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31 Famous Indian Horse Quotes – Richard Wagamese

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Indian Horse Quotes
Indian Horse Quotes

Indian Horse, a novel by the late Ojibwe author Richard Wagamese, explores the profound impact of cultural assimilation and the healing power of self-discovery. The quotes from the book provide glimpses into the narrative’s emotional depth and themes of resilience, identity, and the restorative nature of embracing one’s heritage.

Wagamese’s poignant words capture the essence of the protagonist Saul’s journey, illustrating the challenges faced by Indigenous people in the wake of colonization. The novel delves into the trauma inflicted upon Saul and his community, highlighting the stripping of innocence, denigration of culture, and the enduring impact on self-worth. The first quote speaks to the dehumanizing experience of feeling “less than human” when one’s culture is marginalized and traditions are disparaged.

Here are 31 quotes from “Indian Horse” by Richard Wagamese:

  1. “When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals are pronounced backward, primitive, savage, you come to see yourself as less than human. That is hell on earth, that sense of unworthiness. That’s what they inflicted on us.”
  2. “We need mystery. Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility is the foundation of all learning. So we do not seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever.”
  3. “I understood then that when you miss a thing it leaves a hole that only the thing you miss can fill.”
  4. “I discovered that being someone you are not is often easier than living with the person you are.”
  5. “We were hockey gypsies, heading down another gravel road every weekend, plowing into the heart of that magnificent northern landscape.”
  6. “For my wife Deborah, for allowing me to bask in her light and become more.”
  7. “I saw kids die of tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia and broken hearts at St. Jerome’s.”
Indian Horse Quotes
Indian Horse Quotes
  1. “Benjamin and I sat in the middle of one of the large canoes with our grandmother in the stern, directing us past shoals and through rapids.”
  2. “We were taught to be God-fearing. One who loves does not brandish fear or require it.”
  3. “I’m twenty-three years old, I’m working graveyard in the fucking mine and I been there since I was sixteen.”
  4. “But there were always things swimming around in me that I could neither hold on to long enough to comprehend or learn to live with.”
  5. “I wondered how people could live with things set in place, fixed, their places determined by the power of the recollection they contained, the memories they held.”
  6. “I got out without another word and stood in the snow and watched his old car disappear around the bend. His leaving was an ache that stayed with me for days.”
  7. “Hockey is like the universe, Saul. When you stand in the dark and look up at it, you see the placid fire of stars.”
  8. “I learned that I could draw the boundaries of my physical self inward, collapse the space I occupied and become a mote, a speck, an indifferent atom in its own peculiar orbit.”
  9. “They scooped out our insides, Saul. We are not responsible for that. We are not responsible for what happened to us.”
  10. “That school gave you words that do not apply to us.”
  11. “The towns and the players are all different. But the game is always the same, its speed and power.”
  12. “The change that comes our way will come in many forms. In sights that are mysterious to our eyes, in sounds that are grating on our ears.”
  13. “I had some once. They didn’t pan out. I don’t have them anymore.”
  14. “Often, while the others were sleeping, I’d look out the window and watch the land flow by.”
  15. “Late in the evenings I’d walk into the trees, stride through the bush until I was wrapped in it, cocooned.”
Indian Horse Quotes
Indian Horse Quotes
  1. “I felt as though nothing had changed. I felt as though the only thing I had done was quit drinking.”
  2. “Their faces burned with zeal and joy and their breathing was like the expelled air of mustangs.”
  3. “The clomp of their blades made me think of hoofs on frozen ground. This was the game. This gathering of brothers, of kin.”
  4. “The change that comes our way will come in many forms. In sights that are mysterious to our eyes, in sounds that are grating on our ears.”
  5. “When they returned they brought the white man with them in brown bottles. Spirits, Naomi called them. Bad spirits.”
  6. “On clear nights the old woman and I would sit on the rocks by the edge of the river. The stars pinwheeled above us and we would hear wolves calling to each other.”
  7. “My mouth would be open with glee and I would face the picture of Jesus hung there on the wall, my salvation coming instead through wood and rubber and ice and the dream of a game.”
  8. “I’d stand there, arms held high in triumph, and I would not feel lonely or afraid, deserted or abandoned, but connected to something far bigger than myself.”
  9. “Then I’d climb back into bed and sleep until the dawn woke me and I could walk back out to the rink again.”

The novel intertwines Saul’s personal story with broader reflections on the importance of mystery, awe, and wonder in life. Wagamese’s grandmother character imparts wisdom about embracing the unknown and the significance of humility and learning. These quotes emphasize the spiritual aspects of Indigenous culture and the reverence for the mysteries of the universe.

Indian Horse Quotes
Indian Horse Quotes

Saul’s connection to nature is a recurring theme, symbolizing solace and continuity. The passages describing his experiences in the northern landscape, the river, and the stars evoke a sense of awe and a deep connection to his Ojibwe roots. Wagamese beautifully illustrates the spiritual and emotional bond between Saul and the land, portraying it as a source of strength and healing.

The novel also delves into Saul’s love for hockey, a passion that becomes a refuge from the harsh realities of life. The camaraderie among the players, their nomadic existence, and the joy derived from the game itself become essential elements of Saul’s journey. The quotes reflect on the beauty of hockey, likening it to the chaos and organized spirit of the universe. The game becomes a metaphor for life’s challenges and the extraordinary spirit within Saul.

Wagamese masterfully weaves together the threads of Saul’s past and present, exploring the complexities of identity, trauma, and the search for healing. The final quotes touch on Saul’s struggle with the changes within himself and his yearning for a connection to his early life. The novel suggests that true healing is a personal journey, emphasizing the resilience needed to navigate the challenges posed by change.

In conclusion, Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse is a powerful exploration of the impact of cultural trauma and the possibilities of healing through self-discovery. The quotes provided offer a glimpse into the novel’s rich tapestry of emotions, spirituality, and the enduring connection between an individual and their roots.