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INDIAN KILLER some critical lines Ms Isabella Marinaro.

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1 INDIAN KILLER some critical lines Ms Isabella Marinaro

2 “ If people start dealing with Indian culture and Indian people truthfully in this country, we’re going to have to start dealing with the genocide that happened here. In order to start dealing truthfully with our cultures, they have to start dealing truthfully with that great sin, the original of this this country, and that’s not going to happen.” Sherman Alexie Ms Isabella Marinaro

3 Alexie’s position towards present situations American Indians in US Ms Isabella Marinaro

4 in most of his writings Alexie reshapes readers’ attitude about Natives, in particular ideas based on stereotypes and misinformation: “ No Indian will stand on the roadside singing traditional songs for money. This is what writers do when they put it in books and sell it. ” (Sherman Alexie) Ms Isabella Marinaro

5 Indians are presented as one of the few remaining colonized cultures in the world under pressure to assimilate in an exhausting battle for pan-Indian unit their potential desperation also comes from Alexie’s somewhat troubled story Ms Isabella Marinaro

6 Alexie’s characters try to forge their identities form a broken ethnic history and the damaging stereotypes of popular culture they seem to wonder: (a) what does it mean to live as an Indian in this time? (b) what does it actually mean to be an Indian man/woman? (c) what does it mean to live on an Indian “rez”? Ms Isabella Marinaro

7 those questions are Alexie’s own ones, but projected inside his characters Ms Isabella Marinaro

8 in his production Alexie carefully and consciously blends elements of popular Indian culture and spirituality the drudgery of poverty- ridden reservation life to create his characters and their worlds the result Ms Isabella Marinaro

9 thus his characters are as likely to listen to Jimi Hendrix as to Buffy Sainte-Marie, or to play basketball and to watch a pow-wowBuffy Sainte-Marie his aim is to turn off the media images of Natives and look at the reality of daily reservation life Ms Isabella Marinaro

10 Relevance of the Ghost Dance in Indian Killer Ms Isabella Marinaro

11 Indian Killer is classified as a mystery / thriller / detective novel where the crime remains unsolved and whose plot line itself remains unresolved traditional murder/mystery/detective story Indian Killer - several characters as the plot progresses - the number of the suspected decreases as more information is revealed - the number of potential culprites increases as more information is revealed - the killer is eventually revealed - the novel does not end with a clar revelation Ms Isabella Marinaro

12 the Ghost Dance is essential to understand the progress and the sense of order of Indian Killer Ghost Dance: the American Indian belief in a pan-Indian gathering able to cleanse the earth of white usurpers and bring back the fertility and the wholeness of the past Ms Isabella Marinaro

13 the Ghost Dance, as a metaphor, provides a coherent framework within the characters, their motivations and even Alexie’s himself motivation gets focussed therefore the Ghost Dance, or better its metaphor, is seen as liberating from a sociocultural perspective and in terms of form Ms Isabella Marinaro

14 Violence and Captivity in Indian Killer Ms Isabella Marinaro

15 the Ghost Dance, as it is seen in IK, is Alexie’s shifting from the mere reaction to US racism / oppression to a more active, maybe destructive role the action of al alleged demented madman (leaving feathers at the scene of the crimes) provokes violent ripercussions on white and Indian sides this is Alexie’s ability to explore racial violent stereotypes belonging to both sides Ms Isabella Marinaro

16 these stereotyped reactions make the characters be perceived as caricatures by readers these reactions clearly show how both “identities” are based on fundamental lies Ms Isabella Marinaro

17 the very beginning of IK starts with the violent “adoption” of an Indian baby the theme of the violent “adoption” shifts the genre of the novel to the so-called captivity narrative captivity narrative IK is a “modern captivity narrative” novel because of the urban captivity its Native characters are trapped in Ms Isabella Marinaro

18 John Smith’s situation is referred to the period before the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)Indian Child Welfare Act Ms Isabella Marinaro

19 to understand Indian Killer it is necessary to examine: (a) the federal policies of Indian reforms during the late 20th cent. aiming at pushing the Indians into urban environments; (b) the history of the reverse captivity narrative: John Smith’s capture and his quest for identity (c) why the Indian killer is never identified Ms Isabella Marinaro

20 (a) Alexie criticizes the colonial imposition of “Termination” and “Relocation” projects in the 1950sTermination” and “Relocation they were masked as projects to help Indian people to become part of the mainstream of the American society Ms Isabella Marinaro

21 (b) Indian Killer Seattle, as a large city, is a place of violence and in the novel it soon becomes a symbol of colonization, a place especially built for Whites only that is why John Smith feels at home only in his imaginary reservation of his day-dreaming mind, a happy place with a lovely family, the place of his robbed memories John is the victim of the real captivity Ms Isabella Marinaro

22 (b) Alexie plays with an anti-captivity novel, being the captivity genre as basic of American literature, to justify the desire to do away with the white culture this is particularly true with the final scene of the Ghost Dance it mus be specified that Indian children were not usually taken away from their reservations in the violent way John Smith was, but Alexie did want to represent the effective and devastating internal violence in taking an Indian baby out of his/her community Ms Isabella Marinaro

23 (b) by the end of the 1970s Indians were not perceived as a threat to Whites: a)so the ICWA got acceptance in Congress b) Indian sovereignty issu did not interfere with most government practice c) most Indian lands were gone d) most Indian children had been taught the basic principles of Christianity and made speak English Ms Isabella Marinaro

24 “ White people no longer feared Indians. Somehow, near the end of the twentieth century, Indians had become invisible, docile” (Indian Killer) (b) Ms Isabella Marinaro

25 (b) John Smith’s daydream visions and paranoia are the symbol of five hundred-year-old repression of Indian values, especially the sense of belonging to a community in contrast with the White sense of individualism community John commits suicide because death is the only way to escape from captivity Ms Isabella Marinaro

26 (c) John Smith’s suicide does not answer any readers’ questions simply because it should not, for the same reason why readers are not given further clues to identify the killer Ms Isabella Marinaro

27 traditional detective story Indian Killer readers feel relieved for knowing the killer’s name and for not being a part of the suspected either Alexie does want the audience to feel implicated …. … we are all involved! and also because violence is the work of many individuals Ms Isabella Marinaro

28 FINAL MESSAGE * Indian identity nowadays is very complex * Indian people must still fight against government policy / urban landscapes / white academic / anything designed to fragment Indian identity the real focus of IK is the quest for identity in a cultural urban captivity not a simply solution, indeed Ms Isabella Marinaro

29 Focus on Chapter 7: “Introduction to Native American Literature” or: problems with Dr Mather’s Syllabus Ms Isabella Marinaro

30 Professor Mather is a “wannabe Indian”, a white male anthropologist whose syllabus, lectures and personal interpretation of Indian literature show the typical romantic misconception of Indian culture and literature Marie Polatkin criticizes him: his proposals are neither authentic, nor the most appropriate examples of Native American literature Ms Isabella Marinaro

31 through Marie Polatikin’s character, Alexie shows that the Indian struggle for sovereignty is a process of asserting the power Native Americans have got as communities and individuals to make decisions about their lives by decentering professor Mather’s teachings, Marie Polatkin tries to: * subvert his role of authority * promote an agenda of tribal intellectual sovereignty whose central point is that being an Indian mostly means “to survive” Ms Isabella Marinaro

32 through Marie Polatkin, Alexie indicates his own rules for a right syllabus: # 1. authors must be of reservation origins # 2. no book must be co-written by whites # 3. those who teach American Indian literature must be Indian # 1. authors must be of reservation origins # 2. no book must be co-written by whites # 3. those who teach American Indian literature must be Indian and all that in order to: (a)get a real Native perspective (b)improve an American Indian sovereignty (c)stop the process of colonization Ms Isabella Marinaro

33 Alexie often complaints about white people speaking with authority for and about Indians he rejects white writers who believe they understand Native Americans’ lives only by writing about them this is how white writers still go on with colonizing Natives, by telling the reading public what Natives are “really” like Ms Isabella Marinaro

34 “You’ ve colonized Indian land but I am not about to let colonize my heart and my mind.” (Sherman Alexie, Dear John Wayne) Ms Isabella Marinaro

35 Alexie says books written by non-Indians sell more copies than those written by Indians… …so he suggests that white authors writing fiction about Indians should donate 10 percent of their royalties either to American Indian College Fund, or to the tribe about which they write Ms Isabella Marinaro

36 Alexie does not seem to offer any solution about white scholars once questioned about what he recommended for white scholars who want to study Native American literature, he did not answer Ms Isabella Marinaro

37 Focus on the last Chapter: “Creation Story” or: the chapter where the Indian Killer’s collecting “trophies” plays a dominant role Ms Isabella Marinaro

38 despite that memorializing the killer’s acts his collection CREATES because it produces a narrative of ethnographic trauma and racial identity as collections reveal more about those who create them than about the objects collected Ms Isabella Marinaro

39 the Indian Killer’s collection reflects Alexie’s penchant for ironic reversal in contrast to the familiar dynamic of Western museums, the Indian Killer’s backpack reveals that: (a) white people are objects of collection rather than collectors (b) Native Americans are the ones reveling in the accumulation of artifacts Ms Isabella Marinaro

40 the Indian Killer’s backpack/collection is a clear counterbalance to the many collections created by whites to define Native Americans and thus to maintain a racial hierarchy in the modern world it is Alexie’s critique of cultural imperialism in the US as ethnographic collections reinforce white power and undermine indigenous authority Ms Isabella Marinaro

41 as a matter of fact, collecting is a form of: (a) subordination (b) appropriation (c) depersonification Ms Isabella Marinaro

42 for Alexie, decontextualization and collecting is a cultural violence analogous to the killer’s attacks it is analogous to the cultural violence inflicted upon Native American identity by the academy, the publishing world, the armchair ethnographer it is a form of colonial practice Ms Isabella Marinaro

43 collecting is a violence analogous to the practice of adopting Native American babies Daniel and Olivia Smith too carry out a form of colonizing as their education, aiming at re-building John’s new false Indian identity, contributes to their son’s confusion… Ms Isabella Marinaro

44 …just like Daniel Smith’s turning his maps of territories conquered by the US army: Korea, Vietnam and (former Indian) Montana it is meaningful that Daniel studies his maps while listening to Truck Schultz’s conservative and racial talk-show he finally gets his “new order” (= the same of the collector), he finally gets the same authority of the collector Ms Isabella Marinaro

45 in the novel Alexie makes reference to Chief Seattle’s bones hidden away in a labyrinthine storage area of a university building basement only in1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passedNAGPRA Ms Isabella Marinaro

46 the killer is never identified in the text because his identity derives from his collection of murderous artifacts alone the Indian Killer is not a figure of triumph, but a directionless, nameless, faceless product of a violent collection Ms Isabella Marinaro

47 Alexie indicates there is no triumph in this counter collection, but the danger for Native Americans if perpetuating mutually destructive racial hatred and violence the archives of Native American violence, like the ones of white violence, can only redouble the general schizofrenia of a divided national culture Ms Isabella Marinaro

48 Indian Killer, more than a collection of violence, underlines the violence of collection = cultural imperialism Ms Isabella Marinaro

49 “Creation story” could not help ending with the Owl Dance the owl is a sacred animal for the Native Americans for its capacity to see by night; it is evoked during ceremonies where an oracle is demanded to show the secrets of the future Ms Isabella Marinaro

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