GPAC Crowd at UNCP
an Indian is a tough job," Sherman Alexie told a UNCP crowd of
about 600. "We don't really know what it is to be Indian any more.
We've been making it up since you (Europeans) first arrived."
"It's all about
story telling .. it's all stories," he said.
d'Alene Indian, Alexie demonstrated why he is a rising star in the story-telling
business. No topic was sacred for the poet, novelist, screenwriter and
stand-up comic. He kept an appreciative audience laughing for 90 minutes.
After showing the
crowd his "Indian guy walk" and describing himself as a 6-foot
2, 200-pound, "Banana Republic kind-of Indian," he had some
fun with the local community.
"This is like
being in another country .. Locklear country. I really don't know anything
about the Lumbees," he confessed. "All I know is .. you have
Southern accents and really sweet tea."
The crowd, consisting
of mostly young people, loved it.
Alexie, who has
written numerous books of poetry and prose and the screenplay to the
critically acclaimed movie "Smoke Signals," responded to a
request to make a movie about Lumbees by encouraging them to tell their
don't you do it," he said. "You know more about this place
than I do. You can get a digital camera cheap these days."
Alexie was the final
speaker in the 2001-2002 Distinguished Speaker
Series that also included Maya Angelou and Ralph Nader. His humor
was loaded with political messages, and he ripped into a variety of
targets, including the resurgent patriotism following September 11.
"As an ambiguously
ethnic person, I get pulled over for the full search (in airports) 80
percent of the time, but I understand," he said. "I stand
back from people 100 feet for every square-foot of American flag they're
waving. Some guy in a big four-wheeler drove by and yelled at me, 'Go
back to your own country!'"
Alexie called that
incident "a crime of irony" for a Native American.
tell us stories to make us react the way they want," he said. "It
started immediately after September 11th, and it's all stories."
have an amazing ability to believe they are right and forget,"
Alexie said. "We need to ask, 'What if I am wrong?' If you do,
you'll be the only sober person at a drunk party."
loss of a couple thousand people on September 11 was terrible, but wasn't
the biggest thing that happened that day in the world. 32,000 children
starve to death on any day," he said. "Where's the outrage?"
People from as far
away as Raleigh and Maryland traveled to hear Alexie speak, and they
were thoroughly entertained. During a question and answer session at
end of the evening, he recited two of his poems.
His latest movie
project is "The Business of Fancy Dancing," which he is distributing
Alexie brought an
end to the Distinguished Speaker Series, and next year promises to just
as impressive. Lined up are Lynn Russell, a former CNN anchor, and actors
Henry Winkler, James Earl Jones and Rita Moreno.
The university also
hopes to bring 1978 graduate and Oklahoma University basketball coach
Kelvin Sampson, said Abdul Ghaffar, director of Student Activities.
This report was
compiled with the assistance of Gavin Wyse, a senior journalism major.
to University Newswire