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)
They came to our gym, so I wasn't going to get burned at the stake. In fact, my white fans were going to cheer for me like I was some kind of crusading warrior: figure 25.1.
Jeez, I felt like one of those Indian scouts who led the U.S. Cavalry against other Indians. (25.45-25.46)
Basketball is a tradition important to both the Spokane Indian Reservation and the white community in Reardan. The court is like a battleground where the two armies face off. But which side is Arnold fighting on? Notice how he links up the match with the history of conflict between Indians and white people.
Townspeople were starting to compare us to the great Reardan teams of the past. People were starting to compare some of our players to great players of the past.
Roger, our big man, was the new Joel Wetzel.
Jeff, our point guard, was the new Little Larry Soliday.
James, our small forward, was the new Keith Schulz.
But nobody talked about me that way. I guess it was hard to compare me to players from the past. I wasn't from the town, not originally, so I would always be an outsider.
And no matter how good I was, I would always be an Indian. (25.34-25.38)
Though he is helping lead the team to victory, the Reardan townsfolk are having a hard time fitting Arnold into the legacy of Reardan basketball. Is it simply because Arnold is an Indian? Is Arnold making his own new legacy at Reardan?
"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 goin 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)
Arnold is forging his identity as a "nomad." While this might sound new to some, Rowdy points out that the older Indians were themselves nomadic.