April 20, 2013
Sherman Alexie and the Native American Identity
Sherman Alexie is a Spokane-Coeur d’Alene Indian who grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on a reservation. He acknowledges that his origin and upbringing affect everything that he does in his books and short stories. The term ‘Indian’, is used to describe the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the article titled “‘Indianness’ and Identity in the Novels and Short Storiesof Sherman Alexie”, Loree Estron says that “the term ‘Native American’ was introduced by government officials, becoming the favored term of progressive American academics and replacing ‘Indian’. The majority of Native people, however, now reject ‘Native American’ as being artificial and generic, referring to themselves as ‘American Indian’ or simply ‘Indian’, or by their tribal affiliation.”(1) The Spokane writer Sherman Alexie has stated quite clearly that he prefers ‘Indian’, and this is the term I will use in discussing his work. Throughout all of Sherman Alexis work it is noticeable that the quest for identity is a reoccurring theme that happens throughout all of his works from his books and short stories and even his movie. In all of his works the main character, usually Indian descent, is trying to find who they really are by trying to find out how they can fit into society and still be connected to their roots. The reason being is that personally Sherman Alexie connects to that, but also for many years ever since this country was invaded by Europeans, the Native Americans have been forced to leave their tradition behind and try to be more like Europeans. But that’s where the problem arises most of them have an issue of identifying with just one so thy have an inner battle with themselves trying to figure out who they really are.
The first piece of work we looked at by Sherman Alexie that really demonstrates this inner battle the main character has with himself of