The main problem in Sing Down the Moon is how Native American identity experiences encroachment and repression from European forces. Bright Morning experiences this in two distinct ways. The first is how she is captured and enslaved by the Spanish soldiers. They see the Native Americans as objects to be possessed and controlled. In this dehumanizing view of Native Americans, the Spanish repress Native Americans such as Bright Morning and tempers her perception of "the other" as a child.
Repression gives way to more repression as Bright Morning must confront the relegation of her people at the hands of the United States' Army. As a young woman, Bright Morning must experience governmentally sanctioned discrimination. The forced movement of Native Americans onto reservations and government- designated living areas is another example of how the novel's main problem of repression and silencing of voice impacts Bright Morning. In both settings, Bright Morning understands that social marginalization carries intense ramifications for all parts of consciousness. How Bright Morning responds to these separate conditions of prejudice, discrimination, and acts of aggression against the Native Americans forms the basis of both her character and the development of the novel. The exploration of the main problem of social repression becomes the novel's focus and lasting relevance.