Sherman Alexie’s “The Powwow in ~ the finish of the World” is about how one enraged native American speaker thinks of avenging the wrongs resulted in to your habitation, culture, and most importantly their lives. Alexie’s poetic persona visualizes the devastation of the cool Coulee Dam. The reiterates the truth that he would forgive those who have actually toppled their stays after their grievances are redressed. The anger of his community does not allow him to pardon them easily. Come summarize, with this piece, Alexie depicts exactly how the grand Coulee Dam, various other dams located on the Columbia River, and nuclear reactors affected their means of living. Those points not only displaced them from their aboriginal land but also ransacked your culture. The poem appears in Alexie’s poetry collection The Summer of black color Widows (1996).

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Table that Contents


“The Powwow in ~ the finish of the World” gift a indigenous American speaker who imagines a dystopian picture. It concerns the devastation of the cool Coulee Dam by a an excellent flood.

He imagines just how an Indian mrs topples the dam merely using she shoulder. It renders the huge quantity of water stored inside the dam ceaselessly flow through the rivers. As a result, it floods the nearby area, breaking other dams and reactors of Hanford. The floodwater find its method to the Columbia River and reaches the mouth wherein it meets the Pacific ocean.

A salmon is wait there. It drink the first drop that the floodwater and also starts swimming all its method through the Columbia River. Finally, that reaches a an enig reservoir where the speaker is waiting. The salmon leaps increase in the night air. A thunderbolt originates from its body and burns the brush near his feet. The fire help them to navigate through the destroyed land and also find the huts of indigenous Americans.

According to the speaker, the creature has actually three story to tell. One of the stories will teach them how to pray. One more one will certainly make lock laugh. The last one will give them a factor to dance together.

By the end, the speaker says that in ~ this moment the world from his tribe are going to host a powwow. They will gather around that fire and also dance. Only then, the speaker have the right to only pardon those who made them suffer.


The location of Alexie’s city “The Powwow at the finish of the World” sound apocalyptic. Through the title, the poet refers to a dance ceremony or powwow of aboriginal Indians. That is a kind of social gathering wherein they gather and also dance by wearing traditional costumes.

But, in the title, the referral is made to a traditional dance that is held at the finish of the world. What walk the “end that the world” signify? The “end” of the people does not mean the real damage of the world. Rather it is a recommendation to the destruction of the cool Coulee Dam and other dams i beg your pardon uprooted them from their timeless course the living.

The rulers assaulted the resides of aboriginal tribes. They displaced castle from their roots. That’s why, the speak of this poem says that the natives would observe a powwow as soon as the dams, reservoirs, and reactors room destroyed. Alexie metaphorically portrays it together the “end the the world”. It also signifies the finish of all their sufferings.

Structure & Form

This poem is written in free-verse together it does no contain a certain rhyme system or metrical pattern. It is composed of 27 long lines. The lines are prosaic. The in its entirety poem is told from the perspective of a first-person speaker. For this reason, the is an example of a lyric poem.

Alexie creates an interior rhyming through repeating the heat “I am told by plenty of of you that I should forgive and so i shall” at the beginning of each section. He repeats the heat a variety of times come emphasize what he wants to happen. The damage of the dams can only satiate his anger. Alexie depicts this anger through this repetition. This repeat is likewise used to produce an interconnection between his thoughts.

Regarding the meter, the does no contain any. Alexie uses both the iambic and trochaic meter through a couple of variations here and there. Besides, it seems that the first-person speak converses straight with the human being from his tribe. But, transparent the piece, they nothing utter a single word. Because that this reason, that can also be taken into consideration as an instance of a dramatic monologue.

Literary tools & Figurative Language

Let’s check out the crucial literary tools used in “The Powwow in ~ the finish of the World”.


The very first line of the city “I to be told by countless of you the I must forgive and also so ns shall” is recurring throughout. The is meant for the benefits of emphasis. Besides, this heat sounds like a proclamation that a metaphorical war between the aboriginal Americans and also the rulers. Alexie likewise repeats the pronoun “I” a fair variety of times for making the currently sound an ext authoritative.


In this poem, there are numerous allusions.

Firstly, Alexie alludes come the grand Coulee Dam and also its affect on native American’s culture.In the following section, there room allusions to similar dams and how they led to trouble in your lives.Last but not least, the reference to “powwow” clues at the traditional form, not the modern format of to dance in costumes.


It occurs throughout the poem. Alexie provides this maker to maintain the flow and create one interconnection between the lines. For example, readers can uncover the usage of enjambment in the adhering to lines:

I am told by many of you the I must forgive and so ns shall

after one Indian mrs puts her shoulder come the grand Coulee Dam

and topples it.


The repetition of comparable sounds wake up in the adhering to phrases:

dam / downriver”“floodwaters find”“swallowed by the salmon”“salmon swims”“upstream, until”“shallows that a secret bay”“lightning bolt at the brush,” etc.


The poet personifies the salmon fish and invests it with the idea that speaking. It wake up in this line:

after us Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmon

who has three story it should tell prior to sunrise: one story will teach us


the 3rd story will give us factor to dance.


The location “The Powwow at the end of the World” is ironic. That does not refer to the real destruction of the world. Rather, it describes the finish of all the suffering resulted in to the aboriginal Americans. For example, the grand Coulee Dam made them leave their native habitation and also harmed their course that living. Previously, they feed on the salmon they captured from the Columbia River. After the creation of the dam, salmon can not enter through the river for breeding. Apart from that, Alexie provides irony in the last lines that the poem:

of you the I have to forgive and so i shall once I am dancing

with mine tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.

Line-by-Line Analysis

Lines 1-3

I to be told by plenty of of you the I should forgive and also so i shall


and topples it.

Sherman Alexie’s city “The Powwow in ~ the finish of the World” starts directly with the poetic persona claiming that he is said by plenty of of “you”. The addresses the indigenous American world of his tribe by the pronoun “you”. The angry tone of the speak is visible from the very beginning. Besides, the repeat of the pronoun “I” sounds prefer an authoritarian speak is express his stand concerning a matter.

He tells readers that he “must forgive” and reiterates the reality by speak “so i shall”. The repetition sound a little bit ironic. It appears the speak is no going to pardon at any cost. That’s why he offers this method of speaking.

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He refers to an Indian woman. She puts her shoulder to the grand Coulee dam and also interestingly topples it. Is it even possible? that is feasible in hyperbolic language. To clarify, here the speaker is so angry that he think a indigenous woman is as angry as him. She can quickly topple the dam with her wide and an effective shoulder. This line also glorifies the physical stamin of indigenous Americans.