Sherman Alexie proves to be a spectacular orator, and a devout activist. Over the course of an eighty minute presentation at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Alexie has covered not only his works, political beliefs, and attitude about the American Indians, but also playfully discussing his mental illness, as well as introducing an interesting new theory about the development of cultures worldwide.
At the very beginning of the interview, Sherman Alexie discussed how the Chicago Humanities Festival was so advanced with technology that the audience has received paper tickets for the event. He then took the opportunity to share a bit of his personal life with the audience, describing an incident where he has lost his plane ticket, and could not get on the flight. Alexie finished the story with “Hemingway fights bulls, I fight Southwest”.
Sherman Alexie has even found the time within the short interview to give the audience what I consider sound financial advice. While talking about his strong dislike of Amazon for their role in discouraging up-in-coming writers with their free e-books, Alexie claimed that “ if you have enough money to shop at Amazon, you have enough money NOT to shop at Amazon”. He also tied this to the multitude of so-called liberals who use Amazon, stating that “it’s amazing how the most liberal people you know will sacrifice their ideology for free shipping”.
Sherman Alexie then took up much more serious topics, such as a general lack of self-awareness that causes many problems, tying this to modern politics, dealing with the “reservation of my mind” (quoting a Paiute poet Adrian Lewis) when asked about his bipolar disorder (naturally, he started out with a joke, “Are you asking me ‘what’s it like being a bipolar Indian’?), and of course, the current problems facing our Native Indians.
Among the most notable problems, Sherman Alexie discussed a general shame prevailing in Indian culture, the lie that some football teams were named to honor Indians, when they were and still are derogatory, calling these claims “complete b***s***”, as well as the fact that Indians have the least social and economic opportunity of all the other races in the US. When asked, Alexie also discussed reservations, which he said “were an act of war by the US Military, and then turned into ‘sacred locations’”. However, he denied their ‘sacredness’ and instead referred to them as “rural concentration camps”.
Towards the end of the event, Sherman Alexie took to a broad topic, discussing the similarity of all cultures worldwide. The most notable remark here was that “collected human history is somebody getting p***ed”, explaining how the only reason that new cultures were created was because groups broke away from each other and went their separate ways, but have that in common. He claimed that “ancestors were always in search of the new”, and after explaining the meaning of this statement, said goodbye to the audience, which left him with heavy applause and a standing ovation.
Sherman Alexie is a great author, orator, activist; a great person in general. Anyone that has the chance to see Sherman Alexie should take it up, as it will be an unforgettable experience. You will not regret going.