Never Forgiven and Never Forgotten

In “The Powwow at the End of the World” Sherman Alexie uses a mocking ironic tone to accentuate the pain and resentment that many Native Americans have towards Westernization and dams. Alexie Constantly repeats the line “I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall” (557). The formal wording of this statement is sort of mocking, creating an ironic tone. Also he is demanding that something be done before he can forgive, but this completely undermines the idea of forgiveness. In order to forgive you need to forget a move on. The poem also uses the idea of hyperbole. While Alexie wants to see a change in societal practices and Westerners appreciation for their environment to strive and overcome power greed and capitalism, it is understood that a revolution like this would be very unlikely.  The line “after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam and topples it” (557), underscores the idea that forgiveness and habitat restoration is next to impossible, as humanly unachievable as toppling a damn by hand. Industrialization has degraded the environment and ruined the Native’s traditional way of life, and with this destruction comes a copious amount of resentment and aversion to neighbors and the community. This split between the dominate culture and the natives has also severed a wedge between tribes themselves. This is why Alexie highlights the idea that he will forgive “when I am dancing with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world” (557). The title expresses s native’s inability to reconnect with his sacred homelands and his tribe. This reconnect will not be possible until “the End of the World” (557) or until after him and many others like him who have witnessed this horror and destruction are deceased.

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