By Leslie Silko, Larry McMurtry

ISBN-10: 1440621829

ISBN-13: 9781440621826

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The mule whinnied and leaned against the sagging gate; Tayo reached into the coffee can and he held some corn under the quivering lips. When the corn was gone, the mule licked for the salt taste on his hand; the tongue was rough and wet, but it was also warm and precise across his fingers. Tayo looked at the long white hairs growing out of the lips like antennas, and he got the choking in his throat again, and he cried for all of them, and for what he had done. For a long time he had been white smoke.

At the time I didn’t know much about the Chief Johnson pole or the story of Raven and Fog Woman, but later I learned what an auspicious location my writing office had. The Chief Johnson pole was set in 1901 to celebrate the potlatch given by Chief Johnson for the Kadjuk Tlingits. The carved figures recalled Raven’s beloved wife, Fog Woman, who used Raven’s spruce root hat to create the first salmon. Soon the rivers and ocean were jammed with salmon, and suddenly Raven was rich. Once he was rich, he began to neglect Fog Woman, and one day he spoke abusively to her until she ran toward the beach where she turned into fog.

She thought of her sisters, Nau’ts’ity’i and I’tcts’ity’i, and together they created the Universe this world and the four worlds below. Thought-Woman, the spider, named things and as she named them they appeared. She is sitting in her room thinking of a story now I’m telling you the story she is thinking. Ceremony I will tell you something about stories, [he said] They aren’t just entertainment. Don’t be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death. You don’t have anything if you don’t have the stories.

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Ceremony by Leslie Silko, Larry McMurtry


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