Identity is a combination of many factors, such as family, culture, economic status, and community. Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian showcases the strong relationship between identity and place; each affect each other and help to shape Junior and his path in life. Junior lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation […]Read more "Competing Identities in Conflicting Spaces"
What do you think of when you hear the words “Native American?” Do you imagine a noble warrior with a feathered headdress? A homeless man begging for change and carrying a bottle of cheap whiskey? A spiritual shaman dispensing ancient words of wisdom? A cartoonish sports team mascot? All of the these portrayals are common […]Read more "“A Beautiful and Ugly Thing”: Moving Beyond Stereotypes"
This week we read Sherman Alexie’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. In that story the narrator is a boy living on a reservation. Alexie’s story doesn’t hesitate to share the negatives alongside the seemingly sparse happy moments within his hero’s story. This book is partially autobiographical, reflecting moments from Alexie’s childhood, […]Read more "Indigenous Comic Art: #@)!* Stereotypes"
After reading, discussing and generally obsessing over The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I decided to see what other Sherman Alexie gems my local library might have. His 2007 book Flight was the very first book in the paperback section. The cover’s primary colors and the story’s first sentence—“Call me Zits.”—suggested that this […]Read more "An Intense Flight"
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the American and Canadian governments began establishing boarding and residential schools designed to assimilate and acculturate Native children. By “civilizing” the young children, and “erasing” their Native background, these children could become more “productive” members of North American society. Leap from the boarding school era to the […]Read more "The Politics of Sharing"
“How can you criticize our history? You did the same thing in America to the Indians.” I was on the Perth subway with several classmates two days after arriving in Australia. In a casual conversation with the stranger, a classmate had explained that we were spending time with members of the Noongar tribe in Western […]Read more "Bringing History Home"
In late November 1969, a group of San Francisco Bay Area Indians seized Alcatraz Island after the San Francisco Indian Center burned down. Then, in February 1970, they drafted a grant proposal to convert the island into a cultural-education center.  Ironically, shortly before, Alcatraz was one of the nation’s most prominent high-security prisons. However, […]Read more "Between the Rock (aka Alcatraz) and a Hard Place"
Our readings gave us a wonderful look, firsthand, at the plight of Native Americans in postwar America. A theme of abandonment runs through Sherman Alexie’s short story “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” and the selected works from Great Documents in American Indian History. Both readings did end with an optimistic sense of acceptance […]Read more "Clearly nothing ended happily ever after"