Native American poet, author, screenwriter and producer Sherman Alexie filled the Michigan Union Ballroom to capacity yesterday evening as he spoke about how ignorance leads to hate.

Paul Wong
Sherman Alexie, who wrote the screenplay for the film “Smoke Signals,” speaks in the Michigan Union Ballroom last night.<br><br>LAURIE BRESCOLL/Daily

Titled, “Killing Indian”s: Myths, Lies, Exaggerations,” Alexie”s presentation was a continuation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.

But sentiments were not solely limited to issues concerning Native Americans.

Alexie explained that prejudice looms in all walks of life.

“We operate out of ignorance and fear,” he said.

“Using hate, fear and ignorance you can get men to fly airplanes into buildings. Using hate, fear and ignorance you can get our country to bomb a ninth world country,” he said in reference to the events and aftermath of Sept. 11.

“We get taught to hate each other,” he said.

Alexie questioned whether Americans are in a better place with President Bush in office.

He said he does not think Bush has decreased the problems of pain, racism, classism and homophobia in our nation.

“Growing up, we are taught that anyone can become president and this proves it,” Alexie said.

He said Americans are forgetting history and are consequently neglecting to see its repercussions today.

“This was not a great country when it started. It was founded on murder, genocide and slavery,” Alexie said.

“Everyone lives their life without enough information,” Alexie emphasized throughout his presentation.

LSA freshman Ann Fernandez said last night”s event brought “a human face to the facts.”

As the title of his presentation foretold, Alexie aimed to dismantle myths about American Indians.

Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington.

“I have never ridden a horse,” Alexie joked as he answered what he thought were the most common questions asked of American Indians.

Laughing, he then took back that statement and said that he actually had ridden a horse and that it had been at Knoxberry Farms, an American amusement park.

“It”s a tough job being an Indian,” he explained.

“Alexie comes from a group without a voice in America and I am interested in what he has to say,” said School of Public Health freshman Michael Newman.

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