Many Americas

Sherman (Joseph) Alexie, (Jr.) (1966-    )

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven


  • Born and raised on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, about 50 miles from Spokane.
  • Attended Reardan High School outside the reservation, where he was "the only Indian. . . except for the school mascot;" graduated with honors and received a scholarship to attend Gonzaga University.
  • Attended Gonzaga University and Washington State University (B.A., 1991).
  • Struggled with alcoholism for five years as a young adult, finally conquering the problem at age 23.


  • Began his writing career as a poet, producing several poetry chapbooks including the award winning The Business of Fancydancing . 
  • Collaborated with Chris Eyre, a Cheyenne/Arapaho Indain, to produce the film Smoke Signals, based on the story "This is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona," from the collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Smoke Signals won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival. 
  • Named one of the Twenty Best American Novelists Under the Age of 40 by Granta magazine, after the appearance of his first novel, Reservation Blues.

Major Writings

The Business of Fancydancing (poems) (1992)
I Would Steal Horses (poems) (1992)
First Indian on the Moon  (poems0 (1993)
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (short stories) (1993)
Old Shirts and New Skins (poems) (1993)
Water Flowing Home (poems) (1994)
Seven Mourning Songs for the Cedar Flute I have Yet to Learn to Play (poems) (1994)
Reservation Blues (novel) (1994)
Indian Killer (novel--murder mystery) (1996)
The Summer of Black Widows (poems) (1996)
The Man Who Loved Salmon (poems) (1998)
The Toughest Indian in the World (short stories) (2000)
One Stick Song (poems) (2000)

Critical Sources and Reviews

  • Biographical and critical information in the following Gale publications: Contemporary Authors, Volume 138 and Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Volume 65.  Gale Literary Database (Contemporary Authors Online) can be accessed online through a subscribing library at   (CLC volumes contain portrait.)
  • Sherman Alexie websites:

           The Sherman Alexie Home Page

           The Official Sherman Alexie Site     

            Sherman Alexie Unofficial Fan Club  

            Modern American Poetry:  Sherman Alexie     

  • New York Times, July 16, 1995, "Longing for Magic," by Frederick Busch [review of Reservations Blues], available in the New York Times Books Archive
  • Interview with Alexie discussing Smoke Signals

Retired Discussion Series

Debbie Sturman, Director
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