Indian Horse

Erasing the Indian in 'Indian Horse' College

Aboriginal identity and the struggle to maintain it amongst other hostile forces is a major theme in Richard Wagamese’s novel, Indian Horse. The book charts the journey of Saul Indian Horse, a young Ojibway boy, as he is separated from his family, and brought to a residential school that aims to erase Indian culture from Aboriginal children’s minds. In Tracking Heaven, Richard Van Camp brings up the question, “Who is the bigger liar? – The story teller or those who don’t tell stories?” and concludes with the declaration that “silence is a lie” (5). I argue that Saul’s struggle to articulate the traumatic experiences that he goes through is precisely a resistance against the residential school’s silencing of his cultural identity. This is made especially prominent in Chapter 12 of the novel, when Saul lists down, one by one, the children who he meets in the school, along with their backstories. Here, silence is presented as a form of erasure, and by telling his and their stories, Saul rebuilds and resists the erasure of the children’s identities, as well as that of the Aboriginal culture.

In Chapter 12, silencing is presented as a way to erase the Aboriginal culture from the children. They are prohibited from speaking their...

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