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Harper Collins, Aug 7, 1989 - Fiction - 256 pages
6 Reviews
Set in North Dakota at a time in this century when Indian tribes were struggling to keep what little remained of their lands, Tracks is a tale of passion and deep unrest. Over the course of ten crucial years, as tribal land and trust between people erode ceaselessly, men and women are pushed to the brink of their endurance--yet their pride and humor prohibit surrender. The reader will experience shock and pleasure in encountering a group of characters that are compelling and rich in their vigor, clarity, and indomitable vitality.

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Tracks: a novel

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In her splendid new work, Erdrich retrieves characters from her first novel, Love Medicine , to depict the escalating conflict between two Chippewa families, a conflict begun when hapless Eli ... Read full review

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The book “Tracks” by Louise Erdrich portrays the Native view of colonization that is set in the early 1900’s in North Dakota. North Dakota is the home to many tribes besides the Chippewa, including the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Cree, and Assiniboine, Ojibway, Yankton, Wahpeton, and Teton. Nanabush a Chippewa elder teaches his granddaughter Lulu about the Native ways through laughter and storytelling. Meanwhile Pauline Puyat denies her Native side and turns into the colonization by embracing Christianity. The book starts out in a very complex way, making it hard to understand. But, as it continues, it draws you in until you can’t set it down.
One of the most important quotes is at the beginning of the book when Nanapush first starts telling Lulu about the history of her relatives. “‘I spoke aloud the words of the government treaty, and refused to sign the settlement papers that would take away our woods and lake. I axed the last birch that was older than I, and I saved the last Pillager. Fleur the one that you will not call mother’(2).” He mentions her mother, Fleur, is not her mother. Later in the book, it is revealed why Fleur sent her to a boarding school instead of being Lulu’s mom and teaching her the way’s of the Chippewa peoples. The book focuses on how the Native peoples saw colonization and how some adopted into their lives, while others rejected it. Pauline Puyat is one of the colonized. “In the spring before the winter that took so many Chippewa, I bothered my father into sending me south, to the white town. I had decided the lace making trade from nuns. ‘You’ll fade out there,’ he said, reminding me that I was lighter than my sisters. ‘You won’t be an Indian once you return.’ ‘Then maybe I won’t come back,’ I told him. I wanted to be like my mother, who showed her half white. I wanted to be like my grandfather, pure Canadian (14).” She practically admits in the book that she wished she was white. Later she goes to check on Fleur Pillager a troubled Native women whose relatives died from smallpox when she was a child. Pauline is not allowed into the house because of her religion and how she abandoned her culture and who she has become. Pauline’s life then focuses on being as christian and white as she can be. “I left Matchimanito, then walked the trail down to the convent, where I arrived in time to lose myself in God’s tasks (193).”
In the end Lulu has learned about her culture and how she must keep it alive. She also learned how her ancestors’ and her children’s futures and pasts depend on it. “Lulu. We gave against your rush like creaking oaks, held on, braced ourselves together in the fierce dry wind (226).” Lulu is able to keep going alongside her relatives.
Louise Erdrich writes a wonderful piece. Los Angeles Times said “Tracks may be the story of our time.” Also, San Francisco Chronicle mentioned Tracks would be marked as a classic. I agree with both of those reviews. Tracks is a beautiful piece that you can imagine the scenes as you read it, like an art piece.
The author Louise Erdrich was born in Little Falls, Minnesota in 1954 and raised in North Dakota. And she wrote Tracks in 1988. When she was young her dad gave her a nickel every story she wrote, She went to Dartmouth college and John Hopkins University. She now lives in the Twin cities, Minnesota and runs a small bookstore called Birchbark books.

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About the author (1989)

Louise Erdrich lives with her family in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore. Ms. Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and this story—which will, in the end, span one hundred years in the life of an Ojibwe woman—was inspired when Ms. Erdrich and her mother, Rita Gourneau Erdrich, were researching their own family history. Chickadee begins a new part of the story that started with The Birchbark House, a National Book Award finalist; The Game of Silence, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; and the acclaimed The Porcupine Year.

Ms. Erdrich is also the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels for adults, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves and National Book Award finalist The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. She is also the author of the picture book Grandmother's Pigeon, illustrated by Jim LaMarche.

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