The Classroom


Write a blog that hyper-links your research on the characters in GGRW. Be sure to make use of Jane Flick’s reference guide on your reading list.

I chose to focus on the classroom scene and the first time Alberta is introduced to us because when first reading this is when I realized that King was deliberately naming his characters as allusions to other historical or literary characters. I’ve broken down the information of the classroom characters in this post.

The actions of these characters reflect that which is expected of their namesakes but the relations between them seem arbitrary and therefore emphasize that these characters are fictional in this novel and are not actually the historical figures.

Alberta Frank

Obviously her name provokes images of Alberta the province which was named after the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. This name reflects a world in which the English held the power to give a name as though one didn’t previously exist.

I remember hearing about Frank, Alberta in a course that discussed rock slides and my teacher started the class by telling us the story of The Mountain that Walked. Through its re-telling over the years it has become a story about a warning story. Alberta is like this story because she is trying to tell her students a story about the treatment of Native Americans and warn against it but they aren’t listening.


The Frank Slide Interpretative Centre Story focuses on scientific evidence as seen on their Frank Slide Story webpage. But my initial encounter of this event was the Native legend. The one that says Natives warned settlers against living in the shadow of the mountain through stories referred to it as “The Mountain that Walked” – yet settlers did not take these warnings seriously. The Centre does mention this story – but it acts as an appetizer to the main course. Meanwhile, for me, this story helped me learn about this rock slide – maybe not about the scientific make-ups of the rocks, but that warning signs are important and if it happens once, it is likely to happen again.


Henry Dawes

This student unapologetically sleeps in the back of the classroom and when speaking or asking questions doesn’t legitimize Indian art or their traditions of belief. He is ignorant and indifferent to the information presented to him. Clearly this reflects the American legislator who wrote the Dawes Act.

The Dawes Act privatized Indian land in order to encourage assimilation and encourage them to give up their traditional ‘tribal’ ways for ‘civilization’. He completely disregarded the emotional and community ties that Natives would have to their home and ultimately the Dawes Act valued ‘civilizing the Indians’ over any consideration of their feelings or Constitutional claim to land.


John Collier

This character is represented as showing sympathies for the Indians of Fort Marion but remains an indifferent student. He asks questions but is noted to be moving closer to Hannah Duston rather than paying attention to the lesson. Ultimately I think King reveals his dominating Eurocentric views that are surprised by the situation of Indians. Collier was responsible for the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 which undid a lot of the negatives of the Dawes Act and allowed Indian self-government and consolidating land back into communal spaces.

He took the first step in restoring Native rights however there were still many problems to be faced including the negative stereotypes and social treatment in which Collier was even guilty of. After spending time with a few tribes he began to sympathize with them, but maintained their separation from himself as a civilized man as seen through his words in his Annual Report for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


Mary Rowlandson

As a student Mary is concerned about remembering names of all the people mentioned in the lecture. This blatant disregard for their individuality and for representing them accurately. I actually read Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative in a class a few years ago and remember discussing how she portrayed Indians in a stereotypical and cliched manner.

In her mind, her religion differentiated and her from her captors. People to this day uphold her book as a “triumph of faith over adversity” rather than the resulting story of a war waged on an established people by visitors to their land and the eventual justification for subjugation of Indigenous peoples.

Her narrative was upheld as a genuine representation of Indian life as she was one of the first published experiences for English readers. She is celebrated as the author of the first best-selling novel of America and also as an important female writer – however her portrayal of Indians became part of the foundation of negative stereotypes surrounding their culture. She discusses kidnapping, childhood suffering, family separation, brutal war, theft, and unsanitary living conditions and even after receiving care from her Native captors she refuses it based on the standards of faith and civilization.

Elaine Goodale

In the classroom she shows concern for the imprisoned female Indian which parallels her namesake’s concern with the people she taught. She was a writer and activist in close association with the Sioux of South Dakota. She started as a teacher to young Native Americans at residential schools before moving to Dakota to gain a closer perspective at her students roots and ultimately published stories about them . Here she opened a day school and fought against the separation of Indian children from their families in order to be moved to residential schools.

She left behind a memoir entitled Sister to the Sioux yet ultimately she only saw her experiences with the Sioux through her own Anglo-centric world view and still believed that they should assimilate at least partially in order to continue as a part of American society.


Hannah Duston

This is another female captive whose story became legendary in colonial America and which is referred to as “The Mother’s Revenge”. After her imprisonment her captors murdered her newborn baby and as retaliation she took a tomahawk and brutally massacred a dozen Indians. She also scalped them. In America today she still stands as two statues, which celebrate the massacre. One of which includes her holding the scalps of her victims. Despite some vandalism inflicted upon one statue, they both remain a symbol of what America values and celebrates; namely settlers conquering Indians and not giving fair representation to a war. Instead the focus is on the war as brutal action from a savage group rather than a wronged people fighting for their beliefs.


Helen Mooney

The only person excited to learn in the class, and the only one who might not really exist. I also wonder how the reader is supposed to react to this character because typically the ‘teacher’s pet’ character comes across as annoying. But her excitement should be positive in this scenario. As Flick points out there may be connections to James Mooney which may be a private joke of King’s.

Works Cited

Bored_college_students_sleeping_in_lecture_hall. Digital image. Shmoop. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Collier.” University of Colorado Boulder, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Dawes Act (1887).” Our Documents. National Archives’ Digital Classroom, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Elaine Goodale Eastman (1863-1953).” Schoolhouse Pioneers. PBS, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

Flick, Jane. “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.” Canadian Literature 161-162 (1999): 140-72. Web. 27 July 2016.

Glenbow Museum Archives. Frank_Slide_4-30-1903. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., 29 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Hannah Duston: The Mother’s Revenge.” Roadside America. Doug Kirby, Ken Smith, Mike Wilkins, 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Summary of ‘A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson’ – the Role of Women in Her Removes.” Letter Pile. HubPages, 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 27 July 2016.

“The Frank Slide Story.” Frank Slide Interpretative Centre. Alberta Culture and Tourism, 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.

“The Mary Rowlandson Story.” Mary Rowlandson. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

Toensing, Gale Courey. “The Dawes Act Started the U.S. Land-Grab of Native Territory.” Indian Country Today Media Network. Indian Country Today Media Network Read More at Http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/02/08/dawes-act-started-us-land-grab-native-territory-96582, 2 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016.

Two Young Ladies Taken Prisoner. Digital image. American Girl Diaries. WordPress, 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016.

99% Invisible. “Was This Woman a Heroine or a Villain?” The Eye. Slate, 8 May 2014. Web. 27 July 2016.

““A Bill of Rights for the Indians”: John Collier Envisions an Indian New Deal.” History Matters. American Social History Productions, Inc, 16 May 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.

““We Took Away Their Best Lands, Broke Treaties”: John Collier Promises to Reform Indian Policy.” History Matters. American Social History Project, 16 May 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.


What’s in a Name?

I’m a huge superhero fan. I saw the premiere of the newest Captain America movie and I may have shamelessly bought those tickets over a month in advance. However when first reading this book and encountering the four Indians the name ‘Hawkeye’ didn’t register as the non-superhuman member of the Avengers. It wasn’t until I took a break and went back to the book that I envisioned the sharp-shooting Avenger instead of someone named for the animal and realized my own cultural knowledge. In fact I thought that Thomas King was attempting to reveal reader biases through the names given to the Four Indians (as I will refer to them as I continue this discussion) because of the connotations associated with each name.

So let’s continue onto the other characters;


This name was the one that stumped me the most to find one single reason. But ultimately it kept coming back to the question of religion. Religion fluidity comes through Ishmael whose name is present in Muslim, Jewish and Christian stories and while King specifically evokes Ishmael’s presence on the boat hunting Moby Dick, the initial introduction leaves the connections to the reader. Many articles (theological and otherwise) even connect the ambiguous nature of God with the Great White Whale and one even points out the Buddhist implications of the narrative.

The Lone Ranger

Not only Johnny Depp’s recent mistake, but one that has been rewritten many times before as this article briefly overviews. Now my knowledge on this character is very limited. For me it initially evokes thoughts of an outlaw (the ‘Ranger’ part of the name made me think he’s probably a cowboy but I definitely had a moment where I wondered if he was Native) robbing stage coaches in a Robin-Hood-style in the ‘Wild West’. After a very quick Google (because my curiosity got the best of me after realizing I knew nothing about the Lone Ranger) I came up with information on the TV show that solidified The Lone Ranger’s persona in pop culture and even speculation that the real-life legend of the Lone Ranger was an African-American escaped slave (remains unconfirmed though sounds like an interesting story!). While this may not be common knowledge it’s really interesting to think about who knows what and how they picture this figure who has been recreated so many times by so many people in so many different eras who have different cultural knowledge. It also evokes how the Four Indians interact with the Wild West imagery and that aspect of Indians in the popular memory/knowledge.

Robinson Crusoe

He is one of the most famous fictional settlers of a lost land, slave trade participant and conqueror of ‘savages’. Friday is a former cannibal who quite literally kisses Crusoe’s feet because he is saved from being eaten. The violence in this novel makes his actions seem heroic and not intrusive. Invoking Western colonial rule through the name of one of the Four Indians I believe is a way to articulate the issue head-on and make sure that it is present in the novel. While the novel doesn’t attempt to solve the issue, it doesn’t shy away from it either.

And a final point – the one thing I didn’t dwell much one was the notion that the Four Indians are women or goddesses as Blanca points out (48). To me they were always fluid characters whose main purpose was to be balanced. They have no gender, no home, no time or location constraints, and are just focused on being helpful beings. In them there is infinite possibilities and in that way they become exactly what they need to be.

BUT, these are all fictional characters – does that reflect onto or say anything about the beings who take on the names? Comment your thoughts!

I believe it does in a way. It blurs the barriers of realism and fiction as the Four Indians interact with the realist characters. And it allows readers to realize that they may not know everything about this book. As Blanca points out, “The storyteller does not tell all he or she knows, or explain the meanings of names, places, and things. There is an assumption of a common matrix of cultural knowledge, and invoking words—names and places—suggests that shared epistemology” (55). You have to rely on your own knowledge to make connections and in the end there’s plenty that remains unknown to non-Natives and provides exclusive access to Natives.

Stages of life

Stages of life will be represented through their name

After my reading and impressions I did a little more research out of my own cultural knowledge into what these names mean in a Native American setting. The fluidity of the Four Indian’s names depend on cultural knowledge but also knowledge of how naming happens. The process of naming someone in Native American traditions is much different than Western cultures and instead of prioritizing familial ties and identification they prioritized identity and individual accomplishments or stages of life which ultimately reflect how a person changes. In other words, there are multiple dimensions of names in order to reflect the true person and for the Four Indians these names would change during each incarnation that they take on in order to help the world.

Why would King choose the names he does for this stage of the Four Indian’s journey (Hawkeye, Ishmael, The Lone Ranger, and Robinson Crusoe)? Comment!

Works Cited

Admirand, Peter. “Zen and the White Whale: A Buddhist Rendering of Moby-Dick.” Rev. of Zen and the White Whale. American Studies 2015: 140-41. Project Muse. Web. 18 July 2016.

D’Addario, Daniel. “Johnny Depp’s Tonto Misstep: Race and “The Lone Ranger”.” Salon. N.p., 3 July 2013. Web. 18 July 2016.

“Lone Ranger.” An International Catalogue of Heroes. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

“Native American Names.” Native Indian Tribes. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

Native Wisdom. Digital image. Poster Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

Naziri, Micah. “The Real ‘Lone Ranger’ Was An African American Lawman Who Lived With Native American Indians.” Political Blindspot. N.p., 25 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 July 2016.

Pearson Waugaman, Elisabeth. “Names and Identity: The Native American Naming Tradition.” Psychology Today. Sussex, 8 July 2011. Web. 18 July 2016.


The New World

2] In this lesson I say that it should be clear that the discourse on nationalism is also about ethnicity and ideologies of “race.” If you trace the historical overview of nationalism in Canada in the CanLit guide, you will find many examples of state legislation and policies that excluded and discriminated against certain peoples based on ideas about racial inferiority and capacities to assimilate. – and in turn, state legislation and policies that worked to try to rectify early policies of exclusion and racial discrimination. As the guide points out, the nation is an imagined community, whereas the state is a “governed group of people.” For this blog assignment, I would like you to research and summarize one of the state or governing activities, such as The Royal Proclamation 1763, the Indian Act 1876, Immigration Act 1910, or the Multiculturalism Act 1989 – you choose the legislation or policy or commission you find most interesting. Write a blog about your findings and in your conclusion comment on whether or not your findings support Coleman’s argument about the project of white civility.


The New World was aptly named as a place where Europeans could escape from the rigid society rules they knew to a world where the rules were being created; and they could be a part of it! The promise of a new country, unlike their well-developed and structured one, promised an area that they could develop. The stories that went into the New World were ones that determine land is meant to be used for building and development.

Mary Rowlandson (who is mentioned in Green Grass Running Water) was a part of the Puritans who came to America to escape their own persecution. But in the process they persecuted those surrounding them because their own idea of a perfect world wasn’t followed by the Natives. This idea was a fantasy that ironically involved making the New World exactly like the old one with just some minor rule changes. Anyone who didn’t fit into British standards was discouraged from being a part of Canada. Both the Indian Act and Immigration Act are legislation that defined Canadian white civility.

The Indian Act permits the Canadian government to regulate registere
d Indians since 1876 including control over policing, registration, land, and restrictions. These restrictions are in place to ensure that the dream settlers had when leaving their homelands came true, but this led to regulating non-white cultures to the point of extinction.

The dream of the Mayflower ironically didn’t change much from Britain. The settlers took the buildings and structure of society for granted and took that to the New World to implement and fill with what was familiar to them and what they saw as pure and right. As a result all other cultures became wrong and from this the legislation was made that marginalized non-whites and created white civility.

The Immigration Act of 1910 then further established white civility because the regulations on approved immigrants increased and allowed government officials to have greater control over who could immigrate to Canada. In the words of the document, they were given the power to determine who was “unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada”. The ambiguous notion of ‘Canada’ became defined by those who took power to enact what was ‘right’. Assimilation becomes part of the melting pot in the United States, but in Canada we are proud to say we are a mosaic. But this mosaic wasn’t any different than the melting pot because of the legislation that prevented any differences from white cultural standards.Anthem

The New World was supposed to be the Perfect World for those leaving the Old World. They saw it as the opportunity to create new rules and a space where they could be ‘free’. America is based on the idea of “liberty and justice for all” however this didn’t translate. In both Canada and America the rituals practiced as a nation including National Anthems and the Pledge of Allegiance are ways to create and maintain a nationalistic sense, however all of these rituals are primarily Christian-based and unwilling to change that usually based in the notion of ‘tradition’. White civility continues to reign as their religion and beliefs maintain their presence every sports game or morning as classes stand to show support of their country. But white civility rituals such as the anthem can change in Canada as the recent parliamentary discussions on making the anthem gender-neutral. The discussions on “God” in the anthem could be next. There have already been speculations and while the defense is already creating a case, it will take the millions who are not Christian-oriented to change the white civility that the founded this country. But change can happen, it just takes a little more extra, and maybe a few Facebook Groups.


Works Cited

Cole, Cam. Canadian Medal worth Celebrating. Digital image. Calgary Herald. Postmedia, 4 Jan. 2012. Web. 8 July 2016.

“Immigration Act, 1910.” Pier 21. Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, n.d. Web. 8 July 2016.

Milewski, Terry. “Changing O Canada: Is God Next?” CBCNews Politics. CBC, 11 June 2016. Web. 8 July 2016.

“The Indian Act.” First Nations and Indigenous Studies. University of British Columbia, n.d. Web. 8 July 2016.