Reservation Blues

Sherman Alexie,
Reservation Blues
Study Guide
Part 2: pp. 130-end

  1. Re-read and carefully analyze the lyrics to the song “Reservation Blues” on page 1. Identify 2 themes / issues that they establish for the entire story, pointing to specific moments in the lyrics

as evidence.

  1. (Theme / issue and specific text):
  2. (Theme / issue and specific text):


  1. Why do you think so many of the Spokanes turn against Coyote Springs rather than supporting the band? You can use evidence from ANYWHERE in the book, but some of the following passages may be useful to consult:
  2. 97: “He was such a good basketball player that all the Spokanes wanted him to be more. When any Indian shows the slightest hint of talent in any direction, the rest of the tribe starts expecting Jesus. Sometimes they’ll stop a reservation hero in the middle of the street, look into his eyes, and ask him to change a can of sardines into a river of salmon”
  3. 175-6: Spokanes rejection of the blues, and Thomas-Walks-Along’s letter about the band.
  4. 179: “The traditionals don’t like your white man’s music…” etc.
  5. 227: Interview with Coyote Springs


  1. The two men from the record company, Wright and Sheridan, have the same names as actual military generals who were involved in forcing Native Americans onto reservations in the late 19th century. Furthermore, the record company (“Cavalry Records”) is led by a Mr. Armstrong (likely a nod to General George Custer Armstrong). What might be the symbolism of tying the record company to these historical figures? And why do you think the band members are unaware of who Sheridan and Wright might be? (3-4 sentences)


  1. Why is Thomas so angered by the lyrics of Betty and Veronica’s song, “Indian in your

Bones”? (p 295-6). Identify 2 particular details in the lyrics that Thomas may find offensive.