Grandfather Sky: How American Indian Lifestyle Differences

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With the majority of the American Indian population living in urban environments instead of on reservation lands, American Indian youth and adolescence often struggle with understanding their personal identity. The 1993 film Grandfather Sky follows the story of a young Navajo teenager named Charlie who is sent to live on the reservation with his uncle Ben after being arrested several times in his hometown of Denver, Colorado. Charlie’s experiences illustrate the major lifestyle differences between living in an urban city and on traditional reservation lands and make clear the effects that these lifestyle factors have on the overall wellbeing of American Indian youth. As the beginning scenes of Grandfather Sky suggest, while living in the city, Charlie was largely unaccepted and misunderstood due to the color of his skin and his cultural association. The neighborhood kids referred to him as a “dirty Indian” and their verbal and physical…show more content…
In the city, it seemed that Charlie could not help getting into trouble in some way or another, and this is largely attributable to the lack of guidance from leaders and mentors available to him. Since they are still maturing both physically and mentally and building the foundation for their future, it is exceptionally important that American Indian youth have people they can look up to as role models while they transition into adulthood (Estrada, 3/8/17). Without such guidance, Charlie does not recognize the value or purpose of his life, and his sketches suggest that he is even contemplating suicide (00:05:00). Recognizing that his life needs to change, Charlie’s mother sends him to stay with her brother on the Navajo Indian Reservation in hopes that he can become better. Not only is the reservation much more rural and less commercialized, as Charlie discovers, life on the reservation is more slowly paced and grounded in traditional beliefs. His uncle slowly teaches Charlie
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