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Catherine A. Lutz - Unnatural Emotions Essay

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”Yes, it’s only Reservation Blues but I like it:” On the Connection between Christian and Native Religions

One of the most interesting aspects of the anthropological study of Catherine A. Lutz, entitled Unnatural Emotions, is that the author applies the same sort of intense self-examination to her own project as an anthropologist amongst the Ifaluk as she does to the Ifaluk themselves. Every individual at some point in his or her own life has been confronted with the surprise, after all, that someone seems ‘exactly like me.’ Or, conversely, one is shocked how another human animal, possessing roughly the same physical attributes of one’s genus and species as one’s self, could behave in such a horrible/wonderful fashion, totally ‘unlike
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But beyond this initial emotional connection, the reader’s sense of strangeness and estrangement of the community is again reborn by the tone of the narrative and the detailed though magical realist evocation of Native, Western reservation life. The seamless blend of Native American folklore and Catholicism is one of the oddest aspects of the novel to someone personally uninitiated and unfamiliar with Native religions, except on a superficial level. For instance, one of the novel’s backup vocalists Checkers Warm Water develops a relationship with the reservation priest. It is difficult, once one accepts the level of oppression experienced by these Native American individuals, to fully understand why Christianity, the religion of Caucasians, would have any draw at all. Why doesn’t Checkers simply love her own Native religion and her own Native people through the context of that tradition? Why a priest?
The only answer is perhaps found in the idea that many of the Indian characters seek, through rock and roll and through Catholicism as well, the sort of individualistic _expression
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