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Sherman Alexie on Living Outside Borders

Bill Moyers interviews Sherman Alexie on his life as a Native American, and how it impacted his personal and professional life. The interview showcases different works by Mr. Alexie, and further helps the audience to understand his motivation to write these pieces. From the interview, the audience can get to understand an array of issues pertaining to the Native Americans and the impact of their ethnicity.

The interview starts with a video from Smoke Signals (1998), which shows the troubles that the Native Americans go through. In particular, it is evident that the Native Americans are victims of oppression. Consequently, they have to always have a shield as they interact with the White Americans. It can be seen from Mr. Sherman’s statement where he identifies himself as a White American. He goes further and boasts that he can fit into any ethnic group. Therefore, it shows the fact that he seems not to be comfortable being a Native American.

Furthermore, the issue of segregation is evidently a cause of division amongst the different ethnic groups. This issue of living amongst your community can be seen to be entrenched in the lives of these individuals from an early age. Mr. Alexie speaks about his parents telling him that living in the city is dangerous. Thus, he was skeptical about leaving the village that he grew up in. He later shows that lack of interaction leads to problems and hatred amongst the individuals. Consequently, problems such as 9/11 occur.Sherman Alexie on Living Outside Borders

In addition, he provides that the society as a whole do not understand what the Native Americans are comprised of. This is because, individuals still portray them as Chief Wahoo or Sambo. This is a great reflection as to how they are seen by the greater society. He adds that the Native Americans have been sidelined the most when one looks at the different minority groups. He holds that they have been given the least economic independence. By them being sidelined, the society is unable to understand them. He holds that, the minorities have a better understanding of the white culture as compared to the white’s understanding them.

He then reads a number of his works and give their inner meanings. These works may be based on his own interpretation of certain activities, while some also reflect on his experience and struggles. For instance, Tribal Music, which looked at Yo Yo Ma’s cello playing, since he saw the cello as a woman. His work Daddy, addresses the issue of mental illness. In particular, depression, which he has suffered from and ended up being diagnosed as bi-polar. The Facebook Sonnet, looks at the society at large. The manner in which people are interacting amongst themselves in this digital era. His story on his father’s alcoholism, was evidently an issue that went beyond purely his imagination. He addresses alcoholism as a problem being faced by his family, and explains that it is a problem that is faced by the Native Americans as a whole. He gives statistics based on the different deaths that he has seen caused by alcoholism.Sherman Alexie on Living Outside Borders

In his work Blasphemy, he talks about discrimination. His story on asking for an extra blanket is a form of imagery. It may be inferred in two ways. Firstly, he says that asking for extra blanket may be seen to be a form of looking down upon the individual. Therefore, it made it difficult for him to get the blanket. Secondly, it was a form of discrimination on a certain section of individuals. This is because, the nurses were reluctant to give him the extra blanket, because his father was a drunkard.

Lastly, he finishes by talking about the different presidents in the United States. He holds that these individuals are not supposed to be celebrated. To him, people celebrate memories of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Therefore, visiting Mount Rushmore is an unnecessary task that he does not believe that people are supposed to subject themselves to. However, Americans are seen to try and shut their history. This is because, they have a holocaust museum, but they have swept the genocide on the Native Americans under the carpet.

Conclusively, Bill Moyer’s interview on Sherman Alexie is very informative on Sherman Alexie and the lives of Native Americans as a whole. From this interview, one can understand the different motivations of Sherman Alexie, when it comes to his works.


The interview has been very informative. These include, a better understanding of Sherman Alexie and the Native Americans as a whole. From the interview, I have learned that he is bi-polar. Therefore, he has been able to address this problem in his works. From the interview, he is seen to be troubled when it comes to his identity. This is because from the beginning of the interview, he speaks about identifying as a White American. In addition, he says that the Native Americans have identity issues. This is because they are victims of colonization. Also, the society is set up in a manner that does not allow them to enjoy their culture. Therefore, these traditions end up being forgotten. In addition, he holds that he does not believe in religion. This is both the Christian teachings and that of the Native Americans. Therefore, Sherman Alexie is confused about his identity.Sherman Alexie on Living Outside Borders

Emotionally, I believe that it was a very powerful and touching interview. This is because Sherman Alexie was giving the interview from a personal point of view. Therefore, one can understand the problems that Sherman went through. In addition, the manner in which he read is works were extremely breathtaking. His tonal variation, poses, and word choice were able to reach to my emotional side. I could feel the pain that he was going through. In addition, I enjoyed the fact that he was using statistics to corroborate his position. For instance, when he talked about alcoholism being a problem that is faced by the Native Americans. Therefore, the audience could feel that his position was from an informed point of view.

Conclusively, the interview was very informative. This is because, I have understood different culture and impact of certain external factors in a person’s life. It is evident that an one’s identity is extremely influenced by an array of factors. These include, experience and where they have been brought up. In addition, the external factors play an important role in determining how this individual will end up. For instance, if Sherman Alexie was not exposed to the city life, his pieces may have been from the perspective of the small village. He may still identify based on the teachings that he grew up with. For instance, looking at issues such as religion, he changed his position, because of the exposure that he got. In addition, he had to be exposed to the American medical system for him to realize exactly what he was suffering from. Earlier, it can be seen that he did not have information that he was Bi-Polar.