The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

by Louise Erdrich

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is a novel by Louise Erdrich, which chronicles the life and missionary work of Father Damien Modeste, Sister Leopolda, and Sister Cecelia. The setting takes place in the remote Ojibwes reservation called Little No Horse.

The novel explores themes such as the tense relationship between Western philosophy, particularly Christianity, and the indigenous culture of North America. Another theme of the story is the hypocrisy of religious missionaries who try to convert Native American populations, and this is illustrated by the dark secrets that the main characters harbor.

Here is one of the quotes that show the commonality between Christian thought and the indigenous peoples' belief in the nature of man:

To love another human in all of her splendor and imperfect perfection, it is a magnificent task...tremendous and foolish and human.

The quotes also hints at the "imperfections" of the priests and nuns themselves; that despite their robes, they are flawed creatures just like anybody else.

A quote that illustrates the supernatural element of both Western religions and indigenous pagan beliefs is:

Sometimes owls came near to warn of death. Sometimes they just asked people to be careful. Sometimes they were just owls.

The belief in omens and natural phenomena as signs from a supernatural force can be found in both Christianity and Native American folklore.

This quote articulates the layers of secrets that some of the characters possess, and how by concealing those secrets, the characters create a more complex web of lies:

Whenever he thought he knew the truth it merged into another truth.

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