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“This is What it Means to Say Pheonix, Arizona”

April 12th, 2011 by Patricia Nichtern

When Victor’s father died he did not get much a response when he asked for help from his family nor from The Tribal Council. His father had moved away from the reservation to Phoenix, Arizona; away from his “homeland…the center of the world” (Tuan 149). To the Indians, and like most people, the reservation was a place of “supreme value” and therefore when he “abandoned” it and his people, it was “hard to imagine” (Tuan 149). The Indians were proud of their history and culture and held close ties to their land. Victor was proud to be “full blood” Indian which shows he “valued autochthony…and in the fact that (he) could trace (his) long and noble lineage in one locality” as was most of the Indians (Alexie 477) (Tuan 154). The “land is viewed as mother, and it nourishes; place is an archive of fond memories and splendid achievements that inspire the present; place is permanent and hence reassuring to man” (Tuan 154). When his father left the reservation it was as if he went into exile voluntarily which deprived him of the unity of his family and people as well as culture which was “the worst of fates” (Tuan 154). Besides Victor “the rest of his family didn’t have any use at all for him” (Alexie 474). He died alone “in his trailer and nobody found him for a week” and “the only reason anyone found him was because of the smell” (Alexie 475, 478).
Victor brought his father’s ashes back to the reservation with the help of his friend, Thomas. They both wanted to spread his ashes in Spokane Falls, some distance from the reservation in hopes that he would “find his way home” (Alexie 482). They thought that the “strong emotional ties “to the “estate” would eventually bring him back there on his own after death (Tuan 157).

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