Comparing and Contrasting Gender Essay

Submitted By lefty26dude
Words: 1761
Pages: 8

Compare and Contrasting Gender In the stories, “The Native American Church of Jesus Christ” by Emerson Spider Sr. and “Karma” by Lydia Yuri Minatoya, both of these authors show the power of women in culture and religion, while they contrast the differences between men in Native American and Asian communities. In the story “The Native American Church of Jesus Christ”, Emerson Spider narrates about his religious life and the role his mother had in preserving Peyote, a key cultural medicine and religious plant. Initially, Spiders’ people started out as a traditional church without the Bible or the presence of Christianity. Eventually they learned about the second coming of Christ, and they accepted the Lord as their personal savior, just like any other Church. “The Native American Church started out with the Half Moon way of the Peyote religion. They use what they call the “Generation Fireplace.” On the alter they mound the earth like a half-moon, and they put a little road on that mound which represents your life from the time you were born until you come to the center, and on to when you get old and go from there to death. They put the Generation Fireplace at the altar within the tipi, and at the center of the road they place the peyote.”(pg 158) Although Spiders’ people were Christians, previous religious and cultural elements (such as the peyote) remained part of their new-found Christian faith. Spider then goes on to talk about his mother. When his mother was a little girl, she became sick with tuberculosis. In those days it was considered a death sentence. “When they got home, my mother started taking that medicine, the peyote… All through that summer they (gave) her medicine, put her on a horse, and let her go out riding… After a few months she was well. She was all right.”(pg 160) Ironically, a woman was the one who was saved by the peyote. It was a woman who was the miracle and gender use of her was no mistake by Spider. It wasn’t long afterwards when the state of South Dakota brought a trail against the Native Americans for the use of peyote. The state believed that the peyote was a narcotic and should be outlawed among the Natives. In court, Spiders grandpa said, “This is good. This peyote’s good. It is good medicine and I can prove it.”(pg 160) The court then asked how he could prove it, and he turned to his daughter (who was Spiders mother) and said, “This girl had tuberculosis. The doctors gave up on her. She was placed in the sanitarium. I got her away from there. Now she’s alive today.” (pg 160) Then Spider’s mother was asked how she was healed and she responded by saying, “Through the peyote, through what we have here. I got well through that.” (pg 160). It was shortly after these comments that the court of South Dakota ruled that peyote was considered legal to all Native Americans and to their churches. The role of a woman (Spider’s mother), allowed for a key cultural element of their religion to remain. Not only did it help maintain and preserve their cultural and religious practice, but it kept the magical medicine to remain with the Native Americans. It was she, a woman who went to that South Dakota court and spoke of her religious healings. Had she not done that, the spiritual use of peyote would have been extinguished and would have disappeared from the cultural and religion of the Native peoples. In the story “Karma”, by Lydia Yuri Minatoya, she reflects on how women are involved in blood sacrifices to the mother goddess Kali. Like “The Native American Church of Jesus Christ”, women play a key role in preserving and maintaining key religious aspects of their culture. Minatoya begins by reflecting on the meaning of Karma, or in American terms, fate. She says that karma itself is often not very satisfying. Minatoya then goes on to explain that she is in the landlocked country of Nepal, a country full of poverty and sadness. It is this sadness and poverty in which the people of Nepal turn to