There There

There There

There There Part II: Dene Oxendene (2) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dene is set up in Blue’s office with his camera and mic, interviewing Calvin for his storytelling project. Dene has learned through doing several of these interviews that sometimes people say the most interesting things when they don’t yet know they’re being recorded, so Dene keeps the camera rolling as the nervous Calvin settles in. Calvin asks what he’s supposed to say, and Dene suggests he start by offering his name and tribe and describing what it’s been like growing up as a Native person in Oakland. Calvin replies that his father never talked about being Native, and Calvin and his brothers don’t know what tribe he is; his mother is half-Mexican, but has indigenous blood on that side of her family too. Mostly, Calvin says, he just feels like he’s from Oakland.
Calvin’s feelings of cultural and personal isolation are strong and painful, and are perhaps at the root of why he seems to feel few moral qualms about acting as a double agent as the powwow robbery approaches. Dene is interested in stories like Calvin’s, and how they can help people who feel the same way to feel less alone—but, it’s implied, Calvin himself has not had access to any of these stories in his lifetime, and it has made his loneliness worse.
Themes
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Interconnectedness, Coincidence, and Chance Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
Calvin tells a story about being robbed in the parking lot of a powwow a while back—he never made it into the festivities, and so the upcoming Big Oakland Powwow will be the first one he’s attended. Calvin continues talking about the number of Native people he knows who hardly know anything about their own heritage, and then asks Dene when he’s going to start recording. Dene admits that he already is. There is a lull, and then the two begin having a conversation in which Calvin admits he doesn’t feel that the Native part of him is “true.” He doesn’t feel he can claim being Native as part of his identity when he doesn’t know anything about the culture or the history of Native people.
The uncanny recurrence of a powwow robbery involving Calvin points more directly to the cyclical violence and trauma which permeates Native communities. Another reason Calvin perhaps doesn’t feel badly about robbing this powwow is because of what he suffered before he could even make it into the last one.
Themes
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Interconnectedness, Coincidence, and Chance Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon