The Education of Ruby Loonfoot is not only about one American Indian woman's struggle with her past, but with the inter-generational conflicts foisted upon Indian families by Anglo culture. In the fall of 1957, Ruby was at a crossroads. Despite daily proselytizing, the continual debasement of her race and culture, and unutterable acts of molestation and physical abuse, Ruby struggles to retain her Indian identity.
Sharing her story are the two central women in her life: her mother Theresa, an ardent Catholic, who is determined to shed everything Indian from her life and escape the reservation, and Ruby's grandmother and spiritual rock, Cecelia Pitwoniquot, a traditionalist and respected elder. Over the summer, the schism between these two generations widens when, despite Theresa's strong feelings against it, Cecilia plans Ruby's Ojibwe coming-of-age ceremony, hoping to solidify her Indian identity, to inoculate her against “the Robes”.
This report prepared by Pax Riddle
Five Star, Oct 2002, 25.95, 340 pp.
By 1957, Indian elders worry about what is happening to their traditions and customs. The “second generation” is so Americanized that even the elders wonder if they are really their offspring. Cecilia Pitwoniqut frets over how she went wrong with her daughter Theresa. Now her granddaughter Ruby Loonfoot attends the Robe's School and Cecilia vows never again.
Cecilia wants Ruby to rejoice in her culture. However, the St. Nicholas School believes that the Indian pagan religion must be stamped out and be replaced by the embracing of Jesus. Not only is Ruby's heritage demeaned, she is also physically abused for challenging the Robes. Now Cecilia and Theresa are at war over Ruby's education, as her grandmother wants her to be proud of being an Indian while her mother believes Jesus comes first.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner