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Word Count: 790
There is a story to it the way there is a story to all never visible while it is happening Only after when an old man sits dreaming and talking in his chair the design springs clear There was so much we never saw and never knew --Nanapush in Tracks We started dying before the snow and like the snow we continued to fall So begins Nanapush as he recalls the winter of 1912 when consumption the last in a line of diseases brought by the Europeans wiped out whole families of Ojibwa unraveling tribes like a coarse rope By bearing witness to the story of his familys and peoples disintegration Nanapush a tribal elder and sole survivor of his family is intent on resisting death on leaving tracks in the snow for those who come after to follow Exemplifying one of the novels central themes--that storytelling is one way Native Americans have fended off cultural and historical extinction--Nanapush presses a sense of the past upon his young listener his adopted granddaughter Lulu who herself is a remnant of a remnant--the only child of another sole survivor of a family destroyed by consumption the fierce and unassimilated Fleur Pillager But Nanapush has more immediate goals as well to try to save Fleurs land from the US governments claims and to save the tribe from being destroyed by the battles over land tenure between the tribe and white settlers For the survival of the traditional world that sustains Nanpush and Fleur is threatened by corrosive forces that have taken root within the community as well as by the venality of the whites without Pauline the novels second narrator a half-breed from a mixed-blood tribe for which the name is lost is representative of the self-division that erodes the Chippewa community from within It is Pauline who out of jealousy and hurt pride magically causes Eli Kashpaw Fleurs unfortunate lover to betray Fleur with the young
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