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Exploring Solar Storms by Linda Hogan: A Presentation by Amy Trotter

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Amy Trotter

on 19 February 2014

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Transcript of Exploring Solar Storms by Linda Hogan: A Presentation by Amy Trotter

Solar Storms
by Linda Hogan

About the Author:
Linda Hogan

Writer in Residence for the Chicksaw Nation
Solar Storms Synopsis
Solar Storms is the story of a young girl and her journey for identity. Growing up not knowing who her mother is, the main character Angel questions her role in life and hides behind the scars she wears on her face. She creates a false identity for herself before starting her quest for her mother and her true history, and eventually finds her grandmother Agnes on Adams Rib island in the north. While living with Agnes, and eventually Bush, on these remote islands, she learns the intimate details of her mother, her birth, her childhood, and the fate of her people. She finds love and purpose in living in the wilderness, but also finds conflict with developers who threaten her people’s way of life.
Prominent themes worth exploring include (but are certainly not limited to):
Human connection to nature
Western development
Loneliness & emptiness
Further Reading
"We Were Those Who Walked out of Bullets and Hunger": Representation of Trauma and Healing in "Solar Storms."
By Irene Vernon
Sources and Works Cited
Hogan, Linda.
Solar Storms.
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995. Print.

Strom, Karen. Linda Hogan Autobiography. Hanksville.org. 1997. Web. 10 Feb 2014.

Born in Denver, Colorado and grew up in Oklahoma
Focuses primarily on traditional indigenous view of and relationship to the land, animals and plants.
Poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and activist, Hogan is widely considered to be one of the most influential and provocative Native American figures in the contemporary American literary landscape
Linda Hogan
Winner of the Five Civilized Tribes Playwriting Award in 1984, the Guggenheim Award , the Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year (Prose-Fiction) award, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist
As the land changes around them, Bush devises a plan to travel north by canoe to Dora Rouge’s birth land (the Fat Eaters) where Hannah, Angel’s mother, also lives. The journey is treacherous and proves fatal for Agnes. The land, having changed tremendously due to the development of water dams in the north, has rendered some rivers and streams impassable and has reshaped the geography of the land. Despite the struggle, Bush, Angel and Dora Rouge arrive to their destination to discover that the development has taken a worse toll than they had imagined.
While in the land of the Fat Eaters, Angel finds her mother and watches as she passes away, and comes to find that her mother has birthed a baby who Angel rescues and names Aurora. As relationships build and a new way of life becomes established for the women, a war unfolds around them between the native Indians and the dam-building government. In a seemingly futile attempt to resist the changes that the government is imposing on the native land, the women and their native relatives fight tooth and nail against all odds to reclaim their way of life. In the height of the war, Aurora falls deathly ill and must be taken out of the town to a hospital where she can receive care in order to survive. Once out of the Fat Eater’s land and with Aurora once again healthy, Bush and Angel return to Adam’s Rib (while Dora Rouge remains in her native land for her death) where they discover yet more devastation from the dam-building.
Nearly entirely drowned by the lake, Adam’s Rib and Fur Island are no longer habitable, so Angel, Bush, and Aurora are forced to relocate. In the end, we discover through the testimony of Tulik, a native man from the land of the Fat Eaters who fought against the dam building, that the Natives were successfully able to cease further development on their lands. While much of the “development” already rendered the land and the people entirely changed, the court’s final decision still filled the native’s with a sense of hope for their future.
Water is a major theme throughout the text. Everything is born from water, and water seems to reclaim the lands and the people over time. Despite efforts to control the water by re-routing rivers, turning lakes into rivers, and diverting streams to dry land, water is a force that cannot be completely manipulated without consequences.

Some questions to ponder:

In what ways is water feminized? How does Angel connect water back to her own identity as a native woman?

What do you make of the deal that Dora Rouge made with water? Do you think it was symbolic or literal?

Human connection to nature
Western Development
Loneliness and emptiness
A Presentation by Amy Trotter
is a broad theme that encompasses biodiversity loss, loss of native customs and identity, and loss of equal human rights. Solar Storms repeatedly mentions the loss of entire species due to environment manipulation (particularly dam building) and over hunting. From the very beginning, we discover the disappearance of the beavers on the islands and all the way to the end we see the destruction of caribou, frog, and a myriad of plants among other species.

“There wasn’t a single beaver that year. They’d killed them all. And they’d just logged the last of the pine forests” (37).

Undoubtedly due to the loss of biodiversity in the native’s surrounding environment, a loss of sacred native rituals presents itself and eventually threatens the culture of the Native Americans down to individuals who stray from their ancestral roots in search of a newer, more “civilized” identity and way of life.

“The devastation and ruin that had fallen over the land fell over the people, too. Most were too broken to fight the building of the dams, the moving of waters, and that perhaps has been the intention all along.” (226)

Some questions to ponder:

What are the implication of biodiversity loss on the environment and on the lives of the natives? Would it force the natives to become “westernized”?

What are other types of loss found within the text?

“In that moment I understood I was part of the same equation as birds and rain.” (79)

The connection between humans and nature is arguably one of the most critical themes in the book. Angel comes to identify herself with the world around her just as her ancestors have done for thousands of years. Each character in the book has their own unique connection with nature (or disconnection in the case of La Rue who serves as the antithesis of natural connection within the Indian community). These connections enable them to fight against the industrialization of their land, despite the fact that developments have begun to threaten both the land and the native way of life.

“I believed what the old people said, that fish were a kind of people, like the wolves, and that they wanted to live as much as we did, those of us who had been born to a destiny of death and survived, passing through like small fish through a hole in a net” (118).

“It was what all the old people longed for again, the time when people could merge with a cloud and help it rain, could become trees, one with bark, root and leaves” (203).

Some questions to ponder:

How did the connection between human and nature help the women on their journey to the Fat Eaters land? Do you think that their connections with nature grew stronger along the way?

Angel clearly shifts from one outside of nature to one within in and of it. What are some pivotal points in the text the demonstrates this transition?

The development of bridges, dams, dikes, and other industrial methods of manipulating water threatens the traditional way of the Native Americans. This development is the root cause of other themes (such as loss), and can be seen as the backbone of the book’s plot and purpose.

“[the bridges] weren’t so unlike the ones that were being built up north, with muddy earth moving water flowing beneath them, bridges that should not have been there. Animals in the path of it were killed, people’s lives displaced, plants and lives gone forever to make way.” (103)

“[the Europeans] had trapped themselves inside their own destruction of it, the oldest kind of snare, older than twine and twigs. Their legacy, I began to understand, had been the removal of spirit from everything, from animals, trees, fishhooks and hammers, all things the Indians had as allies.” (180)

Some questions to ponder:

What do you think Hogan’s message about development is?

What do you make of the final court verdict in which the continuance of dam construction is halted?

How does the development in this book compare to the development in Refuge?

One of the biggest arguments for industrial development is that the lands are empty and useless. Westerners were unable to consider the use of land in its natural state without electricity and construction despite the thriving Native culture present on those lands (prior to development).

“These men’s people, my own people too, had lived there forever, for more than ten thousand years, and had been sustained by these lands that were now being called empty and useless. If the dam project continued, the lives of the people who lived there would cease to be, a way of life would end in yet another act of displacement and betrayal” (58).

“To the white men who were new here, we were people who had no history, who lived surrounded by what they saw as nothingness.” (280)

The idea of emptiness, loneliness, and nothingness began to seep into the minds of some young natives who yearned for the western lifestyle. At one point, even Angel considers the life she once lived outside of wilderness and vies for the extravagance that the old lifestyle offered.

Some questions to ponder:

Could wilderness be synonymous with “nothingness” or “emptiness?”
The idea of “loneliness” recurs continually. What are some different kinds of loneliness that you found?

"Boundaries of Violence: Water, Gender and Globalization at the US Borders. "
By Julie Sze
"Convenanting Nature: Aquacide and the Transformation of Knowledge. "
By Laura Donaldson
"A Defiant Cartography: Linda Hogan's 'Solar Storm."'
By Geoffrey Stacks
Full transcript