One of the many virtues of my university is that, because of our history and policies, we get better than average contact with Native American cultures. Tonight, at 7:30 in Edson Auditorium, we get to hear from Sherman Alexie.
Sherman Alexie (b. October 7, 1966 Spokane, WA) is a prolific artist who is
an accomplished writer, poet, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, director,
and editor. He is a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian who grew up on the Spokane
Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA. He attended high school in Spokane, WA
and graduated in American Studies from Washington State University. Alexie
has published 18 books to date, including his most recent novels are Flight
and a young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,
which received the 2007 National Book Award Young People’s Literature
Award. In 1999 his film Smoke Signals received a Christopher Award, and was
nominated for the 1999 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
Tomorrow, same place and time, it’s Bill Miller.
Bill Miller (born 1955) is an American, Grammy Award-winning
singer/songwriter of Mohican heritage. He was born on the
Stockbridge-Munsee reservation, near Shawano in northern Wisconsin.
Miller’s Mohican name is ‘Fush-Ya Heay Aka (meaning “bird song”). He began
playing guitar when he was 12 years old, and is an accomplished player of
the Native American flute). In 1973, he moved to Milwaukee and won an art
school scholarship; today he is an accomplished artist whose drawings and
paintings have been widely praised.
In 1984, he moved to Nashville. His biggest break came when popular
musician Tori Amos, after listening to his Red Road CD on her tour bus,
asked him to serve as the opening act on her Under the Pink tour. Miller
continuously gained fans with other artists from a broad musical spectrum.
He went on to tour with diverse musicians such as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder,
The BoDeans, Richie Havens, and Arlo Guthrie and wrote songs with artists
such as Nanci Griffith, Peter Rowan and Kim Carnes.
In 2005, Miller’s instrumental Cedar Dream Songs won a Grammy award for
“Best Native American Music Album”. Miller has collaborated with other
notable Native American musicians such as Robert Mirabal, R. Carlos Nakai,
and Joanne Shenandoah. His project with Mirabal, Native Suite was an
experimental and traditional project, featuring flute and percussion, as
well as Mohican pow-wow singing.
I’m hoping to make it to the Alexie talk, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to get away for Miller’s, unfortunately — the first week back from spring break is a busy time.