The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
How we cite our quotes:
The reservation is beautiful.
I mean it.
Take a look.
There are pine trees everywhere. Thousands of ponderosa pine trees. Millions. I guess you can take pine trees for granted. They're just pine trees. But they're tall and thin and green and brown and big.
Some of the pines are ninety feet tall and more than three hundred years old.
Older than the United States. (30.1-30.7)
We see here just how complex Arnold's relationship is to his home in Wellpinit. The reservation may be a prison, but it is also very, very beautiful. Why is it significant that some of the trees on the reservation are older than the United States?
"So, anyway," he said. "I was reading this book about old-time Indians, about how we used to be nomadic."
"Yeah," I said.
"So I looked up nomadic in the dictionary, and it means people who move around, who keep moving, in search of food and water and grazing land."
"That sounds about right."
"Well, the thing is, I don't think Indians are nomadic anymore. Most Indians, anyway."
"No, we're not," I said.
"I'm not nomadic," Rowdy said. "Hardly anybody on this rez is nomadic. Except for you. You're the nomadic one."
"No, I'm serious. I always knew you were going to leave. I always knew you were going to leave us behind and travel the world. I had this dream about you a few months ago. You were standing on the Great Wall of China. You looked happy. And I was happy for you." (30.176-30.184)
Believe it or not, Rowdy is the one to offer us some insight about Arnold's relationship to his home. As a "nomad," Arnold is not bound to one geographical location. Much like the old timey Indians, he moves from place to place, in search of what he needs to survive: food, water, basketball, books, etc. Arnold belongs to many different tribes, so all places are potentially his home. It is not the physical setting that makes Arnold who he is, it is what he does.