There There, by Tommy Orange


Some of my favorite quotes . . .

“What we’ve seen is full of the kids of stereotypes that are the reason no one is interested in the Native Story in general, it’s too sad, so sad it can’t even be entertaining, but more importantly because of the way it’s been portrayed, it looks pathetic, and we perpetuate that, but no, fuck that, excuse my language, but it makes me mad, because the whole picture is not pathetic, and the individual people and stories that you come across are not pathetic or weak or in need of pity, and there is real passion there, and rage . . .” (pg 40).

“{Teddy Roosevelt} was hunting bear one time, but then found this real scraggly old hungry bear, and he refused to shoot it. Then in the newspapers, there was a comic about the hunting story that made it seem like Mr. Roosevelt was merciful, a real nature lover, that kinda thing. Then they made the little stuffed bear and named it Teddy’s Bear. Teddy’s Bear became teddy bear. What they didn’t say was that he slit the old bear’s throat. It’s that kind of mercy they don’t want you to know about.

And how do you know about any of this?

You gotta know about the history of your people. How you got to be here, that’s all based on what people done to get your here. Us bears, you Indians, we been through a lot. They tried to kill us. But then when you hear them tell it, they make history seem like on big heroic adventure across an empty forest. There were bears and Indians all over the place. Sister, they slit all our throats” (pg 51).

“We need to be about what we’re always saying we’re about” (pg 105).

“Some of us got this feeling stuck inside, all the time, like we’ve done something wrong. Like we ourselves are something wrong. Like who we are deep inside, that thing we want to name but can’t, it’s like we’re afraid we’ll be punished for it. So we hide. We drink alcohol because it helps us feel like we can be ourselves and not be afraid. But we punish ourselves with it. The thing we most don’t want has a way of landing right on top of use” (pg 185).

“We all fuck up. It’s how we come back from it that matters” (pg 186).

“You feel a rush of sadness for your mom and her failed Christianity, for your failed family. How everyone lives in different states now. How you never see them. How you spend so much time alone. You want to cry and feel you might but know you can’t, that you shouldn’t. Crying ruins you. You gave it up long ago. But the thoughts keep coming about your mom . . .” (pg 222).

For more one . . .

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