Sherman Alexie, who wrote and produced the feature film "Smoke Signals," entertained more than 400 people at Daemen College on Tuesday evening with a comic Native-American view of white America.
Raised on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State, Alexie has written seven books of poetry, several collections of short stories and two novels. He was cited by the New Yorker as one of the top 20 writers thus far of the 21st century.
"People generally think I'm half of whatever they are," Alexie said, reflecting on the many airport searches he has endured since 9/1 1. "When the second plane hit the World Trade Center, we (Indians) all prayed: 'Please, don't be brown. Please be Norwegian terrorists.' "
Then he made this confession: "We brown people can't tell the difference either."
Outfitted in jeans and a rumpled denim sports coat over a pink shirt, Alexie shook his shaggy head and grimaced in resignation at Anglo America.
"I get searched at airports at least 80 percent of the time," he said. "We Native Americans have 10,000 more reasons to hate your white (butts) than Muslims do. But we forgive. So there's never going to be a Native American suicide bomber."
Then he smiled at the many Native Americans in the Wick Center and added, "Also, suicide bombing implies being on time." His compatriots laughed.
Alexie said he threw a shoe at his TV set while watching anti-war protesters marching in Spokane, one of them carrying a sign that read "Vegans for World Peace."
"How self-involved," he jeered. "How emblematic of American privilege -- imagine the power and privilege of being able to choose what you are going to eat, each and every meal."
Alexie said he is tired of liberals who say the country is going down the tubes.
"I grew up on a rez," he explained. "The Oprah show calls me for an interview. It's 'An American Story: From Rez to Riches.' "
These days, he said, a trip across the country to speak and to sell his books can make him $15,000 richer.
But he couldn't get off the vegans for peace.
"Vegans," he proclaimed, "you put a chicken up here that can write 'Romeo and Juliet,' and I won't eat it."
If vegans were really serious about identifying with the rest of the animal kingdom, he said, they would cut off their thumbs.
"Try to pick up your tofu then!" he added.
Alexie was the keynote speaker for the 2005 Daemen College Academic Festival.