Study Guide

Windigo Tradition and Customs

By Louise Erdrich

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Tradition and Customs

Stories are a central aspect of Native American culture. They form an intricate web of meaning that transcends the boundaries space and time, connecting people and experiences past, present and future. Stories are deeply rooted in tradition—a tradition, however, that is ongoing. In this sense, stories are alive, ever-changing and transforming with a changing and transforming people. Erdrich is a modern Native American storyteller, part of this rich tradition. With "Windigo," she adapts this tradition of storytelling for a modern context.

Questions About Tradition and Customs

  1. What could it mean for a story to be alive? How might "Windigo," in this sense, be alive?
  2. How does Erdrich's poem fit into this tradition of Native American storytelling? How might she also be changing, or updating the tradition?
  3. Do you think that someone can really be an "authentic" Native American storyteller in today's world? How or how not?

Chew on This

The Windigo represents, in part, a loss of connection to tradition and tribal values—bummer.

The role of storyteller in Native American culture historically involved teaching. Erdrich, as a modern-day, Native American storyteller, is trying to teach us certain important lessons. So listen up.

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