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Mick Sprague Professor Perkins Sustainability 23 October 2013 Defining Landscape To many, the idea of landscape is simply looking outside and seeing the natural elements, such as trees and plants, that compose the world’s ecosystem. According to dictionary.com, landscape “is a section or expanse of rural scenery, usually extensive, that can be seen from a single viewpoint.” Leslie Marmon Silko proposes a different way to contemplate the “true” meaning of landscape. Silko’s essay “Yellow woman and a beauty of the spirit” illustrates ideals and anecdotes to the Pueblo people and their lifestyles. Being that the Pueblo’s are a Native American tribe, Silko establishes the idea that they are naturally more in tune with the resources that surround them, as well as living a life as one with the earth. “language, is misleading. A portion of territory the eye can comprehend in a single view does not correctly describe the relationship between the human being and his or her surroundings. This assumes the viewer is somehow outside or separate from the territory she or he surveys. Viewers are as much a part of the landscape as the boulders they stand on” (Silko, 1986). Silko portrays that to her, as well as the Pueblo people, landscape is not something that is visually admired, nor something to be seen, but rather it is comprised of all living and nonliving elements sharing the same space, making one world and ecosystem. Firstly, Silko’s inclusion of certain details throughout “Yellow woman and a beauty of the spirit” further connotes her belief landscapes are not something to observe, but rather something to live. She exemplifies a theory much similar to Dan Flores’s in his piece “Spirit of Place And The Value of Nature in The American West,” where Flores manifests the idea that the Europeans who came to colonize America viewed the natives and their lifestyle as being a “wilderness”(Flores, 1998) and thus elucidating the idea that they believed the natives to be “uncivilized” and in need of “taming.” He seems to scrutinize the European’s approach to their form of manifest destiny, but also seems to justify it by proposing the idea that as time goes on, humanity as a whole has benefited and is progressing to a more earth conscious society, whereas Silko does not counteract this idea, but also defends the natives’ lifestyle. “Even in the most sophisticated abstract form, a squash flower or a cloud or a lightning bolt became intricately connected with a complex system of relationships that the ancient Pueblo people maintained with each other and with the populous natural world they lived within” (Silko, 1986). Her inclusion of the detail of some natural elements and their similarities to human relationships alludes to the audience that the simplest aspects of the earth have equal value as to any human life. Silko equalizes nature to humanity, and destroys the man made concept of social hierarchy between humans and nature. She seems to be reflecting the idea of human ignorance to a world bigger than themselves, and scrutinizes humans for believing that they are superior to the earth, when they should be treated as equal, and justifying her belief that both humanity as well as natural resources are vital to the world’s landscape. Furthermore, Silko utilizes writing in third person in order to further establish an inclusive landscape. Because Silko choses to write in third person, she establishes herself as a narrator, or a voice from the outside looking in. It could be argued that Silko does this in order to mock the human ignorance she detests, because she argues that it is human inclination to put

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themselves above nature, she mirrors those tendencies by writing her piece as if she were a modernized person looking at a “landscape.” “The importance of cliff formations and water holes does not end with hunting stories. As offspring of the Mother Earth, the ancient Pueblo people could not conceive of themselves within a specific landscape, but location, or place, nearly always plays a central role in the Pueblo oral narratives” (Silko, 1986). Creating the idea that she is “above” the landscape she is looking at, Silko is not only mirrors what she seems to find a human flaw, but her mocking tone portrays the idea of humans finding false power in themselves when in reality they need to realise that they are equal with the world around them. In conclusion, it seems as though that Leslie Marmon Silko’s piece “Yellow woman and a beauty of the spirit” not only is an essay describing the lives of the Pueblo people, but also is a statement piece on society and their values. Silko manifests the idea that society is lacking values other than those that directly affect their own lives. Silko subtly connotes throughout her essay a sense of pessimism towards humanity and their sense of ignorance to the world around them, which seems to stem from the idea of natural human tendency to be self centered, or concerned only with ones own life. It is abundantly clear that “landscape,” according to Silko is not literally nature, or something that one can look at, but rather it is a state of mind in which a person understands fully that they are a part of world where everything is equal and working together to maintain a sustainable planet.