Award-winning American Indian poet, short story writer and novelist Sherman Alexie is an enrolled member of the Spokane tribe who grew up on the reservation about 50 miles from Spokane, Washington. Th...
"Smoke Signals", adapted from material in "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven", premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the Audience Award and the Dramatic Filmmaker's Trophy; in addition to writing the screenplay, Alexie provided lyri
Feature directorial debut, "The Business of Fancydancing"; screened at Sundance
Gave up liquor at age 23 after spending much of college in an alcoholic stupor ("One of those Indians upholding the stereotype"); has not had a drink since (date approximate)
Published award-winning collection of stories, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven"
Second novel, "Indian Killer"; ShadowCatcher Entertainment (producer of "Smoke Signals") has agreed to produce a movie adaptation written and directed by Alexie
Signed by Miramax to write and direct screen adaptation of his novel "Reservation Blues"
Together with American Indian director Chris Eyre, began developing material at the Sundance Filmmakers and Screenwriters Lab, resulting in the short, "Somebody Kept Saying Powwow", culled from the second act of the longer script that would become "Smoke
Named by Granta magazine as one of the 20 best American novelists under 40
Found a publisher in NYC, Hanging Loose Press, which brought out "The Business of Fancydancing", a book of poetry
Born and raised in the Spokane Indian Reservation (about 50 miles from Spokane, WA); hydrocephalic at birth, underwent a brain operation at the age of six months
Published first novel, "Reservation Blues"
Award-winning American Indian poet, short story writer and novelist Sherman Alexie is an enrolled member of the Spokane tribe who grew up on the reservation about 50 miles from Spokane, Washington. Though he first attracted attention for his poetry, he earned increasing praise and interest from the film industry for his prose, but he rejected offers from producers who wanted to cast dark-skinned whites, choosing to wait for an Indian to come forward who would share his vision for a film. NYU-trained director Chris Eyre, a Cheyenne-Arapaho, contacted Alexie through a mutual friend after discovering his work, and together they developed material from his 1993 short story collection "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" at the 1995 Sundance Filmmakers and Screenwriters Lab. The result was the short "Somebody Kept Saying Powwow", culled from the second act of what would become the feature "Smoke Signals".
an Indian of Hidatsa, Ho-Chunk and Potawatomie lineage
a Cour d'Alene Indian
of Spokane Indian heritage
Washington State University
His official Web site is at http://www.fallsapart.com/index.html
Alexie received a Washington State Arts Fellowship in 1991 and a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1992.
He was guest editor of the Winter 2000 issue of Ploughshares.
"We wanted to show the small domestic lives of these Indians being human. I didn't want to make some New-Age film that people could interpret as these 'Indian magical creatures'--this closeness to the earth, talking to birds and animals. I wanted to make something a lot more subversive than that. Much funnier. In fact, the film ["Smoke Signals"] is very self-conscious about the history of Indians in the cinema. Some of the way Chris [Eyre] shot the film recalls certain Indian cinematic images. There are these gorgeous landscape vista shots of these two Indian guys walking along, and some of them are very western looking shots--very John Ford-ish--and you'd expect these guys to be on horseback. But no, it's these two Indians in western shirts and JanSport backpacks. So even how they dress totally contradicts all perceived information about Indians." --Alexie quoted in Filmmaker, Winter 1998
Examples of Alexie humor: "White people only like Indians if we're warriors or guardians of the earth. Guardians of the earth! Have any of you ever been to a reservation? A guest house is a rusted car up on blocks out behind a HUD trailer ...
"And what's with all these sensitive New Age guys beating drums in the woods, trying to be Indians? Hey, Indians gave that up a hundred years ago. Now we're sitting on the couch with the remote." --From The New York Times Magazine, January 18, 1998.