What Leslie Marmon Silko Contributed to Studying the American Experience
Leslie Marmon Silko was born on March 5, 1948 in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Leland (Lee) Howard Marmon and Mary Virginia Leslie. She is Pueblo Laguna, Mexican and Euro-American heritage. Silko grew up near the Laguna Pueblo Indian Reservation in Southwest New Mexico. She attended both BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) schools and parochial schools. Her Native American family made sure she had an understanding of Native American traditions which included storytelling, and a deep appreciation of the land and customs of Native people from her grandmother and aunts (Hunter, 2006). Each tribe may have variations in style depending the particular tribe, however they all share common themes.
So I will begin, appropriately enough, with the Pueblo Creation story, an all-inclusive story ofhow life began. In this story, Tseitsinako, Thought Woman, by thinking of her sisters, and together with her sisters, thought of everything that is. In this way, the world was created. Everything in this world was a part of the original creation; the people at home understood that far away there were other human beings, also a part of this world. The Creation story even includes a prophecy, which describes the origin of European and African peoples and also refers to Asians. This story, I think, suggests something about why the Pueblo people are more concerned with story and communication and less concerned with a particular language. There are at least six, possibly seven, distinct languages among the twenty pueblos of the southwestern United States, for example, Zuni and Hopi. And from mesa to mesa there are subtle differences in language. But the particular language spoken isn't as important as what a speaker is trying to say, and this emphasis on the story itself stems, I believe, from a view of narrative particular to the Pueblo and other Native American peoples ~ that is, that language is story. I will try to clarify this statement. At Laguna Pueblo, for example, many individual words have their own stories. So when one is telling a story, and one is using words to tell the story, each word that one is speaking has a story of its own, too.
According to the Ceremony, the word story refers to factors that contribute to the identification of a story. A story can be either real or fictitious, contains true situations or fantasy. Therefore, a story provides the narrator or writer with the freedom to explore any genre around the world. The analysis shows that the novel “Ceremony” backs this concept because it contains all forms of freedom in telling its stories (Walther 3). In the novel, storytelling focuses on how the Native American traditions used to tell stories. Previously, all the Native American cultures on biology, history, morality, medicine, among others, transferred among different generations through storytelling in their culture. The title of an “official storyteller” belonged to the elders who made storytelling to become a famous event. The main goal of storytelling is to transfer information among generations. Stories are rhythmic. Indeed, they have repetition and sometimes presented in the custom of a song. In the novel “Ceremony”, these ways of storytelling occurred as a poem, which surrounded the novel narrative in both the beginning and end. The stories told in the novel Ceremony about Pueblo culture are real stories that exist outside the context (Walther 3). In Ceremony, there is a narration of different brief stories, which include stories on war told by Harley, Emo among other soldiers. We also see Old Betony and Night Swan tell part of their stories as Tayo claims to remember a story that Rocky told him. Old Betonie claims that there is a time that Tayo’s aunt distracted him during a part of the story. At the start of the novel, it ensures that the whole narrative in it represents a story.
After all, in 1981 Silko received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and the volume Storyteller, which includes poetry, tribal stories, fiction, and photographs, was published. The Delicacy and Strength of Lace (1985), selected correspondence between herself and nature poet James Wright, followed. Silko’s second novel, Almanac of the Dead (1991), explores themes similar to those found in Ceremony, this time through the lives of two Native American women. Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit (1996) is a collection of essays on contemporary Native American life. In 1999 Silko released Gardens in the Dunes, a novel about a Native American girl who, having been captured by soldiers and separated from her family in the late 19th century, struggles to retain her culture’s traditions. The Turquoise Ledge (2010) is a memoir.
Silko, Leslie. Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2007.Print
Walther, Berenice. Storytelling in Leslie Marmon Silkos Ceremony. Munchen, Ravensburg: Grin Verl, 2006. Print.
Wilentz, Gay. Healing Narratives: Women Writers Curing Cultural Dis-Ease. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2000. Print.