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73 pages 2 hours read

Leslie Marmon Silko

Ceremony

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1977

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Reading Context

Use these questions or activities to help gauge students’ familiarity with and spark their interest in the context of the work, giving them an entry point into the text itself.

Short Answer

1. What do you know about Indigenous American history pre-contact with Europeans? What about post-contact? Do you know more about one era versus the other? Why might that be?

Teaching Suggestion: Students may have a hard time giving facts, dates, names, etc. relating to Indigenous history. You might ask students to write down their ideas (or speculations) in bullet-point fashion to be more easily shareable in class discussion; such points can then be compiled collectively. Generally speaking, students are likely to know more about post-contact Indigenous history (the Trail of Tears, Navajo Code Talkers, etc.). The lack of pre-contact knowledge and the generally patchwork understanding non-Indigenous people may have of Indigenous history is a fruitful site for class discussion. Highlighting the gaps in students’ knowledge can prime them to consider the US government’s role in erasing Indigenous history.

  • How the US Stole Thousands of Native American Children” – This Vox video offers firsthand accounts of the policies the United States has used to assimilate and erase Indigenous peoples. Many of the people featured in this video would have been adolescents/young adults when Silko wrote Ceremony, highlighting how contemporary these policy practices are.
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