Darcie Little Badger's short story "The Whalebone Parrot" tells the story of young Emily in the 19th century struggling with her sister Loretta's possession by what turns out to be the eponymous parrot that was supposedly killed by Emily's cat.

Now both sisters are of Native American descent (and aren't actually biological sisters rather than growing up together in an orphanage). It's noticeable that Loretta tries to hide or even supress that identity as best as possible, by e.g. wearing a veil in public, refusing to use her native language or refusing to let Emily give her cat a "non-English" name. (This is likely due to their past in the orphanage, where it was forbidden by punishment to do so.) Emily, however, seems more confident (or maybe just more naive) to show her identity.

Now that may all just be for an interesting character background, but in a short story that screams for more significance. There are also aspects of the story, like the parrot saying "Chee Ba-ti" ("my sister") to Emily even before the possession or the fact that Emily calls her sister back into conciousness by screaming:

“You aren’t Missus Forrester. You aren’t Loretta. Nde tenéna! Shé báti! Shé báti! Shé báti!”

that make me wonder in which way the possession by the parrot is connected to Loretta's supression of her Native American identity. Maybe the other things the parrot says ("No doubt part of a longer ballad, one I do not know") might also be of help in unraveling that. It would also be interesting how that relates back to the very ending of the story where Emily encounters one of Albert's sisters.


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