This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Sherman Alexie: What It Means To Be An Indian In America

987 words - 4 pages

Sherman Alexie: What it means to be an Indian in America

“Dr. Mather, if the Ghost Dance worked, there would be no exceptions. All you white people would disappear. All of you. If those dead Indians came back to life, they wouldn’t crawl into a sweathouse with you. They wouldn‘t smoke the pipe with you. They’d kill you. They’d gut you and eat your heart.”
-Marie, Indian Killer, 314

The identity of the modern Native American is not found in simple language or description. Neither does a badge or collection of eagle feathers determine Native American identity. As Alexie demonstrates through the character of Dr. Mather and Wilson, pony-tails and store bought drums are mere materialistic symbols and stereotypes: they have no real value or respect for the history behind a person’s cultural heritage. Hanging out in Indian bars is insufficient. The identity of the Native American is formed in a context of opposition and resistance, of irreversible historical travesty, and of inescapable conflict. Given the complex and lengthy history of U.S. atrocities against the Indians, and the equally violent aggressions of Indians against whites, bloodshed and animosity were the basis original Indian- U.S. relations. The original brutality these relations cannot be underestimated; nor the intricate series of laws and Acts passed throughout the ninteeth and twentieth centuries for the destruction of Indian culture and heritage. Yet, as Alexie argues, the forces of hatred cannot be exclusively emphasized in determining the identity of the Native American.

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie is a work of humor, an investigation of community identity and family love, as well as a discussion of race and hate. Marie’s speech to the hapless Dr. Mather above illustrates the viciousness of a historical reality: her statement serves as a powerful reminder of what war and conflict have wrought. Yet the hatred that Marie embraces is intrinsic to the reality she’s come to understand, which, Alexie reminds us, is formed in terms of opposition and argument. She is politically antagonistic because she feels she has to be, and is extremely disrespectful to any white person she might not like upon closer contact. Yet Marie is intensely passionate about education, about her culture, and about the Indian struggle. As Alexie strives to demonstrate throughout Indian Killer, this hatred, while not without cause or inevitability, is the root of racial wars and senseless violence.

In human terms of hate and love, of power and submission, modern day Seattle teems with deeply set racial problems and equally damaging ignorance. Alexie intends that Native American identity be understood in a legacy of relocation and family destruction: he begins his tale centered on the ironically named John Smith and John’s removal from his mother and his culture. John becomes embedded in this hate and violence, yet is never identified as a killer or a murder: in fact, none of the cast is...

Find Another Essay On Sherman Alexie: What it means to be an Indian in America

What it Means to be an American

1423 words - 6 pages What it Means to be an American What does it mean to be an American? In my eyes to be an American means to have privileges, rights, and freedom. America isn't perfect, but it is one of the only countries that have rights given to people of different diversities and gender. America does not have tremendous poverty. Instead we have choices given to us by the people who fought and died for the American people. Without George

What It Means to be an American

753 words - 3 pages What It Means to be an American Many people dream about being an American. They dream because they envision America as the land of peace and prosperity. But is it? At times it has been, and at times its not. It is hard for the United States to be correct all the time because they have been unwilling designated as the “World Police”. Throughout history there have been examples politically, economically, and socially, where being an

What it means to be an American

543 words - 2 pages What does it mean to be an American? The soil of the middle-east stained with the blood of our American soldiers just so we can not take advantage of our right to vote. Though sometimes questionable, America's overall image portrayed to other countries is an honorable one. America is known for its democracy and as well as being a land of opportunities and many freedoms. America's assortment of ethnicities and cultures is proof that our country

What It Means To Be An American

361 words - 2 pages What It Means To Be An American Being an American to me, means that I am free to do what I want that is within the boundaries of our laws. It means that I may dress as I want, not as other people want me to. We can go to baseball games, enjoy a good movie in the sanctuary of our homes, or just spend some quality time with the family. It is because we have this freedom, that we must constantly be alert to maintain it. There are many "ups" and

What It Means to be an Amaerican

1344 words - 5 pages What it means to be an American People today have mimicked their lives after what they are seeing celebrities do. TV and movies can also help influence people they can inspire someone to become a better person, take action and unite people to come together. Through popular music, art, film, and literature, we can discern that American identity is influenced by what we see on TV, movies, art work and, music. The Statue of Liberty is

What It Means To Be An American

1393 words - 6 pages doesn’t express individuality in a direct manner but rather indirectly. It is the fact that one has created a new genre that makes him an individual by splitting old conventions and making new ones. In summary, what it means to be an American is one who is an individual, not a sheep in a flock. From the American frontier to the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s, the individual has shined throughout history. It’s the individuality of the

America: what it means to me

323 words - 2 pages people came they thought it was going to be a new beginning for them and there families but they were wrong. The British thought that they owned America but the new settlers thought that they owned America. So the settlers fought the British soldiers and told them to leave. The soldiers and the king weren't happy about this and declared war on the settlers. In the end the settles were successful and beat the British and the British left for good

What it means to be American

1537 words - 7 pages What it means to be American? Everybody you ask this question to will have a completely different response. Some responses might have similarities but none will be exactly the same. In the beginning of the year my response was “To be an American means having a rich history, having opportunities to better ourselves, and having freedoms.” Unfortunately not everyone has had the same opportunities or freedoms. Native Americans, who are indigenous

What It Means To Be American

662 words - 3 pages So, what is it like to be an American? It's an amazing feeling. Our country has life so much easier than many other places of the world. We are entitled to our rights and freedoms. Americans have pride and stand up for what we believe in. People have worked way too hard to throw away everything they have accomplished. We should be thankful for what we have. Our lives are so much easier than of many people around the globe.A "Native" American is

What It Means to be Human

901 words - 4 pages At some point in time we have all wondered what it means to human, and what we are supposed to do with our lives. Throughout the centuries, there have been gradual changes in what it means to be human. Through Pico della Mirandola we will how man became the measure and took the place of God, through Charles Darwin we will see how nature and science began to take the place of man, and through the art of Friedrich we can visually see all of these

What it Means to be a Boxer

619 words - 2 pages that of Canada) have proposed a ban of boxing claiming that ?boxing is the only sport where hurting the other athlete is the goal? others saying that it is an ?obscenity? and that it should not be practiced in any civilized society. Ban supporters say that it is not so much the fatalities the problem but the chronic brain damage that leads to fatalities. An example of this is Muhammad Ali, who, after retiring from professional boxing, figured

Similar Essays

This Is Waht It Means To Say Pheonix, Arizona, By Sherman Alexie

874 words - 3 pages In “This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix Arizona,” found in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie, we are reintroduced to Victor and learn that his father has passed away. Victor and his childhood friend Thomas Build-the-Fire’s embark on a journey to Arizona to obtain Victor’s father’s ashes. Thomas reveals that he had made an assurance to Victor's father years before to help him when the time came. Although Victor had

The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian By Sherman Alexie

1280 words - 5 pages capable of reaching those capacities. For instance, Mr. P says to Junior, “’But I do forgive you,’ he said. ‘No matter how much I don’t want to. I have to forgive you,’” (Alexie 28). This demonstrates the amount of maturity that Mr. P wants to exhibit to Junior, in hopes of earning more respect from him. I believe that Mr. P provides the strongest sense of a mentor, beside Grandma Spirit, in this story because he pushes Junior to strive for greatness no matter what. Works Cited Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 2007. Print.

Analysis Of The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian By Sherman Alexie

1085 words - 5 pages The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian which was written by Sherman Alexie, combines humor and tragedy to tell a first-person narrative story of Arnold Spirit Jr., a 14-year-old Native American teenager, and the events in his life about pursuing his dreams. This book is a semi-autobiographical novel and it has won the 2007 U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature and the Odyssey Award as best 2008 audiobook for young

Sherman Alexie: The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian Essay

894 words - 4 pages you should give up. Keep your hopes alive and you will be surprised of what you can accomplish if you can only set your mind to it. Because after all, you only live once, so why not try to make the most of it. Again, Sherman Alexie shows us in his book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, how the entire Spokane Reservation is facing poverty but Arnold and Mary Spirit fight for a better life. He goes through all the problems the