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History and Culture

Home  >  History and Culture  >  Cultural Heritage
CIRI's Native Pride Program  -  Pictures and Words: Meeting Sherman Alexie
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Sherman Alexie at the Alaska Native Heritage Center
"On April 28, 2001, I had the pleasure of meeting the new nationwide-famous author, Sherman Alexie. Before his trip up here to Alaska, I had never heard of him before. Before he came, I read some poems of his. This, however, did not prepare me for his unique, fun personality. Students from different schools, including myself, had the chance to eat dinner with him without any adults. Following the dinner, we went to the Heritage Center to watch his "Craft Talk."This, I think, is where we all really got to see Sherman Alexie's talent. He had the crowd laughing in no time. He really was very funny and at the same time we learned about his life, a remarkable and inspiring one, at that. I really wish my family and friends would have come to see him. I am very glad I went." 
- Charlene Apok, 10th grade West High

"Sherman Alexie was very funny. He always told stories or answered our questions in a way that made us laugh. He told us how non-Indians think that we all are wise hunter-people. But that he doesn't know any Indians like that. In fact, he told us how much he hates the outdoors and how much he likes to stay inside and read. We also talked about different types of stereotypes like mascots or sports teams called the "Indians."Why don't they have a sports team called the "Catholics"or the "Jesus Christs?"Wouldn't this be the same as calling a team the "Indians?"But would the mainstream accept a team called the "Jesus Christs?"Then why should we allow teams to be called the "Indians?"Most people just don't get it. I recommend that anyone attend one of his talks or read one of his books. He shows that writing can be fun."
- Bret Bye, Goldenview 7th grade Middle School

Sherman Alexie signs autographs for students
"April 28, 2001, was very inspiring for me because I thought you couldn't go anywhere by reading or writing about places, people, and other stuff, and I thought it wouldn't bring you anywhere. Well, I thought wrong until I met Sherman Alexie, who is very humorous, smart, and speaks his mind. He's not scared to tell the truth about himself and what happened when he was a little boy. I felt sorry for him, but that's okay. Sherman encouraged me to read more and I am, more than I used to. As I looked at him, I was thinking he's always thinking positive even when he has tough times in his life. He reached his goal just by reading and writing. Now he's traveling around the world (that's what I think) telling people to be strong, to reach for their goals, and talking, encouraging people and making people laugh. Well, I thought that was a really cool day, and I'm glad I went to meet him and hear him talk."
- Tanya Gregory, 10th grade, West High School

Sherman Alexie poses with students

Granta and The New Yorker have named Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, one of the top writers for the 21st century. Alexie is the acclaimed author of 14 published books, including the novels Reservation Blues and Indian Killer, his latest book of short stories The Toughest Indian in the World, and his latest collection of poems, One Stick Song. Alexie wrote the screenplay for the movie Smoke Signals, which won the Audience Award and the Filmmakers Trophy at Sundance Film Festival. Known for his performance ability, Alexie has competed and won the World Heavyweight Poetry Bout for the last three years, the only poet to do so. Sherman Alexie's visit to Anchorage coincided with the annual Writing Rendezvous and was sponsored by the University of Alaska Anchorage, CIRI, Jacqui Carr, and Alaska Quarterly Review.

Photos by Dawn Dinwoodie

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