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In the beginning there was Ishmael, Hawkeye, Robinson Crusoe, and the Lone Ranger.No, wait Let s get this right It s not good to make mistakes with stories.So in the beginning there was Lionel and his auntie Norma, whose good advice is that it is okay to make mistakes in life but never make one with carpet, you must choose wisely Sigh.In the beginning there was nothing but water Water, water everywhere And Coyote Heeheehee.Oh, dear.In the beginning there was a wonderfully confusing but brilliant story that eventually made sense than many serious stories, because there are many serious topics hidden in its pages Homecoming, learning who you are supposed to be, dealing with the White Man Versus Native American issue, recognizing the value of life, fixing things from the past Except you have to be careful with that, especially if you are four cleverly named men or women much older than you used to be and your powers are fading Okay, I m on a roll now You will laugh, you will say what is he talking about You will say oh, now I understand.I think You will want to read the whole thing all over again right away And probably will need to in order to get all the imagery unless you are much clever than I am and catch it all the first time through Actually, it is very easy to be much clever than I am..just watch out for the poop In the end, there was the Nissan, the Pinto, and the Kharmann Ghia And Coyote He is a tricky dude, that one As long as the grass is green and the waters run Heeheehee. Green Grass, Running Water is a tale of cosmogony and genesis in Indian style First Woman s garden That good woman makes a garden and she lives there with Ahdamn I don t know where he comes from Things like that happen, you know.So there is that garden And there is First Woman and Ahdamn And everything is perfect And everything is beautiful And everything is boring.So First Woman goes walking around with her head in the clouds, looking in the sky for things that are bent and need fixing So she doesn t see that tree So that tree doesn t see her So they bump into each other.Pardon me, says that Tree, maybe you would like something to eat Everything begins in different places and in the end everything converges and culminates in a single point If anything, the novel is very original In a democracy, everyone gets a turn Nonsense, in a democracy, only people who can afford it get a turn This is the briefest and most acid summary of democracy I ve ever seen. GREEN GRASS, RUNNING WATER was published in 1993, and I think that plays into some of the context of the book with regard to Native Americans and Native Canadians In the early 1990 s there was a resurgence of Native cultural awareness Films like DANCES WITH WOLVES were applauded for a precise and truthful look into the lives of Native Americans in the history of our country I have always enjoyed reading fiction and non fiction books dealing with the Aboriginal people of our continent I appreciated King s portrayal of the modern world, and the traditional world, and of industrial advancements versus nature There exists a theme here as well of the encroachment of the White world, in connection with the environmental consciousness of the Indigenous world I particularly liked the humor of King s Creationism narrative, with the Blackfoot oral tradition duking it out with the rigid Christian doctrine That was very sharp and VERY funny However, there were times when this book left me a little flat I got a strange sensation that along with King s wit and sarcasm there was sometimes an intentional smirk thrown in too Of all the white characters in the book, only a few of them seem to have any redeemable qualities at all I ve always loved the Canadian band, THE GUESS WHO, and the lyrics to their song American Woman kept running through my mind while I was reading this novel With GREEN GRASS, RUNNING WATER, I m hoping that King intended to speak to a wide audience that included people of all races and cultures I can smile at the fact that I m a White John Wayne loving American because I don t have a problem at all if King pokes fun at that In the end, whether you are white, red, black, brown, yellow, green, or purple there always remains the good and the bad in all human beings It s often best to laugh at yourself once in awhile.I liked this sequence at the end of the story Wait a minute, said Ishmael Wait a minute Before we began did anyone offer an apology Wasn t Coyote going to do that said Robinson Crusoe Apologize for what says Coyote In case we hurt anyone s feelings, said Hawkeye Okay, okay, says Coyote I m sorry That didn t sound very sorry, Coyote, said the Lone Ranger Remember the last time you rushed through a story and didn t apologize I am really very, VERY sorry, says Coyote Okay, says the Lone Ranger We believe you Hee hee says Coyote Hee hee. This was a bookclub read and one that I didn t get into until maybe 100 pages in In the end I quite liked it I don t really read too much Canadian fiction, something I m trying to remedy, and it s nice to be able to read a book which discusses places I m familiar with And with the Idle No More movement that is taking place in North America right now, it was definitely a good time to read this book Native Canadian and American awareness is definitely needed This book introduces truly memorable characters and satirizes how non Natives perceive Natives.Of course the obligatory Native trickster is included, as well as Native mythology of the creation of the world.I have to admit that I only gave the book 4 stars after my bookclub friends explained some of the Native and literature symbolism to me When I realized what King was trying to do the book became interesting to me I will probably have to re read this one in the future. The format of this novel and the cyclical oral tradition literary mashup that King presents us with is fantastic, interesting, and satirical of canon, as well as Western Native cultures The three levels of narration are intriguing and although they may complicate the story at times, they provide a certain amusement and insight that would not otherwise be possible The characters are believable and lovable and when the novel is finished you will feel as if you have lost a close friend The part that I most enjoyed, however, was King s humour Witty and satirical and just out right funny, it was a great I highly recommend this book to all adult readers This is book candy totally fun to read The novel has four movements, each of which begin with a creation story of sorts King is mocking the grandiosity and fixities of the storied biblical tradition, fusing these dominant dominating narratives with characters from the western literary canon, old hollywood and Indian pop culture The story begins with Old Coyote the mythic force in charge of it all Coyote has a dream, and the dream starts to believe that it s in charge of the world The dream says , I want to be Coyote and Coyote says, no, sorry, that identity s taken You can be dog But, of course, in all his consequent confusion, dog gets confused and starts calling himself god The rest, of course, is biblical history These creation stories diverge wildly from the canonical versions All circulate around a central female figure who encounters other mythical characters There s First Woman who meets the Lone Ranger, there s Thought Woman who meets Robinson Crusoe, there s Changing Woman who meets Ishmael The mythical, creation like stories, are inserted in between the flashes of narrative culled from a group of characters on near related to a reservation in Alberta They re all connected in a strange web of relations that only becomes coherent the we read They re interrupted by myth and some of mythic characters, including a new talking coyote, the Lone Ranger, Robinson Crusoe, Ishmael, and Hawkeye actually become characters in the story The patterns in the narrative, the little fractured tidbits of story, actually, remind me of that film Shortcuts The book was published in 1993, so maybe there are some late 1990s stylistic decisions being made here.At any rate,it sounds complex, but I think the approach is actually deceptively simple King presents a well executed illustration of a cosmology in which myth and daily life are improvisationally, circularly, fused Haunting, gothic figural truths or sacralities have no place here Rather, what we have to work with to read, to understand is a net of people who whether they like it or not are somehow bound together in a complicated enterprise which serves no real teleological purpose but, instead, generates story on top of story, on top of story. On a certain level, this book is a difficult read, but on the surface it s a lively satire that s kind of fun The author goes back and forth between a contemporary storyline focusing on a reserve community, the adventures of four Native elders, and sections resembling Native oral tradition, with an unknown narrator telling Coyote a story There are so many layers and nuances in this book, but regardless of your depth of understanding, it s not hard to see that the author is critiquing the exploitation of Native people and their lands. &Free Epub ☚ Green Grass, Running Water ⇰ Strong, Sassy Women And Hard Luck Hardheaded Men, All Searching For The Middle Ground Between Native American Tradition And The Modern World, Perform An Elaborate Dance Of Approach And Avoidance In This Magical, Rollicking Tale By Cherokee Author Thomas King Alberta Is A University Professor Who Would Like To Trade Her Two Boyfriends For A Baby But No Husband Lionel Is Forty And Still Sells Televisions For A Patronizing Boss Eli And His Log Cabin Stand In The Way Of A Profitable Dam Project These Three And Others Are Coming To The Blackfoot Reservation For The Sun Dance And There They Will Encounter Four Indian Elders And Their Companion, The Trickster Coyote And Nothing In The Small Town Of Blossom Will Be The Same Again Definitely a book worth reading as well as rereading It reminded me, oddly enough, of Joseph Heller s Catch 22 The dialogue among characters is rambunctious and satirical, the narrative revisits an important story throughout the novel i.e., Catch 22 s Snowden scene , and it s duplicitously fantastical and real Arguably, both novels also are anti imperial, though, that s a stretch with one being anti war and the other being anti establishment my opinion, of course The major point I carried away from Green Grass, Running Water was how unacceptable western white culture can be of any other, different culture But, even striking, is how it shows that all cultures struggle to accept change whether the culture is black, white, red, etc This is a book full of characters who must mask themselves in order to escape the figurative prison that their own uniqueness creates, which is to say that in order to live among the masses one must act and or become part of the dominant culture mass In the context of Green Grass, Running Water, Native Canadian Americans use the device of masking their culture in order to escape the stigmas applied to them by a majority Once they are absolved of the stigma, they drop the disguise and run free for a bit until they are eventually pursued and recaptured then the cycle repeats imprisonment, breakout, freedom, imprisonment, breakout, freedom, etc.The unique thing about Green Grass, Running Water is that it is actually applicable to anyone who feels imprisoned within their, to steal from Terence McKeena, cultural operating system As a reader, I got the sense that even the white characters of the novel were not so much portrayed as dumb as they were trapped Stereotypes were not only applied to Native people but applied to all people However, it s very important to understand that it is only the Native people in this novel who are able to break free from the trap, which is what makes Green Grass, Running Water quintessentially Native American.Green Grass, Running Water is a reference to the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson s, directive to Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek people regarding their needing to essentially move out of the way of white settlement in Mississippi and other surrounding territories Howard Zinn eloquently describes this in his article, As Long as the Grass Grows or Water Runs which I also believe is in his book A People s History of the United States I have provided Zinn s quotation from Jackson here The proper tactic had now been found The Indians would not be forced to go West But if they chose to stay they would have to abide by state laws, which destroyed their tribal and personal rights and made them subject to endless harassment and invasion by white settlers coveting their land If they left, however, the federal government would give them financial support and promise them lands beyond the Mississippi Jackson s instructions to an army major sent to talk to the Choctaws and Cherokees put it this way Say to my reel Choctaw children, and my Chickasaw children to listen my white children of Mississippi have extended their law over their country Where they now are, say to them, their father cannot prevent them from being subject to the laws of the state of Mississippi The general government will be obliged to sustain the States in the exercise of their right Say to the chiefs and warriors that I am their friend, that I wish to act as their friend but they must, by removing from the limits of the States of Mississippi and Alabama and by being settled on the lands I offer them, put it in my power to be such There, beyond the limits of any State, in possession of land of their own, which they shall possess as long as Grass grows or water runs I am and will protect them and be their friend and father That phrase as long as Grass grows or water runs was to be recalled with bitterness by generations of Indians Zinn, As Long as the Grass Grows or Water Runs, In the end, this book is absolutely thought provoking and sad It s satirical and shameful I loved it. One reading of Green Grass, Running Water is the knock at the door of a lodge filled with possibility Let me say this, after my first scan of the book a first full read is really only a scan I have formulated many questions than opinions This is because voice, style, motive and method present so many innovative as well as questionable textual issues King uses the metaphor of four age old ancient Indians four directions, four worlds, etc to deconstruct contemporary colonial imagery In addition, he disobeys the boundaries of gender and just about every other hegemonic given in the way modern society views nativism Bravo He also capitalizes on trickster as the way into this discussion This is truly a creation story with clever Coyote serving as the perfect necessary comic relief for the novel I thought the book was a Coyote creation story, says Coyote That s unlikely, says Tom No, no, says Coyote It s the truth There are no truths, Coyote, Tom says Only stories Okay, says Coyote Tell me a story 326.There s no other way he could successfully debunk John Wayne These transformative characters Thought Woman as Robinson Crusoe, Moby Dick as Moby Jane are all metaphors with miles of symbolic suggestion His subversion of what I think I ll refer to as dominion discourse requires the reader to question the reality of western thinking But here is where I see a problem The question of who, then, is the audience is important Is the native mixed blood, other nation writer creating this work for the native reader or the non native postcolonial audience One might say for both, since it is a story that explores the cosmically intermingled lives of five people who are first nations as well as deconstructing the hegemonic use of canonical texts and popular racist culture imagery So then, in my nascent understanding of this first read, I have to further ask, for whom does it benefit It is very much written in an oral arrangement It weaves, inverts and plays heyoka a coyote trait in the directions it moves But, I wonder if it is truly literature for native communities to read and embrace as a reflection of their particular experiences or if it is a trick in itself to be read by non natives for the purpose of deconstructing postcolonial imagery In either case, or both, I have to applaud King s placement of both native and non native actors on a stage of shared cultural landscape to tell a divisive history.