The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Tradition and Custom Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations for the text follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph); for art and illustrations: (Chapter.Illustration)
I always think it's funny when Indians celebrate Thanksgiving. I mean, sure, the Indians and Pilgrims were best friends during that first Thanksgiving, but a few years later, the Pilgrims were shooting Indians.
So I'm never quite sure why we eat turkey like everybody else.
"Hey, Dad," I said. "What do Indians have to be so thankful for?"
"We should give thanks that they didn't kill all of us."
We laughed like crazy. It was a good day. Dad was sober. Mom was getting ready to nap. Grandma was already napping. (14.4-14.8)
How is the Spirit family's relationship to Thanksgiving different than a white family's?
"Listen," Ted said. "I know you've heard that before. I know white people say that all the time. But I still need to say it. I love Indians. I love our songs, your dances, and your souls. And I love your art. I collect Indian art."
Oh, God, he was a collector. Those guys made Indians feel like insects pinned to a display board. I looked around the football field. Yep, all of my cousins were squirming like beetles and butterflies with pins stuck in their hearts. (23.35-23.36)
Billionaire Ted is a rich white man who collects Indian art. To him, the powwow outfit is a commodity to be bought and consumed. How does all of this make Junior feel? Take a look at figure 23.2 for a hint. What do we learn from Junior's drawing of Billionaire Ted?
And so, laughing and crying, we said good-bye to my grandmother. And when we said good-bye to one grandmother, we said good-bye to all of them.
Each funeral was a funeral for all of us.
We lived and died together.
All of us laughed when they lowered my grandmother into the ground.
And all of us laughed when they covered her with dirt.
And all of us laughed as we walked and drove and rode our way back to our lonely, lonely houses. (23.122-23.127)
In the Indian tradition, death is not an event experience by one, but by all. A funeral is a communal event that brings everyone together.