Peyote Religion In Sundown by John Joseph


Chal the main character was born into a time and place where his culture was
being destroyed. His blood is not pure Osage, mixed with white, but the Indian
blood is powerful inside him. The blood that runs through him takes him to days
of the past, days lost, heritage lost, role models lost, and a dying culture.

Chal is a perfect example of a lost sole. Throughout this book, Sundown, by John

Joseph Mathew, Chal is faced with choices. Challenges, may be the right word
though. His father John named him Chal, short for challenge, "He shall be a
challenge to the disinheritors of his people," (Pg. 4). Maybe his name led
his life in other directions, and challenges were to fill his life. In his
choices he is torn between the mixed bloods that are running through him. The

Indian blood and culture, in the expanding, dominating, white mans society. Chal
is filled with confusion, it the theme of the book and his character. He
represents that generation of turmoil. The transition to white America, through
his euro-american education and loss of the warrior role has clouded his mind.

The novel starts with Chal as a young child daydreaming of fighting the English.

He is a General, a warrior, leading the charge and then giving an inspirational
speech to his men. Chal knows only the stories of the past, going on hunts and
wars against "England." The wars against England taught to him by his
father. He knows nothing of the roles of the future because his culture has no
role models of Eastern white dominated society to come. He hasn\'t grown up with
the Eastern white society role models. Chal sees his father trying to be a
businessman, and he enjoys listening to that kind of talk throughout his life.

It may be because his father is the only role model he has seen. For the most
part though while he is young and throughout the book he looks to the past,
those glorious stories of the past. Chal is educated in the euro-american way
trying teach the Indian out of him. He is confused of what his glorious past
really was. Were his people really the savages and pagans he grew up hearing
about in school. He grows up ashamed of his Indian blood, and tries to adapt to
the white society. Chal\'s friends at college embarrass him. His friend, Son on

His Wings, accepts his Indian and is proud. Chal joins the Air Force because
that is American and it may replace some his lost feelings of the warrior role,
but he is still filled with torment. Toward the end of the story you believe

Chal may finally be all right when he visits the sweat lodge with Son on His

Wings. It is there when Chief Watching Eagle spoke of the "roads" to

White Deer during the sweat lodge ritual. He was not only trying to ease the
pain of the loss of Running Elk, White Deer\'s son; he was explaining the choices
one must make according to their heritage or blood. It was as if he was speaking
to Chal directly. "Long time ago there was one road and People could follow
that road. They said, \'There is only one road. We can see this road. There are
no other roads.\' Now it seems that road is gone, and white man has brought many
roads. But that road is still there. That road is still there, but there are
many other roads there too. There is a White man\'s road, and there is road which
comes off from forks. The bad road which no white man follows - the road which
many of the People follow, thinking it is the white man\'s road. People who
follow this road say they are as the white man, but this is not white man\'s
road. People who follow this road say that road of Indian is bad now. But they
are not Indians anymore, these people who follow that road...The road of our

People is dim now like buffalo trail across the prairie..." (271). Watching

Eagle was not only speaking of Running Elk, but of all Indians. This directly
applies to Chal. Obviously there was a great problem with the men of that age,
not having direction. Running Elk was Chal\'s boyhood friend and schoolmate who
had the same problems with the changing times. They had lost their warrior role;
they only had dreams of the past. They did not have