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.