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Having lost his job in Los Angeles, Abel returns home, and the novel ends on a positive note with his reintegration into his mother's tribe.
When his maternal grandfather dies, Abel buries him in the prescribed Walatowan fashion, then runs in the ritual race for good hunting and harvests that his grandfather had won decades before.
For instance, Abel in House Made of Dawn is lost and alcoholic after returning from World War II.
He serves eight years for killing an albino Indian before finally adjusting to life in his tribe.
When an albino Indian named Fragua humiliates him at a tribal ceremony, Abel kills him and is sent to prison for eight years.
When Abel finishes his term, the government relocates him in Los Angeles, where he attacks a policeman while drunk and suffers a terrible beating.
The change from lumpen to haut-bourgeois protagonist represents a shift in focus of the Indian novel from depicting ethnic experience of the tribal group to dealing with problems of personal identity of Indians who have lost or weakened their ties to their tribe because they live their lives primarily among whites.
Also contributing to the depiction of the characters of the early novels is the archetype of the trickster, the most important culture hero to the Indians of North America.
Trickster takes different forms in different tribes--Coyote, Raven, Hare, Old Man, Heyoka--but in all cases he plays tricks and is the victim of tricks, has prodigious appetites for food and sex and adventure, is always on the move, and is totally amoral, beyond good and evil.
Scott Momaday's Ancient Child is about a Kiowa painter who exhibits in galleries in New York and Paris.
In James Welch's most recent book, The Indian Lawyer, the hero, a Blackfeet, is a successful corporation lawyer who runs for Congress.