In Ten Little Indians, how does Alexie complicate sterotypical notions about American Indians?
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In this collection of short stories Alexie continues his project, begun in his earlier work such as The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven of deliberately questioning the various stereotypes held concerning indigenous Americans, or "Indians" as they are referred to. For example the protagonists in these short stories deliberately defy the various stereotypes held concerning indigenous people: most do not drink excessively, most do not live on reserves, and most are not intelligent. For example, in "Flight Patterns," the protagonist, William, is an executive of a major business who does not drink alcohol. Alexie deliberately uses such characters to question the veracity of stereotypes:
Sure, he was an enrolled member of the Spokane Indian tribe, but he was also a fully recognized member of the notebook-computer tribe and the security-checkpoint tribe and the rental-car tribe.
Throughout this work, as in his other works, Alexie fiercely argues that "Indians" can be both recognisably part of their own tribe whilst also being part of American life as a whole. In addition, the characters in these short stories not only form part of the dominant culture but also honour their own place within that major culture by recognising and acknowledging their own indigenous identity. This is shown for example in "Search Engine," where the discovery of Corliss of a poet from her own tribe ends with her attempt to broadcast his existence to the rest of the world. Throughout Alexie presents examples of indigenous people who simultaneously operate successfully in mainstream American culture whilst also fully recognising their identity as "Indians," successfully defying the stereotypes held about them.
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