This unit studies the themes of hope and fear in a rich selection of contemporary Native American writings. It starts with a close analysis and discussion of what causes fear and how the characters in a novel, a short story, a play, and poems struggle, fight and react to societal injustices with hope. The unit takes into consideration other causes for fear like poverty, alcohol, isolation, loneliness, and sometimes the feeling(s) of desperation. The students read the novel,
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene), the short story
The Red Convertible
by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain/Ojibwe), the play
Sliver of a Full Moon
by Mary Kathryn Nagle (Cherokee), a rich selection of poems such as “Homeland” by Jayne Fawcett (Mohegan), “I Found Him on a Hill Top” by Ella Wilcox Sekatau (Narragansett), and “Sad Country Song” by John Christian Hopkins (Narragansett), as well as some paintings and photographs that represent Native American cultures. The goal is to read, analyze, reflect, research, discuss, and write about the reactions to hardships. The unit also aims to teach students to appreciate and understand American Indian arts while addressing Common Core Standards.
(Developed for AP English Literature and Composition, grades 11-12, and English 10, grade 10)