Jodi Rave: Sherman Alexie in the Classroom
"It ain't easy being Indian. So says one of America's premier Native writers of contemporary Indian life.

To help explain the racial complexities that permeate Sherman Alexie's work, a textbook for teachers, “Sherman Alexie in the Classroom,” was recently published to help educators explore Native Americana in modern times, stories often told by Alexie with an acerbic twist.

To wit, says Alexie: “I rooted for John Wayne � even though I knew he was going to kill his niece because she had been ‘soiled' by the Indians. Hell, I rooted for John Wayne because I understood why he wanted to kill his niece. I hated those Indians just as much as John Wayne did.”

So why would an Indian hate Indians?

English literature professors and teachers Heather Bruce, Anna Baldwin and Christabel Umphrey explain this paradox in “Sherman Alexie in the Classroom,” a high school literature series published by the National Council of Teachers of English. The text examines Alexie's provocative body of work, ranging from poetry and novels to film scripts.

His magical imagination has paved the way for him to become a world-acclaimed best-selling novelist, spoken-word poet, stand-up comedian, and award-winning filmmaker and short story writer.

Alexie, who is of Spokane and Coeur d'Alene tribal heritage, often explores racism in his stories while simultaneously allowing his characters to deliver comedic punch lines."

Get the Story:
Native insight: Textbook guides teachers on author's racial messages (The Missoulian 9/24)

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