Continuing The Cycle of Stereotyping Native Americans: Sherman Alexie and Young Adult Literature

Open Access
Author:
Kern, Brittney
Area of Honors:
English
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Carla Mulford, Thesis Supervisor
  • Janet Wynne Lyon, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Native Americans
  • young adult literature
  • Sherman Alexie
  • stereotypes
Abstract:
Throughout the centuries, Native Americans have been stereotyped as being alcoholics. This stereotype has haunted them in many ways, but there has been little effort by Native Americans to stop this stereotype from continuing. Sherman Alexie, a prominent Native American author, is continuing the stereotype, particularly in his novels for young adults. In these works, Alexie brutally describes life on the reservation, with particular focus on alcoholism, poverty, suicide, and other tragic events. By writing for a young audience who often does not know any better than to accept his work for the truth, Alexie is continuing the cycle of stereotypes about his population. Many critics, particularly Louis Owen, Gloria Bird, and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, attack Alexie for his choices, yet Alexie’s works continue to be written in such a way to continue stereotypes about Native American populations.