The Birchbark House Summary

2143 Words9 Pages
Claire Setton May 12, 2014 Professor De Campos Children’s Literature Nature’s Calling When thinking of Children’s Literature, it’s hard to imagine that simple stories can teach a lot about the world. Throughout this course, most of the novels and stories that we’ve encountered had elements of supernatural interaction. However, The Birchbark House, by Louise Erdrich is a story about the real lives of Native Americans during the time of the American Westward Expansion. This novel is unique, not only because Native American children’s literature is difficult to come across, but also because it weaves the lightness of a children’s novel, with the harsh reality of the Native American and colonists conflict. Although Omakaya’s life is…show more content…
Instead of abusing what is around them, they use it. The trees, the berries, the spices, the leather of the animals, are all used to their advantage. Nokomis, Omakayas’s grandmother, was a healer. Upon seeing her granddaughter’s gift of communication, Nokomis takes her along while she collects herbs. In this scene, a number of interesting things are seen that show the connection to nature, and the reliance the tribe has on nature for survival. While collecting the herbs Omakayas “noticed all these little bundles, how cleverly they were tied. How interesting each one smelled. Their colors, their odd, shriveled shapes”(Erdrich 103). This description of the medicine shows how the Native American used nature to help them, and that every plant can be used in different way. Nokomis then asks Omakayas if the herbs are talking to her, when Omakayas answers her grandmother, she asks her what the plants tell her. Nokomis answers that the plants tell her, “how to use them when someone is sick, where to find them, how to prepare them just the right strength”(Erdrich 104). This conversation brings back the same idea that naming brought. It’s a connection between the physicality of nature, and the spirituality of nature. When a person is sick, that’s a physical ailment, but what Nokomis brings in is this spiritual essence. In the Preface to the…show more content…
It shows how a connection to nature, both spiritual and physical, can benefit us. It shows the reader the “invisible side” of history, and creates characters that are relatable in order to show this side. Omakayas is the embodiment of a Native American child- hardworking, and respectful. But she is not idealized, and she has her flaws like every child does. She is slightly mischievous, and she is jealous of the attention her younger brother gets. Omakayas is human- and she is the connection between the reader, and the “invisible people”. By following her everyday life, the importance of the connection between man and the natural world is

More about The Birchbark House Summary

Open Document