The Role Of Orientalism In Richard Wagamese's Keeper N Me

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Richard Wagamese’s semi-autobiographical novel Keeper’n Me paints the portrait of a young man’s experience—one shared by many Indigenous peoples across Canada—revealing a new perspective on Aboriginal life. First Nations have often been romanticized and the subject of Western fantasies rather than Indigenous truth concerning Aboriginal ways rooted in “respect, honor, kindness, sharing and much, much love” (Wagamese, 1993 quote). Keeper’n Me tells the story of Garnet Raven, an Ojibway, who is taken from his family as a child by the Children’s Aid Society, and placed in a number of (white) foster families, where his Indigenous identity is stripped away. He serves time for drug charges, during which he receives a letter from his brother, inviting him back to the White Dog Reserve to rekindle ties with his people and learn about Ojibway culture, traditions, spirituality, and philosophy with the help of his community and his teacher, Keeper, an elder and recovering alcoholic who was instructed in his earlier years by Raven’s grandfather. In viewing the novel through the theoretical frameworks of the “Middle Ground”, “Orientalism”, and “Agency”, Keeper’n Me explores Canadian-Indigenous relations in a moving, yet humorous way, as well as the meaning of “being” a First Nation in modern society, and finally the ways Canadian-Indigenous peoples can reclaim their (hi)story through the processes of decolonization.
In order to understand the frameworks, the terms “Middle Ground”,

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