Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Charles Woodard


Through the experiences of the Chippewa characters in her tetralogy of novels, Louise Erdrich examines her people's struggle to remain connected to traditional spirituality in the face of an increasing European Christian presence. Fleur Pillager, a woman closely connected to the Chippewa spirits, maintains tradition despite the changes in her environment. Nanapush, who represents the Chippewa trickster figure, also has strong cultural connections which help him to resist change. Pauline Puyat, however, accepts Catholic and European values so thoroughly that she rejects her Chippewa heritage. While Marie Lazarre displays similar tendencies, she finally creates a personal balance of Chippewa and Catholic values. Searching for his identity, young Lipsha Morrissey attempts to reconnect to Chippewa spirituality, but dies before he can fully do so. The powerful presence of Chippewa spirits in Erdrich's novels, serving as a backdrop for her characters' struggles, suggests that reconnection to traditional spirituality is possible, though incredibly difficult in the modern world.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Erdrich, Louise -- Characters -- Indians
Catholic Church
Ojibwa Indians -- Religion
Spirituality in literature




South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright