Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie tells the story of nine Spokane Indians that move from their reservation to the cities of Spokane and Seattle, Washington. With each distinctive story comes different struggles and hardships that the individuals face. All nine Indians face different personal and cultural struggles as they adjust to life in a Caucasian dominant metropolis. All of the characters are looking for something that they have lost by moving from the reservation to the city.
While all of the stories were well written and engaging, I found a few more noteworthy and relatable personally and academically. The first story begins with Corliss, a young Spokane university student. Her passion is poetry and her native family members criticize her for her love of writing. She discovers a poet named Harlan Atwater and tracks him down in Seattle.
I feel that this story is relatable to myself and to the class because we do so much of our communication through writing. Many of us never meet face-to-face so our writing is our channel of communication and leaves a lasting impression on others. Like the Native American poems, many of our communications involve high levels of emotion and honesty.
The second story is about Richard, a political lobbyist in Seattle. He played basketball most of his life and challenged a lawyer known as “Big Bill.” As the game continued, Bill showed his racism towards Richard and a fight began.
I found this story relatable for many because Richard was not the type of person to fight but turned on Big Bill when he agreed that he was racist. Richard stated that he did not regret the fight but never hit anyone after he punched Big Bill. I feel as leaders we are faced with many emotionally challenging situations where we act in a manner that is not normal for us. We have learned a lot about these situations in this class and how to handle them using emotional intelligence. I believe that this relates to the Mars mission and how the leaders must be proficient in problem solving and rationally settling disputes in a critical environment.
The third story focused on a middle-aged Spokane woman who was involved in a bombing at a diner. She is rescued by a man and confides in him. The reason I found this story important was that it highlights how many of us struggle to communicate with one another. She goes on to state that no one ever listens to her.
In this class, we have learned to open up and share stories with each other. In my group for the mentoring and coaching activity, we shared personal stories about struggles in our lives. In the beginning, all of us in the group were quite nervous about sharing our personal lives with one another. We probably would have never opened up if we had not have been assigned that activity since none of us knew each other before enrolling in the class. We have now created lasting connections and were able to receive feedback on different approaches to solving our dilemmas.
Finally, the last story I found relevant to the class was about homeless Jackson Jackson and his struggle to gain his Grandmother’s powwow regalia from a local pawnbroker. The pawnbroker tells him that he will sell it to him if he manages to get one thousand dollars in twenty-four hours. While Jackson did not get the one thousand dollars, the pawnbroker gave it to him anyways because he worked hard for it. In this class, we have been taught to step out of our comfort zone and take on new challenges. The results may not always come as we hoped but we must take the risk to reach our goals and benefit everyone involved.
All in all, this was a well written book. As someone who has Native American ancestry, I do feel that Sherman Alexie did a nice job of painting a picture of life as a Native American in areas of the country that are not diverse. While Native Americans have more of a voice than before, many still struggle to get respect from others. One line in the book that caught my eye was when the man told a Native American to go back where he came from and he responded by saying that he should go back first. He was mistaken to be of another ethnicity. This line highlighted the racism and struggle that many minorities still face today.
Above all, I really like how Alexie gave each character in the book a different struggle. Not one story was the same. I believe that they all interconnected since all struggles were relevant to Native American life. Alexie used a lot of humor in each story. The humor did get dark at times but it shed light on the struggles and made the reader think about what each character was going through. It is true that humor often masks darkness.
This book is relatable to the class in many ways. On the basis of leadership, each Native American is trying to move forward and make their way in a world full of hardships and obstacles. Good leaders are always assessing the present and looking forward to the future. They plan ahead and use different approaches to move their organization and team forward. This is not always an easy task for leaders since many internal and external obstacles can hinder their efforts. What we have learned in this class is that obstacles are normal and to learn from them. They make us think critically and often seek assistance from others.
In addition, we have learned in this class that everyone reacts and interprets situations differently. As stated in our discussion board, many of us do not handle change well. Some of us react negatively and fear what is unknown. This can negatively impact us as leaders in the future. In this book, many of the characters struggle to adjust to their new life and long for what they had back on the reservation. I feel that many of us in the class become anxious when faced with new challenges and wish to go back to the way things were before the changes took place. The personal stress activity helped us assess our stress levels and make plans for lowering them in the future.