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Role of Native Americans in Silko’s Ceremony Novel

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The Invisibility of Native-Americans in Silko’s Ceremony

In Silko’s ceremony, many Indians felt that they were equal to the white people when they were given the opportunity to be part of the military that took part in the World War II. The Indian sliders acquired a new status during the war and they found it difficult to relinquish that status after the completion of the war. After the completion of the war, the whites took way their uniform since their role of being soldiers was over. Consequently, the Native Indians felt invisible before the white culture. Racism in the contemporary America hurts the native Indians because it makes them to feel invisible before the whites and other races.

In Ceremony, the white people displaced the natives from their land and the natives have been mourning the loss of their lands for many years now. In reference to the consequence of displacement, Silko describes that “Every day they had to look at the land from horizon to horizon, and every day the loss was with then; it was the dead unburied, and the mourning of loss going on forever. So they tried to sink the loss in booze, defending the land they had already lost” (157). The natives resent the white people for taking way their land. The only way they can cope with the loss of their precious land is through the booze. Therefore, the problem of alcoholism among the native Indians commenced the moment the natives realized that they had lost control over their ancestral land. Alcoholism among the natives have led to the development of various stereotypes against his community. The white people use the serotypes to justify their taking of the land because they feel that the natives are too busy with drinking to manage their own land. The stereotypes do not consider the root cause of the racism but rather they are aimed at justifying racial discrimination against the native people.

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In the same way, the land Acts in America encourage racism towards the native Indians. The Acts deny them the right to control their native lands. Boyer asserts that “The right to govern an ancestral homeland is the iconic struggle of Indigenous peoples that echoes around the globe. At the heart of the contest is the vital relationship of people to their homelands, whether they now share their homeland with other cultures or whether they live as nations-within-nations” (211). The Indians have lost control over their ancestral land due to the unfavorable acts imposed by the government. An example of an unfavorable land cat is the Finmark Land Act that was passed in 2005.The loss of control is unfavorable to their continuance and the survival of their culture and they community as a whole. The Indians are in a dilemma because of the disputed control and ownership of their tribal lands and this makes them to feel oppressed. Furthermore, they suffer a lot and even lose their lives in the struggle to take control of their native lands.

Police brutality towards the native Indians is rampant today. Fountain writes that “Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other ethnic group in the U.S., but the national dialogue about racial bias and criminal justice reform continues to exclude them” (1). The USA is complacent to the neglect and marginalization of the naive Indians because not much has been done to stop the police’s brutality towards the native Indians. The police are brutal towards the native Indians because they have profiled them as criminals. The Americas are oblivious of the challenges of the naive Indians because the talk about police brutality revolves around the Latinos and the black people. Furthermore, the discrimination of the native communities is not limited to the aspect of criminal justice but it also extends to issue of sexual violence. The Native American women are assaulted, kidnaped and murdered. Other woman have been victims of sexual trafficking.

Notably, the native Indians face a lot of pressure to conform to the white culture and this is a threat to their native culture’s survival. In Ceremony, Tayo says “White woman never looked at me until I put on that uniform, and then by God I was a U.S marine” (37).Tayo’s claim confirms that the other people consider the native’s culture unattractive or backward that is why they do nor respect them. They do not like the natives for who they are but rather they like them why they comply or follow the white culture. The white women tell Tayo that he is handsome once he dresses in the Military uniform and it is more of a flattery because they would not do the same if he were dressed in his native attires. Therefore, the pressure to confirm to the white people’s standards nod culture pushes the natives from their culture.

Similarly, native Indians today have been condemned because they are used as constant reminder of the native Indians that they are not equal to other people. The mascots mock the native people and this hinders them from participating in societal activities just like people from other ethnic communities. Gallant writes that “Native mascots are a lingering reminder that the Indigenous cannot participate in society equally, nor expect the simplest rights that every person takes for granted”. The mascots remind them of how they have been forced for live in the furthest and poorest region in the USA, how they have been evicted from the ancestral lands and how they have been induced to give up their heritage. Therefore, the mascots induce sad memories throughout the history of the native Indian people.

Furthermore, the white people in Ceremony exhibit a racist attitude when recruiting the native Indian men that will fight in the world war two. The recruiter tells Tayo and Rocky “Anyone can fight for American, even you boys. In a time of need, anyone can fight for her” (Silko 64). Even though the recruiter’s words are inclusive and encouraging for two native boys, they are condescending and racist for an experienced person. They recruit even young boys into the army and this is highly offensive for the native Indians. They use patriotism as an excuse of luring the young boys to fight during the World War II hence they do not care about the safety of the young boys who are the future of their parents and the native Indians’ community as a whole. The label of patriotism is empty because it is aimed at exposing the native Indians to danger and thus it comprise humanity towards the native people.

The stereotypical depiction of the native Indians in the media has been detrimental to their self-understanding and it has encouraged o people from other ethnicities to discriminate against the native Indians. The social media has made the other people to misunderstand that is why they do not accord them the respect that they deserve. According to Leavitt et al., “Some social groups, like Native Americans, are rarely portrayed in mass media and, in the rare cases they appear, they are typically depicted in a stereotypical and historical fashion. The lack of contemporary representation of Native Americans in the media limits the ways in which Native Americans understand what is possible for themselves and how they see themselves fitting in to contemporary domains (e.g., education and employment) of social life” (40). Therefore, the Native Americans feel invisible because the media has undermined the degree to which they understand themselves. Accordingly, the do not enjoy the American identity because they do not feel to part of the American society. In the end the feeling of invisibility evokes self-stereotyping and deindividuation among the native Indians.


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