When tribal grounds were taken by the Federal Government, the members were relocated to reservations. Reservations were places where Indians were supposed to die and disappear. Also, reservations were a place for U.S. soldiers to go and havoc massacres on Indians to kill them off. Reservation life was hard; seclusion and economic issues. They deal with past trauma of government theft, lies, and exploitation. To help drown the pain of reservation life, Native Americans drink. Alcoholism is a common disease among Native Americans. Violence is frequent in their homes and unemployment is high. To keep tribal cultures a live, Native Americans story tells. Storytelling gives meaning to a tribe's past and existence.
Writer, poet, and filmmaker Sherman Alexie published a book called, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993). His writing involves his experiences as a Native American growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. The stories in the book consist of love, leadership, honor, connections to earth, and relation to animals. Thomas Builds-the-Fire is a spiritual character in the book. He lives in the realm of the spirit.
Thomas frequently told tales of the history of his people as if he lived it. His constant story telling was tiring to many reservation residents. His people repeatedly rejected Thomas because he and his stories is representative of the unrelenting Native American cultural past that struggles to stay alive within its people.
Thomas was put on trial for his crimes against storytelling. He had to defend himself in tribal court against his own people. Prior to the trial, he hadn’t spoken for twenty years. His stories remained within himself. During his trial he represented himself and he was the only witness in his trail. When called to the stand, Thomas closes his eyes and begins to story tell.
In one story, Thomas’s name is Qualchan who is fighting for his people. A fellow warrior who had escaped Colonel Wright’s camp found him hiding. The...