Sherman Alexie

Chicago Humanities Festival: Sherman Alexie

Bella Kiser Block 8

“Our creation stories are beautiful bull shit…” This is how the world was “created” in Sherman Alexie’ s eyes; “Collective human history: somebody getting pissed → creating a new group, inhabiting a new land.” He believes this to be the true “creation” story and that this was how our world and our country were formed culturally. Focusing more on the United States, our “creation story” started with those who natively inhabited the land and eventually led to those in Europe who were tired of Great Britain’s oppressive rule, causing them to flee to the United States. The Anglos coming to the U.S caused complications with the native inhabitants of the North American region…

“Reservations are rural concentration camps,” says modern Native American writer, Sherman Alexie, who embodies Native American past and present with all but a sheet of paper, a pen and a little imagination, “saying that they are apart of Native American culture is a myth.” Ever since we, as Americans, have inhabited the area we now know as the United States, we have been oppressing Native Americans and we continue to do so. Reservations were created out of an act of war, yet now they seem to serve a sacred purpose; “Native Americans have forgotten that reservations were an act of war.” Americans had thrust this act of hatred upon Native Americans, forcing them to move, and out of this act of war came something that they now hold as holy.

Alexie struggles with bipolar disorder and as he was openly speaking about it on November 9, 2013 at the Chicago Humanities Festival, he began to explain how we all struggle with bipolar disorder culturally, “…colonialism causes bipolar disorder.” We have brought a cultural war and clash upon ourselves. He later goes on to state “I am on the reservation of my mind… The reservation of my mind is my mental illness.” Reservations were created by Americans essentially to get rid of the Native Americans. We had already endangered a race of human beings and we wanted them extinct. Even today Native Americans have the least economic, social and political power in the nation… It seems as if not much has changed.

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