3.7–Hyperlinking Characters

Write a blog that hyper-links your research on the characters in GGRW according to the pages assigned to you. Be sure to make use of  Jane Flicks’ GGRW reading notes on your reading list. 

Hyper-linking characters in pages 38-41, 85-90.


Coyote is a famous Trickster figure in Native American tales, and is often seen as one of the First Peoples. Coyote begins the novel when the world as we know it is unformed.  He is often seen as one of “a race of mythic prototypes who lived before humans existed. They had tremendous powers; they created the world as we know it; they instituted human life and culture—but they were also capable of being brave or cowardly, conservative or innovative, wise or stupid” (Flick citing Bright).  King’s version of Coyote seems to be at least innovative and wise, allowing Dream/Dog its fantasies.  The role of trickster also seems to be controversial in this novel, as Coyote’s mischievousness is done with the intention of fixing the world. Coyote does not verbally interact with the modern characters, but is on conversational terms with the narrator and four escaped Native Americans.

There are some that argue King’s Coyote is female, based on his story “The One About Coyote Going West,” published in the same year as Green Grass, Running Water.  This would make the creation story followed in the novel, and the references to Genesis seem of even more importance, as Coyote (female) existed and dreamed up Dog/GOD (male).


This character is a contrary who “has everything backward” (King, 2).  A dog is a more tamed, “lesser” relative of a coyote, while GOD is “dog” backwards.  Dog/GOD begins as a dream of Coyote’s that wakes Coyote up before the beginning of the world.  This character thinks itself very clever, while Coyote and the narrator find the new creation to be silly and backward.  Dog/GOD is a creation of Coyote, which would be more interesting if Coyote were indeed a female character, as Dog/GOD seems to uphold the Christian narrative of the story (therefor a female being would have created “GOD”).  If Dog/GOD is getting everything backward, this would cause the Genesis story to be backward.  The particular page selection I chose for Dog/GOD (38-41) features the First Woman story as Dog/GOD attempts to interrupt and interject into the narrative to provide the Genesis story of events.

First Woman

First woman is a common story among North American people.  First Woman falls from the sky and lands on a world covered with water.  She makes an island on Turtle’s back and on this island she creates a garden.  This again eludes to Genesis (Eve) and the Garden of Eden, except we again have a female creator. First Woman is also the character known as The Lone Ranger, the hero of Western books, radio, television and movies, with a faithful companion named Tonto, who is Ahdamn.  Flick, in her “Reading Notes for Green Grass, Running Water” explains the Lone Ranger as a “a Do Gooder. The Texas Rangers myth has it that one ranger could be sent to clean up a town”.  Thomas King’s interest in the Lone Ranger also extends to photography, where he shoots Native Americans in a Lone Ranger mask


The counterpart to First Woman, Ahdamn lives with First Woman in the garden, his origins unknown to the narrator (as opposed to Genesis, where Eve is made from Adam, and Adam is created by God).  In the section of the novel I chose, Ahdamn is attempting to give names to the creatures in First Woman’s garden, and is failing.  This scene is done by making fun of Ahdamn, but it is also curious that the animals in the garden seem to already know their names, and this is in part why all the names Ahdamn suggests are ridiculous.  It is interesting that the two male characters of Dog/GOD and Ahdamn are trying to control the creation story/control creation, but it is the female characters of First Woman (and possibly Coyote) who have the power to create.  This bid for power seems important in the context of the Garden, as we have the male creation power of Genesis/Christian belief vs the female power of Native American story/First Woman.

Alberta Frank

Frank slide 1903

Alberta Frank, a professor teaching Native American history, is the primary female character in the modern world part of the novel.  “Alberta” suggests the province of Alberta where the story takes place, while Flick suggests that the character herself is frank.  The name Frank could also allude to the town of Frank, Alberta.  The town was subject to a major disaster, buried by the famous Frank Slide of 1903.  The slide came off a mountain called Turtle Mountain.  Given the significance of Turtle in the novel, this does not seem like a coincidence.  Her name could have been meant as foreshadowing for the crisis in her life.

Works Cited

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

Frank, Alberta Slide:  http://history.alberta.ca/frankslide/slidefacts/docs/fsic_facts.pdf

“Frank Slide 1903”. Digital Image. Calgary: Calgary Photo Supply Co., Calgary, Alberta, [ca. 1935].  Web.  July 27, 2016.

King, Thomas. Green Grass Running Water. Toronto: Harper Collins, 1993. Print.

V.G. Petkova.  “How Thomas King Uses Coyote in his Novel Green Grass, Running Water”.  Canadian Literature (2011).  Web.  July 27, 2016.


Coyote: Knowledge without borders

Coyote Pedagogy is a term sometimes used to describe King’s writing strategies (Margery Fee and Jane Flick). Discuss your understanding of the role of Coyote in the novel.

Book Cover

The narrator and Coyote preside over two interwoven plots in Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water–one concerning the creation of the world, and the other a semi-plausible journey of characters in the modern era.  Normally, the role of Coyote is that of a Trickster, cultural hero, or buffoon.  For this novel, that personality came through as an eager, child-like figure prone to excitement, but is well-mannered.  However, Coyote most importantly plays the role of the student as narrator and Coyote navigate the two plot lines.  As this is in many ways a story of borders, one could see Coyote as also serving to represent the mythic aspect of the novel, while the narrator serves for the more-believable modern aspect.

The novel begins “in the beginning, there was nothing.  Just the water.  Coyote was there, but Coyote was asleep” (King, 1).   Coyote is woken by his Dream, which is running around and behaving arrogantly.  Instead of correcting the “silly Dream,” Coyote simply asks the Dream to “be a little quieter” (2).  When the Dream deduces that it must be Coyote, Coyote gently corrects the Dream, suggesting that it can instead be a dog, which is close to a Coyote.  The narrator suggests to Coyote that this could be a problem, as the Dream does not look like a dog.  While Coyote agrees, he does nothing to change the image that the Dream now has of itself as a dog.  To me, this opening scene plays out as a parent with their child, where Coyote is teaching his Dream about its surroundings and itself, without discouraging its own worldview or, when the Dream is loud and rude, without trying to influence its behavior.  For me, this opening scene speaks largely to the personality we as readers are to expect from Coyote as the novel moves forward.  Coyote is not a voice of authority in the traditional sense.  He is in some ways a voice of reason, but more accurately, Coyote stands as a teacher.  But, as the novel progresses and more conversations occur between Coyote and the narrator, Coyote slips into the role of student.

My conclusion is that Coyote serves to challenge borders in the novel.  Coyote is the character that is both mythical and able to interact with reality (the narrator).  He is both student and teacher, performing neither with arrogance or a close-minded mentality, but with spirit and enthusiasm.  At the start of the novel, when he must teach, Coyote does it patiently and without anger or frustration.  When he must learn, Coyote is excited, needing the stories to move faster so that he can receive the knowledge more quickly.  I think that King is trying to use Coyote as an example to the readers of his novel about how one should approach the spread of knowledge, especially when sharing stories between cultures.

Works Cited

Book Cover. Digital image. Amazon. Amazon, n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

King, Thomas. Green Grass Running Water. Toronto: Harper Collins, 1993. Print.

Welker, Glenn. “Coyote Stories/Poems.” Coyote Stories/Poems. Indigenous People, 15 July 2016. Web. 19 July 2016.


Multiculturalism Act 1989

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.

In introduction, I will be discussing the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, which you can find here if you are interested in reading/skimming for better understanding.

“Neil Bissoondath argues in Selling Illusions (1994) that multiculturalism leads to ethnic and cultural segregation and the ghettoization of cultural groups rather than to an integrated community” (CanLit guide).  When you consider the idea of nationalism in Canada from the viewpoint of race and ethnicity, it immediately becomes apparent that the the concept of “nationalism” in Canada is of white European origin and construction.  Introduction of the idea of multiculturalism did not erase the distinct lines drawn by white Anglo-Canadian society.  When it comes to multiculturalism policy, the main role of inclusion is focused on performative displays of diversity, for example: food, dance, song, art.  Little focus is given to policy that will affect actual social change and correct social injustices.

The white, Anglo-Canadian hierarchy is never forgotten in the supposed steps towards a multicultural Canada.  When recent immigrants or visible minority groups are welcomed into Canada, they are greeted by this hierarchy, which works to enforce gratitude, “forming a host/guest hierarchy” (CanLit guide).  In a similar position, Indigenous peoples “have resisted being categorized in the frame of multiculturalism, as their societies predate the formation of the nation-state of Canada” (CanLit guide).  However, Indigenous peoples should rightfully be playing the part of “host” in the “host/guest” hierarchy.  Instead, they have received little acknowledgement or gratitude for the sharing of their lands, and have alone experienced enough social injustice to call into question the concept and ideals behind Canada’s take on multiculturalism.

An important feature of the Multiculturalism Act, and arguably one of its most damaging flaws is its focus on individual origins.  This, by its very nature, prevents the presented idea of Canada as a nation of “we,” instead promoting a nation of “me,” or “us” and “them.”  Canada, in comparison to The United States, is known as a mosaic, rather than a melting pot, but this does not seem to be a truly accurate description or division, especially when considering the Canadian justice system, which is based on an English model, and slow to adapt to change.  That our justice is based on a single, separate nation’s justice system defies the inclusion of multiculturalism.  This becomes a problem with situations where the cultural practices of minority groups collide with white Anglo-Canadian Law, such as with the niqab and the citizenship-swearing oath.  The woman in this article is perfectly willing to remove her veil for security reasons, but refuses to do so during a citizenship-swearing ceremony just because someone else doesn’t like it.  (I’d like to note that she did remove it before hand to prove her identity, but did not want to leave it removed to swear the oath, as this is not a security concern).

Police and protesters exchange words near the camp's checkpoint during a recent stand-off.

“Police and protesters exchange words near the camp’s checkpoint during a recent stand-off.”

On the topic of cultural management, Canada’s multiculturalism label again fails.  There are many examples of Indigenous peoples occupying/protesting on their ancestral lands against unwanted development or encroachment, such as this one.  These protests, most often non-violent, are met with police force. This response emphasizes the issues surrounding multiculturalism in the sense of communities, borders, and state-power.

Coleman describes white civility as romantic notions of nationalism founded on a British perspective and sense of civility.  Coleman emphasizes two major points in his discussion: 1) nation building has a fictive, romanticized, element and 2) the only way to maintain the fiction is to practice forgetfulness.  When applied to multiculturalism, both of his points seem relevant.  Multiculturalism may have been thought up with good intention, but it does not actually force those in power (white Anglo-Canadians) to give up or share their power with other cultures, rather it is a romanticized concept possibly meant to placate or to provide a pat-on-the-back to “white civility.” When this idea of multiculturalism is called upon by minority groups and Indigenous peoples, Canada seems to have a policy of forgetfulness that determines anything outside of the white Anglo-Canadian comfort zone as dangerous (or harmful to those in power keeping their power).

Works Cited

Browne, Rachel. “Canada Wants Muslim Women to Take Off Their Face Coverings for Citizenship Oath | VICE News.” VICE News RSS. VICE News, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 08 July 2016.

“Canadian Multiculturalism Act (R.S.C., 1985, C. 24 (4th Supp.)).” Legislative Services Branch. Government of Canada, 01 Apr. 2014. Web. 08 July 2016.

“Nationalism, 1980s Onwards: Contesting Multiculturalism.” CanLit Guides. UBC, n.d. Web. 08 July 2016.

Trumpener, Betsy. “RCMP Planning Mass Arrests at Pipeline Protest Camp, Northern B.C Chiefs Fear – British Columbia – CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 08 July 2016.

“Unist’ot’en Camp/Vimeo.”  Digital image. CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 08 July 2016.