What human & social attitudes are needed by the reservation community to regain vitality in "This is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Victor and Thomas Builds-the-Fire intuitively rather than intellectually believe that the community needs to be restored to its old traditions if it is to be revitalized. One thing both agreed upon as children was that warriors were missed. They blamed it on the horses being gone, but that symbolizes the replacement of Indian culture with American culture. This is demonstrated when as a boy Thomas protests against celebrating the Fourth of July and is confirmed when he says that his father was killed in World War II while fighting for America, a country that had invested its resources and time in trying to kill him, whether meant metaphorically or meant symbolically as representing the historical Indian tribe.

Another thing that is felt to be needed--especially by Thomas who knows it as wells as intuitively feels it--is the ability to yearn for and listen to the stories, which are more like prophesies and clairvoyance than what the Western tradition calls stories. The story Thomas told Victor about his father being afraid of him, wanting to hide in the white noise of nothing, and wanting to leave is what psychologically underpinned the fight Victor waged against Thomas, and the fight was when Thomas's stories stopped. Thomas's stories started again after he and Victor become reconciled after the story of Victor's father leaping up as a salmon going down stream and finding his way home.

Another thing that is needed for revitalization is a reconnection with nature: "Thomas said. "We have outdoor lighting." "All I need is the stars... ."" The reconnection with nature will include help from nature, as with the horses and the stars, but it will also include a battle waged against nature, waged and won as true warriors would do. This is dramatized by the flashback to the wasp nest and running running running incident. Finally the people need their tribal dreams to come true, like Thomas's dream of flying:

"One of his dreams came true for just a second, just enough to make it real ... ."

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