I first stumbled upon Alexie twenty years ago as a dorky teenager poking around issues of the supercoolliterary magazine Hanging Loose Press. I didn't understand very many poems at that age (and I still don't!) but his were relatable and honest, complex yet clear, sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes wistful, and sometimes just downright funny. Of course we here in Washington state are especially proud of him since he grew up on the Spokane Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington!
for you, if there were any left,
give a dozen of the best
to your father, the auto mechanic
in the small town where you were born
and where he will die sometime by dark.
I am afraid of his hands, which have
rebuilt more of the small parts
of this world than I ever will.
I would sign treaties for you, take
every promise as the last lie, the last
point after which we both refuse the exact.
I would wrap us both in old blankets
hold every disease tight against our skin.
Copyright ©1992 Sherman Alexie
How might it feel for Native Americans on this day?
Renegade Challenge: If it's possible and it seems appropriate, respectfully ask an indigenous person what he or she thinks of Columbus Day.
Bonus Slide Show: Click here to see Time's pictures of modern day Native American life.