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Earth Notes

Earth Notes - Leslie Marmon Silko


Flagstaff, AZ – Earth Notes: Leslie Marmon Silko

Traditional stories "aren't just for entertainment. Don't be fooled," wrote Leslie Marmon Silko in her novel Ceremony. "They are all we have to fight off illness and death.

A key figure in Native American literature, Silko made an early mark at age 29 with the publication of Ceremony. Its main character is, like the author, a person of mixed heritage who returns to New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo to find a greater understanding of the world of her ancestors.

She learns the importance of reintegrating tribal rituals and knowledge into modern life and of stories of people and place.

In one of her many essays, Silko writes that "when someone dies, you don't get over it by forgetting; you get over it by remembering. And you are aware that no person is ever truly lost or gone once they have been in our life and loved us, as we have loved them."

Silko's themes of cultural continuity and non-linear time permeate her three novels, many short stories, and several interviews. The Pueblo people see time as round, she points out in Almanac of the Dead, shifting constantly like a restless sea.

"If time is an ocean," Silko told an interviewer, "then something that happened 500 years ago may be quite immediate and real, whereas something inconsequential that happened an hour ago could be far away. This is the way my people experience time . . . and it is different."

-Richard Mahler