In Almanac of the Dead, what is Sterling's background, and what is the significance of his fascination with Geronimo and the Wild West?

Sterling is a Native American man from the Laguna tribe who was banished from his community in his early twenties and now wanders the American Southwest. His fascination with Geronimo and the Wild West shows that he has become cut off from his heritage. In order to fill the void, he has immersed himself in the dominant white culture and its inaccurate depictions of Native American life.

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Sterling is a Native American who, like many other characters in the book, has left his indigenous heritage behind and submerged himself in white culture. An older Indian from the Laguna tribe, Sterling was expelled from his community for failing to protect his people from a film crew that trespassed...

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Sterling is a Native American who, like many other characters in the book, has left his indigenous heritage behind and submerged himself in white culture. An older Indian from the Laguna tribe, Sterling was expelled from his community for failing to protect his people from a film crew that trespassed on their native lands. Ever since he was in his twenties, he's wandered across the length and breadth of the American Southwest, never really settling down for any length of time and becoming ever more separated from his native culture.

An example of this comes by way of Sterling's obsession with the Wild West, especially with the story of the old Indian chief Geronimo. This does not mean, however, that Sterling is getting in touch with his native heritage—far from it. Instead, he's approaching the story of the Wild West and of Geronimo through the distorting prism of history as told by the victors, the white man.

Sterling's understating of the history of the Old West comes through reading romanticized stories in crime magazines instead of hearing them through tribal matriarchs, which was the traditional way that stories were transmitted in Native American culture. Far from seeing Geronimo as an important historical figure in the history of the American West, Sterling looks upon him merely as an exciting criminal in the mould of, say, Billy the Kid or Jesse James.

No longer part of his tribe, Sterling has to find some kind of spiritual home as a substitute. Immersing himself in the white man's version of the history of the Old West is his way of doing this, of becoming part of something bigger, even if it means corrupting his Laguna soul.

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