particular rhetoricalconfiguration in the novel form itself, as modes of rhetoric rather than representations of a materially-verifiable reality. As Wynter notes of Invisible Man, and as is also true, i think, of these First Nationsnovels, for the narrator and/or the reader to take the realist line of narration as simply a reflection of anontological reality--without also making this shift to engaging with the narratives' larger discursiveimplications within the field of discourses of power which constitute white-black or white-First Nationsinteractions--would be to reinscribe the novel's actions solely within the initial paralysis whichTommy/Slash found in his encounter with white materially-based orders of discourse.At first mistaking this white, racist line of explanation and narration as the only one available tohim, Tommy/Slash can only see that what is in the world constructed from this materially-based criterionof being, is precisely the fact of race: the unexamined, unquestioned "brute fact" of racial inequality andabuse, particularly as expressed in terms of a materially-based power. The danger in writing or readingfrom this strictly realist version of story--the danger in Tommy's first encounter with the interrelated, self-aversive discourses of materialism (as the character of Tommy) and realism (as the narrator)--is that thesediscourses alone provide no particular mechanism with which to critique the present system of power.This narrow line of narration provides no paradigm by which to explain why, at the same time as Tommy,and the older Slash, too, has adopted this European-originated, materially-based, "criterion of being" asthe basis of an understanding of the world--as the basis of reality--the fact still remains for him that it isnot his reality, however much he has been conditioned by dominant society to desire it (Currie 141). AsTommy/Slash gradually learns, the "fact" is that access to this system of material validity and power issystemically refused to him: it is not his reality, and never will be, by definition of his non-white, Okanaganidentity.46Thus, in terms of the first-person narrator's narrative strategy, the realist discourse may accomplishthe valuable work of allowing the narrator a way to speak of present colonized reality--using discourseswhich are already, in themselves, "colonized," as Wynter has shown--but alone it offers no way to movebeyond this present instant of colonization. Similarly, in terms of my reading strategy, to read Slash asinscribed only within the (white-originated) realist convention does not allow the novel to carry out itssearch, through Slash's narration, for a workable definition of community nor of Slash's own identity asan Okanagan: it suggests no mechanism for the de-colonization Slash seeks as both a character and anarrator (223). As a result, my using as a reading tool the European-originated realist convention, as itis inextricably identified with the European-originated form of the novel, still constitutes an inscriptionhere of these novels as colonized discourses--and does not allow me the movement, either, beyond acolonizing reading to a de-colonizing one. As Wynter notes, it is not enough simply to substitute one setof identifications for another, within the overall convention of the realist representation of reality; in orderactually to transform lived experience, in discourse, in the world, even the mechanisms by which realityhas been constructed, and this construction hegemonically maintained, must be changed (also Fee"Upsetting" 170).Thus Slash gradually realizes that white material culture and meaning are explicitly andnecessarily constructed so as to exclude him--the dominant white discourses of reality are explicitlyexclusionary (Fee "Upsetting" 168)--and through contact with Mardi's activism and politics, he begins tocome to a new understanding of his place and identity as a First Nations man, an understanding basedupon a political, rather than material, understanding of the world and of community as power-driven.Reality—validity, identity--in this political world, in this second line of narration and reading, is based noton what (supposedly) simply, inherently is, in some "natural," existential sense, but on how things havebeen constructed to be by different individuals and groups of humans, particularly as these constructionsare an expression of a deeper set of power relations, motivated by any variety of desires for power.Grasping at this new power of explanation for his colonized experience, Tommy, the traditionalOkanagan, becomes Slash, the militant Native activist--whose activism, based as it is upon the awareness47of power relations in contemporary post-industrial society, takes the form especially of an extremesensitivity to the power of symbols and symbolic actions (Godard, "Politics" 202). Much of Slash's energyas an activist involves his participating, for example, in such symbolic actions as the "Trail of BrokenTreaties Caravan," converging on Washington (95ff); a protest rally over land claims, held at theParliament Buildings in Victoria (142-43); or a cross-Canada caravan to air grievances over reserveconditions (151ff). The primary concern of these actions is to effect "real" change by eliciting shifts inpolicy from governmental bodies, but this change is to be achieved through the specific strategy ofattracting media attention: through discursive action (Currie 143-44). He even rewrites himself in a veryliteral sense, changing his name, at Mardi's suggestion, as part of his effort to take control of thediscourses which name and define him. The Native power Slash seeks, by which he can redefine his ownunderstanding and identity, is thus discursive power above all, the power to control the discoursessurrounding Native people and issues (Godard, "Politics" 201); and language, or story, is constructed notas an unproblematic reflection of a given reality, but as the manipulation of discursive constructs, ofpower-ful wishes. The entirety of the novel can be read in these terms: the realist line of narration inthese First Nations novels, and this "mediated" line, feed back and forth, one into the other, the realistmode of narration--the First Nations narrator's manipulation of white materialist descriptions of reality--functioning as one such effort to control discourses about First Nations people and concerns (Fee,"Upsetting" 173).The strength of this version of story, in both Slash and In Search of April Raintree, is the power itlends the First Nations manipulators of the media to write their own versions of history and power, andto deconstruct the once-authoritative white discourses of First Nations history and contemporary culture,which contrast so tellingly with the First Nations versions. A significant portion of In Search of AprilRaintree, for example, is occupied with Cheryl's efforts to recoup Metis history for Metis people, after acentury of its degradation in the white-dominated educational system. Indeed, the entire novel could beconstrued as a discussion of the mediation and re-mediation of the discourses surrounding Metis peopleand history, Natives and nativeness, as the novel juxtaposes letters with journals, with oratories, with the48high rhetoric of the judicial process (Iwama 2-3). And all of these specific genres and discourses arecouched within the governing discourse of April's own narration of her story: of her search for herparents, and as the title emphasizes, for herself, through this search for community, for story. Similarly,Slash can also be read not only as an extended account of a particular period of First Nations/AmericanIndian history, but also, in a sense, an account of the kind of discourses surrounding and constituting thatperiod as well, as Slash refers again and again to events he heard about through the white media andthrough the "moccasin telegraph," or as he incorporates into his narrative lengthy passages of oralconversations and speeches he has heard.' As Jeannette Armstrong has noted, one of the explicitmotivations for writing Slash was her desire to educate Native readers and students about a particularperiod of First Nations history, as told from a Native perspective (Interview 14).The primary effect of this playing out of interactions and conflicts within a field of discourses isto set up the contrast between dominant white discourses and answering First Nations discourses, so thatin In Search of April Raintree, for example, the European-conventional history of Louis Riel as the insaneleader of a bunch of misguided half-savages, is answered with Cheryl's essays on Riel and the Metis, andby implication, with the novel's own construction of the history of these particular Metis womenthemselves. Similarly, the DeRosiers' baldly false constructions of April and Cheryl to the people at SocialServices, according to the usual racist stereotypes of First Nations people, is answered with April's essayabout what life is really like with the DeRosiers--and with the novel itself. And again, the incomplete,unsatisfactory information which Social Services supplies to April about her parents, is answered with thejournal Cheryl kept about her search for and interaction with their father, and yet again, with thediscourse of the novel itself. The whole of Slash, as well, can also be read as an answer to theunsatisfactory white media versions of Native activism in the 1960s and 70s. Thus these novels function,in both their realist and their "mediated" readings, as vehicles enabling the rewriting of history andidentity--First Nations communal history and individual identity--as the precise process by which Apriland Slash can come to rewrite themselves, this time in their own self-affirming voices, rather than theaversive voices of Social Services or the DeRosiers or the white media: by which they can come to tell their49own stories.But like the realist line of narration, this "mediated" line, though it does at least provide a basisfor critiquing the white materialist, realist discourses and their very "real" effects, still does not accomplishthe speaking or writing of anOther, fully un-colonized meaning. Both lines of discourse, as i read them,involve the assimilation of white constructions of reality and meaning--a kind of "internalized textualism"comparable in action and effect to internalized racism--and thus both narrative lines constantly risk there-contamination of First Nations versions of these narrations with the white-originated ideologies thatunderlie them: First Nations versions run the constant danger of being turned back into a-versions."Slash comes to see that in this mediated line of narration--this effort to define himself and his communityby constructing an image of himself as a militant Indian, and constructing his community as the constantlyshifting group of itinerant activists with whom he loosely drifts--he and his community still end up asparalysed and powerless as they were in the strictly materialist construction of First Nations communityand identity that he has worked so hard to subvert; his story is as restricted as in the strict realist line ofnarration which serves a limited purpose, but which he also knows does not fully speak his reality.No matter how great his understanding of the power of the media, or his capacity to manipulatehis own image--as he dons militant Native uniform of blue jeans, army fatigue jacket, reflective sunglassesand long hair (152)--the final image of Natives and Native concerns, as they appear in the almostexclusively white-run media, is never "true" to Slash's view. He is disappointed at the white presscoverage of the Caravan to Ottawa, for example, which "made you lose any belief of truth in newspapers.Some of the wildest statements were being printed about the caravan. Most of it was designed tosensationalize what was going on" (152). Despite the sudden new access to the media which this upsurgeof Native activism grants, the militant pose which many First Nations activists adopt is not onlynonproductive for Natives, contributing little to the establishment of First Nations (discursive)communities, but is actually supportive of the white system and of the exclusion of Natives from whitediscursive communities (see also Fee "Upsetting" 168). Indeed, the question must be asked whether thewhites actually enjoy a discursive community at all, in their media-dominated society, as whites in the50novel are almost never encountered as individual, thinking, feeling people, and, in a reversal of the usualportrayal of Natives as unindividuated hordes, are presented as the faceless, mediated conglomerates ofthe Press, the Police, the Bureaucracy, or the Government (my capitalization), utterly irresponsible anddepersonalized, utterly colonised by their own media.Slash's disappointment over the inaccuracy of the press results in a conflict between his effort atcreating his own "mediated" construction of himself and his other learned sense of reality as unmediated,as based in the material and the verifiable, to which the media versions of Natives are not true. Thetrouble is finally that neither construction can serve more than the opening movements of Slash's effortsto unlearn colonisation--both constructions find their origins in white culture and politics--and yet hecannot seem to find an alternative, genuinely Okanagan, route to such reshaping of his identity andcommunity. Slash realizes, for example, that the confrontational poses characterizing so many of theNatives' political actions, poses fed by undirected anger and frustration, only replicate whiteconfrontational patterns of behaviour. Like his strategy of adopting white narrative structures, based onmaterialist or rhetorical ontologies, to initiate his story, this "Indian power through confrontation kind ofattitude" serves an important, but ultimately limited, purpose for First Nations survivors of colonization,that of developing in them "a certain kind of awareness and self-confidence." But as Slash comes to see,"I was past that. I knew I had to develop further, towards something that would carry me beyond thepoint of sheer anger and frustration" (182-83).I always felt there was something missing, like there was something wrong about the way thatthings were approached. It seemed like anything we built on anger and hatred was just as badas what was being done to us. (160)Both lines of narration, then, the "realist" one and the "mediated" one, still result in stories of a colonizedpeople, stories colonized by white versions of story. At the moment of Slash's deepest drunken despair--the passage i mentioned earlier as graphically evoking the material realities of First Nations colonization--his sense of the unreality of his experience is suggested precisely through comparison with media images,as "summer, fall and winter passed like flashes across a screen" (197). That is, the distinction between the(white-originated) material realist stance, and the (white-originated) constructed, mediated stance, is a false51one, the action of colonization by definition having a mediating effect--a self-alienating, self-aversive effect--on the colonized individual and community, so that "reality" and the "media" alike are colonizing,aversive strategies of thought, and the narratives arising from them equally colonized and colonizing.This hard lesson prevents Cheryl in In Search of April Raintree--despite her certainty of her Metisvalue, and her courage in asserting it in her letters and essays—from truly coming to affirm herself overthe aversive conditioning of white-dominated discourses. She can write counterdiscourses to the abusivedominant discourses, understanding this media game, but the dominant culture's answer is to force herback to grappling with the brute "reality" of daily experience: she cannot reconcile her inscribed sense ofMetis pride and value with the undeniable "fact" of her parents' debilitating alcoholism and theconsequent breakup of their family. Her own brute "reality," understood in the materially-verifiable termswhich white education has taught her, contrasts unacceptably with the white discourses of what thatreality should look like--Social Services' version of what her relationship should be with the white familiesshe and April have been sent to, for example, as opposed to their actual experience of this relationship.As a result, she finds comfort in the explanatory power offered her in the alternate construction of "reality"as constructed and multiple, rather than as immutably material and singularBut when she tries, then, to take on some of that power to construct a "reality" acceptable to her—to translate "mere" discourse into "actual" experience, as she has been conditioned to want to do--she runsback into the immovable "brute facts" of the status quo. And then again, she cannot view these supposed"brute facts," with which she began, except through the critical, ideologically-loaded (and thus constructed)gaze inculcated in her by white racist conventions: the (false) opposition between "reality," and discursiveconstructions of it, wraps back around on her again, and then again, and she--like Slash--is thus bouncedback and forth between one construction of "reality" and the other, in an unending repetition of despair.In terms of current critical debate, then, neither the essentialist nor the constructivist definition of identity,meaning and power--neither the material realist nor the "mediated" versions of Slash's or Cheryl's stories--offer a workable way to transform identity or experience, story or community, into something Other thansame old (colonized) story (Currie 144). Caught within the confines of an apparently unbreachable (and52white-invented) binary opposition, as Mardi comments to Slash, "'they only give us two choices.Assimilate or get lost'" (70). Or, according to my reading, it may be as much, assimilate and get lost, atonce, back and forth repeatedly (see also Fee "Upsetting" 169; Godard "Politics" 216).And then as a reader, i too am trapped in a constant vacillation between these two differentunderstandings of the story, two different reading practices. Both of these readings do offer the possibilityof real, effective and affective communication, whether to a white reader or (i assume) a First Nations one:each provides new understandings, from the underbelly, as it were, of the colonial system and its ongoingpower relations. But their interaction may reproduce the colonizer's strategy of merely shuffling thecolonized individual--First Nations and white: colonized, as Slash notes, on both sides of the unforgivingpower gradient (222)--endlessly back and forth between opposing sides of the false binaries which definethem in this colonized place. Reader and narrator alike are trapped between options which only returnto--never having departed from--white-colonized versions of community and story.'The point of constructing the novels in this way may simply be to inscribe the effort, all the same,to negotiate a workable, livable path between the enclosures of always overdetermined discourses: thepoint may be as much in Slash's, April's or Owl's act of telling the story of the conflict between stories—orfor me as a reader, in the act of reading the story, struggling with conflicting stories--as in the resolutionof conflict or its translation into a third alternative. As Godard argues, the important thing for Slash isas much the struggle to find an Okanagan way as the discovery of it: in such struggle, he does at leastcontinue a life of resistance to the systems and discourses of the conquerors, and his identity andcommunity, though facing endless, unresolvable contestation, are at least troubling assertions of the needfor, and the possibility of, grappling with one's own internalization of the dominant culture's colonizingpower relations. Perhaps it is enough to realize that, as Slash says to Jimmy, "We are all affected bycolonization. Realizing the problem and consciously avoiding the mistakes is all we can do. . . . even thewhite man does not escape that common problem — (222).However, i read the novels as actually proposing a much more concrete, power-ful answer to thedominant culture's self-enclosing binary oppositions. The process of the struggle, as i have just53constructed it, is validated in itself, in that it is necessary in current colonized conditions to go throughsuch a struggle with colonization, with white forms of story, before a de-colonized, First Nations story canbe told: as Slash notes, the anger and the confrontational poses he and many of his contemporaries adoptdo allow the opening movements of a growing awareness and self-confidence (183). But a third, FirstNations, decolonized alternative, outside the enclosures of white-discursive binary oppositions, is actuallyproposed in Slash, and a third story told: it is not simply deferred to some never-achieved time and placeposited as existing beyond the binary constructions against which Mardi speaks, for example (70), but isactually evoked to some extent, even in this written, English-language text. Indeed, all three novels, indifferent ways, and in varying degrees, propose this third possibility--excessive to the enclosing binariesof dominant, secular construction. For Slash, this third alternative is in fact the traditional ways he hasbeen avoiding for so long--but traditional understood in traditional ways, rather than as viewed in whitematerialist and discursive ways: the third alternative is the traditional spiritually-based construction ofreality or discourse, community or story.This third construction, interwritten with the realist and the mediated versions of story, is thestory of Slash's constant return to his community's land, people, and ceremonies for healing and renewal:he and other Natives have visions and dreams (68-69, 79, 231, 233); he experiences instances of a suddenawareness of Uncle Joe's voice and wisdom (68, 154); he returns repeatedly to the Okanagan land as thesource of all other aspects of Okanagan identity, power, and healing (147, 167, 179-80, 206, 233, 247). Aswell, the repetitions and near-refrains characteristic of the style throughout the novel, suggest the oralstorytelling situation--and the communities it speaks into being, both within the novel and between thetext and the reader--as based ultimately in the spiritual (also Kroeber 32). The broad structure of the novelhas its roots in Okanagan spiritual traditions, as the novel's four parts reflect the Four Directions(Armstrong, Interview 20). Armstrong also makes clear that her choice of a male character was in someways instrumental to conveying the power and value of traditional spiritual ways: Slash first embracesthe macho male power of aggressive A.I.M.-style activism--which Armstrong suggests is particularlyappealing to those Natives who have been subject to the harshest and most aggressive of abuses54(Interview 19)--but rejects it again as he is transformed through the "female power" which has traditionallybeen highly valued in many First Nations cultures and which continues to provide the underlying strengthfor ongoing struggle (Interview 18). The fact that as a man, he is so transformed by this power and thesetraditional values, only reinforces the degree of their strength and value.'The effect of these elements of the novel is to produce a third discourse which both takes in andspeaks beyond the other two storylines, as all aspects of the narrative are ultimately written from thisspiritual base--just as Jeannette Armstrong herself prepared herself "in the Indian way" to write Slash,fasting "for the guidance to write it" (Interview 20). The narration of singular, material reality is validatedas an important, but ultimately only partial, element of contemporary First Nations experience andmeaning; and equally, the narration of a discursive, constructed reality, while validated as a way todeconstruct the abusive systems of white power and to move towards constructing a different order ofnon-hierarchical power, is also understood only as an element of a larger spiritual source of value andpower--and language (see my Chapter Three). "Brute" reality and human discourse alike are made tospeak of and from the spiritual, in the same way that the materialist Tommy and the mediated Slash hasalways, all along, had his "real," Okanagan name--which, significantly, is never written here in thisEnglish-language, novel-format text (231, 233). 14Finally--goddess, how can the projectionist be so slow to take the hint--the screen goes dark, then thesoundtrack cuts out. The lights come up. Women trickle back into the theatre, discussion rises and falls. You canfeel the anger running through the crowd. The programmer for the Film Festival comes to the front of the theatre,apologizes for her mistake--she's straight, i think, she wouldn't know; she's straight, i think, she should have educatedherself about her lesbian audience. I hold my lover's hand tight.The lights fall again, everyone's tense--but we came here to celebrate, so we're determined to enjoy ourselves.The film is wonderful, these grey-haired women beautiful, recounting with pride and humour stories of how theysurvived the daily dangers of lesbian existence, how they found each other as lovers and friends, back in the dayswhen they could be arrested just for dancing together. This is incredible, this is great, it's just incredible--thishistory, this community. I think as a community we've spoken ourselves into spiritual, healing being against theviolence. These are our communal, spiritual grandmothers, who led the way, who've told their stories, who've spunfurther stories for us to tell: this is where we come from, this is us. We give a standing ovation at the end as thefilm's directors, and many of the women interviewed in the film, file up to the front. They stand there like livingproof that we can do this. There's much to be grateful for, and i give thanks.But the stories aren't just about the continuity and sameness of our struggle to live through the generations.The stories also talk about our difference from each other and from people outside our communities. So we cometogether in our difference from the straight world and in our desire to heal from violence--those are familiar stories.55But we still also tell other stories about how to be different even inside stories of our shared community: in the film,Amanda White, who is Haida, tells her coming out story, but it doesn't talk about sexuality so much as her ongoingstruggle with racism in both lesbian and non-lesbian communities (also Hall 323). And there are other stories likethat, about racism or the S/M-vanilla controversy, and other stuff. But i think it means our communities have areal spiritual life, telling many stories, as we try to safely validate difference and sameness equally, validate thestruggle that this entails, and try to find a balance that is our community (Minnie Bruce Pratt 50).15Within this context, all elements and stories of material and discursive reality/-ies becomevaluable, no longer arranged according to the hierarchical binary oppositions of colonized and colonizingwhite paradigms, and the truly decolonized stance is instead proposed. As one Elder notes in a passagewhere the rhythms and repetitions of structure evoke the Native tradition and genre of the oratory:"The culture that belongs to us is handed down to us in the sacred medicine ways of our people.Our strength lies there because it is our medicine ways that feeds the spirit of our people so thatthey will be healthy. That is not lost. It is here all around us in the mountains and in the wildplaces. It is the sound of the drum and the sound of the singing of the birds. We got to go backto them things to feed our spirit." (191)Natural, material, discursive and ceremonial worlds and practices are all incorporated into the medicinecultures that Slash and Slash repeatedly return to, and are all vitally important, none subordinated to theothers, balance maintained above all.Honour the Sun, while also a novel that works its way among several versions of story—asevocations of the material realities of Ojibway life, couched in an anecdotal format suggestive of the oralstorytelling situation, are written down in the form of Owl's diary--is likewise written within such aspiritual framework. The title itself refers to Owl's mother's admonition to "Honour the Sun for shiningon your face and pray it will acknowledge you and bless you each morning . . .'," and it is to thisoriginating, originary sense of rightness and spiritual connection with the world that Owl turns as herfamily and communal life become more and more troubled (182). 16 In this connection with the life andpeace of the natural world, she finds a way to overcome her sense of fear and anger at her difficultcircumstances, and she can reshape her responses to the dysfunction that has surrounded and shaped her,from equally dysfunctional responses to healing ones, from colonised to decolonizing ones. The peaceof her prose rhythms, evoking of nature's long cycle, speaks to the strength of her (self-) discovery:It's hard to break a habit, a reflex, an unthinking response but eventually I no longer56retaliate in kind to Brian's tricks. During a loud drinking party, I listen to the spring rain fallingsoftly against the window pane. During the loud arguments of belligerent drunks, I strain to hearthe wind in the trees outside the cabin and shut everyone out. More and more, I spend timesitting by the woodpile, listening to the silence. The ice melts on the lake, the grass turns green,the leaves come out, the flowers bloom. I look over the land and feel peaceful and happy. (184-85)Owl's solution, by the end of the novel, to her loss of individual and communal security under the effectsof colonization, is to return to her mother's admonition as the beginning-point and end-point of her ownstory. This sense of the spiritual basis of all life and endeavour allows her access to some other sourceof power and strength outside of the familial and colonizing ones that have failed her, and it thusfunctions as the basis of her assumption of the storyteller's role after her mother's abdication of this placeas the centre of the family.In contrast with both Slash and Honour the Sun, In Search of April Raintree sites itself far lesscomprehensively within a traditional, spiritually-based framework, and does not explicitly offer the returnto such a view as a solution for April's dissociation from her Mêtis origins. But still, spirituality has animportant place in the novel, as in the scene of April's recognition by the Elder, White ThunderbirdWoman. As April struggles to overcome her self-hatred as a victim of both rape and racism, her sensethat the woman has seen "something in me that was special, something that was deserving of her respect"(175), contributes to her healing process, and to her eventual capacity to accept her connection with "'MYPEOPLE, OUR PEOPLE — (228). And despite the novel's relative reticence on the issue of Metis spiritualbelief, the implication in this return--the implication in the novel's circular structure, replicating as it doesthe circular structure used in many First Nations cultures as the basic structure of order and thought--isthat April's acceptance of her People involves an acceptance of the spiritually-based ceremonies andmeaning that inform their lives (Lutz, in his interview with Beatrice Culleton, 99).In Slash in particular, the notion of responsibility and self-responsibility, community and story,all attain value from this final and originary spiritual source: as Slash notes,I learned that being an Indian person, I could never be a person only to myself. I was part of allthe rest of the people. I was responsible to that. Everything I did affected that. What I wasaffected everyone around me, both then and far into the future, through me and my descendants.They would carry whatever I left them. I was important as one person but more important as a57part of everything else. . . . I understood then that the great laws are carried and kept in each ofus. And that the diseases in our society came because those great laws remained for only a veryfew people. . . . paper laws weren't needed if what you have in your head is right. (202-03)Speaking again in the short sentences and repeated, sometimes almost incantatory, phrases characteristicof his oral culture and reminiscent of the oratorical way in which his Elder spoke only a few pages earlier,Slash discovers this sense of responsibility to the "Great Laws." He explicitly rejects the white discursivepreoccupation with writing laws down, placing his holistic, communal, Okanagan sense of responsibilityand balance against the imbalanced, discursive authority which, as Slash, he first embraced and thenrejected. Slash has finally found his community--as Owl has written hers into being, and April has finallyaccepted hers--and he has found a concommittant sense of individual identity and purpose, which he hassearched for with such difficulty. Thus the entirety of the novel, to have any meaning beyond thedestructive vagaries of the several white constructions of story which it incorporates--to inscribe theOkanagan story which it is telling--must by definition be written within this informing spiritual,communal framework. And indeed, while the novel is framed as an ostensible autobiography--singularnarrative of one individual's life--it has all along actually incorporated large sections of other people'swords and speeches: like Maria Campbell's Halfbreed, it effects (at least for me, reading from my place offamiliarity with European generic categories) the transformation of autobiography into a communalhistory, and of the novel of the search for individual identity into the multiple orations of manyindividuals, many versions of identity. It transforms the white ideologies of autobiography, history andnovel alike, into expressions of traditional Okanagan culture and spirituality. The novel itself becomesan element of the Okanagan culture, a mediation of Okanagan spirituality which is, at the same time, nota mediation at all, but is itself an element of the medicine ways.However, even if Slash is written within these ways, as both the narrative and its rhetoricalcharacter suggest, the details of Okanagan spiritual knowledge are not written down in the novel, just asSlash's Okanagan name is never recorded. It is characteristic of the last section of the novel, entitled "WeAre A People," that Slash hears and speaks Okanagan far more often than in the previous sections--Pra-cwa, for example, tells him "in Indian" the "whole history of the Okanagan people as he knew it" (208)--58and yet no word of Okanagan is written, or transliterated, rather, in the novel (barring Pra-cwa's name[?]). The Okanagan language and culture--and their spiritual bases--are written as beyond, untouched by,and prior to, English, so that while the English language and novel format of the colonizers is adoptedfor Okanagan purposes, the real meaning of the novel is still implied, at the same time, as remainingelsewhere, in the core of the Okanagan language. The implication of Slash's realization, for example, thatit is "the practice of things that separate[s] us from other peoples," that "that's what culture is," is preciselythat this Okanagan culture, based utterly in Okanagan spirituality, cannot be enclosed within a singleartifact such as the novel itself: "we couldn't preserve [our language] by having a linguist come and recordit to be put away so it wouldn't be lost. We could only preserve it by using it . . ." (211). While the novelleads the reader to a kind of identification with the traditional ways, this gap is nevertheless explicitlywritten into the novel, so that i must be aware of both identification and difference at once. In the novelitself, simultaneous with Slash's return to his traditional ways, his narration also begins to emphasizeincreasingly the differences, as much as the similarities, amongst different First Nations, the shaping ofeach individual First Nations culture being rooted in the specific words and language, stories and land,of each Nation. As Slash notes to Jimmy, discussing the involvement of the First Nations in the Canadianconstitutional process of the late 1970s and early 1980s:"Maybe the reason [First Nations negotiators] can't all come together in their approach is becausethere isn't any strength to any one position. Everyone is looking for one compromise solution.For some, there is no compromise, for others there are degrees of compromise but limits, too. Idon't see why they have to all agree on any one position. We are talking about different nationshere, not just one large conglomerate group called Indians, the way the government would preferit and is trying to force on us. We can each deal separately according to each nation's preference.. . . we can all support each other on whatever position each of us takes. It doesn't mean eachhas to take the same position. The government weakens us by making us fight each other to takeone position, as each one wants their position to win out. Each position is important and eachhas the right to try for it. We should all back each other up." (234-35)Even in interaction with the non-First Nations, it is important for the Nations to understand and live theirdifferences as Nations and as individuals (Fee "Upsetting" 175), and the novel itself is thus set up as amodel for the kind of balanced, accepting stance that characterizes the careful thought of the medicineways, in which, while the value of other ways--the value of the realist line of narration and of themediated line--are written into the novel, these other ways, other stories, are also carefully bracketed59within the forgiving, balancing structure of the spiritual story that governs the novel.Thus these First Nations novels can be seen to effect the kind of change Wynter observes inEllison's rewriting of the novel form, in Invisible Man, from a colonizing medium into a tool of subversion--through the shifting of the medium's informing ontology of "biological idealism" to one, perhaps, of"rhetorical or discursive idealism," and the consequent deconstruction of dominant society's rhetoricalmotivational systems: dominant society's stories. But all of these First Nations novels, particularly Slash,go beyond this shift, at once reclaiming both biological and discursive idealism as modes of First Nationsthought and story, and yet also proposing a third "spiritual idealism" (?), by which this plurality ofontologies is validated, a plurality of rhetorical motivational systems proposed as the basis of a strong,communally responsible individual: one who is capable of negotiating a workable, constructive waythrough a field of potentially conflicting "rhetorical motivational systems," and who can ultimately writea community of his or her own.For me to read spiritually in response, then, is to read communally, in a sense--to read and re-read,integrating new stories into each reading, as this time i read from the perspective of one field of storiesthat come from both myself (-selves) and my communities, and next time i read from a differentdiscursive, narrative, historical configuration. Reading is thus a process of layering reading upon reading,balancing response with response and story with story, each of which is "neither "reducible norimpermeable to one another" (JanMohamed and Lloyd, "Minority Discourse--What Is To Be Done?" 15).In so doing, i participate in the spirituality of the text, hearing several stories of my own and of others,healing myself again in the community of the text and discovering in my healing the room to allow othersto engage with their healing process, to tell their stories, too.Grandmother StoryIn the photo, we're all frowning at the camera, a slight wind tugging at our clothes. Grandma'sarm is stopped in the air those twenty years ago, trying to still the breeze in her hair. The wind blowstoday, too, sea wind shaking at the leaves on the pear tree, petals falling from its branches. The whiteflowers of the morning glory turn their heads away. My lover and i watch out the kitchen window, theni turn and grasp her hand, point again at the photo, begin my story.I tell her that i remember the wind blowing through the house that day, stealthy prairie windcreeping beneath ill-fitted doors and around sagging panes of glass. Always, it was breezing overfurniture and the weeks-old ashes in the fireplace, whispering through the legs of the carved elephantson the bookcase, singing around the brass bowl. Behind the dining room table, the painted hanging ofthe Japanese warrior would shudder; the draft would shake at the warhorse caught endlessly rearing onits hind legs, slice along the samurai sword raised forever in suspended anger. The warrior's red paintedtassels would seem to swing in the wind, frivolous answer to the rage frozen on his face. On the adjacentwall, the breeze would catch up dark leaves in the shadows of the Japanese garden, throw them to theintricate tapestry ground; ripples would stir on the embroidered lake, ducks bobbing. And around thecorner, on the landing halfway up the red carpeted stairs, the eight Chinese Immortals nodded at eachother as i watched, four on one wall singing to the four across the landing, carefully sewn heads bent inconcentration against the rotting red silk. I tell my lover that i remember i stood watching, caught for amoment in the hanging's rhythmic sway. My lover nods as she listens, her eyes imagining with me.I think i glanced around to see that Mum wasn't there to observe--reached out for the briefest,lightest stroke on the cool silk; i held the surface to momentary stillness against the wall. The breeze liftedmy hand again, rippled once more over the fabric. Then suddenly the wind rose, rushing past my ears,6061rustling the scratchy Sunday dress i was wearing. The front door had opened--even now, sitting in thiskitchen a thousand miles away, watching the sea wind and the pear tree, my body would recognize allthe rhythms and movements of that house—and i heard distant voices, rising up the stairway from thefront hall. But perhaps i imagine this remembering, make up my mind to remember, make it up.I imagine that i heard Dad's familiar voice first. "Here, Mom, let me take your coat. Dad? Yours,too? Just go on in, and i'll get your bags from the car." I sat down on the landing, shifted against thatdress.I heard footsteps from above me, i think, and my adoptive sister, Annie, her dress as white andstiff as mine, walked quietly out of the gloom of the hall, her darker face and limbs appearing only afterthe gleam of the dress. We looked silently at each other, listening to the voices below."Ronald, go help Walter with the bags." I do remember that voice clearly, rough old woman'svoice."Yes, Walter, I'll help." And the old man's voice, slow and a bit shaky."No, Mom, it's alright. You two go on in and rest. You had a long flight.""Ah ... good!" Now Mum's voice was echoing down the hall from the kitchen. The sounds ofquick, sharp kisses. "Was it a good flight?I suppose the voices would have drifted further away, i make them drift away, telling my lover."This is the living room ... yes, have a seat." The living room doors were clicking shut on the hallway;the breeze settled momentarily. They'd arrived, these strangers whose tapestries had hung on the wallsall my life, overlooked my games; tapestries heavy with memories, layered dust. The warrior paintingi found particularly compelling, i recall; i can still picture his angry face and the stillness of the treesbehind him as he swung the sword, everything waiting in shocked silence, waiting for the stroke to fall.Sometimes i played that i was the warrior, imagining my enemies as i waved the sword, feeling my faceas angry as his."But where are the children?" The old woman's voice rose sharply up the stairway, despite theclosed doors. "I want to see the children." Certain of her wishes, repeating them.62The living room doors would have snicked open again, and i remember the draft swinging againat the tapestry, the four singers rippling. Mum was calling, "Carol? Will? Where are you people? Comehere. Where's Annie? Come meet your grandparents." Annie slipped past me, her feet thudding fastdown the stairs.I myself rose slowly from the step, scratched at the dress, then tried belatedly to smooth it down.I hadn't had it on even an hour and already it was hopelessly wrinkled, the sleeves deeply creased wherei'd pushed them up my arms. I remember watching my shoes step one and then the other down thestairs, shiny black against the red carpet, and i imagined them large tropical beetles, maybe, lumberingover the red dirt i'd read they had in China. The breeze whistled again as i reached the bottom of thestairs. I remember looking up through the glass living room doors to see the silhouetted figures of Annieand Will rippling across the room, stopping in front of the two strangers on the couch. Voices rising andfalling in polite tones, reverberating oddly now in my ears as i try to recall for my lover. The patternshave changed so much now, my own voice so different, the tones shifted in my telling. I have reachedacross the table to touch my lover's hand again, her arm stretching out to meet me.The old woman was heavy, her head of thick white hair hunched over bent shoulders. Her facewas creased, rolls of skin pulling down from her sharp nose, from glasses that were reflecting thewindow's light. On her dress, its sleeves scrunched up over her forearms, she had pinned a small redcarnation; she clutched a large purse in knotted hands. Beside her, Grandpa was small and tidy, hisshoulders sagging in on his chest. He was shorter than Dad, though not so thin, and i imagine that theirrelationship would have been spoken clearly in their shared baldness, their similar noses, the long jaw.Grandpa's head turned, glasses reflecting, then clearing to show faded blue eyes, watching me quietly.He turned back to Dad and said something inaudible in the general din of voices.I reached for the door handle and turned it. I remember the draft cool on my ankles, and i sidledinto the noisy room, glancing from the floor to Grandpa, then to Grandma.And this must be Carol, is it? Come here, let me see you." The old woman reached one handout, pale flesh hanging loosely beneath her arm, her purse still firm in the other hand. There were rings63on several fingers of the reaching hand, i recall. She held me still for a moment's examination, greyingeyes staring from the glasses, then pulled me in for a sharp peck on the cheek. "Go kiss yourgrandfather."I shifted over and hesitated. I'd rarely kissed anyone in my life. I leaned in slowly, pushed mylips briefly against the old man's cheek, feeling the slight stubble. As i began to pull away, Grandpagrasped my shoulders in a brief hug, kissing me firmly. His glasses bumped against my cheek, cool metalframes.I think maybe Mum spoke then from her chair across the room, something about long flights andresting before dinner, but Grandma said, "No, we brought gifts. Walter, get the small travel bag, will you.We brought you gifts from Tennessee."Dad returned a moment later with an airplane bag, and she opened it with a crisp zip, peeringin. She lifted out several small cardboard boxes, rings gleaming on her hand. "This one is Will's, W forWill, I labelled them, and here's Annie's. Carol." I took the box, the kind jewelry comes in. Inside wasa large gold-metal pin, a flower with four red enamel petals, spreading metal leaves.I picked the pin up with an awkward hand, catching the cotton wool it was resting on, which fellto the floor. Will was holding up a bolo tie, strings swaying, and Annie had another pin, similar to mine,but not the same. She was showing it to Grandpa, small brown hands reaching towards him, and he wasleaning over to look. Dad had a bolo tie as well; reading from the card, he said the stone was genuineagate from the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and Mum was smiling graciously over a pendant of pinkstone, also from the Smokies. "It's lovely. Thankyou very much."There must have been some kind of polite conversation--there would have been. The weather inTennessee, here in Saskatchewan, whether the farmers had had enough rain this spring. Dad wasgesturing towards the backyard with his thumb. "You'll have to come see the flowers while you're here.They're doing well." I watched Grandma, the way the light gleamed off her glasses as she turned herhead to speak again. I remember the pin cold in my hand. I shifted it a bit and the pin stuck sharply intomy finger. I jerked back, sucked at the little bead of blood that was welling up. Even now, i remember64which finger it was, and i point it out to my lover, just above the ring on the middle finger."Don't suck on your finger, Carol." Grandma's head had turned at my jerk. "It's unsanitary,didn't your mother teach you? Go wash your hand." I turned momentarily to Mum, who was watchingsilently.* * *Through the intricate twist of the morning glory vine, a single red poppy grows, the wind harshon its petals as we watch. White pear petals rain down. I look up to catch my lover's eye, continuetelling my remembrance.The next morning, i was lingering against the kitchen wall while Mum hurried to finish the dishes.Water was rushing down the pipes from the bathroom upstairs, footsteps sounding back and forth, thenDad's voice telling Annie not to ... something. Then across the room from me, the door to the front hallbegan to open, the handle squeaking as it always did. A cool wash of air sifted through the kitchen. Inthe corner of my eye, the hanging of the warrior stirred in its place over the dining room table."Ah, Mother." Mum calling Dad's mother that--"Mother". Her voice was suddenly strange, iremember thinking. "We're almost ready to go, I've just got to go upstairs a minute.""Walter says the kids are all ready." Grandma's voice seemed rougher this morning."Oh, good." Mum smiled thinly. "Carol, why don't you show your grandmother the flowers outback? I won't be more than a minute or two."I would have slid reluctantly away from the wall, i imagine, waited for Grandma to lead the waypast the dining room to the back door. But i clearly recall Grandma stopping at the sight of theembroidered garden on the dining room wall. "Oh, heavens. You've hung that up. We bought that inHiroshima, when we stopped in Japan on our first trip out to China. It was still 1925, we hadn't evenbeen married a year, your grandfather and me. But we had to wait so long to reach our mission in China,your father has told you about that, hasn't he?" But she stayed looking at the tapestry, didn't look at me.65I doubt she was really talking to me. "We'd only had a few days in Japan before the ship had gone onsouth, but we could have stayed a lot longer, as it turned out. I wish we had, it was beautiful, and ofcourse, now Hiroshima ...."She leaned in close to the tapestry, which was doubtless darkened with years of hanging thereabove the table. She reached out to touch its surface briefly. Her eyes were intent. "Those ducks, though.Only added for the sake of Western tourists, you know. They wouldn't be part of a traditional Japanesedesign. There, you can see where I took one out, but it left a shadow on the water, so I left the othersin. If only ...."Turning, she caught sight of the warrior on the adjoining wall. Stood simply staring, sayingnothing. I remember waiting, twisting my fingers. The old woman's heavy back was turned to me,expanse of flowered dress, the white head hunched over the bent back. Her shoulders formed a parallelline with the shoulders of the frowning warrior, i think, or perhaps i've made that up. Everything wasstill and silent for a moment, it seemed. Then slowly, her weight shifted from one leg to the other,skewing the lines, and Grandma turned again. "Don't fidget, Carol." She lifted her head towards theliving room. "Here's your grandfather." Grandpa was coming slowly in from the living room, Anniebeside him. I can see him even now, as i sit across the table from my lover, her listening face.Then i suppose that Mum would have stepped in from the kitchen. "Alright, we're ready, now.Oh good, Father, you're here. Someone call Will to go."I don't particularly remember much of the car trip, crammed in the back seat with Mum andAnnie and Will, heading south to Qu'Appelle, as i now realize it was from later trips there. But i doremember waking up from a sleep, my legs sticking painfully to the plastic seat cover and hearingGrandma's raised voice, getting quite vehement. The wind rushing past the closed windows, the fieldsflowing by outside, i recall her declaiming about America's duty to protect the world from Communism,or something of the sort. It's such unlikely rhetoric to my ears now, but i still feel a small flutter of alarmas i recall the agitation in her voice. I wondered what she could be so excited about, watching the breezegently push at the green heads of wheat, ripple through fields of oats.66"It was so terrible in China, you know," her voice still raised against the wind. "All the workwe'd done there, and we'd been there through the war with Japan, and then the Second World War, andit was all for nothing. In the end, the Communists, they just plain outlawed Christianity, and we had toflee with almost nothing."Watching her over the back of the seat, i saw her jaw tighten beneath the skin on her cheek. Herhand reached up to pull at her earring, then clenched mid-air on its downward stroke. Strong hands likemy own now, touching my lover's as i speak."And those poor people." Grandma half turned in her seat, addressing the whole car. "They wereso grateful to us. They were almost like family, Ronald had attended at their births and deaths, and Iplayed the organ at the church. I taught them Christian hymns, my girls' choir sang so beautifully. Nowit's all gone. How can those hippie people protest the war in Vietnam? Those terrible Communists!"Her face was sharp and angry, emotion rippling over it like the breeze on the warrior hanging.The blue-green haze of flax in bloom eased past the window, a gravel road angled down to meet ours,then the flax started again. The breeze shifted awkwardly over the blue flowers. Dad's hands were tighton the steering wheel."Yes, but we still hear from some of our people, don't we, Myrtle?" Grandpa spoke beside her,leaning over to look past her at Dad. "We got a letter only just before we left Tennessee, from a youngman she'd taught the piano. Well, he's not so young now, of course ..." Grandpa sat back. "That wasafter you'd left, after we sent you boys to school back in America."Then we were turning off, the road banking down to join another highway. The car stopped atthe junction, rested still for a moment. Only the breeze was audible outside. A few minutes later wewere entering a town, and Mum was trying to direct Dad from the back seat, trying to remember wherethe Hansen-Ross Pottery was, the Indian craft store, and Grandma was exclaiming about the caraghanahedges, the Manitoba maples.Grit rattled against the car door, stung my leg as i stepped down. Annie's legs followed mine,deep brown against the lighter gravel, our matching black shoes already dusty. The store was dim and67cool after the sun, fluourescent light falling harshly on beaded moccasins, little birch bark canoes andteepees, woven baskets. The Native woman at the counter greeted Mum politely, i remember, smiledbroadly at Annie, full grin of recognition."Hey, lookit this!" I grabbed up a canoe of the right size, waved it at Annie. "I could use it formy G.I. Joe!"I looked at the price tag--more than i had--put it down with disappointment. I remember lookingat various times at these little canoes, in craft stores and museum gift shops, with the same idea in mind--but eventually i stopped wanting one. Annie and i wandered on, picking up rattles and trying them out,comparing bead designs on belts. I remember Annie's fingers running thoughtfully over a red flowerbeaded onto the toe of a moccasin. Will called for us to come see the wolfskin hanging on the back wall,but as we squeezed past Grandma's bulk, she grabbed me sharply by the arm."You kids, you stay with your parents. You can't just run around like little savages."The sun had paled to a flat glare as Annie and i left the store, high cloud a haze in the sky. Theadults still busy with Grandma's purchases at the counter, Will was already outside, aiming rocks at acrow that was pecking at the gravel on the road. A car rushed past, the crow fleeing. Annie picked adandelion by the roadside, the breeze rising for a moment, dust drifting ahead of it. Then it fell stillagain, and Grandma was stepping out the door, the others following.Grandma seemed cheered by her purchases, her hand firm on the brown bag."Should we go to the Pottery, now?" Mum turned to Dad. "Maybe we should wait and have ourpicnic in the Provincial Park.""Yes, let's have a picnic. But I want a picture!" Grandma reached for Grandpa's camera. "Righthere, where you can see the store sign."I remember the dust weighting my frown as Grandma lined us up facing the glare. My teeth felttight with grit."Here, Annie," Grandma was reaching into the bag. "Here, leave the flower, hold this instead."She pulled a letter opener from the bag, sheathed in leather with a red beaded design on it. "It's for your68uncle. And Walter, you stand next to Ronald."She stepped back, peered through the camera."No, Walter, here you take the picture. You don't mind." She bustled forward again.Dad looked through the viewfinder, paused, peered at the camera itself. "You press this?" Largehands on the small box."Yes, of course. It's hot here, just take the picture."Dad bent his head through the stillness. The breeze stirred in the pause. Beside me, Grandma'sarm lifted to smooth her hair, but the shutter was already cracking shut, releasing us to life."You should have waited, Walter! My arm was up. Do it again."But we had already lost our places. I looked down at the dandelion limp on the gravel."Do it at the Park, Mom, it's much prettier there anyway."* * *I stop my story for a minute and stare at the pear tree out the window. Then lean close to mylover, reach again for her hand. Touching her fingers, stroking the back of her hand, i examine theelegant contours of her knuckles and try hard to remember. Some of the next incident is so incrediblyclear to me, and yet i can't remember what actually happened in the end.One evening, not long before Grandma and Grandpa were due to leave, i recall sitting on theliving room floor near Dad's feet, half listening to my parents and grandparents talking, wishing i couldturn the T.V. on instead. I was watching my fingers move in and out of the last ray of sun streaming inthe west window, and i remember Grandma sitting in the big easy chair across the room. She wasprobably feeling tired, i suppose, or at least, i remember that she looked kind of deflated, slumped againstthe arm of the chair.As i listened, the conversation turned to China again, and Grandpa suddenly recalled a kite hehad given Dad when they were all still in China together, on Dad's fifth birthday.69"Yes, of course. I still have that kite, you know." Dad was smiling over his mug of tea."Yeah, it's in that big carved chest you have in the attic, isn't it, Walter?" Mum waved her handin the direction of the attic, pleased at the recollection."Oh, that teak chest! I'd forgotten you had the chest!" Grandma was suddenly animated, leaningforward in her chair. She was twisting one of the rings on her hand. "I want to see it again. Where isit?""It's late, Mom. Let's wait until tomorrow.""No, I want to see it while we're still thinking of it. Ronald, you can help Walter, can't you? Isit really so hard to get?"The veins stood out on Dad's forehead as he and Grandpa wrestled the chest into the living room.The room was growing dark by then, night coming on; it was quiet outside, the wind settling to night-time stillness.I remember vividly Grandma's excitement. She got down on her knees beside the box, runningher hands over its carved sides. "It's still lovely, isn't it? I remember the craftsman who made this chestfor us, in Nodoa, do you remember, Ronald? He was such a cheerful fellow, always smiling, and hisdaughter was in my choir."She looked up as Mum switched on a lamp, the light shining yellow through her hair, as if it wereblonde, not white. "We had this chest and another one made, just before we sent you boys back to theStates, when the war with Japan was starting. Something to pack your clothes in. I wonder if yourbrother still has his, too? You two were so small, standing by the ship's railing You waved and wavedat us."She had opened the chest, pushing the heavy lid up, her bowed shoulders straining. Inside, richfabrics glowed in the lamplight. Grandma lifted their edges, ran her hands over the silk. Dad knelt downbeside her then, reaching beneath the fabric, and pulled out a flat object wrapped in plastic. Lifting theplastic aside, he gently revealed a small, delicate kite, fragile with age. The fine paper, once red, wasfaded to pink, stretched over bamboo slats curved into the shape of a butterfly. Two yellow streamers,70creased and bent from years of storage, hung uncertainly from the tail end. Grandpa ran a finger alongthe bamboo. "It's survived surprisingly well, don't you think, considering how humid the air always wasin China."From my position on the floor, i could see how thin the paper was, translucent in the lamplight.For a moment, as Dad turned the kite in his hands, the paper sparked to its original vivid colours, thelamp glowing through it, before he turned it again, back to faded opacity."I remember flying it. It was beautiful against the sky. Oh, what's that you have, Mom?"Grandma had lifted an old shoebox from the chest, inside which were some odd little paperobjects, pastel oranges, pinks and yellows, cut and glued into the rough shapes of plates, cups, basketsand bowls. "I had no idea you'd kept these, Walter. They were funeral objects, you know, buried withthe dead so they'd have something to eat in the next world. As missionaries, we tried to discourage thepractice, of course.""Strange custom."Grandma held the objects a few seconds more, then suddenly dropped them back in their box.Shifting awkwardly on her knees, she shoved against the chest rim, staggering up. "I'm tired. I'll lookat it tomorrow."All of that i remember so very clearly, but it's the next part i simply can't remember. I know thati woke early the next morning, as i always did as a kid, often several hours before anyone else. The sunwas well up already, the start of another brilliant summer day on the prairie, and i dressed quickly, Anniebreathing quietly in the bed. An early morning breeze had started up, the trees rustling, birds calling.I hurried to the stairway. My bare feet silent on the red carpet, i passed the tapestries of the EightImmortals, wavering gently on the landing, padded on down the steps.But before i even reached the bottom of the stairs, i was aware that someone had preceded me.The living room doors were slightly open, though my parents always closed them before going to bed,to stop the draught--and i could hear someone crying. It was a shocking noise, not loud, but stillfrightening.71Creeping down the last few stairs, i peered through the glass doors. Grandma was kneeling inher bathrobe by the teak chest, its lid pushed open again. She held the little funeral goods in her hands,pastel paper. Tears were dripping slowly from her glasses, her head bent from heavy shoulders.I stood paralysed. I had never seen an adult crying before, and i stood watching for some time.All of this i remember without difficulty. But i cannot recall, simply can't remember, what i did next.I think i remember stepping up to the glass doors, pushing one open so i could slip through.Grandma was turned side on to me, and in her crisis, still hadn't seen or heard me. I remember steppingup behind her, lifting my hand, watching it move a slow curve through the air--sturdy hand, knucklesprominent, just as they are now, holding my lover's hand, speaking my love to her--and putting it onGrandma's shoulder. She would have started, bumping against the chest, then gathered herself to get up,but then she simply fell back on her knees, continued crying--accepting my hand. The little pieces ofpaper had gotten wet here and there, tears dripping slowly into her hands. I stood there a momentlonger, then i remember a sudden gust of wind rose outside, trees rustling, and a draught whistled underthe front door. The papers lifted from her hand, scattered over the floor like butterflies taking flight.I remember that.And yet, perhaps that isn't what i remember at all, and only wished i did. Willed it so. Or maybedreamed it.Because i also have a very clear memory of standing stunned at the bottom of the stairs, as before,unable to move, just watching the shocking spectacle of this old woman in tears. At moments like that,the base of my spine would tingle, sheer alarm shivering through me. In this remembrance, i stoodunmoving for a long time, as in the first memory, my grandmother bent over the papers in her hand. Butthen, just as i was shifting weight from one foot to the other, preparing to take the last few steps past theliving room to the front door and out, i saw her hand clench shut, strong hand closing on pastel colours,crushing the papers. I remember i stepped fast, two, three steps, silent bare feet, and fled out the frontdoor into a morning suddenly gone still and humid, the air thick on my skin.Chapter Three:"Running Down Up Escalator":Voices in the Waterfall and Being On the MoonSo far, i have moved from a discussion of story as a structure and practice of healing, to adiscussion of the nature of narrative that it should work as such a healing mechanism; i want now toexamine the nature of language itself, as it interacts with such healing, spiritual effect in the discursivestructures, specifically, of the poetry of Beth Cuthand (Cree) and Annharte (Anishinabe). In Chapter Twoi defined my cross-cultural, spiritual reading practice as an inherently multiple and relational structureand process, involving my active, balancing engagement, individually, communally and textually, in aprocess of multiple and ongoing relation in a vast field of differences and similarities in which i am myselfan element and a participant. That is, i precisely construct the spiritual in terms very similar to those usedin contemporary Western theory to define language and the relation of the individual to language, and--asi make a deliberate shift from emphasizing the differences between Euro-Canadian and First Nationscultural and literary expressions to considering possible equivalencies--in terms which are in fact verysimilar to those used by Native theorists such as Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna Pueblo/Sioux) to describethe relation between language and creation. But in the very move to connect creation and language,several other simultaneous moves occur, by which, first, the issue of silence, as much as of discourse,becomes crucial to the discussion of language and spirituality--particularly as the discussion informs myreading of Beth Cuthand's poetry--and then too, by which the issue of the subversive as well as thecreative potential of language must also be addressed as a possible element of the spiritual--particularlyas i read Annharte's poetry.In several of her essays on American Indian literature in The Sacred Hoop, Allen emphasizes that7273much literature by Natives, especially by Native women, is based upon an all-informing construction oflanguage, life and reality as inherently relational in nature. This initiating construct finds its origins intraditional tribal understandings of creation as a balanced, harmonious and sacred whole. Humans, asco-creators, participate in this unity equally with all other, co-creative elements of the universe,particularly through "the sacred power of utterance" by which the tribes "seek to shape and mold, to directand determine, the forces that surround and govern human life and the related lives of all things." Thusthe specific purpose of language in tribal cultures is to enable humans to participate in and to help tobring into continual being, the "relationships among all beings of the universe [, which] must be fulfilled"(56; also Cardinal and Armstrong 18, 89; Olsen-Dunn). Language itself, then, is both replete with the spiritof creation and itself an active element in the ongoing processes of creation: language and creation areintimately interconnected in structure and effect. 1Allen argues that as a result of this understanding of language, traditional Native American literatureis based upon an informing linguistic and perceptual organization which, like my own effort to developa spiritual reading practice, emphasizes the multiplex relationships among events and experiences--incontrast with the conventional European habit, only recently questioned in Western academia, oforganizing language and perception less on the basis of a general relatedness than specifically on the basisof differences, binary oppositions, hierarchies. Thus while Western literary convention has assumed abasic story structure relying on difference--on conflict, crisis, and resolution--as a route to significance,significance in traditional tribal literature is determined instead by the literature's "relation to creativeempowerment, its reflection of tribal understanding, and its relation to the unitary nature of reality" (59). 2According to Allen, the effect of this traditional tribal understanding of the role of language increation is that, for many Native women poets in particular, while they grapple continually with theconflict, loss and suffering of contemporary colonized reality, their final conclusion is not to inscribe anacquiescence to the despair of final displacement, (self-)alienation and self-division (68). Instead, drawingon this understanding of language as a creative, spiritual structure and practice, they repeatedly affirmthe integration and relatedness of contemporary experience with traditional tribal ways, constructing74metaphors that ideally will "harmonize the contradictions [of contemporary Native life] and balance themso that . . . each perspective is meaningful and that in their joining, psychic unity rather thanfragmentation occurs" (161). Allen thus sees this act of transformation, of the re-establishment andreaffirmation of relation with the sacred--"the oldest tribal, ceremonial theme"--as the basic structure andaction of contemporary Native women's poetry (162).It is from this perspective--of language as utterly embedded in, and itself expressive of, anessentially spiritual relation, and thus of poetry as a repeatedly transformative practice--that i think thepoetry of several First Nations women can be read. I read Beth Cuthand's collection of poetry, Voices inthe Waterfall, as perhaps itself a kind of ceremony, enacting and achieving, over the spread of the poemsas they interact with each other, this reestablishment of the connection of the individual and thecommunity with the sacred. The manner in which the poems share imagery, the mention of an image inone poem resonating with the detailing of the image's significance in another poem, places theirmovement within the realm of tribal constructions of language, ceremonial time. The collection isinscribed in--and itself inscribes--a relational, non-linear understanding of language and of the world inwhich language plays such an integral, balancing, connecting role: such a sacred, ceremonial role. In thisway, given the performative role of language, as it not only retells a transformative experience, but (i think)actually re-accomplishes the transformation in the moment or the process of the poetry itself (Wiget 108),Cuthand's poems can be read as informed by, and themselves inscriptive of, the orality of tribal culture,in which, as noted in Chapter One, utterance is representational and performative--creative--at once. 3And then, as a reader of this poetry--though i cannot possibly participate in its transformations in the waythat a Cree, or other First Nations, reader might--i too am being constructed as a spiritual being, intelligentparticipant in creation and in the text, led again to try to read spiritually.But i don't figure it's my place to read the ceremony of this poetry as if i had the right to participate assomeone deeply immersed in the culture would. I mean, for example, i haven't cleansed myself in preparation forthis or any other ceremony, the way that the poet writes herself as doing. In fact i only have a general sense of whatthe cleansing really is, how it is done, what it's supposed to achieve. The idea of cleansing and other spiritualpractices aren't ways that i've gotten to inhabited myself (or been inhabited by them), so i can hardly creatively shapethem in my turn-- not in any responsible, truly participatory way. Paula Gunn Allen emphasizes that in The75Sacred Hoop, where she makes a distinction between the Native sense of how symbols operate in ceremony and inthe world, and the European sense of these things:The greater and lesser symbols incorporated into the ceremonies take their meaning from the context of theceremony--its purpose and its meaning. Attempts to understand ceremonial literature without knowledgeof this purpose often have ludicrous results. The symbols cannot be understood in terms of another culture,whether it be that of Maya or of England, because those other cultures have different imperatives and havegrown on different soil, under a different sky within the nexus of different spirits, and within a differenttraditional context. (73-74)So i figure that my role as a reader isn't to claim the ceremony as my own: i can't say that, having read the poem,i have undergone the ceremony too, or even that i understand it. By very definition, the sacred is not available forthe taking--for colonization or appropriation (Chrystos, Letter)!As a result, my effort to connect spirituality and language has to involve the issue of the non-linguistic aswell, as least in my twilight, cross-cultural project: i have to think about silence as in some cases the mostappropriate response to First Nations poetry. Of course, to fall silent—if  i mean silent in the way it's usuallyconstructed in Western culture, as something negative, as the absence, or the refusal, of a response--can be toabandon hope. It can be a giving in to political and discursive oppositions and oppressions (Gunew and Spivak 139;Hoy n.p.; Kertzer 29). But i also think that even so, this thesis is underwritten in every word with this possibilityof silence, this time not just as the refusal of a response, but also as a respectful response in cross-culturalcircumstances. There's some things i just can't and shouldn't comment on.'So i want to read Cuthand's poetry from this place of a potential balance between silence and discourse,where both are at least potentially, equally valuing responses. Both can be equally valid ways of participating inthe ongoing creation of the universe and the poem alike. I'm reminded of the notions of responsibility andcommunity-making that i discussed in my reading of Halfbreed. Isabelle Knockwood (Micmac) connects languageas a spiritual event with the idea of responsibility when she tells of a custom in her tradition, where you shouldn't"walk in front of people who are talking." She says it's an adage stemming back "to the old belief that everyone isa spirit and a conversation between people is a spiritual experience because they are also exchanging their mostvaluable possession, their word" (14).So i define these concerns as discursive, but i want to expand their definitions to include the non-linguistic,and non-human, community as well. As i see it, part of participation in the sacred, means that i owe responsibilityand care to the community of all creation: human and non-human, animate and inanimate. I'm making anothermove of translation, again, talking about First Nations spirituality through analogy to something i do "understand."This time I'm making my reading of First Nations poetry an environmental event as well. In environmentalthinking, the choice to participate actively and the choice precisely not to participate, not to interfere--the choice ofa verbal response and the equally respectful response of silence--are equally important, and necessary, ways ofinteracting with the natural world--of being ourselves in the natural world.'As a result, i also see the issue of the appropriation of voice in a new light--the request by some FirstNations writers that non-First Nations should stop writing on behalf of First Nations people who are perfectlycapable of telling their own stories. Some non-First Nations writers keep saying, it's censorship! They feel silencedin a negative sense. But i wonder whether we aren't being given a chance to explore silence as a positive, self-responsible choice, too. It's a chance to learn to value it, too. And we're also being given a chance to rethink ourown stories, figure out new ways of expressing ourselves in relationship to this sudden new awareness of silence asboth a negative and a positive experience. So we're being pushed to tell new, healing stories of ourselves, which ithink come from a deep sense of both the value and the terror of silence, instead of just retelling the same oldinjuring ones. (See Brant, Statement; Fee "Why"; Godard, "Listening" 134-44; Keeshig-Tobias, Interview 79-81,and "The Magic"; Maracle, "Native Myths"; Moses, Statement; Philip, "The Disappearing Debate," and Statement;St. Peter).'From this multiplex of awarenesses, i read "Horse Dance to Emerald Mountain" as the central76poem of Cuthand's collection, in relation to which the other poems derive a larger ceremonial significance.In "Horse Dance," the poet details, and (as i "intuitively" guess it) herself undergoes, her personal questfor reconnection with the land and its spirits--with the land as understood on a physical level, butespecially on a spiritual level. I read the poem--aware of the limitations of my place as a white reader—asboth the retelling of a ceremony, and for Cuthand, and perhaps for others close to her in community, asthe actual performance of it. The ceremony begins, in Part I, with an image of the poet ritually cleansedin preparation for the journey--as both "an ancient grey stone/ burned to ash/ in the heat of the sweat"and as "a raw green stoned dusty unpolished/ piece of earth" (21). In the double image of the stone, thepoet's past and future are made to co-exist in her in the present: she is both old and burned grey, and yetalready an unpolished version of the "clear green stone" she will become by the end of the ceremony (30),and the image itself becomes a symbol for the larger transformation that the poem inscribes and performs.Similarly, her assertion, "I am/ as clean/ as complete/ as I am," reads to me as both anacknowledgement that she can only be as cleansed as she is able in her present old, burned state beforethe ceremony, and yet also a statement that a capacity for completion and renewal--reconnection with thesacred--exists in her already (21). The statement, with its circular structure, beginning and ending with"I am," repeats the circular structure inscribed in the double image of the stone--image of tranformationand return at once, difference and similarity--as it is at both the beginning and the end of the ceremony.The beginning and end of the poem are thus seen simultaneously in a single view, and i am immediately(perhaps always already) in the realm of transformation, of ceremonial time, where past, present andfuture co-exist simultaneously, the beginning of the ceremony already containing its completion. Thestatement's repetition of the phrases beginning with "as" also establishes a process of connection-makingas the substance of the poem's larger cyclical structure, so that not only does ceremonial time incorporateall time, but each ceremonial moment is likewise established as a moment and process of relation-making.The poet is only as clean as she is at present, but her language signals that she is already engaged in adeeply relational action, where both transformation and a cyclical return to old ways are equally evoked.And yet, at the same time as the poem is thus presented as a unit, its beginning and end conjoined in the77sacred, its division into numbered parts also serves to highlight the stages and movement of the ceremony:such a simultaneous change and yet return only occurs after a struggle undergone with difficulty, theprocess as important as the end it is to achieve.I read Part II, then, following the initial cleansing ritual, as setting up the spiritual parameters ofthe ceremony and of the action it is intended to accomplish, introducing the symbol of the gallopinghorse--a kind of guiding spirit, i guess--which the seeker/poet is riding across the brown plain.' The bluemountain range is visible in the distance, in which stands the object of her quest, the Emerald Mountain.The rhythm and repetitions of the "galloping, galloping"--the process of the ceremony--become the rhythmand cyclical process of the eternal: they becomeheart beatsdrum beatshooves beatdrum beats earth beatsheart beatsheart beatsin time in timetoward the Emerald Mountain (22)The rhythm of the story that the ceremony tells--the movement of the horse/spirit which the seeker isriding--is repeated in, and itself repeats, the rhythms and repetitions of the drums of the dance/ceremonythat tell the story, the rhythms of the body, and the rhythms of the earth itself. The ceremony and theindividual vision/poem are seen, by the very definition of language as a spiritual practice, as functioningon all these levels: the spiritual and the physical, the individual and the communal, and in connectionwith all creation. At this point, i read the primary emotion (as i work largely on this intuitive, analogicallevel) as that of the poet's awareness of the danger of the journey she has undertaken. She asks herself,"Do I fear the truth?" and finds no comfort M "The sun [that] shines/ without consent/ upon the cleanbrown plain" (22), exposing all. By virtue of her participation in creation, as well as her place in hercommunity, she is a person of power, as i guess it--"eagle child/ horse dancer/ bear stone woman/ childof peace"--and yet at present the only answer to her question, "who am I/ who am I," seems to be "Fear"(23). Dark descends on the Emerald Mountain, its "green upon green upon green" (22)--like the stone she78will become--darkening "to black/ black upon black" (23)--the stone she has been, and wishes no longerto be.9Again, i want to emphasize that i am guessing at all of these layers of significance, of the horse and themountain, and the repetitions of colours and phrases; i'm not certain what they precisely symbolize to Cuthand orto others from her community. I might read to try to value the transformations of the poem, but i think even sothat the poem doesn't perform these transformations for me. Several levels of reading and participation exist, ithink, but I'm just limited to this one-- and i have to look elsewhere for my own rituals.My question is, how do i write these spiritual, environmental silences that inhabit the central sensation ofmy own spiritual reading? Especially when i'm writing the spiritual, at least in Western, English-languagediscourse, as maybe impossible to write? I think i can write the spiritual in the same way as i read these poems:i can work through the indirection of analogy and translation. I end up evoking the spiritual as an emotional orenvironmental experience, not representing it. So i write the spiritual through interaction with my text and itsreaders--in another cross-cultural action, as it were, or at least cross-person--and not just in the object of the textitself I write it by triggering in my reader still other (internal) stories, in the same way as i feel First Nationswriting triggers the interactive play of my many stories--my internal and internalized, academic, societal andindividual narratives. Not only that, though. I also have to stay aware of silence at the same time, as both an actof censorship and an act of valuing, against which and at the behest of which, these stories are spoken. My storieshave to speak quietly of story and silence at once.My partner and i are on one of the Islands, among other things to visit another lesbian couple, in a dealwe've worked out: in exchange for advice on how to edit and market Diana's two novel manuscripts, Diana willshare with us her expertise as a horse trainer and ex-jockey, to give us some background information for a projectof our own. It's an exchange of story for story, in essence, and i'm excited at the prospect. As we pull up to thefarmhouse, Diana greets us carrying a small terrier, in her arms, who growls companionably and suffers my touch.Somehow this place isn't what i expected: the relative newness of this house, this tiny, very un-farm-like dog. Andi don't actually see any horses.In the kitchen, amongst several cats of varying ages and colours, Diana's lover Helen sits stiffly at the table,surrounded by bottles of pills and vitamins. Helen apologizes for not getting up to greet us, explaining that she hashad a hysterectomy only ten days earlier. She is now mobile, but she is still weak and in pain.We sit down for tea, the little dog sitting on my lap while i scratch her ears. I expect to get right downto business, talking about Diana's manuscripts, but Helen continues to explain that she was already startingmenopause when she had begun to explore the sacred power and value of her womb--she gestures slowly down atherself with slender fingers, her pale eyes intense in her lined face. And then she was found to have cancerous cellsin her uterus, and would have to have it removed. I glance down at the dog's sharp face: she leans her head againstmy hand, so i scratch her ears some more. My face feels a little hot at Helen's pronouncement about the sacrednessof her womb: i know what she's talking about, it's a sensibility and power i've wished i could believe in too, but eventhough such conversations are common enough in the lesbian community, it feels a strangely intimate conversationto be having with someone i've only just met. Outside the kitchen window, a bare tree is just showing buds; theland is yellow and grey as we await spring rains.Helen's an odd woman, i think: it's not so much the conversation, but this woman's manner in conductingit. Her intensity and the way she dominates the room and the conversation, feel at odds with the quiet strength thatshould be being evoked by her actual words.I slow my thoughts a moment, wonder what's really happening here: maybe i'm hearing the intensity andself-immersion of a woman still grieving for a deep loss. If the depth of her emotion takes me by surprise, i respecther efforts to deal with it.After a pause, the conversation turns to the trip Jana and i are planning down to the American Southwest,and Diana and Helen respond enthusiastically, talking about their own trip to Nevada and New Mexico--but theconversation comes immediately back to Helen's topic of Goddess religion."At first," Helen says, "I was really blown away by the vastness of the place. I felt like i could just get79lost in all that space. But then i started to really feel the sacrednes of that land --" again she gestures, her handsweeping down at her body, her heart--"the real sacredness of that red soil. It's a woman's place, New Mexico. Sosacred." She nods seriously, holding my eyes with hers."Yeah," i say, "That's kind of what i expect, too." I think how odd it is to feel this way, that i have to gosomewhere else to feel what is everywhere, what is here. But it's an odd conversation, and Helen seems to be sointent on her own line of thought, i don't care to interfere.As we sit there for an hour, then another, the conversation never strays from this topic of women'sspirituality, Helen approaching it again and again, first from one tack and then another. She's so fervent, i startto feel what i've never felt about anyone else i've ever met who's engaged in this Goddess-religion: it feels almostas if she's trying to convert me, when that seems so unlike the way this kind of spiritualism works.Is Helen really trying to convince me and Jana--when i think from our responses to her, it's clear we'realready convinced--or is it herself she's really trying to convince? Is the intensity of her gaze really conviction, oris it almost fear?Again and again, my perceptions are jarred during this conversation, my usual sense of social occasionshifted out of place before this woman's single-mindedness, the incongruity of her domineering manner with theseemingly inclusive kind of spirituality she's talking about. Despite this apparent celebration of a shared spirit, ifeel very unspiritual at this moment, so tense from the effort of figuring out how to respond that my jaw cracksloudly in my head when i stretch to try to find a more comfortable place. The dog jumps from my lap, stretchesherself out on the floor.At one point Helen describes herself as "in recovery from patriarchy," as she tells of her increasingawareness, as a physician herself, of the shortcomings of Western medical practices, of how dis-spiriting Westernmedicine is, how it relies on such an immovable hierarchy of the authority of the doctor over the patient. She saysshe's trying to figure out how to live a truly non-patriarchal life, infused with women's spirituality--but"patriarchy," she says: "that's my addiction."I sit back with a sigh, look down at the dog on the floor. That's what it is: she feels like a woman tryingto unravel her participation in a system of power that, though it has given her a lot, she now sees as wrong--butshe's doing this unravelling only on the faith that she will find other ways to re-empower herself in a newly balancedway: it's a leap into the unknown, and she must wonder every day what she can possibly have to gain from thisexercise, trying to reknit what she has willingly unravelled. I feel very un-spirited, but here i am witnesses this deeptransformation as it takes place right in front of me.The following two parts of "Horse Dance" repeat the structuring notions of birth and death, of thegreen stone and the black one, of loss and the transformation of loss into reaffirmation. Part IIIemphasizes the poet's connection with the earth and with the creative, as she recounts a creation storyin which the sea is the origin of life--in which "Father Sky rained/ and Earth waited/ pregnant, powerful/under the waters/ for Creation's birth." The waters of the earth and of the womb are connected asheartbeats and earthbeats were in Part II, the individual body and all creation inextricably connected,sharing in the sacred. "I was there," the poet asserts,at my birthhearing the seathunderingon the shoresof the womb [. .Mother Earth80brought me forth [. . .1pushing mefrom her womband Ibloodycrying outfor life. (24)In this place where language itself is spiritually transformative, the poet's physical birth, as both anindividual at her own birth, and as a member of creation partaking in the beginning of all creation,coincides with her birth as the poet, as the maker of and participant in the ceremony, the journeyer "cryingout/ for life."Once she has recounted--or reconnected with, recreated--her several births, the poet then turnsin Part IV to the question of death, returning to her present position searching "for my EmeraldMountain/ black upon black now/ cold/ in the midst of death." She is "Gone/ from the warmth of thewomb/ Gone/ from the tit of the earth" (24-25), and even her spiritual guide, the horse, abandons her,so that she must continue alone. She sees only black "In the darkness of the night," but at this darkestmoment, light is already returning: "I see black/ lighten,/ colour,/ leave for a new day" (25). The"morning voices" reconnect her with the immediacy of the present--"enjoy this freedom now," they instructher (25)--while also telling her that "the horse leaves you to remember" (26), leaves her to reconnect withthe past as a route ultimately to achieving her quest.But she must remember in a Native way of knowing, not a white way: in contrast with the historyof creation which she has re-called in Part III, here she must beware other versions of history andmeaning. "Be aware of your comprehension/ of matters made in/ another land," she is told, and recallinstead (as again i guess it) how death and life are intimately connected: she must recall how at hergrandmother Bess's death, described in words which recall the Mother Earth's action of birthing theworld, the poet (Beth) too "lay supine,/ gasping for breath/ dying/ as my namesake." In hergrandmother's death, life was immanent--Beth herself was her grandmother's continuance and thegrandmother's death was "a merciful death/ of the seed/ of the seed/ of me." Beth's own (psychic?)81death, in contrast, was "a different death/ of a way of life/ become irrelevant" (26), and it is this seconddeath, of the history of colonization, of history as loss and destruction--as opposed to the death that is anintimate and itself creative part of creation, of history as creation (Cardinal 80)--which the horse and themorning spirits are instructing her to overcome and leave behind with the morning. At present, though,"My name died with her/ I am/ a nameless one/ Journeying to find" (26).Having thus encountered life and death--the death of creation renewing itself, and the absolutedeath of "a way of life/ become irrelevant"--her guiding spirit, the horse, returns in Part V to take up thejourney again, "head tossing [. . .] impatient for the dance" (26-27). The "galloping galloping" resumes—the "drum beat, heart beat, earth beat" (27). Reaching the dark blue mountains, she has reached the trialof the ceremony, as the mountains "rise before us now/ steep/ treacherous/ testing the dance." Similarly,the sun is "unmercifully hot," and the Eagle (who again may have specific symbolic meaning) also screamsa challenge, as the Emerald Mountain itself calls her to "leave the horse/ walk on alone" (27). Standingon the brink of decision--whether to brave the test or to retreat to safety--she recalls the waiting horse andthe warm brownness of both the plain across which she has galloped with such ease, and of her mother'sbreast, "safe." But she also recalls that her mother only ever galloped across the plain, always only"becoming becoming/ galloping galloping/ [. .1 never here/ but always coming here." The poet's ownheart "speaks/ telling me/ the nameless one/ to walk on/ to climb the steep face/ of the EmeraldMountain" (28), telling her that she must do more than seek endlessly like her mother, never riskingachieving this arrival, and she must also chance this danger, test the dance of ceremony and life.As a result of this decision, she can grapple with her fear, asking herself in Part VI, "what truthis concealed/ in the rumbling mist?" as she pushes up the mountain where "there is no comfort/ nosafety/ no promises/ in this path/ I choose to walk." But then in a movement both simple and profound,her spirit--"a salient river/ sinuous, fluid/ touching green upon green," just as the the Emerald Mountainis green, as creation is green--"reaches out" across the gap of risk, and the ceremony nears its completion.The eagle and the mountain itself, once challenging her, now acknowledge her, as she sees herselftransformed into an eagle, and the river of her spirit/blood running like "the rumbling, coursing blood/82of the mountain." She and the eagle are dancers in the same ceremony of connection with creation, withthe multiple beats of dance and life, with her ancestors:dancing dancingsurrounded by the ancient onesand the hooves of horsesbeating sounds of the mountainin time with my wingssmooth emeraldcarved by crystal light. (29)With this transformation she returns in Part VII to the image of her place in creation as that ofa stone--this time neither the ancient grey stone, worn down in the effort to cleanse herself, nor the "rawgreen stone" of her unfulfilled self--but here "a clear green stone/ gleaming polished," and reconnectedwith "the Earth." She ends the poem by answering her earlier question "who am I?" with a series ofdeclarations. She is the stone, but she is also "a clear blue pool/ washed by a waterfall/ dusted in mist:"as i read it, she is the receiver and the receptacle of knowledge, the pool beneath the waterfall of an earlierpoem, in which an elder tells her (i think) that sacred knowledgecan come slowlypiece by pieceover the years. . . partly revealedin the markings of a featherthen on to a mistyhalf remembered dreamleading tovoices in a waterfallbarely heardjust barely heard. ("This Knowledge" 17)Similarly, she is also herself the mist in which the knowledge is concealed, both in "Horse Dance," andin the above passage from "This Knowledge." And then, in the closing affirmation of "Horse Dance," sheis also "the Emerald Mountain/ selfless/ unfettered/ free" (30): a part of creation herself, she is, andalways has been, the object and achievement of her own quest, just as the poem itself, its process andlanguage, is the object and achievement of the very quest it inscribes.Helen chops the air with her hand and i jump. "This is it, right here," she says, flicking a finger down tostab at the table. "It's right here when we have conversations with women like this, that we're really making ithappen now, in our lives. It's right here in this house, right now." She points to the living room, where a young83Siamese cat stretches and yawns on the back of the couch. Yeah, however odd this feels, so unlike the silent, privateserenity that i associate with my sudden moments of spiritual confidence, she's right: it is happening right here, rightnow."Look!" Diana jumps up, pointing out the window. "He's seen a mouse or something!"I catch my breath back into my lungs: just outside the window, a hawk has broken stroke mid-air, wingsbent over the yellow twists of grass in the field. It seems to stall completely for a second, just hanging there, thenit strokes again, wings grasping at the air, flies on. A horse calls from somewhere behind the house.The conversation turns to the horses and Helen tells us of her and Diana's efforts to train race-horses ina different, more humane and sensitive way, with far more of an eye to the horses' happiness and well-being, thanis usually the case at the tracks--but even so, they finally gave the business up as too abusive of the horses.Helen brushes vigorously at her chin. "Have you ever placed a bet at the tracks? That's the thing, youknow, you can be as kind and compassionate as you want, but you just see what happens when you go and put fivedollars down on a horse. All of a sudden, you own a part of that horse. And . . . it just makes you crazy." Oneof the horses out back, named Jen--Helen waves back of the house--was slated to win a $10,000 stakes race, whenshe was attacked in the barn the night before the race, her shoulder and legs hacked open by someone's hand.But the last straw--and suddenly, i recognize from Helen's growing excitement again, that we're hearingthe story of her actual conversion, the very beginning of this process that compells her so--came when, during a race,another horse they'd trained up from a foal broke her leg coming out of the gates and had to be destroyed. "Rightin front of me. I just cried," Helen says. "I'd just had enough. I finally realized there was no way you could makeit different, no matter what you did. The system itself was just wrong. So i said, that's it. That's it, i said, andwe never raced another horse again." Her mouth snaps shut with the finality of this decision; she seems tocontemplate again the enormity of the change this implied.Jana, Diana and i go outside to look at the horses--Helen is too weak to walk so much yet. It is overcast,a slight sharpness to the breeze, but the farmyard is a place of peace, and we move slowly from yard to yard, meetingeach of the horses as they hang their heads over the fence for a scratch: Ella and Billy, Nat, Bessie, and Queen Ida,who is a granddaughter of Secretariat, and in the far corral, a trio of grandmother, mother and daughter: Meg, Jen--her shoulder scarred but healed--and Chrissy, who's a charmingly brattish three-year-old, insisting on nibbling onour shoes, chewing at our coats.Now Diana really begins to talk: in the kitchen she was largely silent as Helen talked, but this is her place,amongst these horses, and she tells us stories about them, about how she came to be a jockey, about her race-horsetraining days.I am silent, listening to the stories, stroking Queen Ida's lovely neck and cheeks as she nibbles tentativelyat my jacket. The little dog plays with a piece of rope, then tries to herd the chickens into a stall. The silent shadowof a rat slips from one hay pallet to another, and a stray chicken scratches in the corner. We feed the horses, brushthem down, an easy sauntering back and forth between conversation and silence.I think of Queen Ida's soft cheeks, the grassy smell of her breath. She lowers her head to scratch it up anddown against me, and several of her hairs cling to my shirt. I stand absolutely still for a moment, grateful for hertouch.From the central vision of "Horse Dance," then--its placement in the middle of the collection--iread the poems of Voices in the Waterfall, back and ahead, as speaking from this knowledge, this certaintyof the poet's place and voice and language. The movement over the collection replicates the ceremonialmovement of "Horse Dance" itself, moving through cleansing to the recollection of traditional ways, toindividual and collective rebirth and its implications for the future, and finally to the reaffirmation of theindividual's place in renewed community and creation. "Horse Dance" not only draws connection upon84connection amongst language, the land, the individual and her community, within the nexus of thespiritual action of the ceremony it tells and performs, but it is also placed within a still larger field ofconnection and interaction, the very spirit of its relational, transformational movement rejecting closure.In the interconnection of the poems in the collection, one ceremony, one transformation, is madecontingent with still others, the field of relation and difference--the spirit--inscribed in, and itselfinscribing, a continual, interconnected process of flux and reconnection.So i read the first poems of the collection as dealing with the dangers of false visions andvisionaries, functioning as a preparatory cleansing of the individual poet and the community by namingand rejecting imbalanced ways of participating in the world. The opening poem, "In the Firelight," placesthe poet, with wry humour, in the mundanities of everyday material and emotional worries, as shelaments both her poverty and her loneliness, while still managing to recognize rather dryly that hersituation gives her "more":more freedom to go placesmore walls to paintmore walks to shovelmore time to readmore time to writemore time to sit alone in the firelightwondering if I will ever be held(is the cat in? did i lock the door?) (9)But having addressed her immediate desires and constructed life, in a sense, as a condition ofdissatisfaction when taken on the imbalanced, self-enclosed terms of the purely material or the purelypersonal, the next poem, "Married Man," answers this first one, working perhaps as the poet's incantationagainst false, imbalanced answers to her desires--in this case against the company of a married man whowill always be drawn away from her by his "sandy brown wife wondering/ why you're late;/yourchildren asking where's daddy,/ and those cows bawling for their feed" (11).But though the ceremony thus begins by acknowledging the strength of material and emotionalstrains in everyday life, and then by refusing facile answers to these strains, i (hesitantly) read thefollowing two poems, "Shake 'n Bake" and "Zen Indian," as warning against and exorcising the attractions85of facile and superficial forms of spiritual life, as well, as embodied in the claims of two false medicinemen. The ceremony then shifts from this initial cleansing renunciation of such imbalanced ways of being—ways that cut off the continued relational movement of the sacred, that force closure on language—to there-calling of the old ways. The three poems leading up to the central ceremony of "Horse Dance" drawup the wisdom of the elders--the connection-making, relational wisdom of the community and of history—in preparation for the poet's individual ceremony. In "This Knowledge," the true nature of a balanced,spiritually-responsible quest for belonging and knowledge is recounted: (again, reading only in thebroadest, crudest terms) the patience and lack of ego required for such a search--knowing oneself inhumble relation to other significances--and the rejection of the imbalances of current colonized,technologized ways of being, as the clock's mechanical ticking is "silenced drowned/ by the sound/ ofour beating hearts," and western chronological history is overwritten once more by the other history andlife of creation itself.I read the following two poems as then grounding this kind of knowledge in Cuthand'sspecifically Cree heritage, the knowledge of the elder in "His Bundle" embodied in the bundle, "full/ ofliving Earth," spanning and reconnecting old and current times. It is "replete/ with healing songs andwise stones/ teaching new ways of seeing old things" (18): it is itself the elder's vehicle for connection andreconnection with creation, a source of the strength and knowledge to live old ways in current times, toaccomplish such transformation and continuity. And by extension, perhaps the poem itself is proposedas the poet's bundle as well, performing for her a similar function as for the elder: as a vehicle forknowledge and thought, for the task Paula Gunn Allen ascribes to many Native women writers, ofmaintaining a continuity between old ways and contemporary colonized experience. Then, in "He ToldMe," the elder's bundle becomes the bundle Louis Riel's father gave him--the bundle which it was hisduty to fulfill in his effort to protect the Cree and the Metis against colonial incursion--but which in thathistorical moment, in the face of the extreme imbalances of colonizing power, it was ultimately too muchfor him to bear. It is this balanced, relational knowledge, i guess, this kind of sacred bundle, which thepoet herself takes up and renews in the ceremony of "Horse Dance"--as she renews the spiritual continuity86that was threatened with the Canadian conquest of the Cree and the Metis.Then, in the poems following this central vision, the emphasis shifts from examining false visionsand recalling true ones--reconstructing the continuity of those visions—to hoping for, and the poemsthemselves inscribing, the continuance of that vision and knowledge in the following generations ofCuthand's community. The poet becomes the nexus of time and language--herself, like the poemsthemselves, a place and agent of the spirit--a place where the past reconnects actively and creatively withthe future, as she instructs "Little Johnny and Funny Bear," in "He," and "Sunrise and Cloudwoman," in"She," in their proper places in a balanced creation--and then instructs them in "He and She Are Dancers,"in their roles in relation to each other as well, as ceremonial people, participants in creation (31-36). In"Dancing with Rex," the poet herself is the "she" to Rex's "he," in a celebration of the sheer sensuality ofthe dance and of life--life in which (i think) the spirit of the trickster, here a Coyote figure, plays anelemental role. As i read at least the emotional timbre of the poem, it celebrates the uncertainty andriskiness of life, of the dance, and of the ceremony--and as a result, the precarious joy of these actions--asRex's "canine teeth / glint in the light of lightning/ and his heart beats audibly in time to the drums" (37).As the trickster and the poet perform the dance together, "Rex laughs so long and loud/ that the oldladies shake their heads/ and even the young men/ laugh nervously" (38).After such a celebration, first of the rightful place of "he" and "she" in creation, and then of theexhilaration and risk of life even in such balance, "Four Songs for the Fifth Generation," works to unitea discussion of all the generations of Natives addressed so far--all the generations who have beenendangered by colonization--as a voice from one generation speaks, then the voice of another, and so on,the poem thus itself speaking a community of voices, inscribing and constituting an oral history ofcontinuity in the face of loss. The first voice recalls the days of the buffalo and laments their passing asa result of white invasion, lamenting as well the resulting passage of a way of life and spirit, while thesecond song recalls the suffering of First Nations and whites alike during the Depression, evoking theNatives' capacity for generosity and survival as compared to the white man who hanged himself. Thesuggestion of this second song is perhaps that it is precisely this capacity to give even in times of lack that87allows the Native person to survive where the white man is (spiritually) defeated. The song of the thirdgeneration recalls that even at the time of Native enfranchisement, at long last, as voting citizens ofCanada, First Nations people still faced relentless racism, and if they learned to fight back, their strugglefor survival also relied upon, and continues to rely upon, an anger that will not easily be healed. Thefourth song laments the continuance of that sense of displacement and anger in the upcoming generation,and in their children as well.But though the songs primarily grieve for lost ways and continued suffering, they are framed, atthe beginning and end of the poem, and in the breaks between songs, by the refrain of a ceremony--bya practice that demonstrates the continued power of the old ways even now: "Drums, chants and rattles/pounded earth and/ heartbeats/ heartbeats" (39). They sing pain into healing, inscribing transformation asreconnection with the healing spirit; and whatever the suffering and loss of each successive generation,the ceremony continues all the same, surrounding and shaping Native lives, reconnecting the earth andthe heart as they were connected in the central vision of the collection, as they were reconnected in Rex'strickster heartbeat.Finally, in the poem that closes the ceremony of the collection, "She Ties Her Bandana," the poetreasserts and performs her own place in connection not only with creation as understood spiritually--asshe has already done in "Horse Dance"--but also with the recent individual and communal history andexperience inscribed in the preceding poems, an experience which can now be spoken of from the safetyof her reconnection with the creative values of life. Recalling many of the bad times in her life, and thedeaths and troubles of others around her, the poem is again spoken in a variety of voices, as if what seemto be her own individual stories are also those of her people in general. It thus creates again thisconnection- and history-making as an oral, communal event, recreating the community in the very tellingof its stories. Despite an attempted suicide, the poet continues to live, drawing strength even from hervery capacity to grieve. She speaks of this paradoxical and often very painful process of life in termswhich recall the paradigms of birth and death that framed her quest in "Horse Dance":So she lives88holding on to life; a new born babyfeeding it, caring for ittenaciously like a mother bear.Like all the widows before hershe grieves in order to live,to live a life so full of lifethat grief will not kill it. (49)The bandana she ties around her head signals her place as a First Nations poet, finally: she is the personwho daily lives and endlessly recreates the ceremony, and who looks to the future for the ceremony'scompletion and return, just as the thunder clouds--and the thundering buffalo of an earlier poem, and theway of life and spirit the rain and buffalo supported--are seen as returning:She must remember the thunderersThey are awakeningThey are comingseeking the ones like herwho tie bandanas around their headsand pray for strengthto birth the healing rainso the people will live. (49)With this hope, and this statement of the central place of ceremony/poetry in First Nations lives andspirits—after the collection's action of cleansing, re-calling, and then affirming the place of the ceremonyin present and future lives--she ends the ceremony and the collection with the traditional thanksgiving:"Hey yah ho/ megwitche" (49).The ceremony of her collection thus effects a transformation of the poet's individual andcommunal pain into a reaffirmation of the sacred, creative basis of life, First Nations life in particularThe poems themselves are proposed as the vehicle for this transformation, language understood aboveall as a sacred, effective medium, negotiating in its very action the relationship between humans andcreation. The effect is to transform the poetry itself into an explicitly communal and ceremonial medium,speaking back and forth with First Nations ceremonial traditions and discourses, and reconfiguring thebrutal secular history of colonization in spiritual, creative terms: the poetry itself functions as an elementof these tradition-based, sacred ways.89In contrast, though i read the poetry of Annharte as partaking in a similar transformative projectas Beth Cuthand's poetry, i also see it as interacting with the notion of transformation in more complexand ambiguous ways--in ways that draw on and evoke the subversive potential of language as much asits creative potential. While Cuthand constructs a poetry that moves repeatedly, through the negotiationof language and silence, to a relatively unambiguous affirmation of the sacred, Annharte constructs apoetry that is both far more provisional in its approach to the sacred, and yet, in its very structures andsyntax, replete with a multitude of transformative possibilities that speak the spiritual in their very action.Phrase after phrase, word upon word, each speak to a multiplicity of lines of thought and meaning atonce, one meaning transformed into another and then into another, so that transformation works as theaction, structurally and thematically, of the poetry--and yet each meaning also simply remains itself,unchanged: each meaning is irreducible to and yet mutually permeable with each other meaning, so thattransformation occurs, the sacred is evoked and discussed, and yet the mundane still subversively andsatirically remains the mundane, transformation and the refusal of transformation--the sacred and thethreatened loss of the sacred--both constant and simultaneous occurrences. The satiric voice and effectis possibly her most power-ful tactic for negotiating these apparent oppositions, inserting into the sacredand the transformative a sense of resistance and chance (Vizenor "Trickster Discourse" 189): it works todestabilize both concepts, of the mundane and the sacred alike, and as a result allows the contemplationand evocation more of the action of their relation to each other--their inter-transformational, and thusspiritual possibilities--more than their static differences from each other.'Through the satiric play of the poems, then, the division of the sacred from the non-sacred is thusdiscussed as far more than a simple opposition, as Annharte's poem "Penumbra," for example, suggestsin its use of a moment of change or reversal--transformation--characteristic of many of her poems. Writtenfrom the safety of a Caribbean beach, her discussion of the complicities of white society and the whitelegal system in Betty Osborne's torture and killing in Le Pas, Manitoba, suddenly turns into the speaker'sgently self-satirical recognition that her present situation in the Caribbean is itself a reversal of her usualposition as a victim of white intruders on her Native soil: here on this beach, she is also herself a90privileged intruder. The movement of the poem, up to this moment of change, has relied upon theestablishment of a series of connections amongst the details of the poet's present place on the beach, hersense of identification with Betty's victimization back in Manitoba, and the historical conquest of the CaribIndians. The image of the shade of her hat, covering her from the intrusive glare of "the bright sun [that]makes me want to run and jump," works as a metaphor for her own sense of exposure and resultingdesire for protection as a dark-skinned woman in a white-dominated society, the image reinforced in asecond image of light and dark, of "the contrast of each pinky penis" of "those who mashed my face"—Betty's rapist murderers--with her own and Betty's "dark skin."But speaking in the persona of both Betty Osborne and the woman on the beach--an interestingrefusal to separate one woman from the other, collapsing European-conventional individualisticseparations--the image of the shading hat also suggests that the speaker is resisting white efforts to enforceher silence and concealment: she wants to run and jump with elation, perhaps, as much as in self-protection, even though "I had been told if I were smart, I'd stay hidden." And then, just as her desire torun and jump may be read as an impulse both to flee and to celebrate, silence and concealment may alsobe read as having a double purpose. It is precisely through the seventeen-year-long silence of themurdered Betty that the nature of the murder itself and of the endemic racism that underwrites it, isfinally fully exposed: "they understand I stayed away to make sure/ I'm not the only witness to theirsorry act." Thus by definition in white-dominated society, Native "shade"--the very fact of Native darkskin--works to expose white racism, reversing the conventional code by which white is the norm, anddarkness is exposed as exceptional, abnormal. Concealment is transformed into exposure; the dark skinthat is the target of white racists is turned into a means of targetting the racism instead, through theaccusation of the skin's very darkness; and silence itself is made articulate. Accordingly, the initial imageof the small spot of shade surrounded by the glaring sunlight, is reversed as well, as the speaker notesthat "The reserve is a huge donut around the town/ No place to go unless you're Indian like me": Le Pasis a small spot of whiteness surrounded by Native darkness.While the poem's effect so far is a very serious one--raising critical issues not only of racist, sexist91violence at its most sickeningly brutal but also of the complicity of the more general racist society intacitly approving such violence--at the same time, the poem already begins to work with darkly satiriceffect as it enters into transformation, my language of conventionally fixed oppositions set up against alinguistic action of constant and repeated shifts of meaning and event. Even my confusion over whoexactly is supposed to be speaking at any one moment in the poem, the woman on the beach or BettyOsborne herself, has the effect of making fun of my (white) hangup with nailing things and people andvoices down in definitive difference from each other, while Annharte herself, speaking communal andindividual pain alike, collapses these (for me) once-conventional oppositions, speaking several voices atonce. The effect is radically subversive, disrupting the white use, here, of the institution of individualismas a colonizing tool: if in one white-culture stereotype, the only good Indian is a dead Indian, Annharteseems to be responding with communal defiance, that you can murder one Indian or another, but it won'tsilence First Nations voices, and even the dead will speak.Thus the oppositions stand, of silence and voice, darkness and light, and yet--if i had the couragealso to make a leap from the safety of such oppositions into a place where the separation and oppositionof the spiritual and the mundane was no longer fixed, and where Cuthand's Trickster, or Annharte'ssatire, informed the interaction of the oppositions, and my interaction with both--they also speak to othertransformations, to other active life. The effect of this satiric movement is similar to that of the movementof analogy-making which i have repeatedly proposed as a reading strategy: it constructs me as double,as well, at first in a negative sense, but also, eventually, in a positive sense again. That is, the satiric effectof the poem forces me outside of myself again, seeing myself with Other eyes, and setting me back in theplace of self-alienation and self-hatred that i was in at the beginning of Chapter One. This is in someways the deepest confrontation so far with my limitations as a non-First Nations reader: the awarenessthat, despite my earnest good intentions, despite my capacity through analogy to live at least into thepolitics--if not the spirit--of First Nations writing, my own racist self-betrayal lurks deeper still.'But again, i also defined this doubling, multiplying effect as the beginning of forgiving, spiritualself-awareness, and so if the anger in the poem throws me back into my own fear--the basic fear that feeds92racism, that i'll have done to me what my ancestors did in coming here; that i'll have this angrystrangeness thrust unwillingly upon me, as the poem itself scripts by transforming white racism intoNative triumph--then i am also immediately being called upon to face that fear and find a way to valuemyself, and thus the poem again. Made linguistically self-aware through the poem's satiric dismantlingof the conventional oppositions of dark and light, silence and speech, i am led back into the analogy-making process of unlearning the oppositions of white and Native, human and non-human that haveinscribed racist thought in my very language. Satire and analogy, silence and story alike thus functionto cross the enclosures that have been fearfully "naturalized" in Western practice, and to open up the playof language again to new connections, new ("racial") relations, new spiritual interaction with myself andmy own communities.From the initial reversal of light and dark--and of my relentlessly sincere effort at self-perceptionwith a more self-satirizing one--the poem's transformations continue to multiply. Throughout the poem,even as the "I" of the poem identifies with the victimization of both the Caribs on this island and the FirstNations back in Canada, a simultaneous suggestion is being made, through the use of phrases ofpotentially double, contradictory meaning, that she might also be identified with a dominant, dominatingculture as well. For example, noting the "turtles [that] crawl past me to dig their nests," she commentsthat "tortuga oil is outlawed and so am I." Initially, i read her comment as saying that as a Native--whether as the woman on the beach, or as Betty Osborne herself--she is outlawed by the whites' racist,anti-Native legal system, rendered by definition on the wrong side of the law. By extension, i might guessthat perhaps the garnering of tortuga oil was a traditional Carib practice, now outlawed, just as the Caribswere "outlawed," murdered and dissipated--just as the "Canadian" First Nations were. This turtle island,like the "Turtle Island" that is the name for North America in some First Nations cultures (Charnley 33),suffers the same imposition of foreign laws: both turtle islands are outlawed. At the same time, though,i might also guess--and in this field of shifting meaning and relation, i ask myself whether this isstretching it, even as an environmental awareness remains a part of my analogical spiritual construction--that tortuga oil was outlawed for conservationist reasons, to protect the turtles from extinction,93stereotypically these days from tourists' excessive demands for rare animal products. As a result, then,perhaps the tourist woman on the beach is also outlawed in the sense that here she is as much anintruder, out-law, as any tourist, any colonizer, whether historically from Europe or currently fromCanada (Chrystos, Letter 12). To that degree, recalling the satirical, transformative action of the poem,the effect is also to remind me of my colonizer's, out-law position in Canada: those with the power of laware no longer from the dominant white culture, but from the native First Nations cultures; the turtles havetheir own laws now to protect them from tourists.And then, in the poem's final two lines, a similar multiplication of meaning and transformationof positionality and understanding, is also achieved. Returning from her contemplation of darkness andexposure, the woman on the beach hears "laughing at the other end of the beach," which "gets mewondering how it's my turn." As i began to note earlier, i read this initially as the crucial moment ofchange or reversal in the poem, the woman suddenly aware that now it is her turn to be in a position ofprivilege in relation to the native culture--her turn to be the isolated intruder surrounded by those whobelong, spot of shade in the sun, spot of light in dark. Her tone is perhaps suddenly that of thestereotypical paranoid tourist who is certain that every word and action of the locals, even their laughter,must be scrutinized for its potential threat--again, with satiric effect for me, reconstructing all of myculture's obsessions and fears about the First Nations as the humiliating paranoia of culture-shockedtourists.But even as the voice satirizes itself and then me, through this reversal, yet another reversal isoccurring, which leaves me flatfooted on the beach, as it were, and without a hat to shade my rapidlyburning skin: as i read it, the poet's wondering at "how it's my turn" also continues to speak to, ratherthan only in reversal of, her earlier discussion of her relief that white racism is finally being exposed backin Le Pas. Like her impulse to run and jump, both to hide from the sun's exposure, and to celebrate thisrecent exposure of white racism, her awareness that it's her turn similarly expresses both fear (which ofcourse i feel intensely)--at her present position on the beach--and exultation (in which i participate . . . uh. . . nervously at best)--at events back in Manitoba. Now it is her turn to get revenge on white murderers94and colonizers; the power of whites over First Nations people is reversed; loss is transformed yet againinto gain, dark skin exposing light; and even the poet's self-satirical voice shifts again, to leave me theobject of satire, while she escapes back across the lines of shade and light--the lines of opposition whichconstitute the discursive trademark of my culture.The overall effect is that several apparently contradictory meanings are carried throughout thepoem--by now a familiar effect in my readings of First Nations women's writing—with the result that onthe level of its commentary on identity politics, i can read the poem, with my usual "sincerity," asremaining simply multiple in this cross-cultural moment, in the way i have so far read Halfbreed and Slash:the spiritual is created as such a structure of multiplicity. The poet speaks simultaneously from severalirreducible and yet mutually permeable, relational positions, as both the victim of colonization and herselfa participant in one of its contemporary manifestations, as Third World tourism. But i also read thepoem's double effect--and its resulting (self-)satiric spirit--as working a transformation, in the sense thatPaula Gunn Allen discusses, of defeat and alienation into an at least partial recovery of health and identityand humour, negotiating "a path between tribal consciousness and modern alienation." Following thisdescription, the poem inscribes, and to some degree even scripts, the change of Betty Osborne's murder,finally, after seventeen years, into something other than the victory of complacent, arrogant racism: heralienation and that of the poet are reconstructed as a source of identification (JanMohamed "Negating" 146-47). And by extension, colonization in general is transformed into the possibility of finally moving beyondthe terrorism and violence of the colonizers.This change is scripted not only in the poet's angry voice, graphically detailing the specifics ofBetty's violent death and grimly celebrating the exposure of her murderers, but also in the poet's satiricvoice, by which she first constructs even herself as self-alienated, making fun of herself, but which shethen transforms yet again into self-connection, while still making fun of the dead seriousness andconsequent continued self-alienation with which whites, whether rapist murderers or lesbian academics,characteristically view themselves and their actions. If the poem's movements work initially on a largelypolitical level, the poem itself, in its very transformative action, is also situated more profoundly within95the larger context of the spiritual and of traditional tribal patterns of interaction with the spiritual. Butthen, even this situating of the poem seems to be subverted by the satiric voice, and in this self-subversion, i am subverted, as the white willingness to stereotype every last First Nations individual asa deeply spiritual repository of a rustic, mystical knowledge, is thrown back in my face.In this field of constant transformations, however, this subversion is answered with anotherreversal, in that a significant aspect of interaction with the sacred involves precisely the capacity for self-satire, self-subversion: it involves the necessity of viewing one's own place in connection to this largervalue with a large measure of self-humour, with an expansive capacity to embrace the transformative inlife, rather than only trying arrogantly to control it, even as this embrace can sometimes drop you hardon your bum in the sand. The reversal by which the woman on the beach suddenly discovers that shehas become a potential colonizer herself is thus perhaps the informing transformation of all the poem'stransformations, even satire itself enlisted as a process of sacred transformation: the transformation istransformed again, turn and turn about, so that in this place of change, no single transformation or agentof transformation takes precedence or power over the next, nor over the next again--but the larger effectis one of a constant reshuffling of powers and relinquishment of dead-dull control, in an effort at a largerbalance.So in this field of repeated transformation, i feel both fearful and hopeful at once. Recalling the woman'sfear as a stranger on the beach, i also feel that fear as an intruder in her land, her poem, where her angry,triumphant voice brings about this transformation. I may have my own experience with oppression, but it doesn'tby definition free me from these power relations and these internalized discourses of continued racial opposition.I can only turn to a still deeper--at present, for me, only intuitively conceived--spirituality to discover again howto move beyond such oppositions, and how to value despite this fear.As i see it, fear is an expression of wanting to control what i can't control, which means that engagingspiritually with life means i have to enter joyfully and self-subversively into the play of creation. But it doesn'tmean i can or should appropriate the First Nations tricksters for white use. I want to take care here to make jokesonly on myself, and to embrace our own cultural construction of play (Lutz, in Keeshig-Tobias, Interview 85). Sowithin fear, within these paradoxically split positions, the playfully spiritual is by definition possible and necessary.I'm offered another possible response than either an earnest, self-dramatizing effort to understand, or a plain givingin to silence: i can also laugh self-satirizingly, and that way rejoin myself in the creative.While i read such a multiple, transformative and self-subversive position for myself in"Penumbra," Annharte's "Mayan Moon," though it shares the strategy of transformative, double-meaning96structures with "Penumbra," is still more difficult to read, with its still more radical transformations anddrawing of connections, working at deeper levels than the largely political, contemporary setting of"Penumbra." The complexity and transformative power of the main structuring image of "Mayan Moon,"in which the escalators in a contemporary shopping mall shift repeatedly back and forth to the stairsleading up an ancient Mayan temple, are signalled in the opening image of reversal and return: "Runningdown up escalator/ Turnabout zip down tag." The jaunty rhythm of the line suggests to me the chaos(and as will become apparent, the joyful play) that could result from such a reversal of the establishedorder, as the anxiety and restlessness of the mall break into the Native poet's own sense of pace and ease,her "shopper trance broken briefly" by the kids scrambling down the up escalator. She is "pissed off whenfoot is scrunched," but her "Mocassins keep coming undone" in any case, as if she already felt at oddswith a sense of herself as a First Nations woman in these surroundings.But already, as meaning multiplies and repeats, connections weaving more and more densely, themall is also becoming the Mayan temple--a place, presumably, of comparative belonging and identificationfor the poet, at the same time as the mall itself still remains so alienating. As she arrives at the top ofthe escalator, completing her ascent,The flat top looks ever flashyHazy ring edging around the moonMaking her princess entranceAbout time she showed--Indian timeSparkling glass tiara on tiltUsed tires on lawns turned insideOut may grow wild flower gardensSilver paint job hides a used lookCut spiky like the tiara on her hairThe glitter of the mall's next floor also evokes an image of the moon rising over the flat top of the Mayantemple; and then the moon itself, its corona compared to the sparkling tiara, suggests an image of aprincess making her entrance--and perhaps, by extension, of the Mayan virgins of a later stanza, who arepresumably adorned in preparation for their sacrifice on the temple. This transformation of the crasscommercialism of post-industrial society into the immutable repetitions of nature, and then into thepatterns of ritual, is confirmed in the second image of such a transformation--and a bizarrely playful one97at that--by which the used tires, again transformed, turned inside out, become wild flower gardens. Thetransformative possibility touches even the most mundane objects, those most representative of spiritually-bereft, materially-preoccupied white society--and nothing is as it first seems.And yet the transformation transforms again, and if the contemporary Western mall istransformed into a Mayan temple, the contemporary scene is also satirized as the superficial glitter thatit is, each phrase seeming to refer both to the immediate scene and to several other images at once: themoon wears a tiara, but it is made of glass, not diamonds, and is "on tilt"--this last phrase perhaps alsosuggesting, returning to the mall scene, the noise and glitter of a pinball arcade, and of the modern youthcult in general which the mall represents, just as the flashy "flat top" may also suggest a faddish haircut,"cut spiky." Similarly, the "silver paint job [that] hides a used look" may suggest that even the moon isnow the object of Western commercialism and colonization--its silver glow hiding, at this distance, bothits own age, and its position as an object of human colonization. Or perhaps it is silver paint on thediscarded tires turned gardens that hides their used look; or the present glitter of the mall that covers overolder fads in decor and appeal; or yet again, in a self-satirizing moment, the poet's own efforts to hideher age--her hair is silvering, but she has it cut spiky in imitation of younger fads--as she too is influencedat least to some degree by the cults of mall and youth.The stanza becomes a paradigm of the repeated shifts of meaning and reference that characterizethe power of language in the poem--whether the actual words of the poem, or the cultural signs of thestructures of mall and temple. In its shifts, language allows the possibilities of recapturing history in thesense of transcending a linear, uni-directional notion of time--"running down up escalator" suddenlybecoming joyful, as much as disturbingly chaotic--and reentering "Indian time" (this time meant seriouslyas much as humorously). Language and other cultural signs are the human vehicle for connection withthe eternal, as perhaps suggested in the lack of articles or possessive pronouns in the stanza, the lack ofspecificity as to exactly what each phrase is referring to: language can speak of particulars--the languageof the poem grounded in the immediate details of the contemporary, always mutable and adaptable tothe demands of the endless present--but in this very mutability, this capacity to reconstruct repeatedly98each new moment of the eternal present, language also participates in the transformations of the sacred.Thus the shopping mall is connected with pre-Contact spirituality and civilization, but it also remainssimply a sign of the ostentatiously commercial. The poet, too, is potentially the moon moving throughits cycles, or the participant in ancient Native ways that speak of history as cyclical and recuperable; butshe is also (self-satirically) a grumpy shopper with sore feet, buying ways to disguise her too-intimateknowledge of time's one-way passage.And so the joke, again, is on me, too, as my stolid sense of order is disrupted by the poet'smovement down the up escalator, back in history, and repeatedly back and forth across the conventionalboundaries between the spiritual and the mundane. I want to fix the mall just as a mall, or the Mayantemple as a Mayan temple, for godssake, but i cannot; i want to fix an Anishinabeg poet as a "SpiritualIndian," but she won't stay that, either, on her way to get her hair cut in a faddish, semi-punk style. Orsimilarly, my earlier self-conscious concern with the way my reading plays into the stereotype of theExotic, Unknowable Indian, is suddenly turned back on me too, even my carefully sincere effort to "getit right" put back into spiritual linguistic play.Similarly, after the subversion of the stereotype of First Nations people as simply,undifferentiatingly spiritual, the stereotype of the First Nations as a single, political identity is alsosubverted: the proposed transformative power of the poet's sense of continuity with an ancient tradition,is contrasted with the danger both that contemporary First Nations identity and politics are as superficialand as subject to semi-coercive fads, as contemporary white society is obedient to the cults of youth andfashion, and yet that the ancient tradition itself was perhaps also as coercive of the virgins who weresacrificed. The poet's "looks offend righteous instincts," presumably those of white shoppers in the mall,so that "it's so handy to carry sunglasses" as protection against white stares. But the sunglasses may alsosuggest the stereotypical reflective sunglasses worn by those wanting to pose as militant Native activists—after the kind of critique Jeannette Armstrong offers in Slash of AIM-style politics, with the militant Indianuniform and confrontational posturing. Here in ''Mayan Moon," the poet objects to enforced Nativesolidarity and prescribed Native politics, in which she is turned into a female type significant only as she99falls in line with (male) activism, as she stays passively on the escalator as it moves her along, as sheremains in the line of sacrifice victims climbing slowly to their deaths: "Pushed from behind into a leftstance/ Keep your place in the rankfile girly/ The movement moves ahead together big mama."Contemporary First Nations politics and (i hesitantly add) some aspects of ancient practices are critiquedon feminist terms, for their use of women in the service of male-defined goals (also Fife, "Joy Harjo" 197).Such politics and practice fit the poet as poorly as "these hightops"--which may be ankle-heightmocassins, made after the traditional way by her aunt, but which are perhaps now part of the militantIndian uniform; or which could be part of the fad of more general Western youth, of the flat-top haircut,pinball arcade, hightop sneakers. "[The hightops] seem so baggy my foot keeps coming out," shecomplains, "My aunt made them for a bigfoot not me:" for a semi-mythical creature of the wilds, anundefinable, endlessly elusive myth, like the myth of the Spiritual Indian, or the Political Indian. Suchill-fitting mocassins, or sneakers, are not what the poet "should wear for grand entry," whether as themoon or as one of the women on the temple: the simplistic identifications that they symbolize do not fither own negotiation of the relations of traditional and contemporary First Nations value and meaning.Then, too, the poet's actual "return" to the Mayan temple, like her experience of the mall, like thatof contemporary First Nations identities, is simultaneously a genuine moment of connection withtransformative power, and a satiric encounter yet again with the intrusive commercialism of Western-styleculture and tourism. Yet in the voice of the local tourguide (i think), catering to Western-style tourism,possibilities for old transformations are suggested even as the voice is soliciting further business: "Senorita,amiga gorda your siesta/ She is waiting by the temple, what next?" The humour of the pun on siesta—like the simultaneous humour and more serious significance of the earlier joke about Indian time--worksas a powerful strategy of transformation: though the poet insists a few lines later that she travelled alone,not with any sister, perhaps the pun suggests that her spiritual sister(s), the women sacrificed centuriesearlier, are waiting for her at the base of the temple where they fell to their deaths--are sources ofconnection with pre-Contact sacred ways, and allies in her resentment of male coercion. And then, too,perhaps her own siesta--her own death--is waiting for her by the temple, again with negative and positive100implications: she too might be the victim of Native (male?) sacrifice as her ancient sisters were ("keep yourplace in the rankfile girly"), but perhaps she has found a place of sleep or death with her spiritual sisters,has found a reconnection with the sacred that she could never find in the Western cult of the shoppingmall. Similarly, the PA system, "Easy to impress me even about jumping off," presumably warns touristsof the danger of standing too near the edge on the top of the temple, but might also be both thedomineering voice of the Native activist warning her against jumping out of line--against "thinking alone,"for herself--and the voice, in earlier times, of some participant in the sacrifice, able to impress her withthe need to jump even to her death, in fulfilment of the ritual."Only at your turn leap to the right," she warns--as she takes over instruction from thetechnologized (male?) voice of the loudspeaker--that is, jump to the right in accordance with notions ofpropriety in traditional Native ritual, rather than to the left in obedience to the leftwing politics ofcontemporary Native activism, with its emphasis on superficial, faddish solidarity, as easy to put on andoff as sunglasses. And in the leap to the right, in fulfilment of the ritual and in solidarity with a deep,sacred conviction, the falling woman/women reconnects with the very beginnings of creation, becomingherself a creator--the muskrat who, in some First Nations traditions, created the world on the back of "aturtle napping" by diving deeper than any other creature and bringing "more mud on your way back upkeemootch." She renews creation through her proper, self-directed performance of the ritual, renewingthe mud on the turtle's back, turning the enforced passage up the escalator--or into line with Nativepolitics, or up the temple steps--into a return, effected on her own terms, to the sacred: she goes downthe up escalator--back in history, against fads of contemporary Native politics--and new life results fromthis chancing of chaos, this (as i guess it) trickster's action. The last word of the line--"keemootch," theglossary says, means "on the sly or sneaky" (80)--thus describes, in Saulteaux/Cree, the entire movementand spirit of the poem back and forth from the poet's contemporary cultural doubt, to the repeated,though never fixed, connections with traditional meanings and sacred values: the muskrat/woman/moonachieves this creative moment (self-)satirically and on the sly, despite all the coercive, controlling forcesto the contrary. Over and over again, she sneakily transforms what seems like disaster and loss into a101connection with other, creative meanings beyond the enclosures of colonized, patriarchal, post-industrialexperience, first satirizing both white and First Nations' efforts to control her, but then turning even thesatire itself into a sacred practice.The poem ends on a similarly "sly" note, as it shifts suddenly from the single long "sentence,"running over several lines--in which the woman's fall becomes muskrat's dive into creation (rather thanEve's fall into death)--to the curt one-line call, ''Say would you buy that order?" The line, recalling theslang expression, "do you buy that?"--do you believe it?--returns the poem abruptly to the contemporaryorder, in which all thought, action and material is valued above all in commercial terms: in an almostridiculous juxtaposition, the mall mentality is called upon to evaluate the Mayan sacrifice and the culturalorder that informs the sacrifice. Would you obey the order to jump? Do you believe the sacrifice reallycreated new life? And then, too, in yet another switch, the "order" that is "bought" may also simply bean order of beer or spirits, as in a bar, as the poem offers "a sneaky hint of how it gets done"—how thevirgins are convinced to jump: they "drown a wicked thirst/ Before they ride with jaguars/ The Amazonis full of them." Even alcohol is inscribed in this double, tricking way, as a connivance on the part of thesacrificers--those on the Mayan temple, and perhaps also the whites who sacrifice Native cultures to thecolonial imperative--to numb the sacrificial victims to their fate; and yet it is also a potentially sacredsubstance, with ritual importance, allowing the women to ride with their gods, to connect with the spiritual.And then, the curious throw-away quality of the last line--"The Amazon is full of them"--seemsto say flippantly that sacrifices and sacrificial victims are as common as dirt, or as jaguars in the jungle,again subverting my stereotypical awe at spiritual issues while confirming the ubiquity of the spiritualin life. It denies, while raising, the possibility of reading the line as a lament as well, over just how manywere lost, and continue to be lost, in drunken sacrifice to enforced Native practice, and possibly over howmany Native people and nations were sacrificed to the same sort of colonizing project as is consumingthe Amazon and the jaguars that live there. And yet again, the line could be read as a semi-celebratory,semi-defiant assertion that despite colonial effort, despite prescriptive Native politics, and despite the102alienation of the mall culture, the Amazon and First Nations cultures still survive, deeply embedded withthe sacred, with the women who reaffirmed creation, or with the jaguars who represent a principal godof the Mayans: the poet can still connect with the sacred, despite the coercive effects of all of theseinfluences.The poem is thus constructed as a great field of shifting, contradictory, complementary meanings,repeatedly touching at the sacred possibilities within contemporary colonized experience, while alsosubverting spiritual stereotypes of First Nations people and practices. If the sacred by definition cannotbe unequivocally affirmed in the thematic content of a poem that relies on the construction of languagewith which i began--as endlessly transformative, in Allen's definition, and thus as also repeatedly (self-)subversive, in Annharte's practice--the poem's structure as this complex field of interrelated and self-subversive meaning nevertheless places its discourse within the endlessly transforming, transformativerealm of the sacred, informed by, and itself constructive of, human participation in creation. Cuthand andAnnharte's poems thus construct the spiritual--like my construction of it as both linguistic and extra-linguistic--as both a structure simply of simultaneous multiplicity, but also a historically-informed movementof transformation by which these multiplicities are repeatedly collapsed and opened out again in newways, so that even multiplicity itself, as a defining characteristic of the spiritual, is negotiable within thetransformative movement and ongoing historical renewal of the spiritual. Cuthand and Annharte writethe spiritual not so much in the singular word, text or story alone, as in the ongoing historical interactionof word and word, text and reader, story and story--and all of these with silence.SticksThe rain turns into snow sometime in the night. I wake to utter silence the next morning, hugeflakes still falling thickly, but the wind gone and the snow cradling the silence around the house, thickand fragile as the flakes themselves. After a ritual of coffee and toast, each breath i take a testing of thestillness, i force the front door open against the weight of the drifts, and head for the road. Branches havebeen blown down here and there, most now covered by the snow. But a few stick up at odd angles,clotted with snow on the windward side, bare on the lee.I strip the snow from a maple branch, drag the stick behind me, listening to the slow crunch ofmy footsteps, the gentle slide of the branch cutting the snow. I turn and walk backward, watching themovement of the stick. The tip cuts a wavering line into the whiteness, the same as my hockeystick madewhen i was a kid back in Saskatoon, as i walked along the half shoveled sidewalks away from the housein the morning and back again in the afternoon.The old house would moan with the winter's cold, each drop in the wind's temperatureaccompanied by the house's creaks and groans, as boards shrank into themselves and ice gathered in greatleaf shapes on the windows. Beneath the hanging of the Japanese warrior, the floor would grow colderand colder, little knobs of ice forming on the heads of the floorboard nails, and a stiff, creeping draughtmoving through the room. The furnace would heave into sudden motion, and i would huddle in frontof the register, wrought iron grate blackened with age, watching the warrior wafting slightly away fromthe wall, back again, with the furnace's blast, his endless movement to escape repeatedly frustrated. Hewas stuck there, anger frozen forever on his face, the fierce crispness of his red tassels never touched byany thaw. Just as my back was growing itchy from the register's heat, the furnace would sigh intostillness again, the warrior's efforts thwarted. His sword would fall again into painted suspension, and103104the cold would rise at his feet once more."You said you could be here this afternoon!" Dad strode around the corner from the kitchen,Mum close behind, the frustration taut in her voice.Dad turned to face her. "No, Ellen, I have several errands to run. I told you before.""And I have work to do at the office. You have to be here to meet the delivery guy. God knowswhen he'll come." Their feet swirled past me, angry steps thudding dully on the rug. A thick Tibetanrug forty or fifty years old, rose-coloured field swirling with lines of blue, obscured now by their blackshoes.Dad continued into the hallway, heading upstairs. Their voices, increasingly agitated, drifted backdownstairs. "Yeah, and I don't want to wait any more than you do," Dad was saying."Why did you say you'd be here, then? What's the point if you don't do what you you will?"The ceiling creaked with their footsteps overhead, Dad's steps moving sharply from the bedroom to thebathroom. Mum's steps stayed in the bedroom, irritated pacing.I heard the water running down the pipes from the bathroom. "This is your project, Ellen," Dadwas shouting, his voice echoing slightly as if reverberating from the sink and tub. "You take care of it.""No thanks to you!" Mum's voice tightened still further, her anger grinding out. The furnace wasstill off, but the warrior lifted suddenly in a draught, angling stiffly out from the wall, then falling limplyback. Mum had left the door to the hallway open.I slid my book closed and rose from the register, my legs pushing up against the cold stone ofmy stomach. My parents' voices grew louder as i reached the front hall. I pulled down my coat, yankedon boots and mittens, toque and scarf."I'm going to the rink!" I shouted up the stairs.Passing through the front porch, i grabbed my hockeystick from behind the door, jammed a puckin my pocket. I reached for the door, then turned back to grab my skates as well, slinging them over myshoulder. The porch door slammed hard as it always did when it got so cold, the windows rattlingbrittly.105The snow squealed beneath my feet, and the wind caught the warmth harshly away from mymouth, searingly frigid on my skin. I pulled my scarf up over my nose and mouth, blinking cold tearsfrom my eyes. I squirmed my shoulders deeper into my coat. My body felt solid and warm beneath itscovering; my feet bit satisfyingly into the hard snow.I crossed the street, pushing my hockeystick ahead of me, its heel carving a line through the loosersnow at the edge of the walk. The line wavered back and forth, pushing the snow a little this way, a littlethat, separating tiny curves of snow one from the other, marking a division in the vast white spread. Icurled my hand more firmly around the shaft, enjoying the sense of my hand's strength, the warmth ofmy fingers inside the mittens.I tighten my hand on the stick now, then drop it in the snow and head back to my parents' house,here on Gabriola Island. The house is silent, except for the stirring of the cats when i enter. They formtwo long lines of fur, stretched one beside the other on the easy chair, their eyes slanting open when icome in, winking shut again. I stir up the fire in the stove, then wander into the kitchen. My parentshave left a message on the phone machine while i was out: the snow has delayed their plane out of SeaTacin Seattle, and they won't be back until late today at the earliest.I go back to the living room and check the fire again. I should have added more wood the firsttime, so i stuff several chunks in at odd angles to each other, close the stove door. The wood piled besidethe stove is all cedar, except for a few small logs from the arbutus branch that was blown off the hugeold tree back of the house last spring. It's beautiful wood. I run my hands over it, smoothing the lines,drawing my fingers over the dark, crinkled holes that seem characteristic of arbutus.I pull out my penknife and begin.When i got to the school rink, a collection of boys from my class were pummelling back and forthin a game of shinny, hooting and shouting with great puffs of frozen breath as they scrapped over a10§ragged tennis ball. A couple of younger girls glided unsteadily on white skates, cutting small circles inone corner of the rink. When the game moved too near, they shoved immediately for the boards, clingingthere until the boys moved away again.I jammed my feet hurriedly into the brown leather skates, old hand-me-downs from my brother,wriggling my toes for warmth as i laced them quickly. I slipped uncertainly onto the ice, moving mypuck slowly ahead of me along the boards. It bumped over a rough patch in the ice, slid to a halt. Witha sudden surge of joy, i pushed hard against my skate blades, sped to catch the puck up on the back ofmy stick, backhanding it up against the boards. I skated for the ricochet, slapped it hard down the ice,where it slammed into the boards with a solid thud. Sprinting for the rebound, i slapped the puck againinto the boards, and again, and again, relishing the reverberation of each blow as it shivered back up theshaft to my hands.The boys' game swirled past me. As usual, they ignored me, unwilling to invite a girl into theirgame. I deaked the puck back and forth on my stick, chasing its wavering line down the rink again,occasionally wristing it into the boards, pushing to catch the rebound. Then twist mid-stroke into abackwards glide, crossed over forward again, slicing an arc into the ice. I leaned the other way to cut amatching arc, sinous line of my own body's speed.After several lengths, i skidded to a stop near the rink entrance, drawing strained breaths inthrough the barrier of my scarf. The material clung wetly to my cheeks, and i yanked it down for severalclean breaths before the cold settled in a hard ache in my lungs. I held my hand over my mouth,warming the air before sucking it in, and the ache in my chest faded. At the very edge of the ice, whiteagainst the boards' rough wood, little flakes of rime stood undisturbed, lace-work leaves of ice, eachexquisit in their beauty.After a minute, i looked up to see several girls from my class approaching the rink, figure skatesslung over their shoulders, their coats matching red patches against the snow. Caught off guard, i felta flush creeping into my face as Nancy nudged Lori, and they both looked at me."Hi, Carol," Nancy called.107"Hi," i answered cautiously. I rubbed one skate in short strokes back and forth on the ice, briefline etched deep into the surface."Been here long?" Nancy was surveying the ice, her eyes following the boys' game as it movedover to the far boards. Lori was kicking the toe of her boot into the packed snow, digging a little hole.Chunks of snow flew out onto the ice, pinging off my skates. Her fluffy blue mittens stood out againstthe red of her coat."Uhuh, just got here." I slid back a foot or two.The girls sat in the rink entrance, their feet sprawled on the ice, as they put on their skates.Nancy glanced up at my brown boys' skates, her mouth tight, then leaned down again to tighten the laceson her own. I stood watching them another second, then moved off with the puck. I slapped it into thecorner, hoping for a double rebound, first off one angle, then the other, but the shot hadn't been strongenough, and the puck dropped heavily to the ice. I retrieved it, skated it up the rink again.As i turned back, Nancy and Lori were gliding onto the ice. They turned immediately back forthe boards as several of the boys chased the tennis ball between them, knocking Lori down."Yah, dumb girls, can't even skate!" Mike taunted, his small blue eyes snapping as he slappedthe ball back into the press of boys. His khaki coat had snow smeared into the elbows and seat wherehe'd slid across the ice."You aren't even on skates!" Nancy shot back, but Mike was oblivious, back in the midst of theboys. I glided past Lori as she got back to her feet, and the two girls followed me, skating the boardsbehind the empty net. I turned back at the next corner, deaked towards the net, backhanded it in as icrossed in front.As i retrieved the puck, the girls had stopped in the corner, and were laughing at something. Iskated backwards away from the net, drawing the puck with me, just as one of the boys cleared the tennisball back up the rink towards us, and the pack followed it, boots slipping on the ice as they raced eachother for the ball. I skidded to an awkward stop, stepping out immediately again, looking up just as theball dribbled past the net. Mike reached it first, pulling it close, but instead of passing it back to the pack,108he wristed it into the corner, just missing the girls."Ha, ha, chickens!" He laughed as they cringed from the ball's path.The game moved back down the ice. I stopped at the net, pulling off my mittens to retie my scarf.Lori stood glaring down at the ice, then nudged Nancy, and they glided over to me."So, Carol," Lori said, "do you consider yourself a member of the weaker sex?"It was a trap, either way."Uh, yeah, sure." I twisted the stick in my bare hands, its corners cold and sharp without mymittens. The blade moved back and forth on the ice, leaving little piles of snow each side. Some dropsof blood were frozen several layers down in the ice--doubtless the product of a little league fracas--andseveral layers below that, i could see the shadow of more blood from a still earlier game."Well, I'm not. Boys are the weak ones!" Lori laughed triumphantly. She skated close past me,kicking my stick as she tugged Nancy with her. They headed down the rink towards the boys.I pulled my scarf back up and fought my mitten back on, shaking my hand to get feeling backin my fingers. I couldn't feel the stick in my hands. I stayed a few minutes longer, then changed backinto my boots.Regaining the streets after the synagogue field, the hockeystick line i had made in the snow hadbeen largely erased by some other walker, except for the odd remnant here and there, at the very edgeof the snow-packed path. The cold was beginning to get to my toes, their numbness a sign of the painto come. I began to trot, racing the heel of my stick back and forth, trying to rejoin the few scattered arcsof the line. I held my free hand over my face again, pulling the frigid air in with difficulty. Even so, mynose was beginning to burn as well, my nostril hairs frozen stiffly together. I concentrated on the line ofmy hockeystick, the waver it made with each step i took.Suddenly, a mittened hand reached out and grabbed the shaft of the stick, wrenching the bladeinto the snowbank beside the path. I was looking up into a boy's broad freckled face, his eyes shocking,venomous, as the butt of the stick slammed into my body, the blade jammed in the deep snow. The boytried to wrench the stick from my hands, and i hung on desparately, gasping for a breath that wouldn't109come. Throwing my body into the pull, i yanked the stick back, freeing it from the snow and the boyalike. I held it across my body, trying tried to move past him, my boots filling with snow as i steppedinto the snowbank. The boy moved with me, blocking my way.Slowly, his eyes never leaving mine, he reached for the stick with both hands, his mittens scrapingover my chest as they closed around the stick. He didn't pull, just held the stick, glaring down at methrough my glasses. The wind whistled through the pale air, filtering icily into my coat, chilling mysweaty skin. My lungs ached again: my scarf had fallen from my face, exposing my cheeks to the wind.The boy's face twisted into a sneer. "Hey, four-eyes," he drawled at last, a tiny gobbet of spitflying out through the steam of his breath.He tugged on the stick, forcing me still closer to him. I could feel the heat of his breath on myface, grotesque intimacy."What's a girl doing with a hockey stick, eh, four-eyes?" He jerked on the stick again.Still i said nothing.He shot his arms forward suddenly, so that i had to stagger back to stay upright. The corners ofthe stick bit into my hands even through my mittens."You got a brother? Named Chris?" He kept his grip on the stick, the threat in his eyesundiminished by the lank shock of hair that dropped into his face."No," i said."Yeah, you do." He shook the stick so that i jerked slightly back and forth. I tried to pull it awayfrom him again, but he thrust it hard against me, slamming me painfully in the chest, my coat noprotection. "I've seen you with him.""He's not my brother." I finally realized who the boy meant. "He lives next door." I didn't muchlike Chris next door, but my admission suddenly became a betrayal of him even so."Next time you see him, you tell him, I want to see him. I'm going to beat him up." He yankedon the stick again. "You hear me, four-eyes?" He pushed his face close into mine.Then he let the stick go entirely, and my boots slipped on the snow as i struggled to keep my110balance, continuing to hold the stick across me as if it might still somehow lend protection.The boy stepped aside, staring me down as i passed. Hot, useless tears steamed down my face."Crybaby," he spat at my back.I ran the rest of the way home, wiping furiously at the tears that wouldn't stop, dropping my stickand skates in the front porch, then bursting into the house. In the safety and warmth of the house, sheerrage forced the tears out harder than ever, little puddles gathering on my steamed up glasses as iscrabbled angrily at my boot laces. My body was chilled through and i couldn't stop shivering.When the laces finally gave way to my efforts, i sat still, trying to regain control. In that momentthe house was silent, peaceful, the furnace dormant, no one moving about.But suddenly the floor overhead creaked heavily, followed by a dull thud. Mum's footsteps,dragging something. She appeared at the top of the stairs, pulling their double mattress upturned to slideunsteadily on its edge. Her face was set in a dull anger, her fine-boned hands seeming too small for thetask she'd set herself. She tugged the mattress again, just enough to tip it over the lip of the stairs.Slowly, she eased it down, bumping into the hall.She flung the front door open, the breeze sharp on my feet, and dragged the mattress into thefront porch, kicking a couple of hockey sticks out of the way to prop it against a wall. She marched backupstairs.I crouched for a time in front of the register in the dining room, waiting for the furnace to comeback on. When it did, the warrior returned to his task, flying out from the wall, forced back by gravity,flying out again. As i watched, i examined his grip on the sword, his hands oddly small and plump forthe size of the weapon, as if beneath the vigour of his stance lay another, more feminine side—though hisanger infused both layers. The horse reared behind him, sharing his rage, its hooves seeming only inchesfrom the warrior's head, as if it was as likely to be attacking him as defending: i was uncertain which.The hanging fell again to stillness as the furnace cut out, and i wandered into the kitchen, backout through the hall, into the kitchen again, the dining room. My feet pulsed with the relief of renewedwarmth, my back pleasantly scratchy again from the heat.111I picked up my book, set it down again, and i was wandering back into the kitchen when thedoorbell rang. Mum's steps hurried down the stairs and we reached the front door together. Mumgrabbed the knob just ahead of me, pushing me back."I'll take care of it, Carol. Go on."A man's voice spoke; Mum answered. Then the man went out, returning with a large object--amattress wrapped in plastic, smaller than the one Mum had left in the porch. He went out again, broughtback another. Then two sets of box springs as well, cramming them into the front hall.Mum stood staring at the mattresses, hands on her hips. Then she grabbed one, wrenching itaround until it was just angled onto the stairs. She started slowly up, dragging the thing behind her.Halfway up the red-carpetted stairs, the mattress slipped a little, Mum only just managing to brace herselfto stop it, swearing at the thing.I stood at the bottom of the stairs, then grabbed my coat and boots and went out again. In theporch, i yanked my hockey stick out from the weight of the discarded mattress. I dropped a tennis ballon the walk and guided it carefully into the back yard.Annie's feet were just visible in the entrance hole of a little snow house she'd made beneath thelowest branches of the spruce tree. She'd piled snow up to form walls on two sides of the structure, thelow swoop of the branches comprising the other two sides. Then, she'd managed to angle a slender slabof snow across the walls to make enough of a roof for the structure that it became quite warm inside afteryou'd been in there awhile.Annie backed out of the house, then stood, dusting the snow off her mittens. It was pebbled intotheir wool, coming off with a small spray of pellets."What're you doing?" i asked."Nothing, now. I'm going in." Annie stomped through the snow to the sidewalk. "I'm freezing.""Aw, c'mon. Let's play hockey, okay? It'll warm you up.""Don't want to.""I won't hit too hard, i promise." It was awful, begging your younger sister to play with you.112"Uhuh."A sudden surge of rage gripped my again. "Well, fuck you, then!" I turned away, my eyesstinging.She went in, leaving the outside back door swinging in the wind.I dribbled the tennis ball up and down the back walk a few times, but it was boring. I put it backin my pocket and ran back up the walk intending to go in, but stopped and stood holding the stickloosely across my thighs, looking at Annie's house. The wind blew sharply over my cheeks, the coldpinching.I dropped the ball again, and shot it a little ways down the walk again, and back again, thenwristed it over the snow towards the entrance to of Annie's house. It missed, banging off the wallinstead, knocking some snow off. I retrieved the ball, slapped it at the opening again, missing again.More snow fell.Then suddenly, i was hacking at Annie's house with the stick itself, the packed snow chippingand powdering, chunks flying off in all directions. Heat boiled through my chest, the wind's sliceconquered by my fury. A deep knotch appeared in one wall, then broke through entirely. I was awarrior, beating back enemies, untouchable, consumed by berserker rage.I turned to the second wall, digging and hacking. And then finally i swung my stick up over myhead, down through the branches, and into the roof, still just balanced between a remnant of the wall andone of the low branches. The house caved in entirely, crumbling into a pile of broken ice. The shelteringbranches swung crazily in a hard gust of wind.I stood breathing hard for a couple moments, a few tears leaving cold trails down my cheeks.I wiped my nose with my coat sleeve. The sky was a brittle arc overhead; even the trees seemed fragile.I looked back down at the house, pile of broken snow, and then turned with a sudden renewal of my furyand ran inside.Still in my coat and boots, i dragged my hockeystick upstairs. I sat on my bed, the tears startingagain, burning my face, blurring the line of the stick where it lay across my lap. A line of mucus strung113down from my nose, hanging heavily to my coat sleeve. I rubbed it out.My vision a blur of colours from the tears pooled in my glasses, i went to my desk and got myjackknife. I sat down on the bed with the stick again. Slowly, i carved into the shaft of the hockeystick,starting first with just a notch in one corner, then turning the stick, notching it again, the blade biting deepinto the laminated wood. I carved deeper still, layering slice upon slice, trying to carve right through, cutthe stick off. A hot spot was forming on my finger, on the palm of my hand: it was hard going. The stickstill wouldn't give. I switched to another spot. Then i started another.My face dried and cooled as i cut, notch after notch, a whole line of them down one angle andanother, then joining the notches, the lines swirling down the stick in a lacework dance of movement.My hands grew tired, blisters rising on my skin, but still i carved at the wood, absorbed in the pattern.It is several hours later when i rise from the chair by the stove, setting the arbutus wood aside,a half-finished face glaring from one curve. I haven't yet decided what the face will show, it's easier toleave it angry, leave all the cutmarks showing, but i could smooth it out. I pad across the carpet to thebathroom. There in the hallway, just opposite the bathroom door, the warrior hanging falls the lengthof the wall, his sword still raised for the blow, the horse still rearing, to strike, or to protect. Nothingmoves. The warrior's hands are oddly small and soft to be holding such a long blade. But now i see forthe first time their strength as well, as they hold the sword endlessly back from the blow. The anger onthe warrior's face is arrested, too, perhaps just at the moment before he lowers the sword back from thefurious impulse that drove it up there, before he smoothes his face into a gentler emotion once more.Chapter Four:"And As a Result We All Get Strong":The Book of JessicaHaving moved from an examination of First Nations narratives as emotional events and then asspiritual ones, to an examination of the theory of language that informs my reading of these constructions,i want now to move back to the issue of narrative, examining narrative not on the basis of its constructionof the simultaneity of difference and similarity, but on the basis of the history(-ies) it constructs. This issueof history has clearly run through all the preceding discussions of self and story and language--as carriedout in the genres of autobiography, the novel and poetry--the First Nations texts themselves underwrittenwith both an anger at the history of colonization, as it has been written in experience and words alike,and a desire then to rewrite history as a more inclusive discourse, looking backward and forward at once.Not only do each of the discussions in the previous chapters constitute different approaches to these basicissues of anger and healing--of the individual and the community's relation to history--but the criticalgenre i am adopting here also constitutes yet another effort at rewriting the history of colonization, as itis played out in the exercise of my (white) critic's power to interpret (First Nations) texts and mediatebetween them and other potential readers. But finally, in this chapter on the The Book of Jessica, i wish toaddress the issue of history more directly, examining how the structure of this multi-generic work,transgressing conventional generic categories, provides another opportunity to transgress conventionalhistory as well, and to enter instead into several other processes of history in which the First Nations canactively participate.The central issue in the question of one's access to history is clearly power--the power of self-determination both as historical beings and as participants in the contemporary field of power relations--114115but also as spiritual beings. Indeed, as Maria Campbell (Metis) argues in The Book of Jessica, power andhistory are intimately connected, in that having any of these kinds of power is dependent upon knowingone's history: commenting on her frustration with trying to educate her co-author Linda Griffiths(Scottish/Welsh/ ?) in their shared history as conquered peoples, despite their present positions asmembers of opposing (white versus Metis) power groups, she continues,I felt like what you guys [Griffiths and director Paul Thompson] were saying was that you wantedmagic, you wanted power, but not history. But to me there was no separation, I didn't see howyou could separate power, spirituality, sacred things, songs and stories from starvation, hunger,the taking away of land, because you can't. (35)Thus the play Jessica--itself a retelling of the history of Maria Campbell's life, including events alreadyrecounted in Halfbreed and others not--becomes the occasion for a discussion, in the commentary thatprecedes the play, of broader historical issues. The historical concerns raised in the play, in connectionwith Jessica's difficult halfbreed place in history, are further complicated in the commentary, their effectsbroadened from the individual level of the play to a communal and perhaps national level as they areargued between the two women who created the play. As Griffiths' commentary--itself interrupted byCampbell's and Griffiths' conversations and arguments about events in the play's history--enlarges andinforms the historical discussion couched in the form of the play itself, the work's multi-generic structureresults in a construction of history as multiple and contested (Chester and Dudoward, n.p.). The genreof the play is opened out to new meanings by the essay preceding it, and then even the essay isinterrupted by conversations in which events and interpretations concerning the history of the play'sdevelopment are questioned, reformulated and questioned again. Just as each woman, from oppositesides of the cross-cultural debate, offers differing versions of events, and these differences are notparticularly reconciled into sameness, nor is any one voice or generic form allowed to hold all of the"truth." The effect is that in its multi-generic structure, the work is itself modelling the multiple actionsand interactions of history not as ''stark and unredeemable," but as an ongoing, multiple process ofhealing, forgiveness and spirit (Grant, "Contemporary" 125). 1And yet, at the same time as history is written, like spirituality, as an unending, multiple process116of interaction between constantly changing differences and similarities, the two women also share certainbasic approaches to history, even in this cross-cultural, cross-historical situation: this discussion—thisreconstruction of history (-ies)--is driven above all by both Campbell and Griffiths' anger at history, at theirown personal histories, at each other's place in history, at the place of their respective families andcommunities in history, and finally at history in its broadest span over millennia of accumulative effectand change. Or more precisely, they share an anger at their conventional exclusion from the discourses ofhistory, as women, as the descendants of "conquered" peoples (also Tompkins 117-18). Thus, despite thefact that their anger at each other does repeatedly threaten the historical process of the play'sdevelopment, anger also functions in a positive way, given a historical significance as it serves at least asthe beginning point for these women's claiming of a participatory right to history--just as it is thebeginning point, and constant refrain, of the immediate story of the play's creation. "She came out [to TheCrossing, Campbell's home] to talk about that damn play," Campbell exclaims in response to the openingpage of Griffiths' commentary,she wants to have it published. She's all crippled up from whatever happened and I still feel likesome Siamese twin with her. I want her to go away, to leave me alone, but we're by the river atThe Crossing and she's dipping her toes in the water and I hear myself saying, 'Let's tell the storyof what happened, if we do that then maybe we'll be free of the whole thing, heal everything.'And I kick myself, 'What did I just say? Who could stand to open it all again? Am I crazy?' (13)Though, several years earlier, they had parted with acrimony following the play's opening run, it is theiranger at each other, and their desire to heal it, that prompts Griffiths and Campbell to re-engage with theirshared history surrounding the making of the play. By extension they are also moved, by their desire forhealing, to re-engage with the various other histories that have touched their interaction--and thereby torewrite the nature of history itself.As in Chapter One, where individual emotional healing was shown to depend upon thehistoricizing capacity to re-examine our lives (Campbell examining hers, me examining mine) and to re-tellour stories, here cross-cultural healing is again a historical, historicizing process. Through this process,history is constructed in a similar way as, in Chapter Two, i constructed the spiritual in cross-culturalcircumstances, as the balancing negotiation amongst stories, and in Chapter Three, even as potentially117(self-) contradictive, (self-) satiric, but nevertheless still spiritual. History is constructed as an inclusivefield of the interacting movements, changes, desires and effects of individual and communal action, inwhich the power and effect of all such movements and desires are recognized, and the individualparticipates not just as an intellectual being, but as an (angry) emotional and a spiritual one as well--asherself an equally interactive, (self-) conflictive, processive and power-ful identity. The stereotypicalmovement by which the conquered of history are "feminized" (because conquered) as irrational, emotional,and superstitious,' is made instead a paradigm for the re-inclusion of all these elements--and the peoplestereotypically defined by them, women, First Nations and First Nations women alike--as historicallyvalid. History itself is thus written as multiple in this sense as well--not simply as multi-vocal, butshowing even these varying voices as themselves multiple,. so that history occurs on all these levels:emotional and spiritual, as well as intellectual (Rich 18). Like individual identity, like language, historyis written as partaking in structure and effect in the multiple shifts and meanings of the spiritual.In the commentary, this construction of history is particularly emphasized in the inclusion ofportions of the dialogues (and arguments) Campbell and Griffiths had over both the play and thecommentary: the dialogue, echoing the spoken format implied in the script of the play, evokes the specifichistorical situation of an oral exchange,"sorting out one's thoughts even while they are being thought. . . . Dialogue, as the spoken voice,creates some of the sense of performance, the dynamic that lies at the heart of drama, and perhapsalso at the heart of human relationships. (Chester and Dudoward, n.p.)The effect is to site the discussion of history within a performance of its actual making as a negotiated andshifting discourse (or discourses), motivated as much by the anger the women feel for each other--by theimmediate issues of their personal and emotional interaction--as by the larger issues of race and politicsthat are usually identified as historically important. The nature of time itself is shifted from the linear onewhich authorises conventional Western historiography, where history is written simply as past events, toa non-linear one in which history is always an engagement with the present and the future as well, theperformance of its present (re-)making highlighted over the simple chronology of past events: the distinctionbetween history and historiography is in essence collapsed,so that they become simultaneous and mutually118informative events.The structure of the play Jessica itself also involves a similar angry process of recouping and re-performing history, particularly in the individual, autobiographical way already discussed in connectionwith Halfbreed: like Maria in Halfbreed, here Jessica can come into her present power and identity only byretracing her own angry, painful history. In this context, her history is already changing from theconventional construction of autobiography, as the history of the individual as understood in a humanist,secular sense, itself drawing on the history of the European cult of the individual. The play and itsautobiographical movement are constructed as spiritually-informed genres instead, as Jessica draws onthe support and knowledge of the spirits of her several cultural heritages, Cree and Celtic, to reconstructand recoup her life story. Jessica thus rewrites history in the sense that it is a deliberate rewriting ofHalfbreed: it is Maria Campbell's act of taking her life story out of the controlling hands of a white editorand the limiting paradigms of the (white-invented) genre of autobiography--her reclaiming of the powerto tell her own story, in her own, Metis, spiritual terms of power and meaning.'And yet even this reclaiming is a frustratingly difficult, "impure" process for Campbell, when thewhite actress/writer Griffiths (and to a lesser extent, the white director Paul Thompson) is so intimatelyand maddeningly instrumental to the process. The story of the play's development, as it came togetherover weeks of Griffiths' researching Campbell's life, following her around, listening to her stories, meetingpeople important to her--and then Griffiths' improvising a re-enactment of those stories and experiencesunder Campbell's and Thompson's eyes--is the story of Campbell's constant desire genuinely to giveherself and her (his-)stories in order for Griffiths to get Jessica's story "right," and yet Campbell'ssimultaneous need, again and again, to protect herself from Griffiths' potentially threatening, alien gaze.As Campbell watched Griffiths struggle with the pain of Campbell's own life, and Griffiths' efforts towork out how to convey it in a play, Campbell would sometimes seemy mother in [Griffiths], my mother kneeling in front of this statue [of the Virgin Mary]. A statuewith white skin, and black hair, and empty-blue eyes, and then she and my mother and the VirginMary would merge. I'd want to take her, and hold her, and rock her, and sing songs to her, Iwanted to heal her. Everytime I'd feel like that, she'd jump on the stage and she'd play it allback, and I'd stand there feeling like she'd stolen my thoughts. She'd just take it all. (15)119Campbell and Griffiths' struggle for power over the story--for power over history, as spoken in the genresof the play and its commentary--must necessarily be re-enacted as a parallel to, and perhaps an exorcismof, Campbell's ongoing struggle with her contradictory white and Native heritages; but at the same time,Griffiths' involvement still represents yet another instance of white intrusion into Campbell's efforts toreclaim power over her own history--to regain historical power.And then, i (Scottish/English/Welsh) have to address the third level of this discussion: my own rewritingof history, here in this thesis which is so deeply inscribed with my struggle to rewrite the genre in a way that allowsme to write the kind of history i am reading in The Book of Jessica: one that also includes me, as well as these FirstNations texts. If i define this history as having to be spiritually- and emotionally-based, if it is going to be genuinelyinclusive and valuing, the trouble throughout this (troubled) thesis has been how to write such a history in a genrethat, as i suggested in Chapter One, explicitly expunges the spiritual and the emotional from its authoritativediscourses.The history (-ies) modelled in The Book of Jessica, as in the other First Nations texts i have read, are non-linear, constructed as both circular, and deeply interactive and relational--as always present, subject to repeatedrewriting here and now as the teller searches out, first in one context, then in another, a field of influences andconnections back and forth and back again in time, circling repeatedly back to the demands of a present that seeksto be healed (Maracle "Skyros Bruce" 87-88; Silberman 114-15). I grapple with the difficulty of de-lineating, in thismost linear of genres, what is explicitly constructed as non-linear, and so at the same time as i have been searchingfor ways to subvert this linear imperative, my own critical discourse throughout this thesis has nevertheless also beena struggle to bring these interactive elements into line, when they simply are not going to come into line.So my own history here, like Griffiths' and Campbell's histories, is also fuelled with a deep and (in thisgenre) inherently inscribed anger at entrapment within a linear, anti-spiritual time and medium: i am put intoangry historical crisis with myself--with my own critical discourse--just as Campbell and Griffiths are withthemselves. As they struggle over the genre of the play and its commentary, i struggle over the genre of this thesis.In the same movement as i am reaching to write a new valuing of these histories, my own discourse by definitionis undermining my effort, is devaluing what i am reaching to value: i shrink away from my desire to affirm thespiritual and the emotional, knowing how "unprofessional" (unprofessorial) and uncomfortably personal thesestatements sound. I am caught in the bind that Linda Hogan describes, saying that whites "want their own life,their own love for the earth, but when they speak their own words about it, they don't believe them" (75); or as LeeMaracle puts it, still more simply, "you [white people] have been cheated of your significance" ("Writing" n.p.).And so in some ways, in spite of myself, i continue to write here a self-hating, anti-historical discourse.This is the crisis of this uncertainly cross-cultural, cross generic thesis: that if,  as i posit as the basis of myentire discussion, cross-cultural communication can occur even against the political, historiographic andepistemological power gradients, my challenge to myself as i near the end of this thesis is that, as "proof" that ireally have learned something cross-culturally--i really have undergone a transformation, rejoined history, forgottenmyself and "become something else as a way of responding to the gauntlet thrown down by imperialism and itsantagonists"--i must be able to say something here that i couldn't say at the beginning of this thesis, this history:i have to be able to say something that was once unsayable in the genres and discourses of white academic or whitelesbian (etc.) cultures (Said, "Representing" 225). 1 must be able to write a spiritual (his-)story.But in The Book of Jessica, this history, this autobiography, written in the (at least) double voices ofCampbell and Griffiths alike, is constructed not as a pure, uni-vocal coming to identity--whether the fixed,120unified identity of the hegemonic Western "individual," or the paradigmatic identity of a nation'--but asa difficult and necessary process of the constant negotiation and renegotiation of power and healing bothwithin and between people. Communal history is deliberately written as comparable to--and perhapsderiving from--the development and continued self-negotiation of the individual, while the individual'sprocesses of change and healing are deliberately written as comparable to--and perhaps deriving from--theongoing processes and power struggles of communal history (Maracle, "Writing" n.p.). For example,Campbell repeatedly insists that Griffiths recognize her own history, as a woman of Gaelic-Welsh descent,as a member of a conquered people--as much as Campbell is as a Metis--not simply because the analogywill lend Griffiths a way to personalize Campbell's oppression, but because it also lends an understandingof why many white newcomers to Canada, fleeing their own oppression, could then repeat suchoppression by imposing it on the Natives:While you were being overwhelmed with my history and my oppression [Campbell says], youwere making me feel like it was exclusively mine. I couldn't understand why you didn't knowyour own history, never mind the magic and power stuff. My great grandfather was a Scot,hundreds of thousands of his people had starved in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, not even sixhundred years ago [. . . .] They starved to death, and when they left they died in masses on theships coming over, many of them had been burned as witches, tortured [. . . .] the history of yourpain and all the things that happened to your people was exactly the same as our history. Icouldn't understand why you refused to look at that. It seemed that that would be a meetingplace for us [. . . .1 The same conqueror who had taken my grandfather's land away, outlawedhis culture, did the same to my grandmother here, on this land. Then I think, 'How could peoplewho had been conquered in that way, come here and do exactly the same thing to Indians?'That's when I started to understand that when you're oppressed, it's easier to become theoppressor, you turn on your own. Just like walking into Indian Affairs and seeing guys thereimplementing things that will hurt their own people. (35-36; also Campbell, Interview 59-60)National "psychology" and behaviour is made comparable to individual psychology andbehaviour, with the effect of creating a new way of writing national histories: if Halfbreed began to discussthe processes by which an individual can heal herself of the injuries of oppression, here in The Book ofJessica, the discussion is extended to examining how nations--both oppressed and oppressive—can also healthemselves: it is extended from examining autobiography as a process, specifically a corrective processof healing, to examining national histories as processes which may also reflect the coping mechanismsarising out of individual trauma, but which can then also be rewritten with a similarly corrective, healing121as the autobiography can achieve.'^The play itself, like the cross-cultural power struggles thatstructure the historical processes modelled in the play's commentary, begins with Jessica caught in aninternal power struggle between her several selves, her divergent histories. Her allegiance to and contactwith the traditional spiritual ways, and her own being and sanity, are under threat from her sense of theincongruity of these ways with her experience of the contemporary, white-dominated world:I'm not an Indian [she objects], I'm not white, I'm a Halfbreed. I live in a white world full offiling cabinets and common sense. The years go by and everyone around me is making decisionsand calming down, and my life just gets weirder . . . no, it's worse than that . . . waves and wavesand waves of fear, I'm drowning and I'm cracking apart. (121)Living at least in part on these spiritual terms--these terms which render the everyday, filing cabinetaspects of her life increasingly weird and frightening--she must somehow reconcile her apparentlyopposing cultural and spiritual heritages. Even the old ways have to be flexible to current reality, andso Vitaline, Jessica's teacher-elder, starts Jessica on a ceremony which integrates both white and traditionalNative elements: tobacco and sage are burned in accordance with Metis tradition, but non-traditionally,it is Jessica's suitcase--containing her walkman, scarves and high heels--that is made her sacred bundle(121-22). Similarly, for the first time the Unicorn--representative of the pre-Christian, "native" ways ofJessica's Scottish-Celtic ancestors joinsthe Native spirits attendant to the ceremony: the Unicorn is "what'sbeen missing" in Jessica's spiritual development thus far, "part of her power. Part of her blood" (125). 6Recognizing that at this moment of impasse in Jessica's spiritual life, "she can't go forwards, andshe can't go back," the spirits decide that in this ceremony, it is they who will "take her back" (124) in afinal effort to get her to balance all the spirits and powers that comprise her identity.Each one of us will come to her in our own time [Bear says to Vitaline]. She has to find a wayto swallow what we have to teach. But you know the risk, power doesn't lie with us alone. Asshe goes backwards, you have to be the one to catch her, you have to keep her mind clear. It willbe a shadow dream of what has happened. (125)Ceremony and history--both relational processes of connection-making--are each made a part of the other,the ceremony functioning as a route to re-enter and reclaim history, and history made subject to thespiritual, sacred impetus of the ceremony: in ceremony, history is explicitly constructed as both governedby, and itself a source of, spiritual power and healing, and thus history is reclaimed as something122available to such traditional Native constructions as the ceremony--and therefore to contemporary Nativepractitioners of these ceremonies--rather than being deliberately separated from the (then devalued)ceremonial.In the framing story of the play's development, history and ceremony are likewise interfused. IfCampbell has agreed to share her personal history with Griffiths for the sake of the play, not only mustGriffiths likewise acknowledge her own history, but this exchange of histories must necessarily alsoinvolve an exchange of ceremonies. Campbell takes Griffiths to a Native/Metis ceremony as part ofGriffiths' education, and in return for her gifts of history and ceremony--of potentially healing power—Campbell expects also to learn something of Griffiths' "ceremonial" practices (my term), in the sense thatshe has agreed to enter this project in the first place in order to learn the theatrical "process." Theconnection between ceremony and theatre is not a simple correlation, however, even if Campbell speaksof the play Almighty Voice, which first inspired her interest in theatre as a possible tool for Metiscommunal action, in terms which suggest that theatre can closely resemble ceremony in its structure andeffect:In that production of Almighty Voice I saw something really powerful happen, somethingthat educated, that healed, that empowered people; it was fun and it was magical. It was a playthat could be performed in a back alley, in a community hall or in a clearing in the bush [. . . .]I was desperate for skills and tools to help make change. (16)Similarly, when Griffiths accompanies Campbell to the Native ceremony, Griffiths recognizes the theatricalelements in the ceremony--elements which seem essential to the ceremonial process of historical relation--but she is not certain they are the same (28-29). At times, Griffiths also speaks of her part in her ownEuropean-originated theatrical process in terms of her interaction with the "theatrical gods" (14), and thereare times when the theatrical process moves very close to actual ceremony as a response to andparticipation in history--as for example in Griffiths' improvised incantation to the Goddess, in her dancewith the scarves, which both she and Campbell agree was the perfect healing response to Griffiths' re-enactment of Campbell's rape (46-47). But all the same, Campbell and Griffiths ultimately agree thattheatre is not simply another version of ceremony, and does not necessarily replicate the healing response123of ceremony to history, despite its clear power; the clearest conclusion they can come to is that, "No oneknows what the theatre is, and no one knows if it's sacred or not," but that all the same--likening thenotion of the god of the white theatre to the god of the Metis fiddle players—however capricious the god,he still comes from a spiritual place, and thus a dangerous, if potentially healing, one (44).The difference between ceremony and theatre is never made explicit, but it is clear from thecommentary that the theatrical process alone somehow fails both Campbell's and Griffiths' emotional,historical needs to heal their shared anger and self-hatred. On Campbell's part, she never does in factlearn the "theatrical process" Thompson had promised she would learn in exchange for offering her lifestory as the subject of a play—she never receives the gift of history and ceremony in return for her ownhistorical and ceremonial gifts--and on both Campbell's and Griffiths' part, rather than finding themselveshealed and quiet when their immediate roles in the theatrical process have been completed with the closeof the play's opening run, they go away angrily and do not speak to each other for several years, eachharbouring an anger and a bewilderment concerning the other's part in this not-quite-ceremonial process.The process for them seems only to have gone as far as opening historical wounds—to have evoked angerthus far only as a potential threat to history in the same way as it has been for a white culture trying toforget its oppressed/repressed origins--and not to have continued on to heal them again. Instead, it isreally the multiple, historical processes which Griffiths and Campbell model in The Book of Jessica itself—andnot the theatrical process alone--which ultimately leads to a new healing for both of them.But if i write myself as thus disempowered, silenced even by my own writing, i make the same move asCampbell, and ultimately Griffiths, make to open a space for themselves in history: i draw on the power of anger atmy crisis to open an emotional dialogue with the discourses of history. Reading The Book of Jessica, i growfurious all over again at how my own writing, so patriarchal in structure, excludes me, robbing me of the capacityto write my woman's power in a language that is not already anti-feminist in its oppositional, linear, unitarystructuring of history. I feel cheated that because of the insistence, in current language theory, on the separationof the sign from its "significance," it feels as if my academic culture's paradigms refuse me the chance to affirm myvalue as a woman, as sacred, as part of creation--as part of history (-ies). I support whole-heartedly the (feminist,anti-racist?) rejection of essentialist definitions of gender and racial identities, and yet i sometimes feel that, in sucha rejection, certain kinds of values and meanings--certain histories--are lost: sacred meaning is lost.I mean that--and i cringe again and again from saying this, knowing its inappropriateness here--readingThe Book of Jessica, i am angry again that in academic culture, and in mainstream culture in general, i am denieda great variety of strategies of self-validation: that for example, i do not get to celebrate, like Helen, the sacred powerof my woman's body, to celebrate my capacity to create life and spirit. Even within my women-centred, lesbian124culture, even within its growing spiritual elements, i am angry that the internalized prejudices of dominant culturemake me uncertain of my value in that way, and make it difficult to value other women in that way, either: mysister, my mother, my grandmothers, my lover, my friends--as also aspects of the sacred and the creative. And i amangry that as a result, i also never get to value men as sacred beings, either, since i am so busy defending myselffrom the oppressions and prejudices of an imbalanced, anti-spiritual society and its endless self-hating discoursesthat the last thing i want to do is to expend any energy trying to figure out how to revere the creative, sacred placeof men, too.In this academic discourse--so essentially anti-essentialist that none of these emotional, spiritual and bodilydiscourses have meaning--i still do not get to be all of the people i am: in this discourse about discourse, i still haveto censor most of the discourses and struggles amongst discourses that make up both my own internal history andseveral of the communal histories in which i participate.So i tap this anger that menstruation, and women's discourses, and female emotional and spiritual history,have all been made to be such hidden, shameful things--concealed in the same kind of movement that banned FirstNations ceremonies and destroyed First Nations languages and cultures--that even after twenty years of SecondWave feminism, i still squirm even to breach the law of the private/public opposition and mention them here, whereit is so "inappropriate." But if, like Campbell and Griffiths, i draw on my anger as a beginning place for rewritinghistories that include (the spirit and emotion of) my anger, like Campbell and Griffiths, my anger also blocks mefrom writing this history: claiming my anger, it threatens to claim me.The thing i do not want to have to reveal, to give away, is that at the same time as i know and use itspowers, anger is for that very reason the most frightening of emotions for me: i am simply too good at it, knowingin minute detail, from my own history in an angry house, the irresponsible power it can lend people over others.If i look to anger as the place to begin a new encounter with a history in which i can finally develop a deep andspiritual way to value my own female history, the heritage of my sisters, mother and grandmothers, what i find insuch a search is not the healing i seek, but only more anger and still more.Anger is my history, a legacy amongst the women of my family: if other women like Griffiths seem to haveto discover their anger for the first time, its appropriateness in the process of re-examining and rewriting history,much of my family history is already a history of anger, of strong women raging and raging against (as i've finallydecided it) the limitations imposed upon them in patriarchal society. And so my angry history threatens to tie myspirit up in endless tangles offury against this very history, as it threatens the histories of Campbell and Griffiths,and it ties up my words here, shunting them into an ongoing struggle to say the unsayable: to speak from an angryhistory in a way that is not itself angry any more.In the play itself, Jessica's re-encounter with her individual history involves a search for healingceremony, for the spiritual processes that underlie, inform and allow the reshaping of history, as she re-lives key moments in her personal, spiritual history--moments where she encounters, and then integratesinto her identity, specific spirits who exercise a kind of power over her as potential guides or guardians,and yet must also become part of her own, self-responsible spiritual power. When at age six Jessica losesher mother, Kookoom/Vitaline offers her an alternate Mother, Creation itself--"Pat the earth, stroke her,this woman is our Mother, we are her daughters and sons." In a balancing of influences, Vitaline alsooffers Jessica a possible father-substitute; showing her Crow, an "old man to be your helper and showyou the way [,. . . .] your guardian," (126). However, the quality of his help, in particular, is uncertain in125these post-Contact times? proving to be insufficiently concrete and immediate for Jessica as she growsup learning the hard realities of the Metis experience of colonization: her doubts about his power and use,and thus about Native ways in general, seem to be confirmed in Crow's inability to save her from beingraped, at twelve, by the local R.C.M.P. officer (127-28). In her grief and anger, she challenges the spirits,rejecting both their power and her own spiritual power, and thereby rejecting her own history as well:Why couldn't you help me? My spirits love me and not one of them could help me. Why?Because you have no power. I don't hear you, I don't see you, I'm blind. These aren't greenwitch eyes, they're brown, do you hear me? They're brown. I can make you die if I just closemy eyes. (128)Trying to kill off Crow--though significantly, he does not leave her--she essentially cuts off half of her ownsenses and abilities as well: she cuts herself off from participatory access to history, and to the healing andthe power that come from an active participation in its processes. Having been so brutally victimized,she grasps the role of the victim with a vengeance, relegating herself to years of trying to emulate thecrippled, imbalanced spirits and powers of the once-conquered conquerors who are trying deliberatelyto write themselves as history-less in this new land, trying through denial to forget their own history ofvictimization. "As long as you refuse to look at history, [Campbell says of Europeans in the commentary,]of course you'll be ghosts, because you have no place to come from" (95), and cutting themselves off fromtheir history in this way, the conquerors must also attack the power Jessica might get from her history,by physically, culturally and spiritually raping her.Similarly, in the commentary on the rehearsals, Griffiths' re-enactment of the rape is one of themost brittle, uncertain moments--the most dis-spiriting--in the play's history, threatening the veryprocesses of history. Indeed, the history of the play's development is constantly endangered by the veryprocesses that feed it, in that, no matter what event she is re-enacting--let alone such a traumatic one asCampbell's own rape--Griffiths is constantly aware of the offense she might be giving and the risks sheis taking every time she steps on stage and re-enacts, before Campbell's very eyes, her interpretation ofCampbell's own character and experiences. Her ongoing appropriation of Campbell's life, her usurpationof Campbell's access to the processes of history, in the name of the theatrical process, potentially replicates126the violence of Campbell's original experience of white-Metis interaction, white appropriation anddestruction of Metis history and power, rather than aiding in Campbell's own regaining of these. Buteven though Griffiths' re-enactment of the rape is suffused with these historical dangers, it is the historyshared by Campbell and Griffiths that saves their interaction, and the development of the play, at thispoint: Griffiths tells how, in the re-enactment, when the imagined rapists finish with her, she lies "spread-eagled on the ground for a long time, hanging onto the floor and sobbing. Then I curled into a ball, andfrom a cracked voice, came a lullaby: 'Tour a lour a laura. . . .'" Later, Griffiths tells Campbell,LINDA I knew that was stuff you didn't want to give, but you gave it to me. I felt likeI knew what happened, I don't know if I saw the actual room [of the originalrape], I saw a room . . . I don't know if I sang the song you maybe sang, or if yousang anything, but. . . ."MARIA You really did sing the song.LINDA My mother sang that song.MARIA My mother too. . . .For once I was able to act instinctively around her [Griffiths continues], I just opened my arms.As we held each other, it was as if I'd unleashed my own memories. Not a story, or even acting,but something else. (46)Not only do they share a common childhood history and cultural roots, as spoken through thelullaby, but they also share a history--cutting across cultural boundaries--simply as women, who,vulnerable to male violence, can use their anger to access and rewrite that history. It is this shared historythat allows them then to create together the healing ceremony, mentioned above, in which Griffiths' scarfdance reconnects them with a female power, an affirming female history. As Campbell comments on theceremony,That scene was incredible. After the rape it was the most natural thing to do. I couldn'tunderstand why Paul couldn't see that. As I watched you [Griffiths] break free of the bindingsand dance, my instinct said, for the second time, 'Yes, she hears the same music that I do.' Therape broke something inside, the dance healed, erased all the previous hurts of the rehearsal.After that, we started fresh again. (47)History is answered by the ceremony, and the circle of pain and then healing is completed, so that thisre-encounter with history, however painful, becomes a route to healing re-connection with the affirmativepowers of the sacred.In the play, the scene immediately following the rape likewise affirms the female power which127had been attacked in the rape: even as Jessica is trying to deny the (Native) spiritual basis of her historyand identity, trying to ignore history altogether, the spirits do not abandon her, continuing to work in herlife--as in the scene of Jessica's first trick as a prostitute, where she and Liz, the Unicorn manifested as awhite prostitute, engage in a kind of fertility or healing ceremony with their clients. On one level thescene is a parody of once-sacred ways, the healing potential of the "round-bellied goddess," in whoseceremonies presumably all participants were granted healing, now rendered a kinky sex game bought ata high price (though presumably never really high enough), and designed only to service the desires ofthe exploitive johns. At this point, Jessica herself, wanting to operate only on the material, non-sacredlevel of the colonizers' society, has clearly been sold on the material appeals of white society and power--on the need togo fast, Crow, gobble it up. I'm not going to work like a dog and die young, like my mother.I'm going to get to Paris . . . and . . . Egypt. I'm going to have fifty pairs of shoes and eat inrestaurants all the time. I'm going to know people with awards and degrees and mountains ofbooks. I'm going to know things. (130)But on another level, as the Unicorn tries to convey to the other spirits, trying to "convince theNative Spirits/ to draw power/ from another time,/ another kind of source," the scene is the repetitionof a genuinely healing ritual. Associated with Liz/Unicorn, the ritual is presumably drawn from theCeltic traditions in Jessica's heritage, or at least, in a reference to yet another version of history discussedin the commentary, from the ancient matriarchal ways which many feminist histories posit as having beensubsumed by aggressive, imbalanced patriarchal cultures even in pre-Christian times (72-74; also Stone,for example; Wiget 118). While the scene speaks of white male economic exploitation, it is also a genuinerepetition of the Goddess's endless capacity to renew life through her fecundity and sexuality--as Crowand Bear, manifested as the two "gorfy" clients, insist (131). And in its affirmation of the Mother, thescene also serves as a kind of corrective to Jessica's earlier loss of her mother—which can now be read ona spiritual, allegorical level, as well as an immediate autobiographical one, as referring to her loss of theMother, the Goddess, in both lines of her heritage, to patriarchal dominance: like the writing of nationalhistories as comparable to individual emotional histories, here the individual emotional history also speaks128to the general spiritual history of Jessica's people.But Jessica, too aware both of the exploitiveness of these men's self-absorption in their fantasy,and of the true spiritual potential of the scene--which she is trying so vehemently to deny to herself—resiststhe ritual throughout the trick. In contrast, Liz, as the experienced prostitute, goes along with anythingfor the right amount of money, and as the earthy, profane Unicorn, recognizes the healing ritual behindthe exploitive scene. The scene continues with a disturbing tension between the exploitiveness and plaindanger of the clients' power to buy the women and the ceremony, and the constant recalling of agenuinely healing interaction between Unicorn, Bear and Crow, as they recall the Goddess, "the earth ... this woman . . . our Mother." The scene ends with all four participants--the two prostitutes and the twojohns, Jessica and the three spirits--chanting the many names of the Goddess as she has been known invarious cultures throughout history: "Ishtar. . . . Astarte. . . . Altar. . . . [. . . .] Innanna. . . . Morrigana. ... Mari..." (134).Despite her resistance, Jessica begins with this scene to take on the Unicorn-element of herspiritual identity, learning to value herself as a woman again--perhaps even as a sexual woman, thoughthat comes more clearly later--beginning to heal the profoundly devaluing experience of her femalenessas a condition only of vulnerability to the white R.C.M.P. officer's violence. In the following scene, themale clients now absent, she and Liz break out of the Goddess chant, trying to recapture their cynicismabout such ideas, but "in the back of her mind LIZ remembers" the Unicorn: "[the Unicorn] says she's beenaround ... kind of sleeping . . . whispering and . . . spinning threads. . ." (135). Jessica challengesLiz/Unicorn, trying to refuse the spiritual power of Liz's assertion by grounding the discussion in thepragmatic and the material, insisting that she doesn't feel any threads, and then demanding to know whatthe Goddess looks like. But when Liz begins the description, Jessica joins in: they are both immediatelycertain that the Goddess has "humungous thighs, hips like the side of a truck [. . .1 breasts like torpedoes,"and they recognize the Goddess in each other's bodies and beings, flirting briefly with the sensuality andbeauty they see in each other as women (135).But the moment their en-chanted recitation of the Goddess's attributes somehow slips into a129Native chant--the drawn out relishing of their certainty that the Goddess is "freeee" turning into"freeyyyyyyyayyyyyyahhhhhh heyyyahhh" (136)--Jessica cuts the ceremony off again. The spirits decidethat she has cut it off, rather than gone on to balance the (Celtic) Goddess/Unicorn with her Nativespiritual heritage, because none of this captures the dark side of Jessica's experience and inheritance: itdoes not address the anger of her history as both a Metis and a woman/prostitute, the dark aspect of thespiritual powers she is encountering and taking on. This darkness must be balanced with the creativepower and play that has so far been shown: "All of a sudden there was good and evil and they were indifferent places," Unicorn says, rather than good and evil being balanced as parts of a whole, and notseparated as concepts at all. Jessica's history thus cannot be reclaimed only by reaffirming her severalspiritual heritages after a hundred or a thousand years of their suppression under patriarchal dominance--and the fact of their suppression, and the anger and pain that result, must be addressed: good and evil,having been separated and set in imbalanced opposition, cannot simply be reconnected at will, but evilmust now be addressed and somehow reassimilated into the balance.This evil is represented in the ceremony by Wolverine, who has been lingering constantly on theedge of the ceremony, but has been repeatedly prevented by the other spirits from entering it prematurely:now he volunteers to show Jessica "the other side. I'll show her. I'll teach her about Ishtar" (136). Butthis time he is held back by the others, and instead, it is Crow who takes on the role of the Weird Client,whose vision of the potentially creative act of sex is perverted, in the imbalance of anti-matriarchal times,into a solely abusive act of violence and degradation. The Weird Client has himself tied up andvictimized, but unable to give up his conqueror's power even so, he also insists that Jessica call herselfa "dirty, filthy, redskin squaw," finally getting wildly turned on when instead of going down on him asshe is supposed to, she throws up on him instead (137-38).As she and the other Spirits watch this scene, Coyote/ Vitaline is crying, her crying also becomingthat of the prostitute in the next room, who, after the Weird Client leaves, Jessica discovers has finallycommitted suicide. Jessica laments that she didn't try to help the woman, but Liz is suddenly hard--"We're not friends," she says of herself and Jessica, and of the prostitutes in general--in sharp contrast with130the earlier scene of their affirming recognition of the Goddess in each other. The abusiveness of the WeirdClient replays the effects of the (pre-)historical conquering of matriarchal society and spirit by imbalancedpatriarchal ways, and here, with the darkness of the Weird Client still hanging over them, the two womenare now split from themselves and each other, relegated to isolated islands of suffering and lonelinesswithin the misogynist divisions and violence of patriarchal imbalances. Looking in the mirror, exclaimingthat she's losing her looks from doing too much heroin, Jessica suddenly sees the angry, spittingWolverine for the first time--not Crow, who had played her mirror in the earlier scene of her first trick.She and Liz shoot up the heroin--shoot up "Lady H"—replacing the Goddess, and their friendship aswomen, with the showy colours of the drug high and the shaky collusion of fellow junkies. Thehollowness of these affiliations is clear when the women agree that the high is only a disappointment inany case, "never as good as the first time" (139), and the two women end up fighting over who has thegreatest likelihood of ever escaping the present trap of their lives. Liz insists that, despite the fact thatit is Liz who ought to be able to exploit her white-skinned privilege, Jessica has the advantage becauseshe has a different, perhaps truer power--an "electricity [. . . . a] magic"—that will get her out of even thishole: "If I had the kind of electricity shooting around me that you have, [Liz proclaims,] I wouldn't beshooting the Lady. I'd be talking to her" (140).Similarly, within the framing story of the play's development, Campbell and Griffiths must notonly address their lost matriarchal, spiritual heritage, but must also examine the injury and pain that havefollowed, specifically by coming to terms with the misogynist vision of women they have both inheritedfrom Christianity--or more particularly, from Catholicism. Griffiths is reluctant to examine Catholicismcritically "Because my mother had just cured herself by going right into the Catholic religion. I couldn'tput that down when she'd just saved her own life" (72). But Campbell can see this heritage only asoppressive and destructive, given the history of the Catholic Church as it played an integral role in theloss of Creative, matriarchal ways to hierarchical, imbalanced patriarchal ways, both in Europe a thousandand more years ago, and in Canada in the last five centuries (73). Campbell can identify Griffiths, as botha woman and a person of Celtic descent, as sharing in this history of conquest and loss (35, 77), but she131is still angry at Griffiths, whose seeming impassivity and calm reminds Campbell both of her own mother--whom Campbell sees as having given up, given in to the injustices that have so brutally shapedCampbell's own life (73)--and of that paragon of female capitulation to the patriarchal, conquering church,the Virgin Mary.For Campbell, her own mother, the Virgin and Griffiths alike, all stand as a sign of all thesupposed virtues which Campbell herself cannot claim--virginity, whiteness, passivity, and a refusal ofWolverine's anger--and as a sign of all the "desired" characteristics which render women, particularlyCampbell's mother, vulnerable to patriarchal, colonizing conquest. They stand for all the characteristicswhich made Campbell's mother a model only for how to be a conquered person, powerless to defend herdaughter from racist violence and hatred. Campbell tells Griffiths,You don't know what a love/hate relationship it's been with you, you don't know. You'd standthere with this smile on your face, just stand there wanting more. So innocent, so nice. Like abloody virgin being raped by all these men and you didn't even know it. Paul even, all of them.And you just wanted me to give you more. You didn't know anything. And I would get soangry. I'd see you and I'd see the Catholic Church, and my mother kneeling for hours in frontof that statue with that nice innocent face. She wanted to be nice like that. If she hadn't ofwanted to be nice like that, she would have been able to love me, but she couldn't, because Iwasn't nice, I was never nice like that, I was always angry, as far back as I can remember. I'd seeyou, with that stupid Virgin face, and I'd think of what they did to us, stole from us, all ourstrength, making us look like that, like you, with your glassy stare. You were the Church, andmen, and white people, and cops, and rules [. . . .1 Then I'd be defending you to my friends,saying, 'You think they stole from us, our strength, our culture, the mother, all of it, but look atwhat they stole from her. She never got any of that teaching, not like we did, it happened to usonly a hundred years ago, it happened to them thousands of years ago.' And then you'd get upthere and stuff would come out of your mouth, you'd move in certain ways and I'd see myyounger self, just like I was, and I'd hate you for it. (70)Griffiths, like Campbell's mother, like the Virgin Mary, reminds Campbell of her double bind as anoppressed person, her desire for power over her own history and self--for the right to love herself--andyet her continued struggle with all of the internalized self-hatred, victimization and powerlessness whichstill interfere with her own efforts to achieve a balanced claiming of her power, value and history.Indeed, Campbell's struggle with her mother, and Griffiths, and the image of the Virgin Mary,is clearly a struggle with herself above all--a renewed encounter with her own histories on terms which,like Jessica in the play, she has so far denied:When I'd hear myself saying, 'No, no, no,' what I was hearing was a Catholic voice. When I had132to confront this woman, who was all for revolution, all for change, who really believed in . . . inthe path she was following . . . to listen to her, to look at her, she was the most conservativeCatholic woman I had ever met in my life [. . . 1 For the first time in my life, I had to deal withthe woman I'd shoved away someplace. I almost went to church. I had to start looking at thingsin the Catholic faith, real things that came from the mother, from the grandmothers, and thatlooking helped me to understand for the first time why everybody's been Christian for so long.But it all confused me, shook up my easy theories, and I ended up with fears and uncertaintiesI thought I had already dealt with. I had to deal with 'her' and she wasn't easy. (32)Above all, what is so difficult for Campbell to grapple with is that, encountering this conservative, rule-bound Catholic woman, she is ultimately having to confront her own self-hatred, a hatred which isexpressed precisely through her suppression and hatred of her Catholic knowledge and character, and shemust find a way to value even this aspect of herself. The same is true for Griffiths, who comments onher work with Campbell, that "I was battering against a stubborn, rebellious, self-hating character, whowas struggling with her own power. It was Maria, of course, or Jessica." But she is also compelled toadd, "It never occurred to me, not for years, that it was me" (31). Thus, if Campbell is certain that historyis a place of pain and oppression, the endless story of her people's loss of history within the subsuminghistorical thrust of the patriarchal and the Christian, she and Griffiths alike must nevertheless go back totheir several histories, their angers, to find themselves: they must rewrite history, with themselves in eventheir least appealing roles, in order to value themselves again.But as in the play, where Jessica begins to re-value herself by reconnecting, through the Unicorn,with the female power of her ancient white heritage, here in the commentary Campbell also comes to apoint, after much thought and healing effort with Griffiths—after their extended struggle to tell the storyof their troubled history together--where she can finally begin to re-value herself as a woman of Catholicupbringing, reclaiming the positive elements of her Christian heritage as well. Insisting that her historybe a source of validation, she can finally forgive her mother/Mother for seeming to abandon her to thepain of colonization and rape--colonization by the patriarchy millennia ago, by whites in the last fewcenturies, and by Christianity thousands and hundreds of years ago: she can finally recognize that shehasn't really been abandoned after all, and that she is thus not a hateful child unworthy of hermother/Mother's love. As a result, forgiving her mother/Mother, she can also begin to heal her133interaction with Griffiths, and can forgive Griffiths for making her "feel so . . . dirty . . .," for beingthe person my mother wanted me to be [. . . 1 I began to understand the Old Woman, the Virginand the Mother. Really, not from my head, but deep inside. There you were the Virgin, andthere I was, the Mother, and I could also see the old woman I would be. . . ." (76)As a sign of her healing, of her recapturing of her history, Campbell tells of going to a grotto nearBatoche, "one of those Lourdes kind of Catholic places with a statue of the Mother," a "'smarmy statue,[. . 1 a place stolen from us, with their simpy version of a woman." Ordinarily, she says, "I'd just gritmy teeth and pass by," but after one of Griffiths' visits, she goes to see the statue itself, "and [. . .] it wasokay [. . . .] I didn't hate her any more, I didn't even feel sorry for her. I understood her. I felt she'dbeen kept alive at least. I put some tobacco out for her" (70-71).In the play, however, Jessica has not yet managed such a healing, and her response to Liz'srecognition of her power to talk to the Lady is a mixed up attempted suicide/Native sacrifice--whichdespite its understatement in the play, suddenly becomes the crucial changing-point in her spiritualjourney. Unable to decide whether she's committing suicide or making a sacrifice, she is again strugglingto bridge the gap between contemporary, material responses to her predicament, and Native, spiritualones: she wants to bring her spiritual, emotional pain into the simply material world to which she is socommitted, by making her pain physical and visible--"it's got to show, got to make some blood at least"(140)--and then to die, but Crow won't let her believe that if she simply ends her physical life, "you stopdreaming." If even in death her history is not erased, she is finally forced to address, resentfully at first,the spiritual aspect of herself--her history as a Metis woman. She responds to Crow that instead ofsuicide, then, she will "make a ritual out of it, I'll offer the blood to the grandmothers and grandfathers.. ." (141).But the Spirits "zap" her as punishment for her flippant abuse of the ritual, and they set out therules under which sacrifice can properly happen:COYOTE^You can't make a flesh offering to the spirits unless you know why, and it has tobe done with joy.. .WOLVERINE You have to have a reason, what's your reason, Jessica, what's your vow?BEAR^If you want to die, then die, but an offering has to do with life. (142)Engaging with history--with the Spirits--necessitates that she give something of herself to history, that she134must somehow give over her anger at it: she must sacrifice her hatred of herself, her refusal to see herspirits, and must finally accept that history and the Spirits have power in her life. This time, then, afterfirst being zapped, she answers more seriously that she wants to know her history, in a sense, that shewants to know "what was supposed to happen, I want to know what I was supposed to be when I wasfirst dreamed . . . ." Thus apparently accepting for the first time that her Native spiritual heritage mighthave some interest and value, she asks Crow to help her perform a small sacrifice—however qualified byher recognition that she "loves suffering too much"--and they cut her arm (142).In the play itself, the ceremony necessitates a sacrifice--history demands the participation of onewho gives from her life history to renew and affirm the processes of history; that is, it demands theparticipatory reconnection with the sacred--and therefore in the commentary on the play, a sacrifice mustalso be made. As Campbell explains, in traditional ways, there was a time for suffering and sacrifice--afterwhich "you went on with the job of living, you're not supposed to suffer all the time"--in contrast withthe Christian construction of Christ as having to "carry his Cross all the time, they never let him off, hesuffers all the time; and they tell us that he has to suffer for us, that's what he was put on earth for, soit makes people feel guilty" (99-100). As in the exclusive version of history promulgated by theconquerors, in this Christian paradigm, history--and the power to heal the conflicts of history through therenewing practice of sacrifice--are constructed as the province of Christ alone, and people are leftpowerless to move beyond their guilt at this endless suffering, as Campbell notes:We never feel the power's within us, with the Christian way. We never feel the incredible feelingof going to the spirit world, and coming back out, and the closeness to all things that gives us.Suffering has a flip side, it has the joy of coming through the pain, the joy that you've done it,you've been able to make the ultimate sacrifice. (101-02)Sacrifice thus effects an individual and communal transformation, such as Beth Cuthand or Annhartedeveloped as the basis of their poetry.For Griffiths and Campbell, the sacrifice they must make, upon which their healing transformationdepends after the pain the play has raised, is ultimately that of giving the play itself away--of giving awaythe history of the play's initial making and its eventual writing, and thereby of giving away to other white135and Metis (and other) readers this new version of white-Metis history, in which, in the very act of theirbeing given away, these painful histories are also transformed, at long last, into healing processes. Thedegree of suffering this sacrifice entails for the two women is clear in the nature of their original conflict:the catalyst for their angry parting, after the play's opening run, was precisely the issue of the contractbetween Griffiths, Campbell and Thompson regarding the ownership of the play. And yet, for the play,for history, to be healing, it must precisely be given away: Campbell defines art as stealing from thecommunity from which the material is taken (83), but she also defines it as the main healing tool of acommunity (84), as long as the art returns something to the community from which it was stolen.Today, most art is ugly, because it's not responsible to the people it steals from. Real, honest-to-God true art steals from the people. It's a thief [. . . It comes in, and you don't even notice thatit's there, and it walks off with all your stuff, but then it gives it back to you and heals you,empowers you, and it's beautiful. (83)Community work--art, the telling of history, sacred ceremony--thus involves "an exchange of power, asharing, and as a result we all get strong" (90). In this way, sacrifice is the essence of community and ofparticipation in the history and spirit of a community, and it is only when Campbell and Griffiths can giveaway the play and its story--can give up the anger, over the right to own the play, that threatened tosuppress their shared history--that they can begin to be healed and community can be restored betweenthem.9It is, of course, this question of ownership, and of the nature of ownership itself, which is the crux of FirstNations-non-First Nations animosity and misunderstanding, whether the ownership of the land or the ownershipof stories, words and cultures: it is this incapacity on the part of white society to understand sacrifice--to understandthe transformative power of the give-away--and our consequent angry enforcement, in First Nations cultures andlands, of our preoccupations with the exclusivities of ownership, that creates such a ground for ongoing conflict andappropriation, ongoing anger.It is partly for these reasons that i write my stories as part of this thesis, to try to be clear about riskingmy self in return for the self-risk that Campbell, Armstrong, Annharte, and so on, have undergone in giving theirstories away: to attempt a small sacrifice in the hopes of at least beginning a transformative healing of these angryparadigms. And my thesis in general, its commentaries as well as its stories, is intended to be the most respectfuland grateful response to the gift of these First Nations texts that i can manage, however falteringly cross-culturalmy self-positioning still is.But at the same time, i am not certain what i am really giving back even so: i feel clear that i am writingthis thesis far less for a First Nations audience--for people from the same communities as these stories—than i amfor a white (and, of course, an academic) audience, who presumably need to hear my arguments far more than FirstNations readers need to (Campbell, Interview 60). At best, if i am even beginning to get this stuff "right," i canhope that my reading strategies really are useful to a truly cross-cultural, truly communicative, healing, and136transformative interaction between First Nations and non-First Nations . . . but i do not know: my own anger stilllingers in the history i am trying to transform--i am still uncertain how to give it away.Within the play, the immediate consequence of Jessica's sacrifice--her acquiescence to Nativespiritual power and to the history it implies--is that she has a nervous breakdown and is committed to"The Looney Bin": despite her initial sacrifice, the effort of trying to integrate the two lines of her heritageis too great as yet. Indeed, the remainder of the play is underwritten with the constant tension of Jessica'sbattle to stay sane while to everyone around her, her visions and powers make her seem "crazy as a hootowl" (149). However, it is in the Looney Bin that she narrates, in the story of the White Buffalo CalfWoman, not only her own split condition, but also the beginning of her determination to heal herself: asin Halfbreed, the act of taking over story-telling/history-telling functions as a sign of her healing effort.In this oral tale, the White Buffalo Calf Woman fights off the hunter who is a potential rapist, who has"never been taught," and follows the other, peaceable hunter to his people's camp (143). The womanmakes a choice, as Jessica herself is now choosing, not to be victimized, and to come "home" to her peoplethrough the use of her own power. The commentary on the play makes clear that the story of the WhiteBuffalo Calf Woman is the story of the beginnings of a people, telling of "a woman who comes from thespirit world, to bring the pipe to the people and teach them the prayers and songs" (59): Jessica's at leastpassive acceptance, thus far, of her spiritual heritage and history is couched in terms of the birth of apeople at the instigation of a goddess-like figure, a female creator, conjoining communal and individualhistory. This affirmation of female power as historically important becomes an affirmation as well ofJessica's own desire to take control of her own history by finding new origins for herself, in order to bereborn healthy and balanced--a desire narrated in an explicitly Native structure and practice of history,as the telling of an oral tale.This act of telling presages Jessica's eventual reconnection with a traditional power, but for themoment, the simultaneous hope and danger of her transitional state are emphasized in her own narration:the White Buffalo Calf Woman "knew she was on the brink of what all the suffering had been for, andfor the first time, she was afraid [. . . .1 why, when she was so close, should she shake with fear?" (143).137In the story, however, a starling comes and guides the woman into the safety of the Native camp, just asVitaline, watching the scene and directing the ceremony, insists on bolstering Jessica's own tentativeaffirmation and strength with some loving that isn't part of the bargain" (143): the spirits agree that it'stime for the strength of Bear. From her relationship with Bear/Sam, despite all of the difficulties and painof their relationship, Jessica begins to learn to value herself as a Native person—particularly as a Nativewoman living in contemporary colonized times--just as she learned to value herself as a woman from the(white-Celtic) Unicorn. When she objects to Sam's certainty of the possibility and usefulness of Nativeactivism, saying to him that "we don't know who 'we' is," his response is to include her: "We' is Nativepeople. Or maybe not, maybe 'we' is anybody with a pure heart" (145). To her objection again, that sheis a Halfbreed, not a Native, his response is to assure her again of her inclusion in the strength of thatrevolutionary "we" (146). Sam thus offers her the possibility of claiming a place in history, such as thestory of the White Buffalo Calf Woman also suggested, but for Sam, it is a history constructed as arevolutionary process, based on such models as the French Revolution and the Black Panther movement.Sam teaches Jessica about Native activism and the ways it works to empower Natives at least politically,when her impulse since her rape has been to discredit any form of Native identification and claim topower. With Sam, she also discovers the possibility of truly enjoying herself sexually with a man,presumably for the first time.With this acceptance of her value and power as a woman and a Metis—her acceptance of theUnicorn and the Bear--she and Sam exit hand in hand, as the Spirits congratulate themselves that fromnow on the spiritual world, or at least a power-ful world of some kind, will be as real to Jessica as thepurely material world which has dis-empowered her so much: they have succeeded at least to that extent.But the Wolverine's final word in Act One, as he responds to the Spirits' optimism with the warning to"Just keep her alive for me," presages the conflict she has yet to reconcile in herself--that having begunto accept her potential power as an (until now) disempowered Metis woman, her newly affirmed desirefor power, fuelled by a deep store of anger, might lead to the same imbalance which the once-conqueredCeltic peoples came to in conquering the First Nations territories, of looking for too much power, where138once she had too little (146).In Act Two, this conflict between the darker, unbalanced side of Jessica's power, and the creative,balance-seeking side, is structured as a conflict between her desire for power at any cost--even thedangerous power of a ruthless, white-style politician or businessman such as Bob the lawyer represents—and her efforts to learn the kind of controlled, responsible spiritual power that Vitaline is trying to teach.Though her encounter with Bear--with Sam the Native activist--has been essential to her spiritual growth,the opening scene of Act Two demonstrates the dangers of the power that Bear/Sam offers Jessica: theyare filling in a (white) government form to apply for the money, and thus the power, to run a Nativeshelter, when the Wolverine's angry, violent spirit speaks to Jessica in the form of a phone call thatthreatens violence against her children if she continues in her Native activism (148)--that threatens herfemale, life-giving power as a mother, if she continues to exploit the male, warrior power she has takenon through Bear. Sam's traditional warrior power, in the patriarchally-imbalanced conditions ofcolonized times, is shown in a later scene to be crippled and sick in any case, when in his helplessnessagainst the Wolverine strength of white, high-level power mongers, he turns his warrior's power onJessica, beating her up because she is "the one thing around that's lower than me." The Native men havein some ways been more devastated by colonization than the women, because the white patriarchy hassimply replaced them--and thus, in a sense, emasculated them--while Native women (and in thecommentary, white women, to some degree) are at least still left in a place of potential matriarchalopposition to the patriarchal system.I fight [Sam says to Jessica]. . . . Somehow that's what I'm supposed to do but it gets all screwedup. There's a place for it, I know there is, but I don't know where. You look at me, all bruisedup, and you think you're the one that's hurt, but it's me that's dying. . . . You've got yourmysteries, all I've got is that sometime I was a warrior. So I'll get drunk, and sing, and poundthe drum, and dance in the gutter. There's got to be somebody out there dancing. That's allthat's left of war. (161)Observing that Jessica's continued development of the Bear's warrior-activist's power is leadingher into a similar imbalance and loss as Sam has experienced, Vitaline insists that now it is time for Jessicato encounter Vitaline's own Coyote power: it is finally time for Jessica to begin to learn the lesson sheglimpsed in the story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, to learn her power and value as a Native woman139--rather than as a woman and a Native as somehow separate categories—as this power is constructed intraditional Native spiritual terms, rather than in white-Celtic spiritual terms or Native-political terms. Thespirits discuss Vitaline's suitability as such a teacher, questioning her traditionalism when "we needsomeone who understands the new modern woman" (151), but Coyote defends Vitaline's (Coyote-like)adaptability and experience. The Spirits' hand is forced in Coyote's favour in any case, by their need todefend Jessica again from Wolverine's eagerness to get at her, to make sure that she isn't "losing herscent"--"she's got no anger left, give her to me" (151).Vitaline's role is explicitly to reconnect Jessica with the processes and powers of history, to helpher recover her "memory," not just of her immediate personal history, but also of her spiritual history asa Native woman (152). Her first lesson is a reiteration of Vitaline's lesson to the six-year old Jessica, andof Liz/Unicorn's lesson years later, both of which Jessica succeeded in rejecting with the help of "LadyH": the lesson of the vital female basis of human life and power, though now the female power is calledagain by the Native names Jessica had learned in childhood: "the Mother, the Old Woman" (152). ThoughJessica is now actively seeking after this power and history for the first time, she must still contend withthe fact that recovering such history and knowledge will mean she can no longer operate only on thesimplistic, materially-based level she has so far tried to live as a prostitute and an activist alike, and shemust finally accept the difficulties of a life split between these (at least) two kinds of realities and histories:No more trying to be normal, no more pushing them away. I'll walk into Safeway, feeling them at thecheckout counter: 'TV Guide, six chocolate bars, four packages of gum, and some tobacco for that Bearbehind your head — (153). Despite her efforts, since her twelfth year, to deny the Native, spiritual side ofher self and her perceptions by entirely banishing it, she has finally consciously recognized the conflictthat has been shaping her entire life thus far.The degree to which colonization has perverted the balance of power that Jessica is seeking torelearn is made clear in the fact that Jessica's movement into the realm of Coyote-woman's powerprecipitates Sam's decline--as if, after the pattern of millennia of oppositional patriarchal thought, onlyone side can be powerful at the expense of the other--as her increasing grasp of female power only140reinforces for him the tentativeness of his access to Bear's Native male power, and reminds him forciblyof his present conquered condition. But while Jessica is beginning to grasp the Coyote power availableto her, this is the moment when Wolverine finally begins to act directly on her: he manages to slip fromthe control of the other Spirits, and in the form of Bob, the white lawyer, begins to teach Jessica theunlimited power that her anger can offer her if it is allowed to work unbridled and imbalanced withinand through her.Let her see what she hides [Wolverine chants], let her know fear beyond fear. Let her find clawsand see if she knows what to do with them. Let her look in the mirror and see a face with nosoul. Let her know nothing, no worth, not to walk the earth, no right, no reason, let the blooddrip from her mouth [. . .1 let her give no ground . . . revenge . . . let her howl[. . . .] let her benothing, a nothing, not a thing at all. (154-55)His is the power that results from taking one's oppression to its logical extreme, in a sense: having beentold by the dominant powers that she is worthless, that she is nothing, Jessica can turn her worthlessnessback on the oppressors and simply reverse the direction of the violence, doing to them what they havedone to her. Thus while her anger gives her a participatory access to historical processes which herformer passivity and fear of anger did not, it can also threaten the revolutionary project of rewriting thenature of history, in that if she allows her anger too much power, she risks only replicating, rather thantruly changing, the imbalanced, irresponsible processes of history which the conquerors, as the conquerors,set into motion in the New World. At last granting to herself that she has the right to historical powerand anger, she chances becoming governed by her anger and the power it lends her, rather thancontrolling them.Similarly, in the commentary, although it is Campbell's and Griffiths' anger that fuels theirpersistent search for healing--for rewriting and re-balancing the imbalanced processes of history—it alsothreatens this process: first, as the women are repeatedly tempted simply to give up their history-tellingin the face of the immensity of their anger at each other and at history in general, and second, as theirinability to give up their anger prevents them from making a sacrifice, a gift, of the play itself as a routeto achieving a new balance, a new, empowering access to history. The danger is always that they willsimply retire to the safety and aggressive, ungiving power of their separate angers-- the safety of the141closed oppositions and confrontations of European-conventional history, European-conventional language—and will not risk the third possibility of the sacrifice, of relinquishing their separate safety in theexpectation of achieving a healing together, a cross-cultural, cross-national healing.In the play, now that Jessica has accepted her power and history, this internal conflict shapes theremainder of the play's story and drives the rest of the ceremony. Bob agrees to teach Jessica hisdangerous, sophisticated power in return for her teaching him her powers of "magic [.. . . and] mysticism"(158); the fact that she is willing to trade knowledge of her Native power for knowledge of his corporatepower--when as she says herself "you're not supposed to use it for yourself—indicates her dangerouslyimbalanced, irresponsible state, her certainty that, as the Unicorn says, "she doesn't have to play by therules" (157). But playing with such powers, mixing them so incautiously, becomes more and moredangerous to herself and Bob alike--to her world and history, and his (though less crucially)—when, afterSam beats her up in his effort to reassert his failing warrior's power in the face of her power games, Bobenters with the story of his dream of hitting the wolverine with his car.As Bob recounts the incident, Jessica is led to confess her own vision, in which she tells the samestory, but from the perspective of the wolverine that is hit by Bob's car. While Bob is badly frightenedand the body of his car dented, it is Jessica's own body that has been bruised in the "accident," and sheis again contemplating not just the self-destruction of suicide, but the concomitant destruction of herpeople--the murder of her lover and her bloodline, her children, as well. As she plays back and forthbetween the two different kinds of power, violating both, Jessica herself and her Native spiritual powerare particularly in danger: this is the danger when First Nations spiritual knowledge is given irresponsiblyaway to the irresponsible, corporate, technological power of the conquerors. As Campbell says in thecommentary, "if we exploit [Metis culture and spirituality] and don't even fully understand it ourselves,then we're giving something away to be abused" (86).Doubly bruised by Sam's broken warrior power and Bob's white-corporate, technological power,Jessica is drawn back to Vitaline for a final effort to bring her power back under responsible control--toregain herself and her proper, balanced place in history. Jessica has already rejected Bob's claim that he142loves her, but Sam's claim on her is stronger: afraid of her ongoing quest to develop her own femalepower as she tries to bring her wolverine aspect under control, he tries to coax her back to serving hiswounded Native male power. While Vitaline struggles to hold the powers precariously balanced untila proper, healing balance can be achieved by and in Jessica herself—defending Sam from Wolverine, Jessicafrom Sam, Wolverine from Jessica--and while Sam is trying to draw Jessica out of Vitaline's house againstVitaline's wishes, Jessica herself is being torn apart by the multitude of opposing powers and impulseswithin herself. Vitaline recounts to Sam the history of the imbalance between male and female power—telling in the play, in Native terms, the history of the patriarchal attack on the ancient matriarchies thatis also discussed in the commentary on the play (69-70). The effect is not only to persuade Sam of thevalue of his male power, and yet the necessity for Jessica to develop her own female power free of thecoercive imbalance of this history, but also to provide an explanation, within the logic of the ceremony,for the origins of Wolverine's imbalance, and Jessica's hardly controlled power. Sam departs, leavingJessica to her struggle with the Wolverine that has now, significantly, left Bob and inhabited her,struggling to steal her power and control her.In the commentary, the heritage of anger that the women see as resulting from this history of thesplit of men from women into divided camps of opposition and animosity, is discussed not only in termsof the Native paradigm of Wolverine but also in terms of the Christian one of the Devil. Exploring theevil side of this split creation, Campbell asks,But what is that hate, what is it that makes humans destroy? What made the men destroy thevery thing that made them strong, because when they put us down, they put themselves down,devoured their own power and turned themselves into babies. (74)When Griffiths replies that a Catholic would call it the Devil, Campbell answers that she has herself seenthe Devil, "out at The Crossing one night, [when I was] trying to write, and I was feeling this . . . anger,this hate and it was like a physical thing, and it was frightening me." Going outside, she challenges theDevil to come and answer her questions, and suddenly "I could feel him, like this dense ball of energythe size of a grapefruit . . . ooh and it was ugly. I started running for my life along the river, I wasterrified." Finally, feeling certain that "'it can't be worse than it is now,'" she turns to face the Devil, and143"it was gone, just disappeared." Standing there, she asks herself why she is so afraid of being alone, andlooking at the solitude even of each of the stars overhead, finally "really [feels] what it was to be alone,and it was alright" (74-75). She thus confronts first her rage, the Devil, and then the deeper fear that fuelsher rage--the fear of aloneness, the necessity that only she can face her own fears and rages--and shefinally accepts that only she can and must take responsibility for herself and her emotions and healing.With this move, she begins to heal in herself the anger and pain of the millennia of imbalancebetween men and women, by which men stereotypically have abrogated emotional self-responsibility,turning the realm of the emotional entirely over to female care, and women have become the endlesscaretakers, taking responsibility for emotions and events that they cannot possibly be truly responsiblefor. Accepting that she is alone, Campbell accepts responsibility for her emotional well-being, forcontrolling and healing her rage--and thus for her active place in history--but equally, she accepts that sheis responsible only for her own anger and healing and history, however lonely a process it is to establishand maintain such boundaries. Her anger does not then simply go away, banished like the Devil, butinstead, she has redefined it as her own, and thus as controllable: just as she has redefined the Virgin Maryas hers--as another version of the Mother--she has in a sense redefined the Devil as hers as well, as theWolverine, which, unlike the Christian paradigm, where anger/the Devil is defined as having no rightfulplace within the structures of balance identified with the Good, is defined in the Native paradigm as beingpart of the balance within a healthy, healed, and balanced individual and world--and thus as part of theindividual's (self-)responsibility, rather than as something only to be denied, to be placed elsewhere, inOthers.So i must somehow give away my anger, risk being alone; i must give away my history and my thesis inthe same movement as i am only just achieving them--though now, in this communal, spiritually-informed context,the achievement and the giving away presumably need not cancel each other out, as one transformation allowsanother and another, as participation in spiritual history results in my ongoing inclusion in these powerfulprocesses. I think, then, that what i have to do is to reverse the problem, in a sense: rather than struggling to fita spiritual history into my overarching anger, or to fit the writing of the spiritual into the authoritative discoursesof the academy, i have to do the opposite.I have to learn to integrate, as Campbell and Griffiths do, the blocks to my history into my history: i haveto transform my own wolverine history of anger into a part of my spirituality--give my anger into my larger desirefor self-responsible healing--rather than continuing the Christian-type denial that anger (sin) has no place in healing,144in the creative and the sacred; i have to integrate even my angry, exclusionary academic discourse into a largerspiritual discourse. So if i carry that anger everywhere--my own anger, generations of anger handed futilely downmother to daughter to granddaughter--perhaps the beginning of its healing, the beginning of this new history, at leastfor me, is that over and over again i can carry the anger even into the uncertain rituals of peace which seem to havedeveloped in my life, in my history, even in the story(-ies) of my thesis.I try to do this here in this thesis by undertaking creative action/creative writing: with every word andmovement, i am trying to convert anger into creativity, write the creative into the academic--write a mixed-genrethesis--so that this creativity, driven by a deep anger at anti-creative forces, involves precisely an interaction withthis anger. The product i arrive at may not particularly be any more spiritually immanent, any less deferred, thanthe thesis i write against here--i don't think i solve the difficulty of how to say the unsayable--but the process is atleast as important, i think, as the product. So perhaps as in Slash, I'm writing the spiritual and not writing it atonce--it is both inscribed here, and yet deferred to another place, another language or discourse. And the academic,with its endless process of deferral, is thus integrated into the spiritual, the inscription and the deferral alikepartaking of the spiritual--anger remaining simply anger, and yet inscribed in, and inscriptive of, history—and thesacred.In the play, however, Jessica still has to learn this lesson of how to integrate the Wolverine intoher spiritual power. Vitaline, trying to get through to the half-possessed Jessica, assures her that theWolverine is "just you, a part of you. You're strong enough to take that Wolverine, he's the last one, Jesse,the last one" (171). But Jessica is almost lost, the Wolverine moving her back to Bob's office, where she/itscares even Bob with the ruthlessness with which she claims for herself the money intended for the Nativeshelter, and where she then turns Bob's own medicine on him when he objects. "Power is a commodity[, she retorts]. Cream always rises to the top. Money is power. Idealists get bitter. Isn't that what yousaid?" (172). When he accuses her of his own crime--"you're an opportunist using the suffering of yourown people for personal gain"--the "unbalanced WOLVERINE," as it is named in the stage directions (172),now all but controlling Jessica, first pleads with him, then spits out a fury of hatred and invective:Wolverine/Jessica rages against Bob and against patriarchal history and its conquest of the Natives,recounting loss upon loss that have accrued as a result, and finally trying to strangle him as he has, ina sense, already strangled himself with his own imbalances:Nothing to trust. Your songless throat closes with no chance for a prayer, they've been rippedfrom your chest, regret is like smoke, you breathe it in and it never goes away. . . . You've stolenthe breath from yourself, you've stolen the breath from yourself. . . . (173)But if she is chanting Bob's death, she is also recounting what will happen to her if she allows herWolverine aspect to control her, as Bob's has controlled him, and she gives in to her desire for power145upon power, out of all control or balance.Similarly, in the commentary on the rehearsals, Griffiths' and Campbell's encounter with theWolverine is an equally chilling moment, when Griffiths discovers, perhaps for the first time, the angershe carries against her life and its suppressions and losses: she says of the day when she finally decidesto try acting Wolverine, that she was "just dying to be as ugly and as vicious and as black as I actuallyfucking felt inside" (38). As Campbell describes it, Griffiths simply became the Wolverine on stage:I was watching, and I knew something was happening [. . . .] It's like knowing when there's aWarrior walking in I could feel it coming with you. When you went up there I knew what youwere doing, and when you started I saw the Wolverine. I saw his teeth, his claws . . . it wasn'tyou [. . . .1 You had changed [. . . .1 I don't know what anybody else saw. I only know what Isaw . . . and I remember watching you and feeling my hands becoming claws too. (39)Years later, Griffiths can finally elaborate on the source of her Wolverine anger at the time: she can nameher privileges--"white, two parents, a nice home, only two kids in the family, two cars [. . .]; a decenteducation, no trouble about food, no beatings, no overt violence"--but beneath it she seesa different kind of violence. Everything repressed under the dining room table. It's amorphous[. . . .] You can't find it. It's like coming from a shopping mall, and that's your culture. Nothingworse happened than shopping at Simpsons, but underneath Simpsons, underneath the groundthe shopping mall is on, are lies and fears and horrors nobody knows. (75)For Griffiths, then, the discovery of Wolverine is a liberating moment of the discovery of her right toanger, even as a white woman, as much as it is a frightening moment:When I started to . . . act you [Campbell] . . . write you . . . whatever it was I did, I could act theway I felt, as if somewhere I had been beaten, raped, oppressed. I could act from the part of methat wasn't a nice clean girl, the girl inside me that was huddled in a corner, who wanted todestroy herself because she hurt so much, and no one would listen because it looked so good onthe outside. I couldn't speak of her then, but when I heard your story, there was finally a reasonto act the way I felt. (75-76)But for Campbell, familiar with the dangers of uncontrolled anger, the moment of Griffiths'discovery of Wolverine contained no triumph; it was instead a chilling re-encounter with her ownWolverine anger:Sometimes when people say they are freaked out by me and they think maybe I'm goingto do something to them, I know now that they must see that part of me. The part I never seeor want to, but I know is there, and when I looked at you, there it was [. . . .1 I just knew that,no matter what happened from then on, I couldn't take any more chances. You know? Makesure you were protected. Make sure I was protected. Make sure that we had a circle, because146who knows? Maybe you'd attack one of the other actors. Because at that point, that Wolverinehad no control. What would have happened if it had pulled me in there? One of us would havebeen alive when it was finished.Never in my entire life has anything ever spooked me like that. (39-40)For Griffiths, theatre rehearsals are by definition protected space, but the incident reminds Campbell thatit is only through the careful ritual of the ceremony that safety can be established and Wolverinecontrolled, kept within the larger balance of the universe:I thought I had taken you [Griffiths] totally into a dark side and couldn't do anything to protectyou. I should have been doing our circle every morning and every night, but of course I hadn't[. . . .] All I knew was that I hadn't done what I was supposed to do, all I knew was the Creator,the grandmothers, grandfathers, and the rituals that they required. (40-41)Their different orientations are again emphasized: for Griffiths, a member of the history-less newly-comerace, safety comes from a place, from the immediate space and practice of the theatre--it is somehowgoverned by the "theatre gods," though these gods are not named, their origins and provenance neverdiscussed—while for Campbell, a member of a people rooted in this land, safety comes through theconnection with history that the place and practice of ceremony establishes, through connection with thegrandmothers and grandfathers and the Creator.In the play, this realization of the deep danger of imbalanced power allows Jessica/Wolverine tobreak away from her attack on Bob, "remembering the ceremony," and to recognize the eternal doublebind, that by killing Bob, she is killing herself as well: she looks up from strangling him and sees that "I'mnot standing in a fertile place, I'm standing in a place that's dry and empty, like a desert. . ." (173). Withthis revelation, she is suddenly in control of her Wolverine anger, rather than controlled by it; herWolverine aspect gives up its grip on her, and "the ceremony/ returns full circle" (174). When Vitalineasks Jessica, "where's Wolverine?" she can now safely and confidently reply, "inside," just as she doeswhen Vitaline goes on to ask after Crow and Coyote and Bear as well--and after a pause, even afterUnicorn, Jessica's white-blood spiritual heritage--as each of these spirits then leave the circle of theceremony. But despite her integration of all these components of herself, Jessica must still make a finalleap of faith to complete the ceremony. Standing outside the circle, in which Jessica, having named herhistory, in a sense, now stands alone, Vitaline urges Jessica to name what she sees in the present, what147the culmination of this history is: "a woman [, Jesse replies . . . .1 we've conjured her up, and she can'tquite get through [. . . .1 She's bigger than she should be, I don't want her to be that big. . ." (174).Vitaline repeatedly insists that Jessica--standing on the brink of life and death, between history as (self-)affirmation and history as anger; feeling as if she's drowning, but urged to "keep breathing"--must namethe woman (174). Vitaline finally calls on the grandmothers and grandfathers, "give me strength!"--callsonce more on history for the active strength to shape the present--and tells Jessica that she must "call hernow or you'll never see her again. Name her" (175). At last, finally drawing her history into herself forthe strength to risk a new, life-affirming present--to give away her fears as Campbell does in facing theDevil--Jessica at last answers with her own name, "Jessica!", birthing herself and her song, claiming thespirits and powers, confirming her spiritual and cultural histories and her active place in their multipleprocesses.The ceremony of the play--its version of history--thus completes the circle that has been repeatedover and over again in the histories constructed in the commentary: the histories which, rooted in thesearch of the individual--Campbell or Griffiths--in the present, cycle again and again into the past,examining the conflicts and pains which shaped the past and the present, and resolving them into presentand future healings. The multi-generic structure, crossing boundaries, transgressing divisions, asAnnharte's poetry repeatedly crossed conventional oppositions, thus constructs history as partaking of themultiple, creative transformations of the spiritual. If The Book of Jessica has worked as a struggle betweenCampbell and Griffiths over the genre of the play, over the history it tells, the inscription of this struggle,first in anger and finally in healing, re-creates the play as a different genre entirely, repeatedly broken intoby the alternate levels of commentary but then transformed by the intrusion. The work re-creates historyas a different kind of story, repeatedly interrupted by different voices, but made equally accessible andpowerful to all participants on all levels of emotional, intellectual and spiritual response--just as art maybegin by stealing from the community, but ends in the act of giving something back to the community,transformed and transforming.PhotosAnother house, this time my grandparents' bungalow in a semi-rural area of Tennessee. Thereis a sense of air and light as we enter, speckles of sun swaying gently on gauze curtains, but the roomsmells slightly of mothballs, and the walls are covered with darkwood shelves, carpets layered likememories. Grandpa greets us on the porch, then Grandma comes slowly through from the kitchen, anold, old woman bent beneath her own weight. We all exchange awkward embraces, then pause to lookagain."You've lost weight, Walter." Grandma eyes Dad up and down. "Are you sure you eat enough?""Yes, have you had a check-up lately?" Grandpa is suddenly Dr. Stanton again, carefullyconsidering the colour of Dad's skin, the slenderness of his chest.Dad is almost gaunt, his large head balanced on long twines of limbs, but he's always been likethat. He blinks self-consciously, just barely smiles. "Well, it's been a year or so now.""Yes, it doesn't matter how we try to feed him up, he just won't keep the weight on," Mum saysin a rush of words. "The doctor says there's nothing wrong, but it's a worry that he doesn't have anyreserves, you know, if he gets the flu or something.""You should eat more." Grandma says sharply. She brushes roughly at her own heavy bulk.Grandpa's looking at Annie and me. I clearly haven't inherited Dad's light build, and i'm tallerthan both Grandma and Grandpa, now, ten years since they visited us in Saskatchewan. Annie wouldn'ttake after either of my parents anyway, but usually fashionably slender, she has begun to put on weightlately, too, her face rounder, her body thickening. Silent under Grandpa's scrutiny, she leans a littletowards me, and i to her. Everyone's looking at her, nobody's saying anything.We've come to help Grandma and Grandpa sort through their house, in preparation for theirmove into the rest home in Johnson City, but it's really that Grandma wants her sons near her again, it's148149a constant refrain throughout the visit. A hospital bed, gleaming steel and hunched mattress, crouchesin the next room. The sun pulls around the corner of the house, abandoning the curtains.I tug at my camera strap, embarrassed at my mere eighteen years. Annie's hands are clutchednervously together in front of her, her brown skin and lighter palms, like we ten year olds in churchagain. It feels like she and i have hardly even seen each other in recent years, two adolescents eachturned intently on our own escape from our parents' silent house, the draughts that blow between habitsand anger, but in this place of hanging dust, i am suddenly grateful for her.Then, Grandma turns and waves at the long, polished table, the chairs tight against it. "Let's havelunch. I made a tuna casserole, and Glenda, you know we have a woman come in to help out, she madesoup and a salad." Released into safe formula, Annie and I achieve our chairs. We raise our eyebrowsat each other over the jello salad, which is still shaking a little from its trip to the table. Annie picks upher fork and starts to poke at the casserole, but i cut the air with my hand, gesture with my eyes atGrandpa, who is bending his head to start grace. Dropping her fork, she bulges her eyes out at thevibrating salad again. I bite my lips shut just as Mum turns to glare me into silence. Grandpa is finishingthe prayer."What's Peter doing this summer?" Grandma asks. "He's twenty now?""Almost twenty-one, actually." Mum takes the casserole from her. "He's tree-planting again, upin northern Saskatchewan. It's hard work, but he earns a lot, and he seems to like being outdoors." Shesmiles, shaking her head. "That far north, the insects are terrible! Mosquitos and black flies, and whatthey call no-see-urns. I don't see how he stands it.""The mosquitos have been bad here this year, too. And you should watch out for chiggers whenyou walk in the forest," Grandpa says.Annie and i glance at each other again: chiggers? I imagine tiny hairy bogeymen, lurking behindtrees, waiting to waylay passing maidens. Annie hides her smile behind a forkful of casserole, and i reachsoberly for the lemonade. I catch Grandma's eyes watching me, but i glance away quickly."You should put mosquito repellent on your socks," Grandpa is saying. "And around your pant150legs, and your neck and sleeves, before you go out." I swallow my lemonade firmly, thinking about garlicfor vampires, mosquito repellent for bogeymen. Annie is looking intently into her soup, her face drawntight against a grin.I chase a glob of salad around the plate with my fork, finally get it balanced, but it falls offimmediately with an audible splat. Annie snorts, almost chokes. My foot touches the table leg: the jellowobbles again, shedding several bits of grated carrot. Annie's face is gratifyingly pink beneath the brown."What grade are you in?" Grandma frowns at Annie, looks at Annie's hands with a seemingdistaste."Eleven." Annie stops. After a pause, and some ten." Beside me, Mum stops chewing."Why ten?""I uh, didn't finish a few of my classes last year." Annie glances nervously towards Mum. Ireach for my glass, but it's empty."You should take your education seriously. You have to have a good education." Grandma'svoice rises with conviction. Her eyes flicker over Annie's lowered face."No, she's a little too interested in parties, gallivanting around until all hours." Mum pretendsto speak lightly, but it doesn't hide her disgust. It's the endless battle. My chest tightens on a suddenknot of hatred."And you, Carol?" Grandma's eyes fix on me. She must know the answer already."I'm going to be starting my second year of university," i admit. I glance at Annie, knowing mybetrayal, but helpless. She is braced against her chair, staring past her belly to her lap. She won't lookat me. I think i already suspected that there wasn't much difference, university or drop-out. Just differentways out."You see?" The damned old woman is relentless. "You should follow your sister's example."Mum is nodding.After lunch, Grandma goes to have a nap, leaving Dad and Grandpa chatting at the table. Mumis already immersed in a book. I signal to Annie. "Let's go outside."151The trees are loosely scattered, stilling the air over sagging ferns. Once sufficiently concealed fromthe house, Annie looks at me, then lights a cigarette that she had stashed in her sock. She blows smokeout defiantly, looks at me again."Look out for them chiggers," i say, gesturing back at the house. I could say sorry, but it's notthe way in our house.She grins through another drag, blows relief out with the smoke. She looks around at the trees.We've already reached the back fence of my grandparents' yard."Kind of boring here, eh?""Yeah," i say.We lounge against the fence for awhile, start a game of tossing bits of twig at a mushroom, tryingto see who can hit it first. Our aim is pretty bad.I watch Annie bend awkwardly down to retrieve some of the twigs, her jeans too tight since she'sgained weight. I pick up a few she missed, swing my hand back casually to toss one again, but iaccidentally backhand her instead, not hard, but enough to tell. Her rounded stomach is solid and firm,not loose like fat: i knew it would be, but i hadn't been saying, not even to myself. I'm cold with therealization that no one's saying anything, no one has been for years. I guess it's too late for an abortion.Annie knows i know, too: she must guess i planned that backstroke. I want to comfort her, butthat's not the way we are in our family."Let's go in," she says, throwing her cigarette stub into the ferns.I follow.Grandma has gotten up, and Dad and Grandpa are talking about China again: a lot of the stuffmy grandparents have to clear out is from their missionary days in China. We wander over to whereGrandpa has gotten out several pieces of traditional Chinese clothing, one of them an embroidered silkrobe, vibrant blue with green decoration."It's a man's robe," he says. "Fits me."152"Put it on!" Annie says."Yeah, put it on, let's see what it looks like!" I grab my camera from the table.Grandpa grins shyly, then carefully sticks his arms through, buttons it up. It fits perfectly."It's beautiful," Mum says from her chair."Here, let me take a photo!" Grandpa obliges, standing obediently still while i fiddle with theexposure. I snap the shutter. I might have caught him mid-blink, but Grandma's already saying, "Wealready have a photo, of both of us in traditional dress, remember, Ronald?" She leafs through severalbooks on one of the shelves, finally retrieves an old black and white print. We crowd around.Grandpa couldn't have been more than twenty-five, wearing the same robe as he has on now, andGrandma, though already a little plump, is tiny beside him in an equally ornate robe. She is almostbeautiful, certainly vibrant: her eyes would be compelling, except that her hat has slid down, halfconcealing them."You had a moustache!" i exclaim at Grandpa."He's cute, eh?" Annie nudges my ribs.She grins at Grandpa at the same time as Grandma turns an astonishing, almost flirtatious smileat him, too, but her eyes drop immediately to the photograph again, the look so brief I'm not sure i'vereally seen it."You should have told me my hat had slipped!" she exclaims. It must be exactly what she saidfifty years ago."Let's do it again, then!" Grandpa says, tugging at his robe. "We still have the other one."The robe is a deep blue, trimmed around the sleeves and down the plaquet with an ivory silk,delicate reddish flowers twining between blue borders. One side folds over the other, the cloth buttonsfastening at one side.But Grandma's gesturing emphatically. "No. It won't fit. I'm too heavy, I don't want anyone toremember me like this.""Well, without the robe, then--" Dad says.153"No. I won't."Dad and Grandpa, without his robe, stand side by side, then Mum and then Annie, her handsheld tightly down her front. She looks only sideways at the camera.I take several photos, aware of Grandma behind me. Then Dad takes the camera, and i standbeside Annie, feeling huge beside Grandpa and Mum. Mum goes to make tea; Annie, Grandpa and Dadare looking at the other photos. Grandma pushes herself from the chair, moving slowly to join Mum inthe kitchen. I raise the camera and snap: her hearing is not so good that she'll catch the sound of theshutter. Grandpa looks at me in surprise, but i shrug: she's my grandmother, my history, and this isprobably the last time i'll see her. I figure i have some rights in the matter, too.Later, my parents and grandparents are sitting at the table, discussing the planned move to therest home, Grandma insisting again that she wished Dad's brother were here to help, too. They talk aboutwills and sharing stuff out between the brothers, discuss how much space there is in the rest home, whatto do with the furniture.Annie and i sit side by side on the couch in the corner, paging through old National Geographics.Annie looks tired and uncomfortable in the humidity."Let's play a game," i say, gesturing at the pack of cards.Annie shrugs indifferently, but after we've played just three hands she's already twenty pointsahead of me, and i've got a hand of nothing but duds. I chuck down the first card i touch, and Annietakes another trick. I throw my hands up in the air in exaggerated despair, dropping several cards: Anniepicks them up for me, making a great show of not seeing what they were. I pluck another from my hand,place it emphatically on the couch between us. Annie takes the trick. I start making stupid puns on thecards I'm playing, Annie puns back, taking more tricks, and pretty soon we're so giddy, everything'sfunny. We're laughing and laughing, hardly able to stop."Shsh!" I say, suddenly remembering our grandmother at the table. Annie thinks even that'sfunny too, but her laughter stops abruptly. I look over and see that Grandma's already watching us,154frowning as usual. Mum notices Grandma, and turns to look at us, too. Mum's face is creasing into herown frown, her head begins to shake in disapproval, but Grandma's face has already opened into a smileas, drawing her eyes back from a great distance, she sighs and says:"I used to laugh like that once, when I was young."ConclusionThe cumulative effect of the cross-cultural reading strategy i have developed here might bedescribed by James Clifford's comment on the Western ethnographer's similar project of writing cross-cultural interactions: that "there is no picture that can be 'filled in,' since the perception and filling of agap lead to the awareness of other gaps" (Introduction 18). My discussion has clearly been motivated bymy desire to address what i perceived as limitations in the conventional academic approach to readingFirst Nations and perhaps other minority texts--approaches so bound up in Western European-originatedhistorical, epistemological and ontological paradigms, and initiated so exclusively by Western, academicissues and debates, that they seemed to me to miss or misunderstand vast areas of First Nations meaningand concern (as i guess it), and many of the immediate politically and historically-embedded issues ofeveryday white-First Nations interaction (as i "know" it). But at the same time, my alternative readingstrategy also inscribes an "inherently imperfect mode of knowledge that produces gaps as it fills them"(8). The reading strategies i arrive at are thus by no means to be taken as any more "genuinely" or"accurately" "First Nations" than the more conventional responses i claim to reject; indeed, my entireproject here, the process of change i have decided these texts demand of me, has been to try to discoverhow to be "true" to myself, to my own cultural identities, experiences and discursive expressions--including the academic--as the necessary predicate to a (proposed) non-dominating, non-appropriativecross-cultural interaction: to learning how to quiet my self (selves) enough to be able finally to listen tosomeone "else." As Robin Ridington quotes Simon Lucas, an Nuu-Chah-Nulth elder, as saying, "'It'simportant that we remain different. That way, you and I will get to know the meaning of understanding.What it means to understand another man's culture" ("Cultures in Conflict" 275-76).This complex effort to remain obstinately and necessarily "myself," faithful to my cultures'155156discourses while also undertaking an all-encompassing process of change that could potentially affect mybehaviour in every aspect of my discursive, social, emotional and spiritual identities and actions, meansthat even my basic academic/critical voice, as inscribed in the commentaries i develop on the varioustexts, is altered. Writing with difficulty (it's hard to break a habit of power) against the conventional"objective" stance still taken by most critics, despite recent discussions of its power-ful implications, andin nervous awareness of the concomitant assumption of the transparency and accuracy of our criticaldiscourses--again, in spite of our recognition of the problems in this assumption—i attempt instead acritical discourse that works at naming, extensively and repeatedly, the biases and desires that shape eachinterpretive decision i make and thus at highlighting the partiality and opacity of the resulting texts ofmy readings. In addition to my extensive use of endnotes--which "[drag my] text beyond its immediate. . . confines," but also demonstrate the extreme limitations of my own commentary, extensivelycontextualizing the conditions of their validity--my italicized insertions into the commentaries are furtherintended both to limit the authority of my critical responses and yet to push these responses into newareas of concern (Bannerji 33). They are meant both to bracket the validity and define the responsibilityof my readings within a very carefully localized, immediate and personal field of values, experiences anddiscourses, and yet also to demand of me a new kind of emotional and spiritual responsibility for mycritical utterances.' Risking myself in this very personal way--answering the very real risks taken by FirstNations writers in their texts with a grateful gesture of risk in return--i am forcing myself to consider farmore deeply and personally the real political, personal and emotional implications of my responses totheir risky texts, both for me and for them.It goes without saying that i actually achieve such self-awareness and accurate responsibility onlysporadically in my several levels of critical and personal response, and at that, always under the influenceof my own continued biases and desires--so that if i do manage a gesture of emphasizing, at least in thismetonymic, representative way, the simultaneous limitations and responsibilities of my readings, i am notat all certain that i am doing any more justice to the First Nations texts i am reading than a moreconventional reading might. For example, in the main commentaries, my choice of a genre-based structure157was intended to function on both symbolic and practical levels as the deliberate imposition of a European-originated system of identification and thought onto the First Nations texts—a deliberate staging of theappropriation of First Nations writing for use in a white academic project (Tapping 93)--but at the sametime, my purpose was also to set my own critical p