TTh 3:00-4:15 p.m., Shingleton Hall 8

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ceremony Assignment for Tuesday, 3/22/16

This assignment asks you to discuss the interrelationships among healing, ceremony, and storytelling in Laguna/Pueblo culture. Read the novel's Introduction by Larry McMurtry and Preface by Silko to understand these links.

Assignment: In a two- to three-paragraph comment to this post, answer this prompt: in Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Betonie says, "White people are only tools that witchery manipulates; and I tell you, we can deal with white people. . . . because we invented white people" (122). What does Betonie mean by "witchery"? What does he mean by the claim "we invented white people"? Finally, what is the nature of Betonie's relationship with Tayo?

Use standard English. Cite textual evidence from Silko's novel. Your comment may respond to previous comments as long as it otherwise fulfills these assignment criteria. Citation includes in-text citation and a list of Works Cited. In order to post a comment here, you must have an online account compatible with Blogspot. You may use either an existing online account, like your SU Gmail account, or set up a new one expressly for online work in this class. You may use whatever online moniker you prefer (barring the offensive) as long as your posts include your name. After the semester is over and final grades issued, you are free to disable any online account you used for this class. This assignment counts as one online work grade and is due by class time on Thursday, 3/2416.


  1. In Leslie Silko’s Ceremony, Betonie relays to Tayo that “white people are only tools that witchery manipulates and I tell you, we can deal with white people . . . because we invented white people” (Silko 132). In this statement, Betonie utilizes the word “witchery” to mean racism, the “evils”, that brought the white man over from Europe. According to Betonie, the witches created this evil and the Native Americans perpetuated the resulting effects by establishing a prejudice against the white people before the white people even arrived. Thus, when Betonie states, “we have invented white people” (Silko 132), he conveys that Native Americans established a division between white men and natives through prejudice and that the white people retaliated by doing the same.

    Furthermore, Betonie supports his argument stating, “they want us to believe all evil resides with white people. Then we will look no further to see what is really happening. They want us to separate ourselves from white people, to be ignorant and helpless as we watch our own destruction” (Silko 132). Therefore, when Betonie speaks of “witchery” and argues that they “created white people”, he is talking about how the natives allowed the evils to pursue and were too blinded by the lies, blaming the white people for their problems, to preserve their culture and focus on unity rather than further separation. Overall, Betonie argues that the natives still hold the power to control their land and preserve their culture, but they must look beyond the “witchery” and prejudice rather than succumb to it (Silko 191).

    Betonie and Tayo’s relationship is rather complex. Betonie is a family figure, mentor and healer to Tayo, and provides Tayo with vital wisdom to avoid further self-destruction. They are also connected through Josiah, as Josiah had intimate relations with Betonie’s mother. Therefore they are connected in a brotherly sense, considering Josiah fulfilled the father figure role for both Betonie and Tayo. The relationship becomes particularly complicated considering that Tayo had a brief intimate encounter with Betonie’s mother as well. Hence, it comes as no surprise that Betonie and Tayo’s gradually came to bond with one another throughout the story, establishing a friendship between the two.

    Works Cited:

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition). Penguin Publishing Group, 2006. Kindle file.

  2. Betonie refers to "witchery" as a form of brain washing(Silko 122).The whites are blamed for messing up the cures of the old medicine and disrespecting the culture but Betonie believes it is not just the white people that are to blame. When Betonie states, "we invented the white people" he means that they let the white people take over (Silko 122). He says that we can't separate ourselves from the white people because we did not fight for our customs.
    In Silko's introduction she stresses how she wants people to remember and respect the culture of story telling. She also highlights how much it means to her by saying, "I was blessed, watched over, and protected by my beloved ancestors, and the ones who told me the stories" (Silko xix). Her main goal is to bring the culture of ancestors forward. Her characters talk about how their culture failed to do that so the whites separated themselves and felt superior.
    Betonie is Tayo's friend and confidant. A lot of Tayo's war friends concentrate on the death of Rocky and the war. Betonie is able to talk to Tayo about Josiah. Josiah is their father figure and they bond over that. Betonie is more helpful to Tayo then his friends and he's more enlightened about life.
    Samantha Maddy

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony: (Penguin Classics Delux Edition). Penguin Publishing Group, 2006.

  3. Leslie Marmon Silko’s 1986 work, Ceremony, explores postcolonial themes in the United States, a risky, but powerful notion. She criticizes the tendencies, past and present, of whites to act innately superior; it is so ingrained in their culture, she argues, that they are unable to escape from it. This is revealed when a vital character, a wise medicine man named Betonie, proudly asserts that “white people are only tools that witchery manipulates,” during a story to main character, Tayo (122). In this quote, Betonie is referring to the tendency of white people to merely mirror their leaders, as if they are puppets. He also states that the natives “can deal with white people…because [they] invented white people,” meaning that the natives allowed the whites to become superior, and thus, must suffer the consequences (122).

    It is interesting to note that Tayo is, indeed, half-white, and thus, alluding to the Biblical story of Moses, is stuck between being the oppressed and the oppressor. He suffers from being outcast by his immediate family, although his partial whiteness may give him a leg-up in general society. This unique trait is shared by Betonie, who is also of a mixed race. Because of this, Tayo feels a closeness to him. He quickly trusts the medicine man, despite his estrangement to him, and despite his distinctly “Indian" practices. He listens intently to Betonie’s stories during their time together, as it reminds Tayo of happier times without the stress of war.

    Works Cited

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin, 1986. Kindle.

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  6. (Sorry I deleted my post two times.)

    In Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Betonie’s use of the word “witchery” in this section pertains to evil. “Wichery” could also mean racism, brainwashing, and prejudice. Tayo was first explaining how Emo was saying that they should just take all the white people’s land because their land is no good (122). In response, Betonie disagrees and says, “That is the trickery of the witchcraft” and he goes on to say, “They want us to believe all evil resides with white people. They want us to look no further to see what is happening. They want us to separate ourselves from white people” (122). It’s "witchery" or evil that wants to fool you into thinking that it's the whites in which evil resides in, but don't be fooled Betonie is saying. And this goes into Betonie's quote of the Natives creating them. The Natives are to blame in this situation too. When he says that “we invented white people” (122), he means that it was the Native Americans who first allowed for the whites to become the higher-ups. The Natives are to blame as well.

    From where I am in the book right now, the nature of Betonie’s relationship with Tayo is good as Betonie is trying to help cure Tayo.

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin, 2006. Print.

  7. In this novel, Silko talks a lot about evils in the world. In my opinion Silko compares evils and the white people, referring to the fact that it is evil for the white people to discriminate against the indians and the natives. This point can be found when Silko states “we created the white people” (Silko 122) meaning that the white people created evil when given power over the indians. The white people and the indian people were unmatched in regards to fighting. The white people had more lethal weapons that could destroy more in less time. The white people taking advantage of their power over the indians is evil.
    Due to the exposure to the white people, the indian people now have more problems than ever before. A lot of the indians will now suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was not something they experienced before. This is because of the trauma caused by the white people, their weapons, and their ways of living. Silko also states that the indians will eventually get used to the white people. I think the fact that the indians would have to “get used to” all of the bad that the white people have brought to them is also something evil.
    I believe in this scenario, evil can be synopsis with witchery. To the indians, a lot of what the white people may have done and brought to them could be witchery. Before the trauma from the white people, they never had PTSD or ever needed the words to explain what that was. To outsiders who aren’t experiencing PTSD and have no knowledge of what it is, it could be seen as other worldly or being witch craft.

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.

  8. In Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Betonie speaks of "witchery" as the evil that people possess. He explains that “not all evil resides with white people” (Silko 122), and that other people participate in witchcraft. He mentions that “witchery” is also the fear of the unknown by explaining "that one misstep or a singer that changes a song could cause a catastrophe" (Silko 142). Back then and even today, the term “witchery” is poorly defined and therefore an undefined, unfamiliar practice. The fact that it is so rare and unknown is the reason why it is feared to such a degree.

    When Betonie discusses the “invention of the white people”, he is referring to the story about the witch who created their existence through witchcraft and predicted that they would come from Europe to pillage and take over the land. He explains that Native American tribes helped to create the lifestyle of white people when he said that “we can deal with white people, with their machines, and their beliefs” (Silko 122). He is also implying that Native American tribes existed before the arrival of Europeans.

    The relationship that Betonie and Tayo share is an interesting one. Tayo has PTSD from the war and comes to Betonie, a medicine man, which makes Betonie his healer and Tayo the patient. But their relationship has a very confusing twist when it is revealed that Tayo has been intimately involved with Betonie’s mother.

  9. In Leslie Silko’s Ceremony, Betonie says to Tayo that “white people are only tools that witchery manipulates and I tell you, we can deal with white people . . . because we invented white people” (Silko 122). The word witchery is talking about the rituals and ceremonies that the indians themselves would hold. These indians would also let evil blind the eyes of the innocent. This is backed up when it states, “we have invented white people” (Silko 122). Betonie says this because he is trying to explain how their rituals are very similar. For example, tribes getting together just like a baseball game (Silko 123). This metaphor is used to explain that indians and white people aren’t as different as people take them to be. Their acts are the same; the rituals just differ because of their culture.

    Betonie’s relationship with Tayo is more like a mentor. I’ve come to this conclusion because Tayo seems to have built a relationship with Betonie. Betonie is trying to heal Tayo and that is probably because they are finding similarities within each other. This goes back to the fact that Indians and whites are indeed alike in many ways. This proves why Betonie created this relationship to stop the witchery that has been happening within both races.

    Works Cited:

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition).

  10. In the novel Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, Betonie the medicine man, tells Tayo that white people were created through witchery. He explains that white people came into existence when a group of witches came together in a contest of dark things (Silko 123). The witchery is explained as an illusion that people don't need mother nature to survive, and that they can even conquer mother nature. This desire to conquer is fueled by a fear of nature. "They fear the world, they destroy what they fear" ( Silko 125). When Betonie says that the Native Americans created white people, he means that in the sense that if they were able to fight back equally against the white people, they wouldn't have been able to take over their land and destroy it in their process of making it more civilized. This led to the progression of evils including the atrocities that Tayo witnessed while at war.

    Betonie, often referred to as "Old Betonie" by Tayo was a medicine man. His relationship with Tayo was that of a teacher and a healer. He helped him cope with what he had witnessed at war.This shows the contrast between traditional American methods of healing and Native American methods of healing. Betonie's method helped Tayo cope much more than when he was in the hospital, which made him lose his sense of self.

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony: (Penguin Classics Delux Edition). Penguin Publishing Group, 2006.