The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven Analysis

1416 Words 6 Pages
Bianca Hill
Indigenous Identities HON 2973-007
Professor Amanda Minks
17 September 2015
Stereotyping Indians in Smoke Signals Sherman Alexie’s award winning book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a collection of short stories in which he tells stories of Indians, mainly on the Spokane reservation. These stories are set in contemporary times, but the characters still struggle with the issues that have long affected Native peoples, like poverty, abandonment, and alcoholism. The book, published in 1993, later was the inspiration for the 1998 movie Smoke Signals, starring Adam Beach and Evan Adams. Smoke Signals is about two young Native American men, Victor and Thomas, that embark on a road trip together from the Coeur D 'Alene
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The screenplay was written by Sherman Alexie, a prominent Native author, and directed by Chris Eyre, who is Cheyenne and Arapaho, and co-produced by the two. The cast is mostly made up of Native actors and even the crew members included many Native people. This was, and still is, a big deal, as this was a movie about Indians made by Indians, so there was complete control in how Native America was to be portrayed. Besides the fact that Smoke Signals was created by Indians, it also portrays Native Americans as people in the present. Historically, in film and especially Westerns, Indians are wild warriors wearing loin cloths and speaking broken English, looking to kill the white man. Hollywood Indians are a historical people, not really ever brought into the present day as present people. Smoke Signals, however, does just that. Victor and Thomas wear modern clothing, including Victor’s plain jeans and t-shirts, and even Thomas’s seemingly misplaced suit. They speak in English, use cars, and listen to the radio. All aspects of the film were contemporary and relevant in 1998, when the film was made, but that is not to say that Thomas and Victor lost any of their identity as Native people. Smoke Signals still wholly portrays Native peoples by including aspects of Native life: being set on a reservation, traditional drumming songs for background music, oral tradition and …show more content…
It brings Native America into contemporary times, with contemporary clothing, language, and technology. Victor and Thomas were possibly some of the first truly dynamic Native American characters in film because they finally had a chance to be. It relates Victor and Thomas to the general public with situations of the “geek and the jock”, the adventure of road trips, and self-discovery, but also issues of alcoholism and poverty that affect all races, but Native especially. I just hope one day I will not have to write about Native stereotypes versus the truth. I hope that these demeaning assumptions about so many beautiful and complex peoples are destroyed once and for all, and people can finally just be

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