Tracks

Manitou Term Analysis

Manitou is the Algonquin word for the spiritual and fundamental life force. This force runs through creatures, plants, the environment in general, and events in the natural world, and it is often pluralized to indicate the individual force of each life that goes up to make the whole. Fleur, Nanapush, and Margaret all pray to their Manitous throughout Tracks, in the hopes of appealing to these spirits to protect and guide them, especially when threatened by some element of the natural world.

Manitou Quotes in Tracks

The Tracks quotes below are all either spoken by Manitou or refer to Manitou. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of Tracks published in 2011.
Chapter 3 Quotes

I am a man so I don’t know exactly what happened when the bear came into the birth house, but they talk among themselves, the women, and sometimes they forget I’m listening. So I know that when Fleur saw the bear in the house she was filled with such fear and power that she raised herself on the mound of blankets and gave birth. Then Pauline took down the gun and shot point-blank, filling the bear’s heart. She says so anyway. But she says that the lead only gave the bear strength, and I’ll support that. For I heard the gun go off and then saw the creature whirl and roar from the house. It barreled past me, crashed through the brush into the woods, and was not seen after. It left no trail either, so it could have been a spirit bear. I don’t know.

Related Characters: Nanapush (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Pauline Puyat
Related Symbols: Bears, Tracks/Trails
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
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Manitou Term Timeline in Tracks

The timeline below shows where the term Manitou appears in Tracks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Fall 1913-Spring 2014, Onaubin-geezis, Crust on the Snow Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...the fitful waters as an offering and they head back, bailing and praying to the Manitous and the Blessed Virgin in alternation. They return to Nanapush’s house and Margaret tells him... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...respectively. Finally, on the afternoon of the second day, they hear the sound of the Manitous in Fleur’s cries, and Nanapush speculates that perhaps the bear heard these calls as well.... (full context)
Chapter 5: Fall 1917-Spring 1918, Manitou-geezis, Strong Spirit Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...see Nanapush. At church Nanapush thinks about how he is more grateful for the old Manitous than for the Christian God, and Lulu dozes. (full context)
Chapter 6: Spring 1918-Winter 1919, Payaetonookaedaed-geeziz, Wood Louse Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
...to do about Fleur, who Pauline believes is the gateway to the lake monster and Manitous for the tribe. She realizes that she can be this same gateway to Catholicism for... (full context)