What does the quote, "We are what We have lost" in "Indian Killer" by Sherman Alexie mean?

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote represents both the Whites and the Native Americans in this work. The plot is driven by the theme of atonement, paying for one's sins, both on a literal and metaphorical level. All of us are "what we have lost." The Indians have suffered through years and years of brutal, racist treatment. They have lost their identity and culture and are trying to regain some sense of who they are. The modern Native American attempts to make some sense of this aided by the power of the ancient pow-wow. On the other hand, the White man, in his quest for ultimate power and control has also lost in this battle by having to wear the scars of his cruelty in today's world whether the scars be internal or external. All of us are comprised of our losses-it is what makes us human, and we must face those losses if we are to come to terms with who we are as Alexie illustrates in this work.

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