Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Smoke Signals

Theme II: Promoting the American Ideal
Performance Standard: Students will analyze how differing historical memories of a past event can contribute to a variety of views on contemporary history by identifying and discussing the social, political and economic significance of cultural difference/misunderstanding evidenced in the film Smoke Signals.
Indians are not "just like us"... 



White Man's Moccasins
Cultural Misunderstanding and the American Ideal...
Values differ, sometimes radically, from culture to culture. Worldwide, we see again and again the tragic results of conflicts that arise when one national, ethnic, or religious group attempts to force another to accept its values. In its current position of economic and military dominance, the United States is seen by many peoples in the world as imposing its values beyond its borders, as refusing to learn the lesson that different ways of life are as legitimate and sacred to others as our ways are to us. In truth, Americans do not have to look overseas for this lesson. Here within our own borders, Native people have been telling the dominant society for 500 years that they have a way of life different from that of the mainstream society and that they do not want to change, join up, or assimilate. The message could not be clearer. Many Native people today retain their right to hold their own values and beliefs, but at what cost? Is there a remedy for seemingly irrevocable damage caused by cultural misunderstandings? If so, what is it? If not, why not and what are possible repercussions? Reflect on this as you view Smoke Signals, written, directed, and co-produced by Native Americans. Native American writer Sherman Alexie scripted this adaptation of his 1993 short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.


Smoke Signals Your task:  identify scenes in the movie that illustrate the differences between the values of white Americans and those of Native American. Choose the scene you found most compelling and post 1-2 paragraphs discussing how cultural differences/misunderstandings are addressed and how or if they are reconciled by the end of the film. If the issues identified were not reconciled discuss why. Respond to at least one of your classmates who chose an alternate scene and share thoughts on the scene as well as their thoughts.

93 comments:

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  2. I found the scene in which the police officer asks victor "what kind of Indian [he is]" was very disturbing because it showed severe cultural misunderstanding. VIctor is taken advantage of multiple times throughout the movie "Smoke Signals", such as when Thomas and Victor have the seats stolen on the bus or when Victor is framed for assault. The white people take advantage of the fact that he is Indian and the police officer discriminates against him as well. The police officer doesn't believe that Victor does not drink, how could it be possible for an Indian to live on a reservation without alcohol?
    In a very serious tone, victor replies to the police officer that he is a "Cour D'alene Indian." He shows pride in his heritage. The general public does not know a lot about Indian reservations, and one of the most common misunderstandings is that it is entirely comprised of Indian drunks. Victor proves the police officer wrong and hopefully made him feel a bit awkward and foolish. The conflict between the two are quickly reconciled as the police officer ends up believing Victor and Thomas and not only releases them, but drops them off at their vehicle.

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    2. Another scene in the movie “Smoke Signals” that I found compelling was Harry’s scene when the police officer asked Victor what kind of Indian he was. This displays cultural misunderstanding perfectly. Throughout the movie Victor is victimized numerous times due to his ethnicity. On the bus ride when Victors seat was taken by two white men he is mistreated and told to go get another seat. The police officer doesn’t believe that Victor could have left the reservation without alcohol, which is stereotyping. However, even though Victor is the victim in this situation he responds he is a “Cour D’alene Indian”. By saying this with pride Victor expresses his pride for his heritage.

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    3. In response to Harry’s thoughts on the scene where the police officer verbally accuses Thomas and Victor of drinking, I agree that the Americans take advantage of the Indians. The Indians were forced to learn the American culture and leave theirs behind, yet they are discriminated against and only believed to be drunks on a reservation. This scene shows the harsh behavior towards the Indians and the misunderstanding of how the Indians live their lived on the reservation.

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    4. I agree with Harry's opinion that the scene in which the police officer request to know Victor's origin accentuates cultural misunderstanding. The use of the words "what kind" demonstrates how the Americans viewed the Indians as a species instead of humans. When the police officer continues to ask whether Victor had been drinking emphasizes how the Americans did not understand the Indians. Americans assumed that the Indians who lived on reservations were alcoholics. This unfair stereotype almost caused Victor to be accused of a crime that he did not commit.

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  3. I feel that the most compelling scene in Smoke Signals was in the hospital after the car accident. After Victor and Thomas are accused of killing the white person they crashed into, they immediately decide that they should leave town because of the assumption that the police will take the side of the white people, regardless of the truth of the situation. However, when they choose to leave, the police are already in the doorway waiting for them. The police man then interrogates Victor and Thomas, asking Victor if he was drunk at the time of the crash. Victor says he has "never had a drop of alcohol in [his] life." The police officer's question to Victor, "what kind of Indian are you," portrays the stereotypical assumption that all Indians are drunks, even though Victor is an exception. Victor responds with the literal name of his tribe, cleverly proving the police officer wrong that just because he is an Indian does not mean he is a drunk.
    In this scene the stereotyped image of a drunk, trouble-making Native American is portrayed. Victor and Thomas immediately assume they will be charged with murder because of their heritage and therefore attempt to escape. This shows the unfair treatment of the dominant society on the Indians, and the white person's cultural misunderstanding/stereotype that all Indians drink and commit crimes. This same stereotype occurs when the police officer assumes the reason for Victor's accident was because he was drunk.

    As Harry has stated above, the conflict was reconciled and Victor and Thomas were given the innocence they deserved (they were allowed to return back to the reservation). However, the underlying long-term conflict imposed by the dominant culture that Victor and Thomas had been enduring for years still remained. This indeed was not reconciled, as they returned to their poor living conditions on the reservation.

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  4. I think that most compelling scene in the film “Smoke Signals” was when Victor was framed for assault after the car crash. Even the police officer seemed to take the white man’s side until questions were asked. The overall idea of framing Victor most likely because he’s Indian is a significant example of cultural misunderstanding from both the Indian and the White side. Victor and Thomas assume that they have to leave town immediately after being accused of the crime because they are unsure of the consequences and feel as though their punishments will be severe. Some people may think that it’s only white’s who have cultural misunderstanding, but both Victor and Thomas thought something was completely stereotypical and exaggerated. Another example of cultural misunderstanding is when Velma and Lucy ask Thomas to tell them a story, stating that they need something in return for their ride because “[they’re] Indians, remember. [They] barter.” But at the same time, the white police officer asked Victor if he was drunk at the time of the accident, assuming that all Indians were drunks. This misunderstanding was resigned when the white police officer has no proof of Victor causing any harm or assaulting the man who accused him and Victor and Thomas are free to go. It is also reconciled after Victor defends himself of not being a drunk and the police officer does not question or interrogate him any further.

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    1. I agree with Sierra that cultural misunderstanding was shown explicitly in this scene. It's sad that the white man accused Victor of driving drunk and intentionally causing so much harm to the white people in the accident. In the past, the Native Americans were so powerless in comparison to the Americans, so Victor and Thomas naturally thought that the only way to escape persecution was to flee from the hospital. The police officer's assumption that all Indians are drunks is sad because Victor was so far from an irresponsible drunk. He didn't drink at all (probably because he saw the trouble it caused his father), yet he still got accused of doing so. Luckily, the police officer was reasonable and released the two because there was no evidence that Victor or Thomas had caused any harm intentionally.

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    2. I agree with Sierras example of cultural misunderstanding in the scene with Velma and Lucy. This scene was supposed to be humorous, in the way that Thomas had to "trade" something for a ride. This showed the was that Indins had to trade but in this particular incident, it was not in the same way Indians did it in the past. I also see the same cultural misunderstanding that Sierra saw in the story telling and how Thomas is made out to be like this Indian that shares stories like a true Indian would. The irony in this is that many of the stories that Thomas enlightens people with, are made up. The final example of Sierras was that the white police officer went straight to thinking that Thomas and Victor drank because they were Indians. Although the officer assumed this at first, he let them go because he believed what they said. Thomas and Victor were surprised by this because of the misunderstanding that they have about whites. They were able to see that some people are good.

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    3. I agree with Sierra that the scene when Victor was framed for the assault was one of the most compelling scenes. The police officer demonstrates racial profiling when he sides with the white man even before the questions were asked. This shows that the cultural misunderstand lead to framing Victor due to him being an Indian. The police then proceed to believe that Victor was drunk, assuming that all Indians are always drunk. The police officer displays how white people can by bias towards Indians and even during this time there was still cultural misunderstanding.

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    4. I agree with Sierra that this secene is the most compelling scene in the movie. When the police officer racially profiles the Indians by jumping to the conclusion that they were lying and the white man was telling the truth.

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  5. The most compelling scene in the film, "Smoke Signals," was when Victor's dad described the incredible feat over the Americans in a game of basketball. In his recollection, they played against the Americans with the "apostles on their side." This statement by Arnold Joseph exemplifies the tension that religion created among the cultures. Arnold used the comparison of the Apostles and magic to accentuate the misunderstanding between religions that was present. He described how the Americans were "chanting at him as he was possessed" which solely demonstrates the differences between religions. Arnold narrates as if the judges were trying to exorcise Victor emphasizing the gap between cultures. The exorcism depicts how the Americans were trying to "save" the Indians from their culture as a priest would save a possessed victim.

    The true cultural misunderstanding was evident when Victor's dad described the victory over the Americans and how "for at least one day the Indians won." This is a true exemplification because it was later identified as a lie. The fact that Arnold Joseph lied about his victory demonstrates how the Indians could only dream of victory. The issues identified within this scene were not reconciled by the end of the movie because the tension between Indian and American cultures was still evident. Victor was questioned for committing a crime that he did not even do and was accused of drinking because he was Indian.

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    1. I agree that this scene strongly depicted the cultural misunderstanding between the white Jesuit religion and the Indian culture. The whites played with the "7 out of 10 apostles on their side" and Arnold Joesph had the obstacle of nature on his side when he said "every time I tried to shoot the ball there was a storm of locusts". This illustrates the differences in cultures. Where the whites favored God and religion and the Native Americans favored the love of nature. Arnold Joesph says how the Jesuits were beating up on his boy "real good". This shows the cultural misunderstanding and mistreatment that Indian children were given by the Jesuits throughout history. The Jesuits were chanting at Victor like he was possessed even though Victor was just playing the game being tough.

      When it was later noted that the victory that Arnold Joesph told in this story was false, doesn't particularly shows the true cultural misunderstanding. I think Arnold Joesph said this just brag to his neighbor about his sons and his victory over Jesuits. Beating the white is a desire among Indians, but the basketball game I think is portrayed just to depict this desire that isn't able to be achieved yet. According to the story Victor and his dad were so close to beating the Jesuit and gave up a tough battle, but didn't quite achieve that goal. This part of the film ,in my opinion, reveals how Indians will someday in the near future get reconciliation.

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    2. 2. I agree with Kelly’s thoughts on the scene where Victor’s dad tells the story of him and Victor playing basketball. The misunderstanding between religious beliefs made it hard for the Indians to let go of their culture and believe in the American’s ways. There is also evidence of the Indians always dreaming to return back to their old lands, which shows the loss of self when the Americans ripped their culture away from them.

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    3. I agree with Kelly Lewis. This scene is powerful because it clearly shows the cultural misunderstanding that the Americans have towards the Indians. Just like other scenes, Arnold Joseph’s story could be interpreted as a metaphor. Arnold and his son, Victor, fight against the religious Americans in a basketball game. Years before, the Indians fought against religious Americans as well. As Kelly stated, the Americans wanted to “save” the Indians because they thought they were possessed. This same mindset was true 250 years in the past. The Europeans that landed on the east coast associated the Indians with the Devil and ended up wiping the entire tribe out. The Americans, both in present day and in the 17th century, try to influence the Indians to convert to their religion. Victor and joseph lost their basketball game, just as they lost the battle with the Indians years in the past.

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    4. I agree with Kelly’s post that the basketball scene encompasses multiple struggles the Indians encountered throughout the history of American culture. Arnold Joseph demonstrates the contrast of Native American religion and Christianity by citing the apostles during the basketball game against the whites. This shows how the Americans forced Native Americans to accept Christianity rather than practice traditional religion. In addition, Arnold Joseph’s statement that for once the Indians had victory over the whites depicts the continuous battle between the Indians and Americans. Despite modern values, the Indians are perpetually oppressed by the white man. Arnold’s false statement that Victor and he won the basketball game epitomizes the hopeless fate of the Indian efforts.

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    5. I agree with Kelly’s thoughts on the American versus Native American basketball game scene. It was made clear by Arnold Joseph’s comment about the Americans having the apostles on their side that there was cultural and religious tension between the Native Americans and the Americans. The Americans believed in god, while the Native Americans believed in worshipping nature. The most significant example of cultural misunderstanding in this scene was the lie that Arnold Joseph told Suzy about his son making the winning basket. Arnold was proud and excited that the Indians had won for once. This lie shows that the Native Americans could only dream of a victory over the Americans.

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  6. I thought that the most compelling scene was when Arnold Joseph was telling the story about when he and his son,Victor, were platings basketball against the Jesuits. Arnold described it as a typical fight between the Indians and the Christians. Also, as he was describing it he made it out to seem as though he and Victor had no chance of winning, just as the Indians felt in each battle against the white Christians. A misunderstanding that the Indians had was that the Christians used the religion against them. Arnold says that, "By the way that they were playing, I coulda' swore they had seven outta twelve apostles on their side." He believed that they had an unfair advantage because the "apostles" would blind him every time he shot the ball. Another example in the scene of cultural misunderstanding between the whites and Indians was that the whites had the idea that Indian's way of life was barbaric and would send them to hell. When Arnold said that, "They were beaten' on him and chantin' that hymn like he was possessed or somethin," this showed how the whites misunderstood their way of life and were trying to control them through prayer. The part that really made me understand the importance of this scene was when Arnold stated that he and Victor won, that the Indians finally won.

    It is later said by Victor that they lost the basketball game. This part shows how the misunderstanding of the Indians was not reconciled. Because the Indians lost again, the whites believed that they can still control the Indians. Just like in many battles earlier, the Indians put up a respectable fight but the outcome was not in their favor. The Indians had yet to prove themselves.


    I agree with Sierras example of cultural misunderstanding in the scene with Velma and Lucy. This scene was supposed to be humorous, in the way that Thomas had to "trade" something for a ride. This showed the was that Indins had to trade but in this particular incident, it was not in the same way Indians did it in the past. I also see the same cultural misunderstanding that Sierra saw in the story telling and how Thomas is made out to be like this Indian that shares stories like a true Indian would. The irony in this is that many of the stories that Thomas enlightens people with, are made up. The final example of Sierras was that the white police officer went straight to thinking that Thomas and Victor drank because they were Indians. Although the officer assumed this at first, he let them go because he believed what they said. Thomas and Victor were surprised by this because of the misunderstanding that they have about whites. They were able to see that some people are good.

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    1. I agree that this scene demonstrates cultural misunderstanding. The fact that the Jesuits were reciting a hymn during the game as if Victor was possessed reveals the underlying religious conflict. Although the Indians did have an established religion that they were faithful to, the Americans destroyed this religion when they relocated the Indians and tried to force upon them Christian faith. The Jesuits aversion to Victor due to his race shows they did not even attempt to understand Indian religion and culture. I agree that this scene also represents the Americans desire to control the Indians. The fact that Victor’s father felt the need to lie about a victory shows that the Indians have not forgotten the horrible losses they have faced, and are still waiting for their own victory and success.

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    3. I agree to Mary’s idea of one of the most compelling scenes in this movie being the basketball game that Arnold Joseph once described. It was him and his son, Victor, against two Jesuits, There is definitely a lot of cultural misunderstanding presented in this scene that is described. The Indians believed that the Jesuits where using religion to blind them during the game so they could win. They believed the Jesuits were using religion against them. Arnold says that by “the way that they were playing, I coulda' swore they had seven outta twelve apostles on their side." Arnold believed that the other team had a very unfair advantage, just like how the Indians felt about the Westward Expansion. Arnold did not understand the Jesuits way of prayer, as the Jesuits did not understand the Indians religion fully. The whites won again no matter how much the Arnold wanted to believe that the Indians to win. This is exactly what happened during the expansion.

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    4. I think the entire basketball scene can be interpreted as a metaphor which represents the struggle of the Native Americans as they were oppressed by the United States government and citizens. In this game, Victor has to deal with obvious disadvantages, being very young and much shorter than the two grown men he's playing against. Regardless of these drawbacks, however, Victor and his father do everything in their power to beat the Jesuits. Despite their efforts, they still lose the game. There are several clear similarities between this basketball game and the removal of Native Americans during Westward Expansion. The natives were outgunned in almost every situation and had little chance of successfully resisting. Despite this, they did all they could to try and fend off white Americans, but were still unsuccessful in the end.

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  8. The most compelling scene that illustrate the differences between the values of white Americans and those of Native American in the film “Smoke Signals”, was when Victor and Thomas were automatically accused of causing the car accident and killing the white person on their trip back from Arizona. This strongly depicts cultural misunderstanding because since Victor and Thomas are Native American living on a reservation the police immediately assume that Mr. Johnson’s accusations that Victor and Thomas had caused the accident and were drunk were correct. Just because Mr. Johnson is white and Victor and Thomas are Native American, the white man’s accusations were taken priority over the Native Americans. When the police ask Victor and Thomas if they were drunk at the time of the crash, Victor replies by saying he has never had a drop of alcohol in his life. The police officer was very surprised by his response because the common misconception is that Indians are always drunks, and he questions Victor by saying “what kind of Indian are you?” The police officer was so surprised that Victor didn’t fulfill the typical Indian drunk and barbaric profile.

    After being questioned and proved not guilty the Indians are shown reconciliation when they are brought back to Victor’s dad’s house in the police car. They were able to be set free even though they are Indians. Cultural misunderstanding wasn’t prevalent when Holly Johnson, the accuser’s wife, told the police the true story of the incident. Although Victor and Thomas were Indians she still managed to tell the truth about the Indians and said that her husband was barbaric. Even in the mainstream society the Indians are able to show that they can live in the world with white people. Victor ran back to the closer town which was very far away to get help after their had been a car crash. Even though the whites showed cultural misunderstanding it was later reconciled.

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    1. In response to Isabelle, I agree with her/your thoughts on the scene when Victor and Thomas were accused of murder. The white Americans stereotype the Native Americans and assume they are all drunks, but when Victor replies that he never drank alcohol the police officer is surprised. This cultural misunderstanding portrays the differences between the white and the Native Americans, how the white make assumptions and blame the Indians because they are “less important”. Victor ran to get help for the whites and in return he is blamed for the crash. However the incident is reconciled for, Thomas and Victor were set free because there was no evidence to prove them guilty.

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    2. In response to Isabelle’s most compelling scene, I agree. I believe that there is a lot of cultural misunderstanding in this scene and it is very interesting. The police officer found it very odd that Victor has “never had a drop of alcohol” in his life. The stereo typical view of Indians is that they all drink and at a very young age. The police officer, when he heard the accusations of Victor being drunk and violent, did not find the situation unusual. Then after reading the wife’s response that says that the husband is barbaric, he realizes that the situation is untrue. This scene presents a lot of misunderstandings that are somewhat reconciled at the end of the scene when the police officer finds the story farfetched.

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    3. I agree with your claim that the Native Americans were discriminated against in this scene. I think that cultural misunderstanding was present during the initial scene of the car crash. Though I'm sure the male driver was perfectly aware that he had been the cause of the accident, he believed that he could pass off the crime, primarily because Victor and Thomas were Native Americans. The wife of the driver had been logical enough to be honest with the police, which I believe was the reason Victor and Thomas were not charged. This displays cultural misunderstanding because Indians are stereotyped and discriminated against by Americans, which easily could have allowed a guilty man to unjustly appear innocent.

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  10. The scene I found most compelling from the movie “Smoke Signals” was the entire trip of the boys, Victor and Thomas, while on the bus to Arizona. This scene most accurately shows the perspectives of how white people in America saw Indians and how the Indians saw themselves. Victor states during this scene that Indians “… gotta look mean!... gotta look like a warrior!... gotta look like you just came back from killing a buffalo!” This description shows how Victor believes that he must look to gain respect from white people. Thomas later on in this scene take the message to heart and during a stop changes his appearance to conform with the one Victor described. This change however did not gain them respect from the typical image of the white cowboys who coarsely tell them to go back to their “pow wow”. Thomas then says the “warrior look” doesn’t work all the time. In retaliation the boys begin to sing a mocking song about John Wayne.
    This scene shows best the cultural misunderstandings between Indians and white Americans. The cultural misunderstandings begin between how Indians believed they should appear and what their culture actually dictates. Victor believes Indians must look tough, mean, and like a warrior. This is an image that has been forced upon young Indians by the white’s through descriptions in literature as well as film. Victor believed that for him to be a true Indian he had to be scary to people who did not know him especially whites in order to gain respect. Victor despite being from a tribe who were traditionally fisherman also believed, as most whites in America did, that the mark of a true Indian was hunting buffalo. The misunderstanding when the white “cowboys” take the Indians seats (just how Indian land was taken by the whites) show that the whites believed that they were above a pair of Indian boys and therefore did not have to show them the respect that any person does deserve. Despite the “warrior look” the boys are forced to give up their seats and live with the cultural slurs thrown at them. This first cultural misunderstanding leads to the retaliation of the boys in the mocking of a white idol’s appearance in their contemptuous song of John Wayne’s teeth. The cultural misunderstandings shown in the movie can display how the misunderstandings and fighting began between whites and Indians in the past. The bus scene from the movie “Smoke Signals” best displays the cultural misunderstandings past and present between Indians and whites.

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    1. I agree with your statement that Indians were forced to portray a certain image to survive in a cruel society. As depicted in "Smoke Signals," Victor does inform Thomas that one must appear tough or "white people will walk all over you." This displays the hardships Indians endured and the sacrifices they had to make. Thomas changing his appearance can relate to the Indian culture as a whole.The Native Americans were forced to abandon traditions, beliefs, and disregard their culture, which had truly been a part of who they were. They were forced to undergo this change just to survive in the new America. In the scene when Victor and Thomas try to appear tough to make the white men move from their seats, it shows that no matter how resilient the Indians are, it is impossible for them to overcome the Americans, just like during the Westward Expansion, in which the Indians fought, but were still overpowered by Americans.

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  11. In the film "Smoke Signals" the most compelling scene that portrays the cultural differences and misunderstandings is when Thomas and Victor are on the bus talking to the gymnast. As Thomas converses with her about where she is from and what she does he becomes interested, however she continues to mention her experience with the Olympics, how she was beat by a better gymnast and that she was an extra on the team if someone else was hurt. Victor silences her by telling her she has no real issues and to stop complaining. This point in the film clearly demonstrates the differences in values between a privileged white American and the poor Native Americans. The gymnast was focused on her victory and her goals while Thomas and Victor no longer have the opportunities that the white have. The gymnast does not understand the struggle and suffering of the Native Americans as the Native Americans do not understand her hunger for fame from being in the Olympics. The gymnast was disappointed because she did not actually participate in the Olympics while Thomas, Victor, and the rest of the Native Americans are suffering from being oppressed and forced onto reservations.
    The cultural misunderstanding demonstrated here are between the beliefs that each culture has. The white American focuses on the materialistic accessories, the fame from accomplishments, and the American dream of success. The Native Americans, who have little, focus on survival and try to remain happy and peaceful; they are not interested in success and fame, they want peace and freedom in which they no longer have. By the end of the film, the issues are not reconciled for, the Indians remain on their reservation and the white still refuse to accept the Native American culture. There is still misunderstanding between the cultures, the people and their values and beliefs do not change because of the stubbornness of both cultures and the mistreatment and mistrust.
    I agree with Ashley’s response that the Indians are stereotyped against, framed for murder just because they were Native Americans, and that the American society shows unfair treatment towards them as people. The Americans do not accept the Indians; they do not respect them and they see them less important because they are not white. Even after Indians were mistreated, betrayed, and forced onto reservations the Americans continue to mistreat them and despise them. This scene shows that even though the problem was reconciled, the Native Americans still struggle with acceptance in a white society.

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    1. I agree with the scene you chose, and I actually forgot about this scene until now. I feel as though it also shows the interactions that Victor and Thomas have with the gymnast, and it's almost as if Victor doesn't know how to react or have a conversation with someone with such potential. Once he heard about her success and talents, Victor closed up to her and became rude. I don't know if I entirely agree with her hunger for fame, but maybe, but maybe I think it shows the difference in interests and passions that the whites and then Native Americans have. But like you said, it definitely shows the contrast in their societies. The whites will be able to go out and compete in such events, but Indians like Victor and Thomas will be oppressed back onto reservations.

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    2. I agree with Bri that there is a clear cultural misunderstanding present throughout the bus scene in Smoke Signals. The Native Americans do not understand the gymnanst's sadness because of their different beliefs. The Native Americans simply try to avoid the oppression in their daily life on the reservations and attempt to become accepted by the dominant culture, therefore they view the American's idea of a "problem" as materialistic and untruthful. They do not value wealth and success to the extent that the Americans do. The gymnast does not understand the difficulties that they Native Americans are faced with. The gymnast moves her seat after Victor's remark because she does not understand Victor's reason for his anger with her. In this light the contrasting values that are present between the Native Americans and Americans can be seen as a cultural misunderstanding as you said.

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    3. This is a very compelling scene from "Smoke Signals". This scene does show the cultural differences of the Native Americans and the American public. The gymnast tells stories of her disappointing Olympic career while Victor interjects her story by criticizing her struggles. Victor does not sympathize for her struggles because her hardships do not come close the oppressions that the Indians perpetually encounter.

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  12. One of the most compelling scenes in "Smoke Signals" is when Thomas tells a story to two girls offering him and Victor a ride. In the scene the girl ask if they need a ride and asks "what [they're] going to trade for it" since they are Indians and are supposed to "barter." Thomas proceeds to trade the ride for a story about Victor's father standing tall as an Indian in the Vietnam war. To Americans trade consists of money, but to Indian's the trade comes from tradition, and in this case "oral tradition." This shows the misunderstanding between the two cultures in terms of value. Cultural misunderstand is also evident in the story Thomas tells the girls. Although the story about Victor's father was untrue, Thomas describes his Indian dress and war paint as he defeated the Americans. The passion Thomas has while telling his story shows the desire of the Indians to reach for their old culture, instead of the American culture forced upon them.

    I agree with Sierra's response to the scene where Thomas and Victor are framed for the car crash. The scene shows the harsh treatment of the Americans towards the Indians, as the man blames Thomas and Victor for his poor decisions. This scene also shows how the Indians were not accepted by Americans even though they were forced to learn their culture. There was also cultural misunderstanding towards the behavior of the Indians on the reservation when the police officer assumes Thomas and Victor had been drinking. If the American women had not spoken up for Thomas and Victor, the police officer might not have believed them as easily just because they are Indian.

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    2. I agree with Marisa's example of the cultural misunderstanding because in this scene Velma and Lucy ask what they are going to trade for the ride because they are Indian. When they say that, they laugh as if it is a joke to them and they do not know the true Indian way of trade. I also agree with the misunderstanding about the story telling. Indians are known for telling stories about their history. The misunderstanding is in Thomas' story because it is not true. Thomas seems to want to be a true Indian.

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    3. I agree with Marisa’s example of cultural misunderstanding. This scene shows the misconception that Indians will always want to trade. The girls driving the car ask if the Indians will trade something for a ride. This exhibits cultural misunderstanding because not at all Indians trade. Then Victor and Thomas trade an “oral story” instead of a tangible item. Thomas was very passionate when telling the story. This shows the true traditional culture of the Indians that Thomas still held on to. I agree with you when you said there is a cultural misunderstanding that involves value, which is depicted in this scene. After Thomas is done recalling the story about Victor’s father the girls say that was a "fine example of the oral tradition" because Thomas recalled the story wrong. This illustrates the misunderstanding that all Indians oral stories are told somewhat wrong.

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    4. I agree with Marisa about how the economic status differences between the Whites and the Native Americans. The Indians barter which mean that they are trustworthy to the other Indians and are honorable to their word. It also shows how the White man society is based on wealth in terms of money. This shows the cultural misunderstanding of how the Indians and Whites view "wealth", and how they have a different opinions of how to control their economy. I also agree with Marisa about how Thomas was very passionate when telling his story which shows that the Indians are proud of their heritage with Whites only look to thier future.

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    6. I agree with Marisa that the scene with the two reservation girls is compelling. It highlights the differences in trade between the Americans and Native Americans as Victor and Thomas trade a story for a ride, oppose to the Americans who would have traded money or a materialistic value for a ride. This shows that Native Americans rely on oral traditions to pass on information, and oral traditions typically skew the information being passed on over time. This is demonstrated by the untruthfulness in Thomas' story.
      I agree with Marisa that Thomas' story also portrays the Native American desire for their own culture as he focuses on the Indian Dress and war paint through the defeat.

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  13. The most compelling scene I believe was the bus scene. In this scene Victor teaches Thomas “how to be a real Indian.” This presents a stereotypical view of the Indians. It shows the Indian’s struggle with cultural and identity. This is a huge cultural barrier between the white men and the Indians. The scene begins with Victor saying, “Don’t you know how to be a real Indian?” Thomas responds by saying, “I guess not.” Victor idea of a real Indian is one who does not grin but looks stoic, which is defined as being a person who can endure pain and hardship without showing their feelings or complaining. This is an important statement in showing the perception of Indians. Victor believes is implying that real Indians do not show emotion even after all of their hardships they do not complain. Victor also says that you have to look mean or the white people will walk all over them. He also says it is important “look like a warrior.” This is Victor perspective on how Indians should look so they do not get disrespected by white people. Another statement Victor makes is that they should look like they just came back from killing a buffalo. This confuses Thomas because their ancestors were fisherman. Victor also says that, “An Indian is nothing without his hair,” which he believes is true for all Indians. The Indians have accepted the whites stereo type that they gave them. Thomas then changes his appearance so he can look like a true warrior. The boys then return to find their seats occupied by two rude white men wearing cowboy hats. As Victor confronts the men they precede to tell them to have their “pow-wow” somewhere else. Thomas, as they find new seats, explains how “the warrior look does not work every time.” He also says how the cowboys always win.
    Cultural misunderstanding is very evident in this scene. The “cowboys” immediately stereo type the “Indians” as having a “pow-wow.” They are rude and impatient to the boys while they are patient and reason with them. The Indians beliefs were that the seats were theirs first while the white men believe that it is now rightfully theirs. This is a perfect example of the perspective of the how the first settlers justified taking the Indian land in the Westward Expansion. This scene also shows the condescending and disrespectful nature from the white men and the resentment of the Indians after not being able to do anything against the white men and having to move seats. This issue of image stereo typing is not reconciled by the end of this film. White men are still going to see the Indians in the same light, but Victor starts to recognize that he has been wrong about the typical Indian.
    I agree with Briana’s response of cultural misunderstanding on the bus between Victor and the gymnast. The gymnast was so focused on how she almost became famous and was bragging about how she was a back up for the Olympics. Victor finds this ridiculous, she was only a back up and she was not really successful. The Indians believe more in hard work and peace while the white Americans look for materialistic items. White people look for the fame and glory and complain about trivial problems. The Indians believe their problems are a lot worse.

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    1. I agree with you that the scene in which Victor and Thomas were forced to change seats represents a cultural misunderstanding. The comparison you made to Westward Expansion fits perfectly. The white men proceeded to rudely take the seats that were not rightfully theirs with no sympathy, just as the whites unsympathetically took the Indian land during Westward Expansion. I agree with you that the nature of the white men and Indians in this scene relates directly to the experience the Indians encountered years ago when their land was taken away from them. The cultural misunderstanding can be seen in both situations, which demonstrates how today the Indians have still not escaped their stereotypes.

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  14. The scene that I found most compelling in the film, “Smoke Signals”, was when Victor and Thomas were accused of killing the white person in the car. This scene demonstrated the cultural misunderstandings between the whites and the Native Americans. Even though Victor did not murder anyone, a white man at the crash told the police that Victor was trying to kill him. There are charges filed against Victor and Thomas though they did nothing wrong. Although a young white woman told the police the truth, she did not think they believed her. Immediately Thomas suggests they should get out of town. The innocent are Native Americans and the plaintiff is a white male. In this situation Victor and Thomas believe that the lying white man will win, simply because of race. Yet they are stopped by a police officer. He tells them that Victor a white man accused him of assaulting him after the car accident while being drunk. Victor replies saying that he does not drink, the officer seems surprised and questions him further. The officer then asks “what kind of Indian are you exactly?” Because Victor and Thomas are Native American it is assumed by white people that they drink. It is a cultural misconception. The car crash scene actually happens to be the exact opposite, the white man is drunk. This specific issue was reconciled because the police let Victor and Thomas free and they were even driven back home by the police. Another scene from the movie that illustrates the difference between the values white Americans and that of Native Americans is at the end of the film. Victor is thanking Thomas for the money and Victor says “I mean, who needs money on the res anyways.” They both smile and laugh because it is true. It was unfair that the Native Americans were forced onto the reservations by the white Americans. Money is not of much value on the reservation, and therefore to Native Americans. As we know, money is highly important to white Americans. As Bri mentioned, focus, dreams, and hopes for the white American differs from the Native Americans. At the end of the movie, the cultural misunderstanding issue was not reconciled; the Native Americans continued to live on the reservations in poverty.

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    1. I agree with Elaine that this scene is an excellent example of the reverse role play. Immediately after the crash, Victor is automatically accused of attempted manslaughter and accused of being inebriated. When the boys arrive at the hospital, they are eventually confronted by law enforcement. These officers arbitrarily accept the white man's claim that the boys were intoxicated and responsible for the accident. When a white woman defended the Indians, the police initially denied her testimony. After realizing that the white man was actually drunk and responsible for the accident, Victor and Thomas are freed. This scene is an effective scene which demonstrates the prejudice views of society that Indians are the villains while the white man is actually at fault.

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  15. The scene from Smoke Signals that I found most compelling was the one in which Victor and Thomas encounter the white gymnast on the bus. Thomas is fascinated by the gymnast’s flexibility and she proceeds to tell him that she was an alternate for the 1980 Olympics. Thomas is listening intently when Victor interjects and tells her to stop complaining about how she was only an alternate for the Olympics and not officially a part of the team. She complains about how she wishes she were shorter because then maybe she would’ve gotten picked over Mary Lou. Victor feels like she has nothing to complain about compared to the Indians. In that same scene, cultural misunderstanding is displayed when Victor generalizes all Americans as people who are “awful” and who will “rob you blind if you’re not watching”. The scene ends with Victor saying, “just remember Thomas, you can’t trust anybody”.
    This scene in the film illustrates the differences in value of the Americans and the Native Americans. The gymnast has selfish goals of wanting to compete in the Olympics for fame and recognition, while the Indians are just struggling to stay physically and mentally healthy in the poor conditions of the reservations. The two sides completely fail to understand each other, for she doesn’t see the suffering of the oppressed Native Americans, and Victor and Thomas cannot relate to her struggles as an athlete. The misunderstanding stems from a complete difference in values between the Americans and the Native Americans. The Americans are more materialistic people who are used to having freedom and who strive for success and wealth. The poor Native Americans just try to survive and be content if possible. Victor shows that he doesn’t understand Americans again when he calls them all awful and untrustworthy people. Although justified given what the Americans did to his people, he fails to recognize that not all Americans supported the cruel treatment of the Native Americans. The issues discussed in this scene were not reconciled by the end of the film because the tension and bias between the American and Native American people was still evident. Victor was accused of committing vehicular manslaughter and drinking just because he was an Indian. Also, the Indians remained on the reservations with little respect or acceptance from the Americans.

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    1. I agree with your description of the conflicting ideals between the white Americans and the native Americans. The ideals that white Americans and the Native Americans were striving for were completely different and was a root for many of the misunderstandings. I also agree with your statement that the misunderstandings were not completely reconciled which is shown by the continued misunderstandings with the police officers after the accident. I do believe though that Victor and Thomas did begin to become more in peace with what had happened to their ancestors and their culture and what was currently happening to Native Americans on and off reservations.

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    2. I agree with Joey’s observations of this scene. Cultural misunderstanding is prevalent here because the gymnast seems very self-absorbed. She spends the majority of the scene talking about herself, which upsets victor. He tells her to stop complaining, which shows how her materialistic views cannot compare to the sufferings of Native Americans. The gymnast reveals that she is discontented with her situation as an alternate for the Olympic team. This displays the trivial problems of Americans, while the Native American culture suffers and must endure many hardships. The difference between Native American values and American values is exhibited here by the selfishness of the gymnast and the apathy Victor has for her, because in reality, her problems are insignificant compared to those of Native Americans.

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    3. I also agree that this scene portrays the conflicting ideals between white Americans and Native Americans. the interaction between Victor and Thomas and the gymnast shows another level of cultural misunderstanding. The brand of cultural misunderstanding we seem to address most often is that in which native Americans are unfairly blamed, segregated, killed, or otherwise punished unfairly. When the emphasis is placed on that, the simple differences in values and opinions between cultures tend to be overlooked. If the gymnast represents white America and Victor and Thomas represent Native Americans, these differences can be clearly observed. the Gymnast was bragging about being an alternate in the Olympics, and about how close she came to making it all the way. This may be interpreted to suggest that white Americans are superficial and overly concerned with status. Victor is unimpressed by the gymnast's accomplishment, and feels she has nothing to brag about. Conversely, this suggests that Native Americans believe that only true accomplishments deserve such recognition.

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    4. In this particular case, the cultural misunderstanding is directed towards the Americans from Victor’s point of view. It was wrong of him to categorize Americans into awful, untrustworthy people, especially the gymnast. Yes, her problems don’t even begin to compare to the problems of the Native Americans. Victor is upset that she is not grateful for what she has, she takes her life for granted. The daily life for the Indians for the past century has been miserable compared to some Americans. Even though they are as foreign as any other culture or country, they are treated as second class citizens. I agree with Joey’s idea that the Americans and Indians have different values. Most Americans are born into society without having the hardships that the Indians have in the reservation. There is not much to look forward to in the reservations nor is there much success, this is one the reasons why there are so many alcoholics that never move on and progress out of the Reservation. If they want to stay true to their culture, then it would be difficult to do so and move away from their home, however there are limited resources within the reservations for a successful life. Americans on the other hand strive for success, their entire youth is geared towards education so they can continue to prepared for college and eventually their career. Victor believes the gymnast, although not on the A team for the Olympics, has reached this success and as Joey said, is selfish for complaining about such a minor issue.

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  17. The scene that I found most compelling was the bus scene. Victor was showing Thomas how to "be a real Indian", which highlights the difficult situation that they are in, because neither of them are "real Indians". This is also shown by the white men taking the seats of Thomas and Victor. This is a great similarity to Manifest Destiny, because the white male says, "Thats just the way it is. Now you should probably go sit somewhere else." Victor struggled with this because he truly felt damaged by those words. Westward Expansion and cultural misunderstanding are shown in this scene. The damaging effect on Victor was similar to that of the Indians during Westward Expansion. Victor tells Thomas that, "You gotta look mean! You gotta look lime a warrior! You gotta look like you just came back from killing a buffalo! Otherwise white people will walk all over you!" This bus scene shows how Victor feels about how white society views Indians. That is why I believe this seen shows the greatest form of cultural misunderstanding.

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    1. I find this analysis of the scene quite compelling. It is strange how the way American's once thought indians were; savage, violent and mean, is exactly what Victor strives to be now whereas his ancestors only wished to live out their lives in peace, maybe even assimilate and coesxist with the invading Europeans.

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    2. When Thomas and Victor are on the bus and their seats are taken by two white men, I agree that this shows cultural understanding. The arrogant white men take what the Native Americans have, similar to the U.S. government taking Indian land, there was nothing for Thomas and Victor to do but fight; they did not want to be kicked off the bus so they found another seat, similar to being put on a reservation. This scene is an analogy to the past, it portrays the cultural misunderstanding that has always existed between each culture; neither the white Americans nor the Native Americans understood each other’s cultural backgrounds and because they are so different the difference was not reconciled at the end of the film.

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    3. I agree with dans comment on this post. It is an atrocity how white americans once thought indians were, as a barbaric society that thrived off the separation into savage tribes. To add on to dans statement, the Europeans could easily have decided to coexist with the native americans, but it's almost like they decided to take the easy way out and just basically exterminate them all.

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  18. The scene that I found most compelling in Smoke Signals was the scene on the bus where Victor teaches Thomas how to be a “real” Indian. I found this scene interesting because it showed the present day Indian’s struggle with cultural and identity while also showing the cultural barrier between white men and Indians. At the beginning of this scene, Victor and Thomas are on the bus when Victor tells Thomas that he is not a “real” Indian. Victor tells Thomas that, in order to be Indian, “You gotta look mean or people won't respect you. White people will run all over you if you don't look mean. You gotta look like a warrior! You gotta look like you just came back from killing a buffalo!” Victor also says that an “Indian man ain’t nothing without his hair,” revealing Victor’s view of a proper Indian. After Victor tells Thomas this, Thomas changes his appearance and lets down his hair so that he can look like a true warrior. When Thomas and Victor climb on the bus and arrive at their seats, they find them occupied by two rude, white men. These men are disrespectful of Victor, Thomas, and the Indian culture by refusing to give up their new seats. Ultimately, Victor and Thomas are forced away from their seats, and Thomas realizes that “the warrior look doesn’t work every time” and that the cowboys always win.

    Cultural misunderstanding is shown in this part of Smoke Signals because of the rude behavior that the white men exhibit towards Victor and Thomas. Additionally, the anger shown in this scene is shown not only by the white “cowboys”, but also by Victor and Thomas. The white men are much more impatient than Victor and Thomas are in this scene, which reflects that the Indian culture is patient while the American culture is impatient. The white men’s confident, assertive approach is also typical of the dominant society, while Thomas’s modest, timid behavior towards the white men is typical of Native Peoples. Therefore, this scene shows cultural misunderstanding and many aspects of American society and Native American culture.

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    1. I agree with Luisa’s most compelling scene when Thomas and Victor are taken advantage of on the bus to Arizona. There are many cultural misunderstanding that took part in this scene. When you said that Victory told Thomas that “’you gotta look mean or people won’t respect you’”, it was a true example of cultural misunderstanding. It shows that even Indians believed that they had to fit the white man’s interpretation of how an Indian should look, dress, and act. I also agree with your claim that “Thomas realizes that ‘the warrior look doesn’t work every time’ and that the cowboys always win”. Even after the Indian wars, the white men still felt the need to prove themselves.

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    2. I agree that this scene demonstrates cultural misunderstanding. Although Thomas politely informs the white men that they were in their seats, the men are rude and inconsiderate; they don’t even stop to consider moving for these boys. This reveals the Americans perspective on the Indians and how they clearly thought they were more civilized and therefore the Indians did not deserve respect. I think this scene also shows how much Indian culture had been degraded. Due to American interference, Victor and Thomas’ representation of Indian culture had been reduced down to physical appearance. They had lost the spiritual connections with their ancestors, and all they had to do to be a real Indian now was to let their hair down and look like a “warrior”. I think misunderstanding of the culture wasn’t just between Americans and Indians but was also evident among the remaining Indian tribes who had been deprived of experiencing true Indian culture.

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    3. I also agree that this scene showed the barrier between the whites and Native Americans. When the white men on the bus were rude to Victor and Thomas it demonstrates the cultural misunderstanding. Neither groups of people had much respect towards one another. Victor believes that a real Indian needs to look tough. In this specific bus situation, this does not work. The white men also add comments about a pow-wow. Victor and Thomas try to be polite but the two men show no kindness or even respect to them.

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  19. The scene that I found to be the most compelling was after the car accident when Victor and Thomas were in the hospital. In this scene, the women was thanking Victor for running to get help to save the girl, while the drunk man was telling the police that Victor caused the accident. The officer called in Victor to question him and while questioning him, many cultural misunderstandings were exhibited. First the officer seemed to believe the drunken man that said that Victor had caused the accident because the drunken man was an American and Victor was an Indian. This is a cultural misunderstanding because even though Victor repeatedly stated that he did not cause the accident, the officer still seemed to blame him. This shows that the Americans did not find the Indians trustworthy, when really it was the Americans who historical broke all of the treaties. At the end of this scene, the cultural misunderstanding about trustworthy Indians was reconciled because the wife of the drunken man took Victor’s side. However, the cultural misunderstanding that all Indians are drunks was never reconciled. When being questioned by the police Victor was asked if he was drunk during the time of the accident. When Victor claimed that he had never had a drop of alcohol in his life, the officer questioned him and asked what kind of Indian he was. This shows that Americans thought that all Indians were drunks and if they were not drunks then they were not real Indians.

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    1. I agree with you, Emily, on the cultural misunderstandings exhibited in this scene. It was shameful that the Indians were assumed to be the cause of the accident because of the white men's belief that all Indians are alcoholics. I like how you found that not all Americans were prejudice of the Indians because the drunken man's wife sided with the Indians. You made a good point that not everyone was against the Indians in America.

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    2. I agree that this scene showed the cultural misunderstanding between Indians and Americans. The fact that the policemen took the drunk white man's word and accused Victor without evidence was disturbing. As you stated, the police men also revealed his stereotypical view towards the Indians when he assumed that Victor was drunk. I definetely agree that this assumption shows that Americans were very closeminded when it came to their view on Indians, which often lead to injustice. However, I think this stereotype goes beyond the unfairness of the policeman accusing Victor and Thomas due to their race. Before American interference, the Indians were religious people with sacred connections to their land and families. They had a well established culture, which was obliterated by Americans, leaving them in a near hopeless state. So these Americans believe in this stereotype that all Indians are drunks, without realizing that it was the pain and suffering that the Americans inflicted upon these poor people in the first place that caused some of them to resort to alcoholism. This scene shows that many whites were not only racist and prejudiced against the Indians, but they also seemed to be unaware that it was their actions that harmed the Indians in the first place.

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    3. I think that Emily makes a very valid point. I believe that this shows how the American's view the Indians as "drunks" and how that White man is usually always right. I think that when Victor told the police that the white man was drunk and belligerent he did believe him at first. This was because the police views the Indians as drunks. When Victor tells the police that he has never had a sip of alcohol in his life and the police questions "what kind of Indian are you?" it definitely categorizes the Indians. I also agree with Emily when she says that the police got the letter from the White drunk man's wife saying that he was drunk and a asshole. This shows that the police will take whites words over the Indians.

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    4. This scene did indeed show much cultural misunderstanding, due to the fact that the policeman called in the two men and questioned them even after the wife assured the officer that her husband was in the wrong. Although it did show that there is hope for those of a certain power may show more justice towards those of all races, because he indeed let them go even though he had his doubts. This was also a very important scene because it did show that not everyone treated those of this minority badly because the drunk man’s wife, and the two other women were nothing but kind to Victor and Thomas and showed their gratitude.

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  20. I think one of the most compelling scenes in "Smoke Signals" is when Victor and Thomas barter with two girls for a ride off the reservation. A prime example of cultural misunderstanding in this scene is depicted by idea that Indians must trade, and in their case, Victor and Thomas trade a story for a ride. It was formerly understood that Indians trade goods, while Americans pay for the goods they desire. This displays the misunderstanding of values between cultures, because while Americans are able to place a specific price on a certain item, Indians have a system of trading one item for another of equal value. When Thomas is finished telling his story, the girls remark that it was a "fine example of the oral tradition," while laughing off the exchange that had just occurred. This further displays the value Indians hold on cultural traditions, such as story-telling, which would be held at little importance to Americans. Another compelling moment in this scene is when one of the girls remarks that the boys "need a vaccination to leave the res." This is another example of cultural misunderstanding, as depicted by the girls statement, implying that life outside the reservation is so different from the Indians culture that one would need a vaccination to leave. Although the statement was not a literal or serious suggestion, it still displays the gap between American and Native American Culture. The statement made proves the division of Indians, who on the reservation hold on to tradition, and Americans, who outside the reservation have advanced, forming new cultural differences between them and Native Americans.

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    1. I also believe this scene that Rachel chose is very compelling and is a strong example of cultural misunderstanding because it is a cliché that all Indians barter. This scene shows this misunderstanding of the Indians by the white men who assumed that trade was the only way the Indians would get new items from them. Rachel also made a good point of cultural misunderstanding when an Indian said that they “needed vaccines to leave the res” because that shows the cultural gap that was not easily noticed.

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    2. I agree with Rachel’s response that the concept of trade versus paying for items is a clear demonstration of cultural differences. This difference is highlighted when Victor had to borrow Thomas’ money in order to afford the bus ride, but Thomas only had to tell the girls a story in trade for a ride. The difference in culture is that the Americans were more concerned in capitalism and put a price on each individual item whereas the Indians were solely concerned with surviving and friendships. The remark about the vaccination is a significant representation of the changes that would occur when the boys left the reservation. This comment foreshadowed the scene on the bus when the Americans stole the seats and refused to return them.

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    3. I agree that this scene showed great cultural misunderstanding. Your explanation of difference between Indians and Whites greatly shows how different cultures practice different traditions. Your description of trade and currency variances also is a great example of how truly different these cultures are. Your scene from the movie also connects the idea to the movie very well. The contrasting societies side-by-side, such as a reservation shows how conflict can easy come about. Your example from the scene in which the girl says, "need a vaccination to leave the res." is a great example of how distant each culture is, even though there are so geographically close.

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    4. I agree with your statement that Indians bartered traditionally, whereas Americans relied on money to purchase goods. The trading of a story for a ride, rather than money or merchandise, shows the value that the Indians put on oral traditions. A story wouldn’t have much value or worth to an American, but I believe they are so valuable to the Indians because they have had so much of their culture and history taken away from them. As hard as they try, Americans can’t prevent the spread of oral history. I believe the girls said that Victor and Thomas would "need a vaccination to leave the res” because they believed the outside world of Americans was dangerous in many ways. I believe they meant it literally, in the sense that the boys could get sick from foreign substances, and metaphorically, in the sense that the Americans are dangerous people. This shows how sheltered the Indians are on the reservation.

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  21. What I found to be most compelling in Smoke Signals was the scene in which Victor and Thomas are forced from their seats on the bus. This is one of the movie’s best examples of cultural misunderstanding and the differences in values between the white Americans and the Native Americans. The two Native Americans, after leaving the bus for a short break, returned to find their seats occupied by two white men. Victor and Thomas had rightfully claimed these seats at the beginning of the trip, and had even left their bags in the compartments above it. Not only that, but Victor and Thomas are very polite in telling the men that they are in their seats, and ask them to relocate. In spite of all of this, they refuse. What’s more, as you all would probably agree, is that it came as no surprise when the white men refused to move, but it was in fact the expected response from those men. This, above all, illustrates the white Americans’ sense of entitlement to what is not rightfully theirs. It shows that this country expects to have ownership and control over other cultures. Furthermore, the notion that the United States is entitled to the property of others proves that it has been hardwired into its citizens for generations. Undeniable parallels can be drawn between this minor ordeal of Victor and Thomas being kicked out of their seats, and the entire history of Westward Expansion. Victor and Thomas were forced to sit somewhere else on the bus, regardless of the fact that the seats belonged to them and that they were there first. The same theme was true for Westward Expansion. The land rightfully belonged to the Native Americans and they still were forced out, even though they were there first. In both situations, the cause of these unjust acts was the same; the white American’s greed and insensitivity.

    I agree with Sierra’s statement that Victor being framed for the car accident was a significant example of cultural misunderstanding. The fact that the police seemed to think he was guilty rather than the drunk man, solely because he was a Native American, struck me as typical of American culture. Throughout this country’s history, minorities have been almost always been segregated, accused and blamed, often for actions they did not take. In the United States, minorities tend to be held to unfair stereotypes after a group of or even one person that shares their race, religion or creed with them does something objectionable. After the attacks on Pearl Harbor, for example, over one hundred thousand Japanese Americans were placed in war relocation camps, despite having nothing to do with the attacks. These actions are not outdated either. After the attacks of September 11th, those with Islamic backgrounds faced constant discrimination which interfered with their every day lives, especially air travel. The point is that this scene from Smoke Signals shows another instance of a minority (in this case native Americans) being held to unfair stereotypes and being unjustly punished, ridiculed, or blamed by America, solely because of their cultural background.

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    1. I think Ryan hit the spot with his explanation of Victor's and Thomas's seat relocation. The entire scene is comprised of metaphors. The white Americans steal Victor's and Thomas's seats similarly to how their ancestors' land was stolen by the 19th century white Americans. This scene illuminates the cultual misunderstandings between the Indians and the white Americans. The white Americans believe that they have the right to take what is not theirs and have the ability to control others. Even when Thomas and Victor consistently ask politely for the boys to remove themselves from their seats, they are denied. This parallels with the long lasting war between the Americans and the Indians during the 1800s and prior. The Indians utilized several techniques to try to remove the oppressive foreigners from their land, but ultimately failed to do so and were pushed further west or in this case, to the back of the bus. This scene is packed-full with metaphors and parallels. It outlines the modern white man's perception of Indians and also shows how Indians are treated poorly and unfairly even in today's "civilized" society.

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    2. I agree with Ryan’s example of cultural misunderstanding in the scene when the white men take Victor and Thomas’ seat. This exemplifies the cultural differences of the white men because they automatically assume that they are entitled to anything that they want while the Native Americans have to ask for what is theirs, the seats. You came to a strong parallel between this scene and the westward expansion. The similarities between the white men taking Victor and Thomas’ seat was identical to the occurrences during the westward expansion and Indian removal when the white men took the land that rightfully belonged to the Native Americans.

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    3. I agree that this scene demonstrated cultural misunderstanding. When the whites took the seats of Victor and Thomas shows the way that the Indians were mistreated and disrespected when they were promised to always have lands on the West. However these lands were later taken over by the whites. This also happens on the bus when the Indians seats are taken over by the whites. Even when Victor and Thomas show their tough traditional “warrior look” they still are disrespected and don’t get their seats back. This shows the cultural misunderstanding of the power and ownership of property that were very different among Native Americans and whites. The Native Americans believe that they don’t justification that they owned something, whereas the whites believed that if there was no justification of ownership that anyone could overtake.

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    4. I agree with Ryan's statement completely, due to the mere fact that similar behaviors have happened overtime, not only with Native Americans but with those of other races. This shows the ignorance and arrogance certain races show towards certain minorities. This not only shows simple discourteousness, but on a deeper level what has happened to those of this ethnic group several times throughout history.

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  22. The bus ride scene, in my opinion, epitomizes the misunderstanding of Native American culture in Smoke Signals. Throughout the bus ride, Thomas continuously tells stories of his life experiences. Victor criticizes Thomas's character by asking him if "[he] even knows how to be a real Indian?" Victor continues by explaining to Thomas that Indians aren't supposed to smile; they are supposed to be warriors so that white people will not "walk all over you". This demonstrates how the average American assumes that all Indians are bloodthirsty savages that are naturally violent. After Thomas practices his stoic facial expressions, Victors says that Thomas must look like he just came back from killing a buffalo. Again, Victor represents the arbitrary and stereotypic views of the general American public. Thomas corrects Victor claiming that their tribes were actually fishermen; not buffalo hunters. Fearing that no one will fear fishermen, Victor criticizes this remark by saying that fishermen aren't warriors. The contrasting views of Victor and Thomas exemplify the cultural misunderstanding of the Native Americans.

    This conflict is not reconciled by the end of the movie for the purposes of dramatic effect. When the boys return to the bus, two white men have taken their seats. Presenting themselves as warriors, Victor and Thomas confront them men and ask them to move. After they refuse, Thomas tells Victor that the stoic presentation is not effective all the time. This scene demonstrates that despite the efforts of Indians, the white man is ultimately victorious in the end. The white man has achieved the goal of depriving the modern Indians from their native culture.

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    1. I agree with Matt’s view of the cultural misunderstanding in the bus ride scene of the movie. Thomas is seen as a Native American that always tells stories, but Victor says that he is not a real Indian. I agree with the statement that the cultural misunderstanding is in Victor when he is teaching Thomas how to be “Indian.” the sterotype that Indians always look angry is proven when Victor is teaching Thomas to be that way. i also agree that it is not reconcilied because even though Thomas and Victor look Indian and look like warriors, they still get their seats taken by two white men and are forced to move.

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    2. I agree with Matt that the scene on the bus accentuates the struggle of the Native Americans to survive in the American world. Victor teaches Thomas how to be a warrior in order to prevent him from being taken advantage of. Despite Thomas' ability to conform to Victor's ideal character, the warrior appearance fails them later in the scene. White men take their seats and refuse to give them back, therefore demonstrating the weakness of the Indians in the American society. Thomas claims that warrior status is not always beneficial which dates back to the loss to the Americans during Westward Expansion. The confusion between fishermen and buffalo hunters demonstrates Victor's struggle to accept the loss. The misunderstanding accentuates how Thomas has come to terms with how he has to live, but Victor lacks the capability.

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  23. The scene I found most compelling in the film “Smoke Signals” was the scene in which Victor and Thomas encounter an American gymnast during the bus ride to Phoenix. After Thomas engages this woman in conversation, she immediately begins describing her talent as a gymnast and complaining about how she was only an alternate for the Olympic team. As she speaks, her desire for recognition and fame is clearly evident. She continues to describing her frustration towards being only an alternate until she is rudely silenced by Victor. To Victor, this rant most likely seemed trivial for her greatest loss was a spot on the Olympic team, while the Indians lost their sacred homeland, their culture, and many family members during their relocation. This scene reveals cultural misunderstanding between the Indians and the Americans because it shows that Americans are materialistic, unburdened, and sheltered while the Indians are forced to struggle through a minimalistic life on the reservations. Because most Americans, like the gymnast, had not had experiences nearly as painful as the Indians, they were entirely unsympathetic. Another cultural difference this scene reveals is unequal opportunity. While the Americans were going on to be Olympic athletes and had the opportunity to obtain an excellent career, the Indians were basically stuck on the reservation with minimal opportunities. Despite the fact that many Indians were incredibly intelligent, or had other talents, such as Victor’s mother who was a talented baker, they could not act upon their talents. They were forced to adapt to reservation life, and had to accept the minimal opportunities that were presented to them.
    This scene reveals the Americans reverence for fame, achieving excellence, and being the best. It shows their competitive nature, and their desire to thrive. The gymnast in this scene desperately wanted to be the best and be on the Olympic team. I believe this general attitude of wanting to be the best and to succeed is the same attitude that compelled the Americans to relocate Indians in the first place. American society is based on the desire to be successful, and in many cases, wealthy. By relocating the Indians, the Americans gave themselves access to more fertile land, and therefore more resources. Just as the gymnast had no sympathy or compassion towards her competitor, the Americans had no compassion towards the Indians. If relocating the Indians meant that the America could become a wealthier, more advanced nation, then the Americans would not hesitate. Unlike the Americans, the Indians were not driven to be the best, but instead had a stronger sense of family and a connection to their homelands. Instead of having a hunger for fame, wealth, and success, the Indians had the ability to adapt to tough situations and live through harsh situations.

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    1. I agree with Sarah, this scene portrayed the strong differences of values between the white Americans and Native Americans. The two races are so separated from one another and that is where cultural misunderstanding comes into play. The gymnast girl on the bus does not understand or realize why Victor is so angry and annoyed with her continuously talking about being a gymnast. The priorities of the people are so distant. As Sarah stated above, the Native Americans were forced to relocate while the goal of the white Americans was to get money. Both races, including all people, have dreams. Yet, the white Americans had more opportunities and different dreams.

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    2. I agree with your most compelling scene that when Thomas and Victor speak with the gymnast during the bus ride there was a major cultural misunderstanding. The gymnast wanted Victor and Thomas to pity her because she was not a starter on the US Olympic team. The fact that the gymnast had the opportunity to try out to be on the Olympic team was greater than any opportunity Victor or Thomas had ever had. You described the cultural misunderstanding between the gymnast and the Indians perfectly. I completely agree with your claim that the Americans were materialistic and sheltered while the Indians are forced to struggle and adjust to new lands. This shows the cultural misunderstanding that Americans felt that the Indians could sympathize for them, which, as you stated, would not reasonably happen.

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  24. The most compelling scene that exemplifies cultural misunderstanding in "Smoke Signals" is the basketball game between the Jesuits and the Indians. Victor and his father played against two white men from the beginning of the game, it seemed that the Indians had no chance of winning, regardless of their skill level. Many times during the game, it appeared that Victor wanted to give up because of his disadvantages of height and skill level. They did not give up, however, in the end, the Indians lost.
    This scene shows cultural misunderstanding because from the start of the game as the Jesuits said they were "[beating them like a possessed demon]." This shows cultural misunderstanding from the Indians and Native Americans because both teams believed they were fighting for something other than to win the game. The Indians and Jesuits brought their religion to the game like they did in the westward expansion which made the struggles seem worth-while. This was no reconciled by the end because the Indians still lost and the Jesuits still were seen as the best.

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    1. This was a really compelling scene in "Smoke Signals" and another part really stood out to me. Victor's dad said that "The Indians finally won" and I think this had double meaning. It wasn't just the basketball game that had been won. He said that for the first time, the Indians had beaten the whites and had some pride, which had not happened in a long time. It showed cultural misunderstanding because the Jesuits were strongly religious Catholics while the Indians were not. I agree when you say that it was not reconciled at the end, but as Mr. Arnold told the story, he was proud of Victor and did not seem to care that the Jesuits actually had won.

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    2. I agree with your most compelling scene of Victor and his father playing basketball against the Jesuits was a cultural misunderstanding. The Indians and the Jesuits brought their religion into the game and were playing for something greater than just winning. When the Jesuits said that they were “’beating them like a possessed demon’” it showed that even after the white men forced the Indians to attend Christian schools and forced them to abandon their traditions and live on reservations, they still believed that they were controlled by demons. This exemplifies cultural misunderstanding because the Jesuits believe the Indians were demons because their cultural differences.

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  25. Overall I believe the most compelling scene from the film “Smoke Signals” was when Victor and Thomas were on the bus. This scene demonstrates the misunderstanding between Whites and Native Americans. Victor believed they should not talk to any of the white people and should look and act mean, even though Thomas was trying to be friendly. When the two white men took Victor and Thomas’ seat on the bus it supported Victors argument that the white people were mean and should not be trusted. This particular part demonstrates how Native Americans still felt that there was no equality between them and White Americans. However, Victor and Thomas have different views on what it means to be a Native American which contrasts the cultural misunderstanding of the Native Americans. Victor wanted to be viewed as a ferocious Indian who kills buffalo, where as Thomas knew their tribe only hunted fish, even though Thomas was correct, in the scene Victor proceeded to say that fishermen were not worriers.
    I agree with Rachels statement as well. This scene is a perfect example of the stereotypical view of Native Americans, even within Native Americans. The two girls told Victor and Thomas if they wanted a ride they would have to barter with them, because that is what Indians are “suppose to do” and Thomas proceeds to tell them a story. Even after the story is done the girls comment that the story was “a fine example of oral tradition” which also mimics how there are large differences with the present day Indians, where things like trading and oral traditions are laughed at.

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    1. I agree with Emily on how a scene of cultural misunderstanding with Victor and Thomas on the bus and their interactions with the white people. There is no equality or trust in the relationship between the two. Thomas wants to be friendly and get to know the gymnast, despite her color and social status. Victor on the other hand, who could be said to be opposite of Thomas, after hearing what she does for a living and seeing her color, is instantly mean and actually makes her leave. Like Emily said, when the white men took Victor and Thomas’s seat, they come to the conclusion that there is no trust between the two and that white people are disrespectful towards Indians.

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    2. I Agree with Emily about how the bus scene shows the cultural misunderstanding between the whites and the Indians. It demonstrated how Victor believes that the Indians need to be “strong” and look tougher than the Whites. And how the whites push the Indians to get what they want. I agree with emily that this scene shows that there is no equality. However I think that the Whites believe they can push the Indians aroudn while the Indians want to be stronger than the Whites.

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    3. I agree with Emily in which cultural misunderstanding is present during the bus scene. Victor knows from his experiences and his ancestors that white society will walk all over the Indians if they can. That is why Victor believes that he must look intimidating. Thomas on the other hand, tries to be friendly with the gymnist on the bus, who is white. Victor does not hesitate to degrade her and hurt her emotionally. I believe that your explanation of what it means to be Indian from both characters is very illuminating. It is a good example of how one depicts a Native American, and how they may depicts themselves.

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  26. The scene in Smoke Signals which i found to be most compelling was the part in which Thomas starts a conversation with a supposed alternate gymnast for the American Olympic Team. After hearing her complain about her coming so close to competeing Victor comes out with a a statement that depicts American culture quite well. He begins by stating that she would only really compete if someone was hurt or otherwise incapacitated. Upone her uncomfortable aggreement with this statement Victor goes on to tell her that she shouldn't complain becasue their are people out there [like themselves] with worse problems then hers. This resonates because although everyone has problems, these problems from one person to the next will have no relevance to the other. These differences in people's lifestyles are often times the main cause for violence and ignorance, the haves versus the have-nots.

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    1. Dan, your description of this scene highlights how one may depict the different lifestyles of each culture. Your analysis of the gymnist's words are what caught my attention. While watching the scene, I also believed that the girl was complaining about her problems, while Victor was becoming upset by this because in his mind, he is a noble Indian who does not complain about his problems. He insults the girl greatly and Thomas simply doesn't understand. This is a great example of cultural misunderstanding because there is a conflict between Victor and the girl due to differences in culture.

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  28. I feel that the overall most compelling scene from the film "Smoke Signals" was when Victor threw beer bottles at the back of his father's truck as his parents were sleeping. In this scene Victor’s mother awakens to a loud noise and begins looking out the window, watching her son throw the bottles at the truck. She notices that her husband’s behavior has been the cause of a lot of the heartbreak her son is subjected to. This causes her to grow angry with Arnold, and ends in a physical altercation and him leaving later on. This is the first time Victor’s mother shows anger and impatience towards the situation. This entire scene shows maybe why Victor is so angry and has a negative attitude towards life, and his father. Overall this scene is most significant because it displays what truly has happened to Victor and what has had shaped him into the person that he is today. I found this to be relatable to events that occur in society today, and to those that have occurred in my life. This shows that Native Americans and White Americans may not be as different as once thought to be. In fact, this shows that families of both nationalities can feel the pain that alcoholism can be the cause of, and that the children can be impacted directly by a parent’s poor choice in judgment. This is among the several horrid memories Victor had of his father. These negative memories have had a lasting impact on Victor's opinions of his father, so when he is subjected to having to hear the good things that Thomas had to say about Arnold Joseph before his abrupt departure from the Indian Reservation, seemed to be fictional in Victor’s eyes. Thomas, being an outsider looking into the situation, made several unnecessary comments and asked several questions regarding Victor’s family’s situation, disregarding Victor’s feelings. I feel that this is one of the most important scenes in the film because it is the explanation of a lot of the hurt Victor has felt, and why Thomas and Victor don’t necessarily get along.

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    1. This was an interesting scene that I almost forgot about. I agree with Rachael, this situation can be relatable to situations in today’s society. The movie also demonstrated that it does not matter the race, people are people and everyone messes up. Alcohol can do the same destruction to a person, Native American or white American. In the video, this can clearly be shown in the car crash scene. Just as Victor's father had drinking issues that caused his family pain, the white man who crashed the car was drunk. He nearly killed his family because of it.

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