Analysis Of Indian Killer By Sherman Alexie

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Storytelling is a vital component of Native American culture. Each story is passed down through multiple generations and is seen as a sacred part of that family’s history, as well as a way to continue legacies and preserve tribal traditions. In Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer, characters manipulate the tradition of storytelling in order to identify with their culture and appropriate others’ when in need of a physical or spiritual connection to their ethnic background, which results in physical and psychological trauma. Within the novel, both historical accounts of real events and mythological accounts of imaginary circumstances are presented as subdivisions of storytelling. Myth is representative of spiritual dysphoria, while history portrays …show more content…
Bird, a white man, warps history in order to literally beat the idea of a “dirty Indian” into Reggie’s head and prevent him from connecting with what Bird views as the contaminated half of his ethnicity (Alexie 94). According to Bird, conflicts and hostilities between “good” and “dirty” Indians have existed since Europeans first colonized the Americas, but his view of history is skewed in favor of the side he supported during the 1970’s and the victors on each side of the wars (92). He physically abuses Reggie when he incorrectly describes his father’s version of history, which mainly focuses on the differences between what he believes Indians should be, contrary to many of the facts he knows, and what he believes Indians are: “dirty,” “hostile,” and “drunk… staggering around downtown” (94). Each act of violence committed upon Reggie by his father establishes a physical connection, and he eventually identifies with his father’s warped, bleached perception of the “good Indians” who were murdered and tortured by white men and “hostile Indians” throughout history. Toward the end of the novel, Reggie feels such a strong connection to his Indian heritage that he believes he is the embodiment of his people’s history, placing himself among the fallen Indians by referring to them as “us” and “we” (257). Reggie possesses both Indian and white blood, which he claims is the source of his failures and successes, respectively (94). His father’s distorted version of history replaces his lack of a solid physical connection, despite his parentage. He is forced to appropriate aspects of white culture and “[bury] his Indian identity” at a young age, effectively preventing him from identifying with half of his ethnic

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