The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven Ideas for Reports and Papers
by Sherman Alexie

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Explore the history of Native Americans by reading a book like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. Based on history, why should Native Americans be critical of white America?

2. Research the place of dancing in Native American culture, at powwows, ceremonials, etc. Focus on one area, such as the American Northwest, or one group of Native Americans such as the Pueblo Indians. How did dancing function in the traditional culture? Today?

3. Investigate a social problem that often exists on the reservation today—alcoholism or unemployment, for example. What do the statistics tell? What are the reported causes, and what are some possible solutions?

4. Read several of Sherman Alexie's poems, and compare them, in language and theme, to the short stories in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

5. Find out about the storytelling tradition in Native American culture. Locate and describe one traditional story from Native America, such as a story about Coyote.

6. For years, many Native Americans were taken from their homes and sent off to boarding schools to make them "American." Find out more about these schools, where they were, how they worked, and what young Native Americans experienced in these schools.

7. Modern Native American authors include Leslie Marmon Silko, Joy Harjo, James Welch, and many others, as well as Sherman Alexie. Write a biographical essay on another contemporary Native American writer.

8. Many American writers have written about what it means to be an "other" in American society. Create an annotated bibliography of young adult books about being left out of the mainstream or struggling for identity because of race, religion, gender, etc.

9. Find out more about Sherman Alexie, and report on one or two of his other books.

10. Compare the role of dreams in traditional Native American society to the role of dreams in modern American society. How are dreams viewed differently in these cultures?