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 The themes in the book are redeeming tradition, storytelling, basketball as the new religion of the reservation,

heroes, and family relationships.

 He also reclaims the past by creating artificial traditions to take over the past ones. Car stealing replaces horse
stealing as a way for a young Indian to gain honor. Alexie is making a statement that the past world was sacred
and he knows that the modern deeds are so small in comparison. He explains the gap satirically. In one sense he
is mourning the loss of meaningful traditions, but in another way, he is trying to redeem them too. He is telling a
story, as storytelling is a way of reclaiming the past. Thomas is the storyteller in the book. He has the gift and is
connected to this tradition of orally recording history.
 public vs. private
 re-telling stories
 wish-fulfilling imagination registers the sense and extent of Indian loss
 break, disconnect, lack of continuity
 This blurring of internal and external, wherein private nightmare is simultaneously public record
 mobility (hope) and immobility (despair)
 dance is drawing strength from the past, from tradition, from cultural roots
 self-oppression: Or, like the diabetes Junior has inherited from his father, five hundred years of history have
ceased working "like a criminal, breaking and entering;" instead, for Indians in the late 20th century, it works
"just like a lover, hurting you from the inside" (221).
 stories – cultural survival
 serial behavior – father listening to Jimi Hendrix. like a broken record, or a skipping CD. no future. addiction
to alcohol, tradition, repetition.
 'does not so much conclude as simply terminate; typically it lacks closure, that summing up of the "meaning" of
the chain of events with which it deals that we normally expect from the well-made story'. the formal character
of the chronicle to a 'problem of authority'. Alexie’s 2 chronicle stories: Indian Education and Jesus Christs’
 storytelling to compensate for failure, loss
 moments of beauty are separate and distinct from the story, from narrative, from history


redo a history book

fill in a chart: what’s sad, funny, angry about a story

• quiz on book: Describe the relationship between the man and the woman who meet in “Crazy Horse Dreams.”
How is young Julius Windmaker similar to the narrator of “The Only Traffic Signal On the Reservation Doesn’t
Flash Red Anymore.”


authentic: not counterfeit or copied, the “real deal” (38)

vain: excessively proud of one’s appearance or accomplishments, futile (44)
mitigating: moderating, alleviating (96)
dire: Urgent; desperate, potentially disastrous (97)
stoic: showing no emotion (154)
succinct: concise and precise (158)
eulogy: praising speech, especially for someone who has died (161)
reconcile: To settle or resolve (161)
aboriginal: Having existed in a region from the beginning (192)
assimilate: To absorb into the dominant culture, to make similar (203)
inevitable: Impossible to avoid or prevent, predictable (213)


forced treaties and land cessations

The Battle of Little Bighorn, 1876

led by Sitting Bull
Crazy Horse was a leader
pinnacle of Indian power, the worst US military defeat
Custer’s last stand

poverty stats
families in poverty, 1989
US: 10%
Native Americans: 27.2%

Massacre at Wounded Knee, 1890

US army attempting to arrest Sioux chief Big Foot
Big Foot and 300 Indians killed
120 men, 230 women & children
the Indians had surrendered all their weapons

The once proud Sioux found their free-roaming life destroyed, the buffalo gone, themselves confined to reservations
dependent on Indian Agents for their existence. In a desperate attempt to return to the days of their glory, many
sought salvation in a new mysticism preached by a Paiute shaman called Wovoka. Emissaries from the Sioux in
South Dakota traveled to Nevada to hear his words. Wovoka called himself the Messiah and prophesied that the
dead would soon join the living in a world in which the Indians could live in the old way
surrounded by plentiful game. A tidal wave of new soil would cover the earth, bury the whites, and restore the
prairie. To hasten the event, the Indians were to dance the Ghost Dance. Many dancers wore brightly colored shirts
emblazoned with images of eagles and buffaloes. These "Ghost Shirts" they believed would protect them from the
bluecoats' bullets. During the fall of 1890, the Ghost Dance spread through the Sioux villages of the Dakota
reservations, revitalizing the Indians and bringing fear to the whites. A desperate Indian Agent at Pine Ridge wired
his superiors in Washington, "Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy....We need protection and we
need it now. The leaders should be arrested and confined at some military post until the matter is quieted, and this
should be done now."

Trail of Tears, 1838

gold was discovered in Georgia, where the Cherokee were living
In 1830 the Congress of the United States passed the "Indian Removal Act."
burned their houses, forced to march 800 miles, which took over a year
About 4000 out of 15,000 (more than 1 in four) Cherokee died as a result of the removal.
Ironically, just as the Creeks killed Chief McIntosh for signing the Treaty of Indian Springs, the Cherokee killed
Major Ridge, his son and Elias Boudinot for signing the Treaty of New Echota.

BIA was originally a part of the War Dept
Indian agents became responsible for operating schools, dispensing justice, distributing supplies, administering
allotments, and leasing contracts. By 1900 the Indian agent had, in effect, become the tribal government.

 Every Little Hurricane
 1976, the bicentennial year.
 Victor's father, for instance, remembers his father being spit on at a Spokane bus stop; his mother
remembers being involuntarily sterilized by an Indian Health Service (IHS) doctor after Victor's birth; his
uncles Adolph and Arnold fight savagely because each reminds the other of childhood poverty so great that
they hid crackers in their bedroom so they wouldn't have to go to bed hungry.
 A Drug Called Tradition
 journal: If you could go back in time to alter one major historical event, what would it be and why?
 Amusements
 seeing the self from the other’s perspective. symbol of the mirror.
 The Fun House
 Much the same irresolution marks his relationship with the storytelling Thomas, whom he has bullied since
childhood and whose stories he ignores, precisely because, for Victor, those stories register cultural loss.

Crazy Horse Dreams

p.38: authentic
p.39: allusion to the past
p.40: elevators, escalators, revolving doors. “forced movement”: Trail of Tears
Crazy Horse is perfection. “powwow paradise” (40) – perfection.
she was a city Indian (40-41)
desire and disappointment
p.42: television
a Winnebago is a moving home! mobility. contrast to elevators, escalators, revolving doors. he’s afraid of
movement, but she’s moved out of the reservation
• journal: Think of a time when you were either overwhelmingly surprised or severely disappointed. Describe the

The Only Traffic Light on the Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore
Themes: addiction, repetition, tradition
p.49: racism
p. 44, 50: beer/Pepsi. Substitute addictions.
p.47: will they ever get off the reservation and play college ball?
p.48: reservation hero stories. Imagination as compensation. Grass, river, wind: constancy – moving but nothing’s
p.53: will Lucy get off the reservation? Or the same repetition? Cup revolving, sun rising and setting.

Dictionary of symbols

What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona

Victor’s father died. He must retrieve body and bank account.
Lots of flashbacks. Plot mapping exercise.
62: Thomas’ repetition of same stories. Tradition.
63: loss of culture
65: why did Victor beat up Thomas?
69: finding meaning in a random event
70: full circle
71: create magic in a dull world
73: “same old shit” – nothing’s changed
Day 11: Monday
 progress checkups
 journal
 pass back work
 go over answers for last Friday’s quiz
 quiz
 All I Wanted to Do Was Dance
 Victor subsumed by the dominant narrative
 83: in love w/a white woman
 84: “I started WWI… I shot Lincoln. / He was underwater drunk, staring up at the faces of his past. He
recognized Neil Armstrong… ”
 despair, stagnation, procrastination
 85: procrastination. just 10 more minutes.
 86-87: imagines running, but only watches TV
 88: just one more beer
 89: repetitively throwing out one beer bottle at a time. can’t even finish a drink. can’t finish anything.
 90: “world revolving”, tomorrow – just one more day
 90-91: see how the stranger drinks
 91: the “real” Indian takes action
 note the difference between the last sentence and the second-to-last sentence in the story
 assign acting groups – each group must come up with a name

1. 2. 3.
Labriette Raymond Dion
Janna Careem Stephanie
Michael Kimberly Jonathan
Evelyn Amy

4. 5. 6.
Ida Atoyla Brian
Adrienne Jose Jimmy
Fedai Donalio Adriana
Victoria Johnny

1. 2. 3.
Valentino Jose Jenny
Jollie Veronica Carlos
Diana Rochelle Fazil
Krystina Reyes Alex

4. 5. 6.
Richard Jennifer Raina
Christina Rivera Christina Thomas Shakia
Rhonda Edgar Francis
Sidon Terry Samantha

7. 8. 9.
Rashad Daron
Shanyanae Charles
Eric Patrick
 dramatic irony skits using hand gestures – rehearsal

during skits, students must fill out the following charts for each skit, due at end of skits: (30 pts)
group name what is said what is meant

group name what is expected to happen what happens

group name what the character(s) think(s) what the reader/audience knows

 Homework: read pages 104-129 by Wednesday. if you fail quiz, notes will be due Wednesday too.

Day 12: Tuesday

 vocab
 dire: Urgent; desperate, potentially disastrous (97)
 stoic: showing no emotion (154)
 succinct: concise and precise (158)
 eulogy: praising speech, especially for someone who has died (161)
 dramatic irony skits
 The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire
 irony
 93: situational
 94: verbal
 95: situational
 Thomas, as storyteller, is the carrier of Indian tradition
 his name – Builds-the-Fire; stories told around a fire, passion.
 93: “extreme need to tell the truth”
 93: “once held the reservation postmaster hostage for eight hours with the idea of a gun”: the simple power
of his imagination
 99: Qualchan hung w/out trial. golf course replacing the old. he couldn’t preserve the old ways.
 Indian history is on trial
 102: Judge James Wright. the victors are the ones who determine what justice is

Qualchan was born at the turning point for tribes of the Inland Northwest as the old ways gave way to the new with
more and more whites pushing into the area. A young man when Reverend Whitman established the first mission in
the area and then was massacred, Qualchan debated with the others about how to respond to this threat. Many
wanted to accept the changes, to move to the reservations, and to live peacefully with the whites, but Qualchan sided
with those who wanted to fight for their territory and old ways. Unfortunately for all concerned, a series of events
unfolded which all but guaranteed war.

Those Natives who counseled peace convinced the rest to negotiate with Governor Stevens who established
reservations and yearly payments for the tribes in trade for their vast lands. He also promised that the tribes would
have two or three years to make the transition to reservation life, an important stipulation. But just after those
agreements were hammered out, gold was discovered in the Colville area and miners came streaming in. At the same
time, Stevens advertised in the Portland newspaper that he had opened the Inland Northwest to settlers, in blatant
contradiction to his timetable, and whites began moving in to look for land. Then miners raped a chief's young
daughter, and after that, it was war.

At the outset, Qualchan and the other warriors clearly had the upper hand. They humiliated the whites in battles
from Seattle to Steptoe Butte, performing acts of courage and tactical maneuvers that were no less than stunning.
They didn't stand a chance, however, when the army received its new rifles with ranges three times those used by the
Indians. Qualchan and the other warriors fought bravely, but at the battle of the Four Lakes, near what is now
Cheney, the army beat them badly, and they scattered in disarray. General George Wright captured over a thousand
Native horses and massacred them, a brutal act which stunned the Natives. And he lured Qualchan into his camp
with talk of a peace treaty only to hang him before his wife without trial minutes after he arrived. Hangman Creek
just south of Spokane is named for this grisly event.

Day 13: Wednesday (weird day)

 journal
 verbal and situational irony skits – rehearsal
 classwork: come up w/a thesis and topic sentences for the three body paragraphs for the following interpretive
essay topic: How does the conflict between the modern and the primitive play out in Lone Ranger? In other
words, why does the author constantly compare and contrast the present and the past? What point is he trying
to make about Native Americans today?
 Homework: interpretive essay due next Tuesday (Day 17)

Sample interpretive essay using “The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire”

Thesis: “The trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire” is actually a metaphor that represents how the Native Aemrican
version of history is suppressed b the dominant European =Americans.

Background: “The Trail of Thomas Builds-the Fir’ is set in a coutroom. AS the tilte suggests, a character nemed
Thoms Builds-the-Fire is on trail. Thomas Builds-the-Fire is a Native American that constantly tells stories about
the past.

1. Thomas is constantly telling stories about Native Americans from the past; he is therefore the bearer of Native
American history. By sending him to jail, the court is symbolically imprisoning the retelling of Native American
2. Qualchan was hung w/out trial, representing how whites (in the form of Colonel Wright) deprived him of proper
3. Judge James Wright is the modern-day version of Colonel Wright, representing how European-Americans have
stayed in power and dominated the interpretation of history and the determination of justice for over a century.

Conclusion: Through the story, “The trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fir,” Sherman Alexie was trying to show that
Europan-Americans contrl the telling of Native American history. In the past, the Indian warrior Qualchan was hugn
without trial by Colonel Wright. In a present-day courtroom setting, Thomas’ recounting of history is silenced by
Judge James Writ. Thus, throughout the years, Native Americans have had to stuggle to preserve their stories nad
history in the face of oppression.

Day 14: Thursday

 Journal checks
 dramatic and situational irony skits
 interpretive essays – develop intro paragraph (background, then thesis) (10 pts)
 talk about the Ghost Dance
 “Distances”
 discussion questions: Describe the setting in detail. What happens to modern technology? What happens
to nature? (20 pts)
 students will search for instances in which primitive nature takes over technology. triumph of the past, and
of the Native Americans.
 104: white man destroyed the earth
 108-9; earth comes back to life, revived by the Indians
 Symbols: the watch (109) and transistor radio (109)
 Homework: read pages 130-144 by Monday. bring random object for extra credit.

Day 15: Friday

 give me your random objects & collect blind date corrections
 journal
 develop body paragraph
 Lone Ranger skits – reading and brainstorming
 Progress reports
 Jesus Christ’s Half-Brother Is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian Reservation
 classwork assignment: elements of a story: setting, main characters, rising action, climax, falling action,
resolution. try to find it in this story. worth an automatic 5/5 unless I catch you goofing off.
 titles look like they were taking from a part of the story. there was no master storyteller that sat back and
said, I am going to name this story… disconnected narrative, no attempt to connect all the elements of the
story into one meaningful whole. one of the frustrations of reading his short stories is the lack of meaning
to desire to invent one. no authoritative storyteller weaving the story into something meaningful.
 stream of consciousness

 interpretive essays – developing one body paragraph

teacher models an example
thesis: Trent Lott is racist.
Evidence: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the
country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.” Quote or paraphrase.
Context: Senator Trent Lott was at a birthday party for retired Senator Strom Thurmond. Praising Thurmond, Lott
said, “
Commentary: Strom Thurmond ran for president in 1948. He is most famous for his support of segregation and
opposition to civil rights for minorities. Since Lott believes that Thurmond would have been a good president, one
can conclude that Lott agrees with Thurmond’s support of segregation. If Lott supports segregation, then he is a
racist that opposes racial harmony and integration.
Explains the deeper significance of the evidence, explain the evidence’s relevance to the thesis, and constitute a
majority of the paragraph.

Week 4:

Day 16: Monday

 Lone Ranger skits

Day 17: Tuesday

 progress checkups
 quiz on “A Train” and “A Good Story” (20 pts). 3 pts off if handed in next period.
 Why does Samuel kill himself in “A Train is an Order of Occurrence Designed to Lead to Some Result”?
How does he kill himself?
 What metaphor does Alexie use to signify storytelling in “A Good Story”?
 holiday party signup: food, music, napkins, cups. only the last 40 minutes!
 “Jesus Christs’ Half-Brother”
 no one came up w/the same plot elements
 story w/out a destination
 stories are usually going somewhere, trying to solve a problem, progressing towards some solution
 Destinations – history of transportation
 horse
 train – the iron horse
 car – Henry Ford, horsepower, why engine is in the front of the car
 “A Train is an Order of Occurrence Designed to Lead to Some Result”
 man w/out direction or destination
 130-131: “brush, dustpan, sweep, trashcan” “early, early, real early” “busy, busy, busy”, repetition, busy
tone, so busy he can’t even construct full sentences, like the chugging along of a train
 133: “the Indians drank in eight-hour shifts” – ironic
 134: repetition again. “Drank. Drank… Breathed. Breathed.”
 134: “an Indian realizes he cannot turn back toward tradition and that he has no map to guide him toward
the future.” don’t know where they’re going.
 135-136: modern vs. primitive: “Samuel felt like the horse must have felt when Henry Ford came along.”
“His little studio looked like the inside of a tipi.”
 137: train/horse – modern/primitive
 symbols: train, horse. train as modern, relentless progress and rushing towards the future, the iron horse. the
train is going somewhere. Sam has no destination, no goal in life, no future.
 Project based on p.132: construct a story from random objects

HW: Read pages 145-153 by Thursday (“First Annual” & “Imagining the Reservation”)

Day 18: Wednesday

• Journal. during journal time, pass out box full of random objects. without looking, everyone picks three objects,
writes them down, and puts them back in the box.
• Assign notes, due Friday, for those who failed the quiz. pp.145-153.
 “A Good Story”
 a story about a story – infinite reflexivity (directed back on itself)
 Alexie -> Junior -> Uncle Moses telling story about what just happened
 a good story is made to be repeated. p. 141: “It would be just enough to ensure survival”
 142-143: Arnold’s spontaneity
 144: living in the present
 symbols: good sandwich = good story (141, 142). quilt is metaphor for storytelling
• Storytelling: Assemble into groups. First person writes one or two sentences to begin the story, including
her/his random object in the story. She/he then passes the story on to another member of the group, who must
then add one or two sentences to the story, including her/his random object. write your name in parenthesis
after each sentence that you write. the best story will win 5 pts EC for everyone in the group.

Day 19: Thursday

• Ms. Scott speaks to class
• collect interpretive essays
• SSR: “build” a contruction-paper fire
• quiz on “First Annual” & “Imagining the Reservation”
o According to Sherman Alexie, why is the imagination so important to Native Americans?
• storytelling; read the random stories from the other class. students will vote for the best story.
• “First All-Indian…”
o search for beauty
o 146-147: beauty occurs at discrete moments, separated from the narrative. the sublime – finding
beauty in the mundane
o 147: bringing the past to life using modern traditions
• symbol: basketball
o 148: what type of figurative lang? Personification
o 148: “both sides of this baby are beautiful” – reconciliation between the past and the present, between
the Natives and the whites

Day 21: Monday, 1/6/03

 journal: jokes. laughter. inappropriate jokes.
 vocab: just list words, no definitions
 reconcile: To settle or resolve (161)
 aboriginal: Having existed in a region from the beginning (192)
 assimilate: To absorb into the dominant culture, to make similar (203)
 inevitable: Impossible to avoid or prevent, predictable (213)
 grammar corrections
 not all the grammar in lone ranger is correct.
 contractions in formal essays.
 subject-verb agreement: use sticker “s”
 dialogue and quotes. dp rule = different person = different paragraph. 69 Boyz – “Tootsee Roll”
 announce quiz on “Indian Education,” “Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight,” and “Somebody Kept Saying
Powwow”. will be open-book, but you won’t be able to finish the quiz if you don’t read these stories
beforehand. 28 pages.
 stories around the fire, judging of stories
• “Imagining the Reservation”
o 149: discuss the epigraph
o 150: the power of the imagination. It can kill you just as much as it can help you survive
o 151-152: Hollywood’s colonization of the imagination. When Hollywood has conquered your
imagination, then ALL of you has been conquered. mind control
 “The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor
 during our discussion, first person to point out that a passage that utilizes verbal irony gets 5 points
 154-155; stereotypical Indians, Tonto face
 157; joking about death
 158-9; joking about death again, denying reality
 162: laughter
 164: laughter
 166: verbal irony
 read 169-170 if time permits

Day 22: Tuesday, 1/7/03

 Quiz
 How does kissing a white girl change the narrator in “Indian Education”?
 What happens to Victor’s graduating class in “Indian Education”?
 In “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” how do you know that the narrator doesn’t feel like
he belongs or fits in America?
 What emotions or ideas is the narrator of “Somebody Kept Saying Powwow” trying to express when he
mentions images such as revolving doors, escalators, and elevators?
 announcing the winning stories
 Indian Education”
 chronicle story
 176; kissing white girl as entrance to another social class (7th grade)
 But in the white world, there is much disgrace and humiliation (179 – 11th grade)
 179-180; in contrast, most Indians stayed on reservation (12th grade). Just like the story – story doesn’t
have a climax or resolution.
 “Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven”
 irrelevance of Native Americans to the American narrative
 182-3; lost, doesn’t know his place in life or in America
 185-6; dream. Mixing between public and private.
 187; global vs. local. Reservation life not a part of history.
 “Family Portait”
 the problem of interpretation. our life is full of verbal irony; we may say one thing, but mean so much
 p. 191, 192, 194, 195
 “Somebody Kept Saying Powwow”
 p.207: revolving doors, escalator, elevator

Day 23: Wednesday, 1/8/03
 absent

Day 24: Thursday, 1/9/03
 SSR/journal check
 12/13 – if you were ruler of the world
 12/18 – boxers or briefs
 12/20 – 3 wishes
 1/6 – role of laughter
 EC essay: Choose one story from Lone Ranger. Explain how irony functions in the story.
 dictionary of symbols
 courtroom – “The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire”
 Ghost Dance – “Distances”
 transistor radio – p.105, 109
 watch – p. 109
 train – “A Train is an Order of Occurrence Designed to Lead to Some Result”
 car – “A Train is an Order of Occurrence Designed to Lead to Some Result”
 horse – “A Train is an Order of Occurrence Designed to Lead to Some Result”
 good sandwich – “A Good Story”
 quilt – “A Good Story”
 basketball – p. 147
 revolving door – p. 40, 207
 escalator – p. 40, 207
 elevator – p. 40, 207
 group work in preparing finals review – explain assignment at the end of 1st period, but put up sign-up sheet at
very beginning of 2nd period
 simple subject/predicate
 direct/indirect object
 identifying independent/dependent clauses, appositives, and prepositional phrases
 combining 2 independent clauses, combining dependent and independent clauses
 tense consistency, active/passive sentences
 sentence structure
 plot diagram
 figurative language, including extended metaphor
 irony
 Jasmine
 Yellow Raft

Day 25: Friday, 1/10/03
 journal
 finish group work on finals review
 finals review

Day 26: Monday, 1/13/03
 progress checkups
 journal – pass around dictionary of symbols
 finish finals group presentations
 Lone Ranger review
 Indian history
 hurricane
 the interpretive essay: modern vs. primitive
 stereotypes of Native Americans – Tonto, sports mascots
 “All I Wanted to Do Was Dance” – procrastination
 “The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire”
 “Distances” – tech and nature
 “The Approximate Size of My Favority Tumor”
 symbols exercise (20 pts)
 students must write one sentence identifying each of symbol. they may not look at the dictionary of
symbols – instead, they should consult each other.
 English language review: students must complete the following tasks. Upon completion of each task, student
must have their work checked and signed off by the student expert on the subject. Student experts lose points if
they sign off on an incorrect answer. (20 pts)
 You should identify the simple subject and simple predicate in this sentence.
 Give me the direct and indirect objects in this sentence.
 Write a sentence using an appositive.
 Underline the prepositional phrase in this sentence.
 Write a passive sentence.
 Draw and label a plot diagram.
 Write a sentence using personification.
 Define the three types of irony.
 sample questions
 What is Wounded Knee famous for? (wrong ans: hundreds of Indians were pushed off their land)
 Why did Darrell kill himself? (wrong ans: Darrell is attracted to exotic women)
 interpretive essay
 go over Mr. Tossman’s questions
 test prep

complete vocabulary list for the 1st semester
authentic: not counterfeit or copied, the “real deal” (38)
vain: excessively proud of one’s appearance or accomplishments, futile (44)
mitigating: moderating, alleviating (96)
dire: Urgent; desperate, potentially disastrous (97)
stoic: showing no emotion (154)
succinct: concise and precise (158)
eulogy: praising speech, especially for someone who has died (161)
reconcile: To settle or resolve (161)
aboriginal: Having existed in a region from the beginning (192)
assimilate: To absorb into the dominant culture, to make similar (203)
inevitable: Impossible to avoid or prevent, predictable (213)