Through reading “Indian Education, I learned the hardships that Sherman Alexie faced due to the fact that he was a Native American. Alexie starts his story in the first grade, where he went to school with other natives on the reservation. Alexie begins by stating that everyone always made fun of him, even the other Native American boys. What I found especially interesting is that even in other cultures, and within minority groups, some of the kids can still be so cruel to one another, despite the fact that they are usually all they have to rely on.
Another disheartening part to Alexie’s story was the way his second grade teacher treated him. His teacher, Betty Towle, was unnecessarily unjust to Alexie, making him miss fourteen days of recess whilst making him apologize for being Indian, all while he had to hold books on his outstretched arms for fifteen minutes. Towle was very cruel to Alexie, and often singled him out, discriminating him for something he had no control over. Not only did Alexie have to deal with children bullies at his school, but his teacher was one of the biggest bullies of all. It was incredibly saddening to heart that Towle not only singled Alexie out with the spelling test and forced him to do a junior high level test, but she made him eat the test because he got all of the answers correct.
Alexie’s story does not get much brighter. After being told that he would make a good doctor and played basketball for the first time, he transferred to a white school for the eight grade. The kids at his new school singled him out just like the Native American kids did in the first grade. No matter what Alexie seemed to do, he just could not escape the torment that came from everyone, including the Chicano teacher:
‘Hey,’ he said. ‘What’s that boy been drinking? I know all about these Indian kids. They start drinking real young.’
Sharing dark skin doesn’t necessarily make two men brothers.
Despite having an alcoholic father, a depressed mother, and a constant threat of torment from schoolmates and teachers alike, Alexie managed to graduate from his white high school as the valedictorian, showing that no matter one’s race or culture, he or she could still be smart and well educated. Alexie tells that back home on the reservation, many of the students barely graduated, some not being able to read while others merely received an attendance diploma. Alexie really states the difference between him and them by the juxtaposition between the lines:
I try to remain stoic for the photographers as I look toward the future…
They smile for the photographer as they look back toward tradition.