Student group work on “Nedawi,” by Suzette LaFlesche, and “A Red Girl’s Reasoning,” by Pauline Johnson


Group: Natalie, John, Samantha & Michaela
"Nedawi" is targeted towards young White readers. The narrative relates a normal day in the life of a young Indian girl, and serves to inspire "cultural relativism" in its readers. This story tries to bridge the gap between the Indian and White cultures, by presenting a pleasant, idealistic community life that appeals to children.

Group: Robin, George and Morgan
The children show a realistic style of their play, which shows their parents’ everyday routine. The children also show their awareness of their environment and their social customs in their play. For example the girls playing house and cooking soup to feed their family, and the boys going out to gather fruits for the girls. This also shows that the community supports every one of its members and the length they are willing to go through to do so, even as a small child. The writer compares white children to native American children and how they are similar and different, concerning their customs and attitudes towards one another.

Group: Ian, Chelsea, Keith, and Evangelina
Our topic of discussion involves the “social customs” within the tribe. The social customs that we found interesting and relevant included the roles of the men, women, and children. Each role was a valued necessity for the function of the tribe along with the plot. For example, when Nedawi asked her grandmother for a bedtime story, the grandmother replied, “I cannot because it is summer.” She then tells a “native story” to young Nedawi. However, when Nedawi asks her father for guidance about the bird, he says, “God, I give you back your little bird.” In our opinion, we believe he was expressing a belief in Christianity. This could also be a direct consequence of the Author’s perspective.

“A Red Girl’s Reasoning”

Group: Calita, Lorraine, Henry and Dustin
The main point presented by Pauline Johnson in "A Red Girl's Reasoning" was addressing a combination of the different respective cultural values of the whites and the Indians and the various social codes, laws and basic authority of the time. These issues are rather abrubtly brought into the light when one of the white women begins to inquire about Christine's parents and in particular their marriage at a social gathering, when Christine explains her parents were joined through a traditional native ceremony and not by a priest or even a justice of the peace she is quickly seen as a child born out of official wedlock. This angers and causes her husband Charlie to feel insulted because he is now married to someone who is in the eyes of his peers essentially a bastard child. This in turn causes him to be seen as less of a man. It is because of this small technicality that he loses sight of the love he felt for Christine and begins to berate and put down his wife and her parents. Christine, in counter to Charlie’s logic, refuses to accept the union between her and Charlie so long as he refuses to accept the union between her parents and consequently leaves him. After a short time Charlie begins to see the folly in both his and white society’s ways of thinking and sets out to find his wife, however, when he finds her, she refuses to take him back, leaving him to live with his white culture biased choice and not his native born wife.

Group: Taylor, Elisa, Rodger, Renee
“Cultural Values”
A significant difference in cultural values between Native Americans and the white population can be seen in "Red Girl's Reasoning" when the issue of marriage is discussed. The Native American culture places more value on the actual promise a man and woman make to each other rather than an actual marriage ceremony. No priest or middle man is necessary in establishing the sanctity of the marriage. On the other hand, white culture only recognizes marriages performed by a priest. The promise a man and woman are making to each other is not valid unless it is confirmed within the church. Although both cultures recognize marriage, they place different values on the method for establishing . . .?

Group: Brendan’s group
The inability of the white people to accept the custom of the natives has caused a rift to form between the two peoples. While Christie accepts the marriage rituals of her husbands people she feels betrayed when her husband makes it clear to her that the customs of her people are insignificant and unimportant. This betrayal ultimately causes her to leave her husband. While he does soon come to his senses, the damage his actions have caused are irreparable and Christie refuses to return to him claiming that her love for him is gone. If it was not for the inability of the whites to understand and support the customs of the natives then this romantic disaster could have been avoided, but because the whites cannot trust the rituals of the natives, the natives can, likewise, not trust the whites. Without trust the rift between the two cannot be closed.