Topics for Further Study
Read Leslie Marmon Silko's "The Storyteller," and then compare and contrast it with stories from Alexie's collection. Describe how each of them describes the value of storytelling as a tradition and a survival skill. Provide specific examples from the respective texts.
Research the relationship between the Coeur d'Alene Indians and the Spokane Indians and present your findings to your class.
Alexie's characters often respond to the way in which Native Americans have been stereotyped in popular culture. Research films and novels for illustrations of these stereotypes and list them on the board. Next, construct a list of the ways in which Alexie's stories respond to these stereotypes. Discuss as a class.
Alexie frequently describes how the Bureau of Indian Affairs has humiliated Native Americans. Research the BIA, and write a short essay about the ways it has changed in the last twenty years.
Argue for or against the idea that The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven can be considered a memoir.
The idea of the "authentic Indian" appears frequently in Alexie's stories. What does this term mean, and how is Alexie using it? Discuss as a class.
Analyze the films Dancing with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans in terms of how they do or do not perpetuate stereotypes of Native Americans. Discuss as a class.
Research the Native-American ritual of the Ghostdance, and write a short essay about how it functions as a symbol in Alexie's stories.
Compare The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven with its film adaptation, Smoke Signals. Discuss what is left out and what is included in the film and the possible reasons behind these decisions.