A Laguna Pueblo man with a white father, Tayo returns to the Laguna reservation after World War II sick in mind and body after the trauma of war. Tayo grew up homeless with his mother… read analysis of Tayo
Tayo’s friend and a fellow war veteran. Harley is an alcoholic who tries to find the joke in every situation, which the novel portrays as an attempt to hide from the emptiness of his… read analysis of Harley
Tayo’s cousin. Rocky is an A student and a star player on the high school football team. He believes that he must reject all the traditional native ways in order to be successful in… read analysis of Rocky
Another Laguna war veteran who believes in the necessity of racial purity among Native people in order to escape oppression by white people. Emo hates all white people for the things they have stolen from… read analysis of Emo
Tayo’s aunt, and Rocky’s mother. Thelma is a Christian Laguna woman, who stubbornly resents Tayo for his mixed blood and the gossip he invites about their family. Despite her bitterness towards these “sins,”… read analysis of Auntie (Thelma)
Little Sister (Laura)
Tayo’s mother and Auntie’s younger sister. After internalizing the discrimination towards Native Americans, Laura becomes an alcoholic and shames the Laguna community by sleeping with men of many different ethnicities. She gets pregnant… read analysis of Little Sister (Laura)
Tayo’s grandmother. She believes firmly in the value of following old traditional ways, and teaches Tayo the old stories and rituals as a child. Unlike Auntie, Grandmother fully accepts Tayo as a member… read analysis of Grandmother
A Pueblo Laguna medicine man. He performs a healing ritual on Tayo, but admits to Tayo that the old rituals no longer work in the modern world as they used to. Indeed, the ceremony… read analysis of Ku’oosh
A Navajo medicine man who is able to heal Tayo by combining traditional rituals with modern, multicultural elements. Betonie’s green eyes and Mexican grandmother show his own connection to hybridity, which the novel makes clear… read analysis of Betonie
A Mexican woman who Uncle Josiah loves. Night Swan was a cantina dancer all over the southwest, and was even run out of town for her “improper” relationships with men of other races. Night Swan… read analysis of Night Swan
A Montaño woman who helps Tayo on his quest to find his uncle’s cattle, and falls in love with Tayo in the process. Ts’eh follows the traditional native ways and may or may not be the Reed Woman of Laguna legends.
Corn Mother (Nau’ts’ity’i)
A goddess of the Pueblo Native tradition, who helps the people care for the crops but can take away the rain if she is neglected.
A goddess in the Pueblo Native tradition who has the power to take away the rain clouds. Ts’eh, a montaño Native American woman, may or may not be the human form of the Reed Woman.
A character in the mythic Laguna Pueblo tale of the Corn Mother. Fly is a messenger for the people who helps them get the rain clouds back.
A character in the mythic Laguna Pueblo tale of the Corn Mother.
A character in the mythic Laguna Pueblo tale of the Corn Mother, who purifies the town in exchange for tobacco.
A character in the mythic Laguna Pueblo tale of the Corn Mother, who gives Hummingbird and Fly tobacco.
Auntie’s husband. A quiet, easy-going man who takes care of the ranch after Uncle Josiah dies.
Tayo’s cousin, who suffers from alcoholism.
Another Pueblo man from Laguna, a war veteran who is friends with Emo and Harley.
A Native Laguna woman who sleeps with men in order to borrow money for rent. She tends to avoid Native American men because she assumes that they are poor.
An Apache ranch hand who helps Josiah with the hybrid cattle for a few weeks.
Ts’eh’s brother, and another mythic character in Laguna stories. The Hunter is connected to the mountain lions, as he can be a mountain lion at times and is helped by mountain lions. Tayo initially believes that The Hunter is Ts’eh’s husband.
Betonie’s grandfather who married a Mexican woman.
The Mexican rancher who sells Uncle Josiah the hybrid cows.
Betonie’s helper, whose name means “bear.”
A white logger who steals Josiah’s cows.