My Father's Song

by Simon Ortiz

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Topics for Further Study

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• Research the Acoma Pueblo Indians and prepare a presentation for your class. Include a simple map detailing where the Acoma have lived. What is their relationship to nature, language, and community?

• Write a poem about one event that characterizes your own relationship to your mother or father; then, read it to your class.

• Watch and compare Westerns released in the 1940s and 1950s with those released in the 1980s and 1990s. What differences do you notice between how Native Americans are represented and how do you account for these differences?

• Rewrite Ortiz’s poem from the point of view of the father. How does this change the themes and the meaning of the poem?

• The speaker of the poem says that he wants “to say things” and that he remembers his father “saying things,” yet such things are never mentioned. Rewrite the poem using dialogue instead of reported action. Does this diminish the impact of the poem? How or how not?

• Research the language of the Acoma and prepare a short list of vocabulary with a pronunciation guide for your class. Include the following words from the poem: voice, corn, sand, father, hand, mice, sand, alive, damp, time.

• In pairs, dramatize the poem, taking as many liberties with the “script” as you deem necessary. One person plays the father, one the son. Perform your interpretations for the class and then discuss variations.

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