Indian Horse
Saul Indian Horse is in a rehabilitation
centre called New Dawn
 He is forced to tell his story
 “I can’t understand where I’m going if I don’t
understand who I am.” (2)
Indian Horse is Saul’s great-grandfather
who brought the horse to the Ojibway
people of
 The Indian Horse family is history/narrative
is relayed
Rachel, Saul’s sister is taken away from
the Indian Horse family when she is six:
 “Them, they had a boat with a motor and
when they rounded the bend in the river I
though how fast things can vanish from our
view.” (9)
Saul learns English from his father
 Benjamin is taken which results in his
parents becoming distant and
depending on alcohol to survive
When Benjamin escapes from
residential school and he has TB
 What does the TB signify to you?
Naomi takes them to Gods Lake to
reconnect with their ancestry
 While there, Saul sees a vision of his
ancestors and realizes that his people
died there
 When they return Ben’s condition
worsens and he passes away
Saul’s parents leave and he and his
grandmother are left to fend for
 During the winter they are forced to
move seeking Minaki and Naomi dies
with Saul in her arms
 Saul is taken away
 “If our canoe hadn’t hit that boulder we
would have made it to Minaki.” (42)
 Fate?
 Personal struggle apparent in his attendance at
the New Dawn Centre
Shabogeesick – Slanting eye
 Saul’s great-grandfather: shaman, trapper
 “and because he spent so much time out on the
land, it told him things, spoke to him of
mysteries and teachings. They say he had the
sending thought, the great gift of the original
 Provides a sense of the Ojibway culture and
respect for intuition and spiritual nature of the
Ojibway people
Naomi: grandmother, matriarch
 “She was the matriarch of the small band of
people I was born to” (8)
Rachel: Saul’s sister
 Dies in residential school
Benjamin: Saul’s Brother
 Gets TB in Residential school and is brought
back to die
○ “He was bug-bit and thin, taller than when we’d
last seen him. His hair was cropped closed to his
skin and his ill-fitting clothes were made even
looser by the weight he’d lost on the journey. For
a moment no one new who he was.” (16)
He is not given much of a voice
 What is the significance of this?
 Ghost-like figure that haunts the family
Saul’s mother
 Wavers between despising the Zhaunagush
and adhering to their ways (in Benjamin’s
Saul’s Father
 Takes a secondary role to characters but we
see him through his reactions
○ “My father pinched his lips together and
rocked on the balls of his feet. I could sense
the struggle in him” (32)
Does this give power to the women in
Saul’s life
○ “My mother walked to my father and took his
hand and led him away from the fire”
Collectively Saul’s parents are distant
from him – is this protective?
New Dawn Centre
 Centre for hope that is reflective of the Ojibway
○ “The counsellors here say Creator and the
Grandmothers and the Grandfathers want me to
live” (2)
Indian Horse
 Strength
○ “It was massive. Huge as a moose, but without
antlers, and the sound of its hoofs on the ground
was that of drums. It was like a great wind
through a fissure in rock. People shrank from the
sight of it.” (4)
Indian Horse continued
 “The animals spread north through intertribal
trade and raiding, reaching the Canadian
Plains by the 1730s. The use of horses
altered hunting techniques and enabled the
people to transport larger and more
comfortably furnished dwellings.” (Aboriginal
People: Plains)
 What is the significance of the horse within
this text
 A mode of coping but more importantly, this
is a symbol of the destruction of the
○ “When they returned they brought the white
man with them in the brown bottle” (11)
○ Also symbolic of the white man himself
 “’The coughing sick,’ she said to us. ‘He got
it from the school’” (16)
“’We should pray with the rosary’…
‘That school gave you works that do not apply
to us.’ my grandmother said. ‘Out here there
his no need to keep the spirit bond to fear.’”
 The mix of the two cultures has caused a
New Dawn Centre
 A place of hope
Gods Lake
 A place made specifically for the Indian
Horse family
 Does this represent a respite?
 The place where Benjamin returns to in his
 Saul sees his family here
Gods Lake
 Powerful imagery used
○ “Every morning I could flip back he flap of the tent
my brother and I shared and see the water and
the opposite shore, the mist off it dreamlike.” (21)
○ “I fell to the ground as the rumbling grew louder. A
cloud of dust rolled over me. When the rumble
had subsided, the silence was so deep it scared
me…The face of the cliff had collapsed, and the
camp was gone. Vanished.” (24)
 Mysterious
Saul vs. his parents
 “I could feel the chasm between the three of
us and the others as if it were a living thing.
There seemed no way to cross the
distance.” (30)
Ojibway vs. Alcohol
 “Both my parents had taken to the
Zhauagush drink, and we left in pursuit of it.”
Ojibway vs. Residential school
 “In 1957, when I was four, they got my
brother, Benjamin…The airplane came out
of the west…but then my brother had no
where to go…they had guns,” (10-11)
 Violence
Indian Horses vs. Themselves
 As noted there is conflict between Naomi’s
expectations and Saul’s parents mental
 “She was lost to me then.” (11)
○ Saul’s mother is overcome with grief over the
loss of her first two children
○ The loss extends to those that are with her,
not yet gone
 “’Before the changes the Zhaunagush brought,
the people would make mamaawashKawipidoon, rice ties…It teaches us to
remember that rice is a gift of the creator’” (25)
 “As the edible rice seeds began to mature,
families marked the area they would harvest
by tying the rice stalks together, using knots
or dyed rope that would distinguish their
claim. The rice harvest was a time of
comunity celebration, starting ….” (Roy)
Ojibway Culture
Ojibway Culture
“The Ojibway were not people of the
horse. Our land existed as an untamed
thing, lakes, rivers, bogs and marshes
surround by citadels of bush and rock
and the labyrinthine weave of the
country. We had no need tof maps to
understand it.” (Wagamese 4)
Ojibway Culture and Terms
“The Ojibwa call themselves the
Anishinabeg (also spelled Anishinaabeg,
or if singular, Anishinabe) for "first" or
"original people.” (Roy)
 “After successfully helping Europeans
acquire territory from the Fox and the
Sioux, the Ojibwa grew and divided into
four groups, one of which was the plains
Ojibwa” (Roy)
Ojibway Culture
The fundamental essence of Anishinabe
life is unity. The oneness of all things. In
our view history is expressed in the way
that life is lived each day. Key to this is the
belief that harmony with all created things
has been achieved. The people cannot be
separated from the land with its cycle of
seasons or from the other mysterious
cycles of living things - of birth and growth
and death and new birth.”(
Ojibway Culture
Maymaygwayseeuk – water god
 “When the sun was warm and the song of
the wind could be heardin the rustle of the
trees, our people said tha the
Maymaygwayseeuk, the water spirits, had
come out to dance” (4)
Ojibway Spirituality
"Mamoonin: The Sacred Food”
 Shaman:
“Besides the traditional
and healing abilities, the
Ojibwa shaman
could be seen as a
caretaker.” (Shamanism)
Works Cited
“Aboriginal People: Plains”. Historica
Canada. 2 Nov 2014.
Ahni Schertow, John. “Manoomin: The Sacred Food”. IC Magazine. 2 Nov 2014.
“Shamanism”. The Ojibwa Nation: Shamanism, Food and Traditions. 2 Nov 2014.
Roy, Loriene. “Ojibwa”. Every Culture. 1 Nov 2014.
“The Ojibwa Nation: Shamanism, Food and Traditions.” Ojibwa Nation. 2 Nov 2014.
Wagamese, Richard. Indian Horse. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 2012.
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