Montana 1948

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Ollie Young Bear Character Analysis

An “exemplary” Native American man in the minds of many white people in Mercer County, Ollie Young Bear is a hardworking man married to a white woman and generally distanced from the Sioux nation. Wesley seeks his help in investigating Frank’s crimes, and Ollie is able to find Native American women willing to testify against Frank.

Ollie Young Bear Quotes in Montana 1948

The Montana 1948 quotes below are all either spoken by Ollie Young Bear or refer to Ollie Young Bear. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Milkweed Editions edition of Montana 1948 published in 1993.
Chapter 2 Quotes

All of these accomplishments made Ollie the perfect choice for white people to point to as an example of what Indians could be.

Related Characters: David Hayden (speaker), Ollie Young Bear
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we’re introduced to Ollie Young Bear, a Native American man who’s somewhat respected by the town’s white community. Ollie married a white woman, and his appeal in the white community seems to be based on his marriage more than anything else. David notes Ollie’s popularity even among bigots.

While David doesn’t get into why, exactly, a Native American man who’s married a white woman would be more appealing to the white community than a Native American who stays within his own culture, it’s easy enough to guess. Ollie seems to want to be a part of white America—he's internalized the racist worldview that whiteness equals superiority, and so tries his hardest to escape his own culture and "assimilate." This makes him a great token figure for racists to point to--both to try and prove that they're not racist and to try and prove that all the other Indians are somehow not living up to their potential.


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Ollie Young Bear Character Timeline in Montana 1948

The timeline below shows where the character Ollie Young Bear appears in Montana 1948. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
Racism, Prejudice, and the American West Theme Icon
...with his “regular group” of men from around the town). Today Wesley is sitting with Ollie Young Bear , a native American man who married a white woman and is admired by the... (full context)
Chapter 3
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon the truck and about Len rescuing them. Wesley says he had been talking with Ollie Young Bear and Mel—who is going to bring charges of sexual assault against Frank. (full context)