Hogan’s PowerIn Linda Hogan’s 1998 novel Power, much is learned about Native Americanculture. The main characters, Omishto and Ama help reveal this culture.
Thenovel is divided into nine chapters. In Chapter 1, “Omishto,” a girl is in aboat that is floating on a pond. She notices that there is a storm coming in. She describes the pond and the area around it. A snake tries to enter thegirl’s boat, but she pushes it out with a pole, and then she moves the boat toland. As she does this, she feels something watching her, but does not want tolook in the direction.Order now
A woman named Ama has told the girl that she is in theterritory of “the cat” (3). The girl says that she has never seen the cat,but Ama saved one when some boys had it treed. Ama took away the boys’ rifle. The girl’s father named her Omishto, which means “one who watches. “Omishto’s grandmother says that Omishto has a wind inside her called Oni.
Omishto is careful on her way home because she can still feel something watchingher. Chapter 2, “Stormlight,” opens with a story about a man named AbrahamSwallow. People believe that he died from fear or magic in some trees near acanal. As Omishto walks toward Ama Eaton’s house, she recalls this story. NearAma’s house there is a tree called Methuselah that is 500 years old and wasplanted by the Spanish. Methuselah is the only tree of its kind in the area.
Thetree and Ama’s house sit on the edge of the Taiga land. Taiga is the name ofthe Indian tribe to which Ama and Omishto belong. Ama’s house is old and lookslike it is decaying. As Omishto reaches Ama’s house, Ama tells Omishto to comeinto the house.
Omishto tries to sneak up on Ama, but Ama always hears her. Amaand Omishto then sit on the porch together and discuss Abraham Swallow’sdeath. Omishto tells Ama that she does not think magic killed Abraham. Abraham’s wife thought that the old Taiga people had killed him with magic. InChapter 2, the reader also learns that the cat is the Florida Panther. The Taigapeople call it Sisa.
People of the Panther Clan believe they are related to theFlorida Panther. Ama loves the panther and watches for it. Omishto’s mother isjealous of Ama because Ama is close to the old Taiga ways. Omishto was told notto visit Ama, but she still does.
As the women continue to sit on the porch, Amaasks Omishto if she dreamt the night before. Ama says that she did and goesinside the house. She returns and tells Omishto that she dreamt about a sickly,skinny panther. As Omishto and Ama sit on the porch, four women from the tribewalk down the road, almost as if they are floating. Ama refers to them asmessengers. The two women then go inside.
As they do, a storm starts. It is ahurricane. They try to board up the house. Rattlesnakes start to come towardAma’s door, but Ama shuts the door on them.
Omishto realizes that she has nottied up her boat. She runs to do so, but struggles to get the boat ashore as sheslips in the mud. When the boat is ashore, Omishto ties it to a tree. Suddenly,the wind is calm. It starts up even harder.
Omishto is clinging to the ground. The wind stops again. While it is still calm, Omishto tries to run back toAma’s house. The wind starts up again. Omishto can see Ama blown against theoutside of the house.
She also sees Methuselah fall. After the storm, Omishtorealizes that her dress is in a tree, and she is naked. Snakes were flungagainst Ama’s house during the storm. Janie Soto and Annie Hide, old women ofthe Taiga tribe, would say this is a good sign.
Omishto goes to the shed to geta shovel because she wants to bury the dead animals. Ama gets Omishto a dress. Ama sees a deer with a broken leg and tells Omishto that they are going tofollow it. Omishto thinks they are going to hunt it. Without knowing what itmeans, Omishto says, “I know what will happen” (44). In Chapter 3,”Take,” the storm is over and a flood begins.
The water rises into Ama’shouse. When the water recedes, Ama sweeps up the mud. Omishto falls asleep. Amawakes her. Ama begins to pack some things and tells Omishto it is time to go.
Omishto does not understand where they are going. Although she does not want to,Omishto follows Ama. They walk a while as Ama follows the tracks of the deer. When they reach the Taiga birthplace, Ama listens for the deer. At this point,Omishto relates to the reader the story of how the panther entered this worldthrough a hole pecked by a bird. Omishto has lost her sense of time.
Omishtohears a sound in the opposite direction of the deer. There are footprints fromthe panther. Omishto then realizes that they are hunting the panther, not thedeer. The panther is an endangered species, and killing one is against the law.
They follow the deer and panther for another distance. Ama says that they cannot let the panther die from illness. The panther stops for a drink and noticesAma and Omishto. The panther wants them to follow, and they do. Ama sees thepanther again.
She shoots the cat with a rifle. Omishto believes that in killingthe panther, Ama has killed herself. Omishto falls asleep. As Omishto wakes up,Ama tells her to tell the truth when she is questioned by the police.
Thepanther was very sick and hungry. Ama begins to skin it, and Omishto noticesthat the panther’s fur is flattened around its neck. Omishto is not surekilling the panther was right. Ama tells Omishto again that she must tell thetruth. As they make their way back to Ama’s house, they throw the dead pantherover the back of a horse that belongs to a man named Willard. Omishto will nottouch the panther.
When the women reach Ama’s house, Ama again tells Omishtoto tell the truth when asked about the panther. Ama also asks Omishto not tomention the fact that the panther was sick. Omishto agrees and falls asleep. Thepolice arrive at Ama’s house as Omishto is awakening. Ama knew that they wouldcome and arrest her.
Ama willingly goes with the sheriff. The sheriff asks Amawhere the panther is, but Ama will not answer. The officers question Omishto,but she does not know what Ama did with the panther because Omishto was asleep. The next morning, Omishto calls her sister Donna to pick her up at Ama’shouse. Willard’s horse has followed Omishto to the pay phone. Omishto returnsto Ama’s house to bury a dead horse.
As Chapter 4, “Descent,” opens,Omishto is still burying the dead horse. Donna arrives to take Omishto backhome. Donna tells Omishto that the family was trying to find her after thestorm. Janie Soto had been to town, and Donna gave her ride back to Kili. Omishto realizes that her mother and sister know what happened in the woods withAma.
Donna says that when Janie was in town she carried a white swan featherwith her. She was probably close to town because someone was hurt. When thegirls arrive at their mother’s house, the mother tells Omishto that she knowswhat happened, but does not understand why. Omishto’s mother tells her thatthe panther is endangered and that killing one is a federal crime.
Omishto knowsthis. Omishto’s stepfather is unhappy with her. Omishto takes a bath and staysthere until it is time to go to sleep. Omishto wakes up once during the night.
In the morning, Omishto walks to Ama’s house to finish burying the horse. Shenotices that Willard’s horse is still at the house. As Omishto digs, the horsefalls into the hole. She cleans herself off and goes into Ama’s house. InChapter 5, “Judgement,” Omishto goes to church with her mother. Omishto doesnot believe in the religion.
Omishto is called to the front of the church so themembers can lay their hands on her. They want to heal her. The next morning isOmishto’s first day back at school after the incident. When she arrives atschool, the word “killer” is written on her locker. As Omishto walks intoher homeroom, the students whisper loud enough for her to hear. Omishto’steachers even look at her differently.
While at lunch, Donna tells Omishto thatit will all pass, and people will forget. Omishto’s best friend will not talkto her. When Omishto returns home, she cuts her hair. Omishto has an Englishassignment. She must write an autobiographical essay.
She writes one thatexplains that she is a Taiga from the Panther Clan. She also tries to explainwhy Ama killed the panther. She writes that Ama is the most important person inher life. When she is finished, Omishto rips up the paper and decides not toturn the assignment in at all.
The next day, instead of going to school, Omishtowalks to Ama’s house. Omishto hopes that she will be there, but Omishto knowsshe will not. During the next few days, Omishto and Ama are in court. On the wayto court, a hailstorm wrecks Omishto’s mom’s car.
As Omishto reaches thecourthouse door, reporters try to ask her questions. In the courtroom, a collarand a rifle sit on a table as evidence. Ama is there. Omishto is called to thestand, and the attorney questions her about the panther. Omishto answers thequestions truthfully.
During the next day in court, Omishto is questioned again. The attorney reveals that the rifle on the table is not the one used to kill thepanther. It is the rifle Ama took from the boys who treed the panther. The nextday in court the Taiga tribal chairman speaks in Ama’s defense.
After thechairman, Ama is questioned. She tells the truth and that she knew what she wasdoing. She was not crazy. During the next day in court, Annie Hide isquestioned. Janie Soto is also questioned. Janie says that Ama should have giventhem the panther’s hide.
When the trial is over, there is not enough evidenceto convict Ama of killing the panther. After the trial, Omishto’s mother has areporter come to the house to talk to Omishto. Omishto refuses to talk with him. She runs out the door and to Ama’s house. As Chapter 6, “The Place of OldLaw,” opens two young Taiga men are picking up Omishto. They are taking her tothe place above Kili swamp.
The old Taiga people want to talk to Omishto alone. One of the men mentions to Omishto something about her dead brother, Jerry. Whenthey arrive at the place above Kili swamp, the two men take Omishto to aclearing where the old Taiga people live. Annie Hide greets Omishto and takesher to her seat around a fire.
Ama and Janie Soto are also sitting near thefire. An old man named Joseph Post is also at the fire. The elders ask Omishtoto tell her side of what happened out in the woods with the panther. WhenOmishto tells the story this time, she tells more detail. The elders ask her afew questions, and Joseph points out that Ama did not bring the panther to theold Taiga people as she was supposed to. Omishto finally understands that Amadid not want to tell the old people the panther was sick because it would havebroken their hearts.
When Omishto is through with her story, the old Taigapeople talk among themselves about Ama’s sentence. Omishto can not understandthem because they are talking in their native language. They say something toAma, and she stands up and backs out of the circle. She is told to leave.
Afterthe meeting, Omishto runs home. Her mother asks her what happened, but Omishtodoes not know because she could not understand the Taiga peoples’ language. Omishto is packing her things. Her mother does not want her to leave and punchesher. Omishto runs out of the house to her boat.
She then decides to go look forAma. The reader learns that Ama has been sentenced to four years of walking. InChapter 7, “Oni: What They Believe,” Omishto is sitting in her boat that issurrounded by fog. Omishto then explains what the word Oni means to the Taigapeople. The Taiga people believe that Oni is the wind and air.
It is like a god. They believe that all the spirits in the world gather in the air. As Omishtosits in her boat, she recalls the meeting with the old Taiga people. The Taigapeople believe that Oni is unwilling to carry sickness.
Oni gives the Taigapeople life. Annie Hide believes that words are very powerful. She says that Oniwas the word that the panther said to create people. Omishto says that she hearsAnnie Hide whisper to her in the air. Omishto also discusses her mother’sreligion.
Omishto’s mother thinks Omishto loves Ama more than she loves hermother. As the fog lifts from Omishto’s boat, Omishto thinks about Ama. Omishto understands that Ama had to kill the panther. Ama believed it was herdestiny because she was a friend with the panther. Omishto then goes on to tellabout Sisa.
After this, Omishto makes her way to Ama’s house. Omishto isscared while she is there because she thinks someone is trying to break in. InChapter 8, “They Come to Me,” Omishto takes care of Ama’s house. A manvisits the house and says he wants to buy it.
Omishto tells the man it is herhouse, and the man leaves. Several days pass, and Omishto washes her clothes inthe tub. She hangs them outside to dry. Omishto sits on the porch and tells herfather to come to her.
Omishto repairs the house. She goes to the gas station,but it is closed. A sheriff tries to talk Omishto into going back home. He isalso looking for Ama.
Omishto says she does not know where Ama is. Omishto’sstepfather told the sheriff Ama was missing. The sheriff does not believeOmishto. The sheriff tells Omishto that she should go back to her mother’shouse.
Omishto says that she is staying at Ama’s house. The next day,Omishto’s stepfather, Herm arrives at Ama’s house. He tells Omishto that shehas to tell the truth. Omishto says that she has.
He threatens to hit her, butleaves. Omishto goes inside and sleeps. Omishto’s mother visits her at Ama’shouse. She wants to know when Omishto is going back to school and back home. Omishto says that she is going to live her own life.
Omishto tells her mother togo home. Omishto goes inside. Two days later, Donna visits. Donna says thatMother can not stop crying. She also says that the preacher of her mother’schurch was arrested. Donna says that people think Omishto is crazy, and they aresending a doctor to her.
Omishto tells Donna that she is dropping out of school. Donna leaves. Omishto sleeps and dreams of the panther. During the night, threeboys approach Ama’s house. The boys are looking for Ama because they want topunish her.
Omishto leaves through a back window as the boys throw rocks atAma’s house. The next morning, Omishto goes to look for the rifle that wasused to kill the panther. She digs up a rifle box, but it is empty. She alsofinds red beads that belong to Janie Soto.
Omishto’s mother visits her again. Omishto says that she is not waiting for Ama to return. Omishto knows she willnot. Omishto tells her mother that she is still not going back to her mother’shouse. Omishto’s mother reveals that she has been to Kili. She tells Omishtothat the doctor was Herm’s idea.
She also says that she is leaving Herm. Inthe morning, Omishto sits outside. Annie Hide is walking toward Ama’s house. Omishto smiles at her.
The two women go inside. Annie tells Omishto that she didnot want to send Ama away. Annie also says that she saw Ama a few days ago. Annie stays the night at Ama’s house with Omishto.
Annie leaves in themorning. In Chapter 9, “What I Have Left,” Omishto sits outside. She beginsto walk to Kili. On her way, Omishto reflects on her life. She believes that theworld is dying. When she reaches Kili, Omishto goes to Annie and Janie’shouse.
Before she enters, Omishto hears something in the bush. It is a healthypanther. She tells the panther to run, and Omishto returns to Ama’s house. Shegoes to the pay phone and calls her mother’s house.
She asks Donna to pick upAma’s animals because she is going home. Donna agrees because she thinksOmishto is moving back to her mother’s house. While she is sitting on Ama’sporch, Omishto sees the four messenger women walk by again. She walks with themto Kili. The people of Kili are waiting for Omishto when she arrives.
Omishtodances with the women. Power shows many facts about Native American culture. Hogan uses various characters and their struggles to bring this culture tolight.