Families play a large role in the lives of every person to ever live. If one is born without a family, their lives will be much different than one who is born with a family, whether that family has a positive influence on said person or not. Every member of a family shapes a person’s identity, especially when they are growing up. If a child grows up with irresponsible parents that do not care for their child or adhere to their needs, the child will most likely grow up to become a person of a similar fashion with similar characteristics as their parents because that is all they have experienced and that is the only way that they know how to live. Some may argue that the most influential people in a family are a child’s parents and grandparents. Grandparents play a key role in teaching a child about the history of the family and its culture. In Richard Wagamese’s novel Indian Horse, the importance of family is shown through Saul’s grandmother Naomi and the impact that she has on Saul’s life in terms of his acceptance of Native spirituality, and survival throughout the novel.
In the beginning of the novel, the narrator explains his current life in nature as one of fear and hardship. Saul Indian Horse and his family are constantly on the run from the Europeans in an attempt to avoid being taken to residential schools. Saul’s brother and sister have already been taken and all that is left of his family is is parents and his grandmother. The Europeans are constantly chasing Saul and his family and since Saul’s mother and father were first generation students at a residential school, Catholicism and assimilation are also challenging the traditional aboriginal lifestyle.