If there is anything to take away from this novel it is impression of human arrogance, specifically European arrogance in this case. What the hell give anyone the right to think that they know better than a whole other people just because they happen to be more technologically advanced. As we know all to well in our ‘highly technical society’ indigenous people, or those who lived off the land were not savages. They had knowledge of the world around them that we will never have. This knowledge has, in many cases, been forever lost because we are too fucking blinded by our own sense of superiority.
Christophe Crow was, as you might have guessed, the character I hated the most. How dare he call Bird and Snow Falls savages, when he was the one who invaded their land was was trying to take away their own beliefs. Yes, he redeemed himself somewhat in the end, by developing something of a friendly and understanding relationship with Bird, but that does not make up for what he and his people were trying to do. And on the note of religion (which is what brought Christophe there in the first place): if we are all supposed to be God’s creatures, wouldn’t it dawn on some of these Christians that perhaps it was all in God’s plan to have people believe differently. It is, again, that same ugly arrogance that makes Christmas believe that they alone know the way to God. (Though to be fair, this is not wholly a Christian thing, every religion has it). And yes, to a point, the Wendat were the same, thinking that Christophe was odd with his customs.
I feel very strongly about persecution and discrimination. Just this morning, in fact, I commented on a friend’s Facebook post about how it is not OK to feel white pride anymore. My point was that to feel pride for your own race, religion, or belief in itself is not the problem. The problem with so-called ‘white pride’ is that it generally engenders bigotry of some sort. And the other point, which I did not make on this Facebook post, was that there is really no need to celebrate white pride because the last two thousand years (at least) have been dominated by the white man. It is not Europeans who were systematically sold into slavery, beaten, tortured, raped, starved, or what have you. It is not white people who were taken forcibly from their homes by another country’s government. it was not white people who were called savages and animals, nor were they the ones who were treated like said animals. It is not white people who have to reclaim a pride in their heritage, because we live the white heritage all throughout the western world.
Is there a danger that we can become too mired in the ‘pride’ of other races and cultures? Sure. Are we there yet? Ask Michael Brown, Sandy Bland, Treyvon Martin, or how many others? We are not in a post-racial world, we are in a world that is traveling backwards in time. We are not embracing the differences that should make us stronger as human beings, but we seem to be going back to a time when all this racist shit was tolerated. It’s beyond disappointing, it is infuriating.
While the Orenda had it’s faults (somewhat simplistic writing style, lack of a truly differentiating voice for Bird, Snow Falls and Christophe Crowe), it certainly makes up for in imagery, vitality, and thoughtfulness. It made me very angry (as can be seen above), which is what a good writer can do – stir up your emotions for good or bad. Well worth the read (even if I am still fuming weeks after finishing it).