Professor Kim Shegog
February 6, 2013
The Decimation and Manipulation of the Native American Culture
The United States has definitely succeeded in tarnishing and corrupting the Native American culture, as evident in Sherman Alexie’s poem, “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel”. One researcher records that, “The poem is a painful reminder of how the United States has at one and the same time decimated native peoples and their culture while exploiting those people and that culture for its own gain.” I most definitely agree with this statement. Alexie’s poem, “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel” demonstrates the degradation and abuse of his culture and people through stereotyping. He illustrates just how outlandish and brutish his people are portrayed. It’s disgraceful but needs to be brought to people’s attention. Society has us thinking with a limited perspective. There is always two sides to every story. Young people grew up believing that Indians were nothing more than savage people who danced around fires, singing, and wearing big feather hats. We have been taught from the beginning of time through the media (TV, movies, books, magazines, etc.), and some education, that these people were unruly and uncivilized. If our “great founding fathers of America” had not “tamed” them and taught them a more refined way of living they would still be barbaric in nature today. If that assumption in itself is not a ridiculous and tyrannical way of thinking, then I do not know what is. They are just as much of an asset to the American culture then they are given credit for. America was founded in search of liberties not afforded by others but as time progressed so has its prejudice ways. Alexie is just one of the few who has had the audacity to address it. We have embraced this prejudice in our own customs, namely Thanksgiving. Teachers orchestrate activities where children dress up as pilgrims and Indians wearing...
Cited: "How to Write the Great American Indian Novel." By Sherman Alexie: The Poetry Foundation. Hanging Loose Press, 1996. Web. 06 Feb. 2013.
Moyers. "Transcript: Sherman Alexie: Up All Night." PBS. PBS, 04 Oct. 2002. Web. 03 Feb. 2013.
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