The Round House

611 Words Aug 20th, 2015 3 Pages
Fiction and Justice: The Round House
11/3/14
By: Shannon Long

For decades, when a Native American woman has been assaulted or raped by a man who is non-Indian, she has had little or no recourse. Under long-standing law in Indian country, reservations are sovereign nations with their own police departments and courts in charge of prosecuting crimes on tribal land. But Indian police have lacked the legal authority to arrest non-Indian men who commit acts of domestic violence against native women on reservations, and tribal courts have lacked the authority to prosecute the men.
In Louise Erdrich’s novel, The Round House the main character’s father explains his understanding of “ideal justice as opposed to the best-we-can-do kinds of
…show more content…
She wonders “What would happen to my sense of who I am?”(261) Joe and Bazil learn it happened at the most sacred place: “The Round House,” at the edge of tribal trust land. However, since the perpetrator was a white man, only federal authorities could prosecute. Yet they lacked concrete evidence.
Wrong or right, for many families vigilantism is the only option when justice is unobtainable. I wanted to understand that taking on a burden is a horrible decision for the Native Americans. Native people are most often progressives, Democrats, and by no means gun-toting vigilantes. The central issues in The Round House examining who can administer justice and prosecute a crime committed against an Indian, and what the human cost is. The U.S. legal system and the tribal justice system have long been in conflict because tribal judges cannot prosecute non-Indians who commit a crime on the reservation. Consequently, there is a very long history in which non-Indians escape prosecution.
The Round House delivers justice and redemption in unlikely ways. No healing comes without great suffering. Acts of violence reproduce further violence and calm is shattered by loss. This is painful material to be sure, but in the face of sorrow, Erdrich's characters are defined by quiet determination, courage and flexibility. We are kept going all the way to the last four words of this haunting story in which Louise Erdrich
Open Document