Sherman Alexie is the author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, in addition to other short story collections such as War Dances and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. His perspective as a Native American author born on the Spokane reservation provides fresh insight into the history of the Native American people and the effects that European colonization had on their society. Furthermore, the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity in his life can be seen in his thoughts and ideas about the way the world should work.
Alexie professed the truth about reservations – that they are little more than glorified concentration camps. Despite positive connotations forced onto us by mainstream media, Alexie’s reservation carries little tradition from the ancient Spokane Indians. His reservation is little more than a conglomeration of the weakest people in America economically, socially, and politically.
Alexie delivered a hard truth towards the end of his presentation. He said that all humans are descendants of the same few people living in Africa. His line, “Creation stories are beautiful bullshit,” will resonate with me for the rest of my life. He went on to say that human history can be summed up by one person getting angry at a group, and then walking away, bringing another group with him. That’s the reason that Alexie exists, and that’s the a cause of the conflict between Native Americans and Europeans in the 1500-1600s. Furthermore, he stressed that: “We are human beings because our ancestors were always fighting for something new.” He implored the audience to fight for something different, find their passion and pursue it, because in the end, that’s what makes us human. This type of rationale perfectly aligns with the thoughts of early American colonists leaving Great Britain to seek a change, something new, in North America. His speech ended with, “Be original, be new, and piss someone off.” I imagine that this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind as they were drafting the Declaration of Independence, that they were wholly aware of the fact that they were making history, but still continued forward not for fame, but to fight for their desires and not give in to resistance.