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The Reason You Walk
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The Reason You Walk > Question #2: Indigenous traditions

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Wab Kinew describes many indigenous traditions of the Anishinaabe culture throughout this memoir/biography, from naming ceremonies, dream interpretations, adoption ceremonies, sundances, etc. Did any of them leave an impression on you? Positive or negative? If you haven't yet read the book, are there any other native traditions that you are familiar with and that have impressed you in some way? If so, what are they?


Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I was particularly struck by Kinew's descriptions of the sundance ceremonies in his book - the physical suffering and endurance involved and the dedication of those who participate in it. It gave me an appreciation for the history and importance of the sundance to its participants, and I think I would look upon seeing the actual ceremony with different eyes because I read this book.

Going back to our first question, I think this reinforces the power of memoir. While I might not pick up a book about Anishinaabe culture, I do enjoy reading memoir, and Wab's experiences lead this reader to greater understanding.


Allison | 396 comments I loved the naming traditions...I thought it was very beautiful for the father to go outside and be inspired by something he noticed in nature, of the day, its weather or any animal that may appear and name his son accordingly. It seems so natural, symbolic and significant, and I think this in turn gives more weight to the name, and is somehow transferred to the child and his/her disposition/nature.

I also loved the significance placed on dreams/visions. That even as a small boy, Wab called for his father to interpret his dream, and the whole vision was treated with great gravitas and respect. That Wab's boyhood dream should be interpreted to mean that he should be a pipe carrier, a great honour, was also significant. It somehow conveys the idea of responsibility onto his small shoulders ...I found this very beautiful too.


Susan | 130 comments I too was struck by the Sun Dancers. I had not realized that this tradition was so important in the modern age ... I guess I have seen too many movies with "Hollywood Indians". While Kinew explains them in great detail, I found myself wishing I could actually see the ceremony as it is hard to believe the physical brutality of it (if my imagination is correct.) Like Allison, I also enjoyed the naming tradition and the importance of connecting the name and the life journey/ character of the person holding that name.


Allison | 396 comments Susan wrote: "I too was struck by the Sun Dancers. I had not realized that this tradition was so important in the modern age ... I guess I have seen too many movies with "Hollywood Indians". While Kinew explains..."

Yes, the physical brutality of the "cutting" is hard to believe, but two years ago I read Boyden's The Orenda, which certainly made such practices evident to me in ways I had never before experienced in literature. That said though, like you Susan, I would love to witness one.


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