Tribal Identity In Louise Erdrich's Four Souls

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Tribal identity cannot be generalized, defined, or explained. If tribal identity could be succinctly explained, then it could also be explained away. If tribal identity could be explained, it could be reduced to such a definition, and eradicated. For tribal identity to survive over time, it must also change with time. For one to maintain tribal identity, they must adapt to modernity. Modernity is inevitable and unavoidable; modernity is also injustice. Modernity is filled with harm and ulterior motives. It is full of capitalism and competition, and a disregard for Native values. Western and Native ideals share very little overlap, and by definition, the dominant society will win out in a competition for a society that is conducive to supporting one’s ideals. Modernity does not support tribalism – simple as that. Louise Erdrich writes Four Souls through various narrators, but leaves one character to only be read about through other narrators. Fleur never speaks for herself in Four Souls, or any other Erdrich novels for that matter. Instead, others speak for her and do their best to portray her. This situation parallels Natives and Western forces and government. Natives are rarely given the opportunity to speak for themselves, and the problem…show more content…
While many Natives would see change in a negative light, Four Souls is optimistic that change to self in response to a changing environment does not need to be bad. One can change, because changing as society changes is the only way to survive. Modernity is simply not conducive to Native tribal identity as it was before colonialism. In response to the obvious and unavoidable morphed landscape and inhabitants, it makes sense for one’s tribal identity morph as well. This does not need a negative connotation, nor does it need a concrete definition. Ambiguous change to self happens in sync with ambiguous change to the world around us, and there is nothing wrong with
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