“An old sensitivity…”

I’ve finally started reading Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, which is considered one of the “great” Native American novels. I know it has received some criticism for revealing stories that some have said should not have been shared. Still, I don’t get the sense (at least, so far) that anything was done with any disrespect. As I was reading this morning, there was a section that jumped out at me:

“An old sensitivity had descended in her, surviving thousands of years from the oldest times, when the people shared a single clan name and they told each other who they were; they recounted the actions and words each of their clan had taken, and would take; from before they were born and long after they died, the people shared the same consciousness. The people had known, with the simple certainty of the world they saw, how everything should be.

But the fifth world had become entangled with the European names: the names of the rivers, the hills, the names of the animals and plants–all of creation suddenly had two names: and Indian name and a white name. Christianity separated the people from themselves; it tried to crush the single clan name, encouraging each person to stand alone, because Jesus Christ would save only the individual soul; Jesus Christ was not like the Mother who loved and cared for them as her children, as her family.

The sensitivity remained: the ability to feel what the others were feeling in the belly and chest; words were not necessary, but the messages the people felt were confused now…”


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