In Ceremony, what is Betonie's explanation for why Indians blame the white man and the origin of white people? What is witchery?

Quick answer:

Betonie explains that the witches are the real villains. They cause all of the destruction and suffering that occurs in the world. The white people are just a product of their lies, and their stories.

Expert Answers

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In Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Betonie makes some important points about the relationship between Native Americans and white people, and he narrates a legend about the origins of white people.

As Tayo and Betonie are talking, Betonie makes the point that the real problem is the witches, the evil ones who spread their evil throughout the world. “They want us to believe all evil resides with white people,” he explains. Then no one will look further. No one will see what is really happening. The witches, Betonie continues, want Native Americans “to be ignorant and helpless” and led to destruction because they think there is nothing they can do against white people.

This simply isn't true, Betonie asserts, because “we invented white people.” It was the “Indian witchery that made white people in the first place.” Then he tells the story of the creation of the white people. A group of witches, evil ones who misuse the natural world, came together to experiment and compete. They made all sorts of horrible things. But one witch did something worse than any. That witch told a story, a story of white people and fear and evil, and in its telling, the story began to come true. Destruction began to descend upon the world along with suffering and torment and disease. Ultimately, Betonie says, it was the witches who created the evil in the world.

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