Sherman Alexie A Native American Writer Essay

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Sherman Alexie has made a name for himself as a prolific contemporary Native American writer, taking inspiration from his own past and experiences with modern Indian life. While there are many enduring themes throughout Alexie's writings: Native identity, modern reservation life, alcohol abuse etc. when it comes to his collection War Dances, the most apparent motif is fatherhood. Community and family are the heart of Native American cultures, with the father archetype holding great honor and expectation. However with alcohol abuse, poverty, and school drop rates running rampant through Native American reservations it is no surprise that more and more Native children are growing up in broken homes. In an alarming poll by the Kids Count Data…show more content…
It is most clearly defined in the short story “War Dances”, for which the collection is named. Through “War Dances” Alexie not only reflects on his own experiences, but uses them as a vessel to expose the decay of the ideology of fatherhood plaguing Native communities all over the country. In an informative interview journalist Billy Moyers asks Alexie if his writing is cathartic; in which he replies “I think it can be healing for readers...but my own words for myself I don't think so.” (Moyers & Company). In his works Alexie explores deep wounds not for healing, but as a means to sacrifice himself and foray the absolutism of the 'white man'. In a new warrior fashion he uses the power of story to his advantage. “War Dances” maybe the most blatant example as it touches many personal aspects especially Alexie's struggle with illness and of course the relationship with his father. While this story may not be curative for Alexie it is most definitely a meditation. The story covers the course of life, from birth to death (Russell). The narrator is suddenly stricken with a disease that harkens back to an illness diagnosed at birth. This rings true to Alexie, he has dealt with illness his entire life. As an infant he was diagnosed as hydrocephalus, the same disease the narrator had suffered in youth. When reading this piece you can hear Alexie's voice exploring a life riddled with sickness. “I was worried I had a brain tumor. Or that my
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